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Carnivorous plants information

Internet data collection


General data
Another opinion 13
Tips for Beginners
Basic Growing Tips for Beginners
Advices to beginners
Cultivation :
Identification : 21
Other online sources of information I have found helpful:
Other Sources of Information 23
Carnivorous Plant Growing Media
Peat compost
Sphagnum potting medium
Sand in compost 28
Other compost ingredients
Carnivorous Plant Environment Essentials 29
Dormancy requirements 30
Fertiliser and hamburger meat 31
Winter Care
General Plant Naming Conventions 32
Plant name sub-divisions.
Plant Naming Rules.
These Latinised names are difficult to understand. What do they mean?
How do you pronounce the Latinised names?
What about hybrid plants?
Carnivorous Plant Propagation 41
How do I propagate my plants?41
How do I stimulate seeds to germinate?
Smoke for germinating Australian native seeds
Pests and Pest Control 47
What about pests?47
CP Pest Control 50
Technical Information 53


Definition of plant carnivory

How can plants move? 53
Can I grow CPs in my garden? 55
What is hybrid vigour? 55
What is tissue culture? 56
What is Silicosis or Sporotrichosis? 58
Why are most CPs wetland plants?
Why are these wetlands nutrient poor?
Pond, bog, swamp, marsh, fen what are the differences?
Build your own outdoor bog
Do plants have a nervous system?
What is CITES? 65
Preparation of carnivorous plants for postage
Genera and Species Descriptions
Brocchinia and Catopsis 68
General 73
Seed Germination 74
Growing Cycle of Dionaea Muscipula 80
The advance understanding of these plants, have made me realize the
many rumors and inaccuracies concerning their growing behavior:
Also, transplantation can also confuse the growing cycle of the VFT.
Trap Size: 83
Personally, I prefer the plant to grow as it pleases, in a lose mixture of
sphagnum moss. Coloration: 85
Leaf Shape:86
Minerals: 87
Amazing Evolution:
Research Continues
How to Grow a Venus Flytrap 93

Dionaea muscipula
Dionaea 103
Mas descripciones:
Growing Media / Pot Size
Temperature / Light
Watering / Humidity
Drosophyllum 118
Heliamphora 120
General 122
Growing Media
Germinating Seed 124
Ibicella and Proboscidea 124
Growing Nepenthes in a Completely Inorganic Substrate
Alternative Substrate
Potting Plants with Inorganic Mix
General Conditions
General Cultivation
General 147
Growing Media / Pot Size
Temperature / Light
Watering / Humidity



Seed Germination 148
Polypompholyx 148
General 159
Growing Media / Pot Size
Temperature / Light
Watering / Humidity
Seed Germination 160
Stratification Instructions



This publication contains information on the ecology, cultivation, taxonomy, and other aspects
of carnivorous plants (hereinafter CP or CPs).
What is a carnivorous plant?
The usual definition of a CP is a plant that attracts, captures, kills, and digests animal life
forms. The question can also be asked: 'Why are the carnivorous plants carnivorous?'
Somewhere along the evolutionary chain and as land forms and drainage patterns changed,
some plants were in peat bog situations, where the soil nutrition was very poor, and the
general level of water table was fairly high. The poor nutrition availability came about
because the acidic nature of their growing environment drastically reduced the rate of
decomposition of dead plant material the nutrients (particularly useable nitrogen
compounds) were locked up in the non-decaying plant material, and thus unavailable to the
living plants.

But, in nature given the time and the need, most life forms are very
resourceful and will adapt to new situations. The wet environment
where these plants lived also had an abundance of various insects living
there the insects could breed well in this environment. So the plants
gradually developed methods whereby they could lure or trap these
insect creatures, together with the chemistry necessary to convert this
resource to something they could directly use. And now we still have
some of the remaining plants that performed the various types of
adaptation the ones that haven't yet become extinct because of our
The carnivorous plants use acids and enzymes in a process remarkably
similar to our animal digestion, to get the life-sustaining materials they
Peat bogs versus rain-forests
As explained in the previous section, most of the nutrients in the peat bog ecosystem are
locked up in the non-decaying dead plant material. It is interesting to note that this is a
direct opposite of the conditions existing in the rain-forest.
In the rain-forest environment almost all of the total nutrition is in use by the living plants at
any time. When some whole or portion of a plant dies there is a rapid decay of the dead
material and the results are quickly absorbed by the roots of the nearby
living plants.
How many carnivorous plants exist?
There are far more CPs in the world than the Venus Fly Trap. Nearly 600
species and subspecies of CPs have been described (although some are
now extinct). The largest and most widespread genus is Utricularia, but
many other genera exist and all known genera are described below in
Section 4.
A taxonomical breakdown of all the different carnivorous genera has
been prepared, sorted by botanical order and family, images of species
from most genera are available on Rick Walker's pages in the Internet.
What is the biggest, most amazing carnivorous plant?
Venus Fly Trap
It depends upon your definition. In terms of sheer bulk, the largest CPs
are in the genus Nepenthes large vines up to tens of metres long. This
genus also catches some of the largest prey, including creatures as large as frogs. Very rarely,
captures of birds or rodents are reported, but these cases probably involved sick animals and
certainly do not represent the norm. In terms of gruesome factor, the most well-known and
amazing CP is probably the familiar Venus Fly Trap (VFT), which has leaf
lobes that quickly capture prey dramatically. Meanwhile, the most
complex and rapidly acting trap belongs to the underwater plants in the
genera Aldrovanda and Utricularia. Aldrovanda vesiculosa, a relative of
the VFT, may have up to a hundred traps that close on prey when
touched in about two hundredths of a second. And the fascinating
Utricularia species which suck prey into bladders in times as short as
1/30 of a second.

Nepenthes rajah

What do carnivorous plants eat?

Many CPs live in aquatic conditions. These plants capture very small freshwater creatures
prey like the minute rotifers and daphnia. Others may eat larger aquatic prey such as
mosquito larvae. Presumably very young fish fry may be in danger. On land, Pinguicula and
Drosera plants tend to catch flying insects like mosquitos, gnats, flies, and moths. Pitcher
plants capture insects which forage for food, especially flies and ants.
Venus Fly Traps capture any crawling or flying creature of suitable size they feast
particularly on spiders, but plants in the wild may have a different diet. The 'Daddy-long-legs'
spiders seem to have a fascination for these plants (there is no arachnid phobia of VFTs), and
on many occasions the long spindly legs can be seen protruding from a closed trap.
As mentioned earlier, very occasionally vertebrates are supposedly captured, such as rats,
birds, or frogs. These events are usually ascribed to Nepenthes species, the tropical pitcher
plants. But these are rare surprises and do not represent normal prey.
Should we be afraid of them?
As long as you are not the size of an insect, CPs are completely safe.
The digestive acids and enzymes are extremely weak. Despite the
fascinating notion of a plant which eats animals, instead of the usual
other way around, what CPs do is not without precedent in the
botanical world. We may know about plants like Mimosa (sensitive
plants) that move when you touch them, but there are many other noncarnivorous plants that do surprising things. Some plants fire their seeds
through the air. Some have moving flower parts. Some plants have
venom glands attached to sharp spines. Aspen trees communicate with
each other via ethylene gas. Compared to the fact that the sperm of
mosses are free-swimming organisms that look and behave like animal
sperm, CPs are pretty mundane.
How do I grow carnivorous plants?
The first step in growing CPs is to read these pages, get a CP book from
the library (VCPS has an extensive library of all the CP books), or
Flower of
subscribe to the CP mailing list and read that for a while (see the 'other Utricularia
sources of information' page for how to do this). Otherwise it is very
likely your plants will die. You will need the proper potting medium,
water, light, humidity, temperatures, and plants. As a disclaimer, it is
important to note that what will work for one person may not work for another.
In southern Australia the many temperate climate CPs grow very well in an outdoor situation
as long as they are protected from strong winds, potted in appropriate composts, the pots are
sitting in non-contaminated water, and a good level of humidity can be generally maintained.
People also grow CPs in greenhouses or terraria. It is very likely you would have only
disappointing failure if you tried to grow them in the normal soil of your garden. An outdoor
bog can be a very suitable environment also refer section on building an outdoor peat bog
on the 'technical topics' page. Greenhouses are expensive, and if you know anything about
construction you can save huge amounts of money by building your own if you wish to head
down this path. The most simple baptism to growing carnivores in an outdoor wind-protected
situation, having long hours of unshaded sunlight.
For the person starting out into the interesting hobby of CP culture, it would be wise to
concentrate initially on plants that originate from a climate similar to where you live. For
instance, in Melbourne, all the Sarracenia species, Venus Fly Trap, the temperate climate
Drosera species, Cephalotus, Darlingtonia, and many of the Utricularia species would be quite

suitable. Later on, when you have gained more knowledge, the beauty of the Pinguicula genus
can be explored. When you can provide suitable artificial environments, you then advance
into the world of the Nepenthes, and other tropical wonders.
Specific cultivation techniques are given in the section that describes each genus. Consider
the information merely as a set of suggestions if the hints fail for you then try something
similar but different. Experiment!

Venus Fly Trap Dionaea muscipula

My Venus Fly Trap is dying!

It is essential to know that your plant may not be dying the aboveground portions may just be dying off as part of its transition into a state
of dormancy. Venus Fly Trap plants are easy and simple to grow when the
grower provides for the basic needs of his plants. Provided the compost,
lighting, water level at the base of the pot, humidity, and air circulation
needs are met, the old reliable VFT will continue to amaze you with its
colours and trapping activities.
Most CPs have a normal time of dormancy. Depending on the genus it
might be in the winter or it might be in the summer part of the
learning process is knowing what each plant is trying to do at various

times of the year.

Other than the onset of dormancy who knows. Is it in an incorrect compost or just plain soil?
Is it too wet in the cool months, or just too dry at any time? Does the water you use for the
plant have harmful chemical impurities like the Adelaide water supply, for instance. Is the
plant getting too hot when exposed to direct sunlight in the summer? Is the plant not getting
enough light? Is the plant being attacked by insect or fungus pests? The fungus Botrytis
cinerea can be a difficult problem when there is insufficient air circulation around the plants,
probably combined with the environment being too cool for the plant a likely situation in
winter. If this is the case increase the air circulation and probably give the plant a fungicidal
spray such as Fongarid. Insect pests, such as scale, mealy bugs,
caterpillars, aphids, spider mite, can be removed by hand, by a small
rapid water jet wash, or by using an insecticidal spray (Rogor,
Malathion, or Folimat are okay for most genera - however Rogor on
Nepenthes may be detrimental).
A table of CP pests and recommended treatments is included on the
Pests page
My plant is flowering
First, take satisfaction in the fact you successfully grew your plant to
flowering size. Now you can attempt to pollinate the flowers. Many CPs moranensis x
can be easily fertilised. Many types of Drosera, Byblis, Drosophyllum,
and Dionaea can be self-pollinated. This means taking pollen from the
anthers and gently dabbing it on the stigma. Consult a beginning botany textbook to identify
these organs. The floral structures of Pinguicula, Utricularia, Genlisea, Sarracenia, and a few
other plants are peculiar refer to a CP text like Schnell or Slack for instructions. Venus Fly
Traps (VFTs) can be self-pollinated although they do not always produce seed. Furthermore,
seed production often tires the plant noticeably: this is particularly noticeable with VFTs and
many of the South African Drosera species to such an extent that it may cause the death of
the plant.
Some plants will not produce seed if you self-pollinate them some Drosera and Byblis are
this way. Nepenthes plants are either male or female, and so cannot be self-pollinated. In

these cases, you must obtain pollen from someone else if you desire seed, or be lucky enough
to own the male and the female of the plants to be used for hybrid seed production. Pollen
may be available by trading with contacts on the internet. See the links page for more details
People trade them how do I get in on the action?
As a member of VCPS; trading, selling, giving, swapping of plants with other members is a
very interesting and rewarding activity to improve the contents of your CP collection. This is
just one of the definite and distinct advantages of membership of a CP society.
Once people obtain the basic plants available commercially, the next stage is to obtain plants
by trading. This is a very nice aspect of the CPer's hobby. You slowly develop a network of
other growers within a CP society (around the globe, too, for the Internet adventurous ones)
with whom you trade seeds, plants, and other propagables. Meet people through the Internet
CP mailing list, or by advertising in the CP trade journals. Even old hands in the hobby, with
whom you have little or no trading leverage, may be willing to sell you some things for a few
dollars and postage. CPers tend to be very nice and sociable. If you read an article in a CP
journal, and the person includes an address, by all means write him or her. That person will
be happy to hear from you and you may develop a trading relationship.
Some trading options are now available on-line. See the links page.
Where can I buy carnivorous plants?
See the suppliers page for a listing of many Australian suppliers
There are a few nurseries that sell CPs in Australia. But remember, it is incumbent upon you
to deal with firms that are reputable and do not sell illegally-obtained plants.

General data
The Carnivorous (insectivorous) group consists of seed plants which are capable of capturing
insects and other small animals. There are about 500 known species in sixteen genera
belonging to six families. The trapping mechanisms vary from the flypaper type of the
sundews, to the steel trap of the Venus flytrap, to the passive pitfall type of the pitcher
plants. Most Carnivorous Plants are found living in acid soil that is nutrient deficient, and
they require a wet humid environment. These growing conditions can be somewhat
duplicated by utilizing a covered glass container such as a terrarium. Single plants can be
grown in a brandy snifter, fish bowl, or jar.
A good planting medium can be made by mixing equal parts of sandy loam and peat moss.
Some live sphagnum moss may also be added. A mixture of 2 parts peat moss and 1 part
perlite and/or vermiculite works equally well. If a Carnivorous Plant terrarium is desired, the
soil should be sloped with the suggested planting sequence being (from highest to lowest)
Venus flytraps, pink sundews, butterworts, narrow leaf sundews, and pitcher plants. This, of
course, is not a firm rule as all the CP enjoy a very moist, but not soggy, growing medium.
Some Carnivores actually thrive in standing water. A good example would be the narrow leaf
sundew (Drosera intermedia. This is not recommended, however, as you may have problems
with rot or fungus if the light is not adequately strong. Regarding light; these plants require
several hours of strong sunlight or artificial light each day to produce healthy, properly
formed leaves and traps. Good lighting can not be emphasized too much! The most common
failure to the newcomer is underestimating the need for proper lighting. If your plants
become elongated or deformed, it is most likely due to poor lighting.

Unless you have unusually good tap water, you may consider using rain water or distilled
water. Some treated water may contain chemicals which could be harmful to the Insectivores.
Insecticides, plant foods, or fertilizers should never be used on or adjacent to these plants.
All of the Carnivorous Plants in the following pages will produce flowers in the Spring. Some
species of Drosera (sundew) may bloom again in late Summer. Be sure to allow enough space
in your container for the stalk and bloom. These plants are in a continuous stage of growth
with old growth dying and turning black as new appears. Try to avoid excessive heat,
especially in an enclosed container. Normal room temperature is adequate. During the
warmer months the plants may be set outside to capture insects. You may feed the plants an
occasional insect (not hamburger of bacon), however, this is not necessary as the plants will
catch their own food under most circumstances. CPs carry on photosynthesis like other plants
and can live a long time without a meaty delight. However, the plants will take on a healthier
look with the protein from a good ole bug! Many of the Carnivores will go dormant (a slowing
or absence of new growth) during the colder months. This is normal. Your plant is not dead,
just resting. Watering should be reduced to a minimum at this time and the daylight can be
Growing your Carnivorous Plants from seeds requires a lot of patience, but you will find that
the reward and satisfaction is well worth the wait. Dont be disheartened if you fail the first
time. Practice and experience are the best teachers. If you start your plants from bulbs,
rhizomes, or cuttings, please be sure to deal with a reputable nursery. If you are lucky enough
to observe some CPs growing in their natural habitat, remember that collecting is illegal is
most cases. You could find yourself hit with a huge fine or possibly even be attacked by a
band of hungry Cephalotus follicularis.
These plants are delicate and excessive handling should be avoided. If care is taken to
duplicate the plants natural environment, they will thrive and provide much beauty and
enjoyment for years to come.
Caring for Carnivorous Plants
Many people presume that Carnivorous plants are exotic beasts that hail from steamy tropical
jungles. In fact, the majority of Carnivorous plants are from fairly temperate areas, and can
easily be kept in climates such as the UK. Of those that cannot, many can easily be kept in a
terrarium or heated greenhouse that can provide the extra heat and humidity required.
The key to understanding the care of these plants, is to consider the habitats they are found
in in the wild - most Carnivorous plants are found in marshy or boggy areas, and the soil is
always low in nutrients. Because the soil has few nutrients to offer, plants that can get their
food elsewhere - for example by eating the local fauna - tend to prosper. For many
carnivorous plants, the main considerations for care are water and light, and as a general
rule, they like lots of both.
They do not normally need feeding as they will normally catch enough food if kept on a sunny
windowsill or greenhouse. However, I do tend to supplement the food supply of some plants
by feeding them with LIVE insects using a small pair of tweezers. Live insects must be used
because some plants (particularly Venus Flytraps) are stimulated into producing digestive
fluids by the struggle of captive prey - if you feed the plant hamburger, it will just rot the

Another opinion
I have quite a large water butt that collects rainwater from my garage roof. I add the
contents of a couple of tea bags to this about once a month or so - nearly all carnivorous

plants appreciate acid conditions, and the tannic acid in tea helps to maintain this without
harming the plants at all.
I usually use a brand a sphagnum peat moss called Shamrock. While the plants love it, I have
found that it seems to contain more nutrients, and holds more water than many other peats,
and so can tend to encourage fungus and rot - therefore it is important to use less peat and
more sand and or perlite in your soil mix than you would for many other peats.
I have a fairly large (60+ gallon) terrarium that is used for growing highland tropicals such as
Heliamphora and highland Nepenthes. Since these require a drop in temperature at night, I
have the lights and heater on a timer so that they only come on during the day (I use a 16
hour photoperiod - I have read recommendations from 12 - 18 hours, and 16 seems to work for
me!). As the terrarium only needs to be heated during the day, and it is already in a house
that is heated, a powerful heater is not required. My tip is to use an aquarium heater in a
large vase that is kept full of water. This will provide gentle warmth that will not risk burning
your plants, and it will provide loads of humidity, which they will love!
According to folklore, singing to your plants is good for them (actually, some scientific studies
support this - but it is probably due to the increased carbon dioxide around the plants!).
While many enthusiasts will do anything they can to keep their plants happy, if your singing
voice is anything like mine, I would give it a miss - I think theyll get along just fine without!
(your family might appreciate it as well!)
A Beginners Introduction to Keeping Carnivorous Plants
Youve just bought your first carnivorous plants. How do you not only not kill it but get it to
grow successfully?
Growing most carnivorous plants is not hard - in fact if you follow a few simple rules they are
very easy to keep

Tips for Beginners

To prevent potting mix from washing out of the drainage holes of your pots, block them on
the inside with Sphagnum moss where this will be useful for monitoring the compost moisture
for those plants not requiring wet conditions. For plants that like wet conditions and would be
sitting in a water tray all the time, use rock wool to block the drainage holes before filling
with compost. Both Sphagnum and rock wool permit free flow of water in and out of the
drainage holes, but prevent the escape of the solid material from within the pot.
Follow the basic instructions, and if in doubt, consult a good book, or
come to a VCPS meeting and ask for information.
Never use fly spray near CPs, and never have them in the same room
with a pest strip when indoors.
Do not use fertiliser on CPs it may kill the plant. Later experience and
knowledge will indicate that this is okay for a small range of plants; but
be sure before you are sorry.
Byblis gigantea definately not for

Always provide ventilation, and at the first sign of any mould or fungus,
use Fongarid to get rid of it, or it will spread from plant to plant.

Do not use Benlate spray (if you have any of this discontinued line) on any plants potted in
Sphagnum moss: such as Nepenthes, Darlingtonia, Pinguicula, and Heliamphora. This spray
kills the Sphagnum. Use Fongarid fungicide on such plants.
To keep the pot moist only, stand it in water for about half an hour, and
then leave it on the bench, watching the colour of the Sphagnum moss
in the drainage holes. You will be able to see when the plant needs rewatering when the moss becomes light in colour.
Store unused CP seed in the normal (non-freezing) section of your
refrigerator in an airtight container.
Pygmy Drosera
To moisten peat moss that has become dry, and where this is a brand
that doesn't wet easily, pour boiling water over it and stir with a stick. scorpiodes
For brands that 'wet' more easily, use only the required amount of cold
water for usage of the compost, and manipulate with the hands until it is absorbed.
When preparing a compost that is a mixture of peat and coarse sand, be careful not to add
too much water; otherwise the sand content will continually settle out of the mixture. A bit
of practice will soon enable you to judge the best amount of water.
Always use a moist or wet compost mix when potting plants or sowing seed.
Do not water any plant from above unless the potting medium is Sphagnum moss. Try to not
get water on the leaves of Pinguicula plants when watering these from above this can be a
trigger for fungus problems.
Maintain a high humidity in summer, but a lower humidity in winter.
Keep water trays full in summer, but it is usually best to keep plants a
little drier in winter with a lower level of water in the tray.
An easy way to top water trays is to leave an empty pot in the tray and
pour water into this. This prevents splashing. If filling the tray with a
hose, don't direct the stream at the bottom of pots this may dislodge
the material used to block the drainage holes, and would actively cause
loss of the compost.
When defrosting the fridge, save the water for your plants, as it is pure
water with no contamination. Distilled water is also good, but is
expensive if used on a large scale. When it rains, use a plastic bucket to
catch the rainwater for your plants. Tap water (low mineral) should be
allowed to stand for two or three days. (Melbourne tap water is okay,
Adelaide tap water is virtually unusable for CPs.)
For tropical plants, like Nepenthes, etc., the water should be lukewarm
about 27C (80F).
For mountain plants (Darlingtonia, etc.), the water should be cool not
more than 10C (50F). Adding ice cubes to the water is a convenient
way of achieving this.

Tuberous Drosera

When watering plants other than the types referred to in the above 2 tips, the water should
be at ambient temperature.
To increase humidity on hot days, damp down the paths and floor etc. of your plant house.
This also helps to lower the temperature. A very fine spray into the air is very beneficial also.
When a plant has to be repotted, always provide 100% humidity for a few days. Reduce
humidity gradually to that part of the planthouse. This helps to ensure that the plant will not
dehydrate and die.
When planting seeds or leaf cuttings (any form of propagation material), plant only one
species in a pot and label the pot clearly.
If a plant is an annual, ensure the survival of the species by collecting seed, and store it in a
cool dry place until the next suitable time for usage.
Unless the seed is required, it is better to cut the flowers stems off many CPs as they form. If
let go, seeds will fall and you may have a host of seedlings that you cannot identify.
In the case of Dionaea and most of the South African Drosera species, the resource usage for
flower and seed growth will seriously reduce the vigour of the plant, and sometimes to such
an extent that the plant dies. (However, do not remove the flower stems from any Sarracenia
plants until after petal fall.)
Always label plants clearly after potting. Use a writing media such as permanent non-soluble
(in water) ink, or the old-fashioned HB pencil. This avoids later confusion.

Basic Growing Tips for Beginners

Following are some growing tips based on my own observations and what Ive learned from
others. In particular, these tips may be most useful to those attempting to grow Sarracenia,
VFTs, and most Drosera in less than ideal conditions. I strongly recommend getting a good
book like The Savage Garden by Peter DAmato. Not all books at the local library will have
reliable information. Some other authors I can recommend (although they might be hard to
find) are Adrian Slack and Don Schnell. Above all, you should take into account your local
conditions when determining how to apply these tips and others.
Typically, CPs are native to wet, boggy areas, so theyll prefer to be much wetter than regular
houseplants. Many will even prefer to be left frequently standing in water. I use rain water
that I collect from the rain gutters on the house and store it in a 32 gallon plastic trash can
with a lid. Distilled or RO (reverse osmosis) water is also very good but can be expensive (be
careful not to use mineral water or drinking water). Regular tap water is usually not
suitable for CPs as it often contains high amounts of dissolved solids and added chemicals
such as chlorine. It might be a good idea to call your local water department and ask about
the water in your area before using much tap water. In particular, ask about the tds (total
dissolved solids). In my neighborhood the tds varies throughout the year, from a low of about
100 tds around December, to a high of just over 300 tds in August and September (when the
water supply draws more heavily from underground wells). Generally, water should be under
100 tds before you regularly use it on your CPs.

Most CPs like lots of light. Sarracenia, most Drosera, and VFTs do best with bright sunshine.
Nepenthes and some Pinguicula will prefer some shading. My plants do best outside (in spite
of the low humidity here) where they usually get several hours of direct sunshine. A bright
windowsill will also work, but be aware that temperatures can get high when the sun is
shining on your plants. I also grow many plants under fluorescent lights, which do not
generate a lot of heat. Reflectors placed around the lights and plants will help to increase
the light on the plants.
Carnivorous plants are native to poor soils, so regular potting soil is generally not suitable. I
prefer peat moss mixed with white silica sand (the kind used for sandblasting) which is about
the cheapest mix. I usually mix it about 1:1 peat/sand, or 2:1 peat/sand for a mix that wont
dry out as quickly. Perilite can be substituted for the sand. Ive also added such things as
chopped pine needles to my soil, which helps to make it more acidic, which most CPs prefer.
Another option Ive had success with (although more expensive) is dried long-fiber sphagnum
moss (in my experience, Darlingtonia grows well only in long-fiber sphagnum). Ive also heard
that live sphagnum moss is very good for some plants.
Peat moss is readily available in large bales for around US$4.00. Ive found white silica
sand in 100 lb bags at a local home improvement store called Sutherlands that caters more to
contractors and construction people for about US$5.00. Dried long-fiber sphagnum moss can
be difficult to find locally. Often, nurseries will sell green moss or sheet moss, which is
not suitable for CPs. Ive found it (locally) sold as orchid moss or packaged for fisherman
to store their worms in. Ive also bought it on the web from Calwest Orchid Supplies for a
reasonable price.
Plastic pots with drainage holes are the best. Theyre usually not the prettiest options (much
to the annoyance of my wife), but they work better than clay pots. Sitting them in extradeep water saucers will make it easier to keep them wet. I prefer using a long plastic
window-box type pot, about 3 feet long, and growing lots of plants together. It makes them
easier to water and care for, although the pot can get a bit heavy.
Most CPs grow in very humid environments. Salt Lake City is not very humid! During the
summer, relative humidity usually averages between about 35-40% at night and 10-20% during
the day. I do several things which I hope increase the humidity around my plants. First of all,
I have a healthy lawn and garden, which should improve the local microclimate. Also, I try
not to put my plants in windy locations. And spraying the surrounding area (not the plants!)
with the hose helps, especially on the hottest days.
I only grow a couple of Nepenthes, but the only thing Ive been able to do for them to
achieve high enough humidity is to cover the whole plant with a large clear plastic bag (my
Neps are grown under lights). Its not pretty, but it works.
CPs usually catch plenty of bugs on their own, especially when grown outside. You can give
them the occasional bug, but dont overdo it. And never feed them anything like hamburger!
Im currently experimenting with weak foliar fertilizers on seedlings, but the general wisdom
is that they dont need it.

Although Ive listed this topic last, failure to provide a dormant period caused me to lose all
the pitcher plants I initially tried. Sarracenia need a rest period each year, similar to trees
stopping growth during the winter. If they do not get this rest period, they will become
progressively weaker until they die. For plants being grown outside in a bog, simply mulch
them with a good layer of pine needles and nature takes care of it. For plants grown under
lights, gradually reduce the light period to about 7 or 8 hours a day, and keep them in a cool
spot. Another option is to keep them on a cold windowsill, or move them into a cool garage
for two or three months. Overall, I find it difficult to maintain plants dormant inside, with
my Sarracenia usually sending up flowers by the end of January, but it seems to be enough

In general, carnivorous plants have similars needs between genus and species, in particular
regarding their need in an highly humidified atmosphere and their substrate acidity and
Water used is, preferantly , rain water, or water from melted snow, or distilled water.Since it
is not that easy to obtain such quality water, you can use tap water, but you must let it sit 2448h in a container before utilisation,and then, dont use the water from the bottom of this
very same container.
The pots
I generally use plastic pots. Clay pots, althought they are more esthetic, are drying easily and
tend to build up minerals.
Watering methods
One of the mostly used method to water carnivorous plants is called the tray method. It
consists to put your pots into a large enough tray to host your pots, with a certain distance
between the margin of the tray and them. The tray is filled with 1-2 cm of water , always or
when it is requiered. The advantage of this technique is that it allows you to water all your
pots once, with bringing a nice humid atmosphere to your plants.
Some variations of this techniques are possible; one of them use a transparent tub (the
'Rubbermaid' type is perfect) instead of a tray. You just have to put the same quantity of
water, and it keeps a better humidity around your plants, and protect them for air currents
( with its higher borders). One disadvantage; it takes more room,and is way less charming on
a windowsill or a coffee table.
Another variation is this technique particulary apply to Nepenthes. Take a tray or a tub ( from
your convenience) and put in few centimeter of littles rocks. Then, fill it with water until you
see the water under the rocks surface. The pots will be out of water, which will permit to
roots to breath, and will give to your plants a good and humid atmosphere, which is less
costly than a terrarium. The use of the tub is prefered top the tray here, especially for
capricious species, since it procures a more stable and humid environment.
It must be generally high ( more than 40-50%). An easy to get this task done is to use the
watering techique with the tray or the tub described in the watering section.. If it doenst
seem enough (like for Nepenthes for example), 1 or 2 daily mistings will help a lot . The use

of a terrarium can be useful in the case of exigeant small species, but begin to be costly when
we come to the bigger plants.
Ill deceived several people on this point Even if they are called carnivorous plants, these
plants arent dangerous for humans or for your cat They usually feed themselves with
insects, small crustacea (?)and sometimes small birds and mammals have been reported
( accidental carnivorism ). Second deceptive point: you dont have to feed them, even if
some people think so, especially after seeing The little shop of horrors. It is always pleasant
to see, with a little smile on my cheeks, people hunting insects in their courtyard or in their
house, in the hope to feed their beloved plants. These plants can survive if you dont feed
them . But one thing is sure, it is sure that a well fed plant will be more vigorous and
healthier ( Watch to dont overfeed them!). So dont be depress with the idea of your plant
starving since 3 weeks, they willnt die for this much!
The fertilizers are to avoid with most genus. These plants cant hold a large amount of
nutrients, and with this fact, the use of a fertilizer can be fatal in most cases. Of course,
there is few exceptions to this rules (as with every rule), but in general, it is better to avoid
***Note : the growing conditions noted in these pages are the ones that I use, here in Quebec.
There is some chances that our weather conditions differ with the ones from where you live,
especially regarding winter. It would be important to remember that when youll read these
page, especially when Im talking about cold dormancy or outdoor growing. A second note,
the growing instructions listed here are the ones I use but it dont mean that they are the
best ones. I strongly recommand you to get a good CP book, youll find a lot more
informations, plus particular cares to bring to differents species.***

Advices to beginners
It can be very hard and confusing to begin to collect carnivorous plants, we dont really know
with which genus or which species to begin with, neither where to get them, neither if they
will survive to our treatments. I know it, Ive already been in that situation, and I know how
difficult it can be, at least, in my case, in Canada few years ago, to find carnivorous plants
and cpers in Canada.
So, if you are beginning a collection and you dont know where to start, dont be shy, write
me and Ill see what I can do to help you. I have often extra seeds packs of Drosera capensis
(or others species) to give away
In the other case, I strongly recommand you to get a membership to a CP Society (see the
listing in the links section). Your membership to these societies often provides you many
services as the access to a journal treating of cp matters, to a seedbank, etc.

Below are the books that I have found to be very useful:

There is a listing of books ive read and found particulary interesting, about few subjects:

Cultivation :
Jean-Jacques Labat, Plantes carnivores , ditions Eugen Ulmer, 96 pages, 2000.
Adrian Slack, Les plantes carnivores, comment les cultiver?, ditions Diagone - Calmann-Levy,
172 pages, 1988.
Grard Blondeau, Plantes carnivores, ditions de Vecchi, 159 pages, 1996.
Peter d'Amato, The savage garden, Ten speed press, 314 pages, 1998.

Identification :
Groupe Fleurbec, Plantes sauvages des lacs, rivires et tourbires, dition Fleurbec, 399
pages, 1987.
Frre Marie-Victorin, Flore Laurentienne, 3e dition, Presses de lUniversit de Montral, 1093
pages, 1995.
Crow-Hellquist, Aquatic and wetland plants of northeastern North America Volume 1 :
Pteridophytes, gymnosperms and and angiosperms: Dicotyledons, The university of Wisconsin
Press, 480 pages, 2000.
Pierre Buteau, Atlas des tourbires du Qubec mridional, Direction de lexploration
gologique et minrale, Gouvernement du Qubec, 1989.

Other online sources of information I have found helpful:

The Carnivorous Plant FAQ (
Niagara Exotics (formerly Cherryhill CP) (
Botanique Nursery (
Best Carnivorous Plants (pygmy Drosera) (
The International Carnivorous Plant Society homepage (
Carnivorous Plants of the Gulf Coast (

Carnivorous Plant database(

Meadowview Biological Research Station (

Check out these great websites - they have all been of particular use to me!
Venus Fly Traps - Little Shop of Horrors, South West UK **HIGHLY RECOMMENDED** I have
purchased a number of plants from here, and I have found them to be very helpful. The
plants are always in good nick too.
Phil Wilsons Carnivorous Plant Site **HIGHLY RECOMMENDED** Phil Wilson knows more about
carnivorous plants than most people will ever forget! Has some good plants for sale too! Very
helpful chap too!
Galleria Carnivora Superb pictures of carnivorous plants in an innovative format.
Carnivorous Plant Database Very useful info on whatever carnivorous plants you find yourself
CPUK - Andrew Bates UK specific site for CP info, including nurseries and trade lists. Also has
plants for sale.
Mike Kings CPs - UK grower who has an awesome collection of Sarracenia. Great pictures and
lots of plants for sale.
Carnivorous Plants UK Forum - Forum for UK growers to discuss growing techniques and share
knowledge etc.
The Nepenthes Nursery Good German site, mainly dealing in Nepenthes and Heliamphora.
Cooks Carnivorous Plants **HIGHLY RECOMMENDED** An American nursery that does ship to
the UK. Very helpful.
Cascade Carnivorous Plants Another good American nursery that ships to the UK.
CP Jungle If you want to learn about Nepenthes, this is the site - features the excellent
Nepenthes University!
Juwel Aquariums A very good UK source of quality aquariums ideal for use as terrariums.
If you want to receive and take part in bang up-to-date information and discussions on
Carnivorous plants, you can join the Carnivorous Plants UK Forum here: CP UK Forum Some
of the people who regularly contribute are real experts in their field, others are newbies
asking the experts why their Venus Flytraps keep dying. I have found the forum very
informative, and at times very entertaining! Its free, and well worth joining!
My Grow List
Further Information
Fortunately there is now a wealth of information available to those who are becoming
interested in Carnivorous plants and would like to know more. There are several good books,
and the internet is a great source of good information, as well as there being several online
nurseries. Below are the books and nurseries and websites etc that have been of particular
interest and /or help to me:

Other Sources of Information

What books are good?
There are a variety of books available. Some are good, many are bad. All of them are good for
what they set out to achieve. A preferred short list (given by author) are: Adrian Slack or

Gordon Cheers (cultivation); Peter D'Amato, Don Schnell, Allen Lowrie, Lloyd, or Peter Taylor
(the last book, by Taylor, is a very technical reference on the Utricularia genus). A recentlypublished book (1996) called 'Sarracenia', by John and Jean Ainsworth, deals exclusively with
the Sarracenia genus.
The books by Adrian Slack, although out of print and somewhat difficult to obtain, are
excellent works for the understanding and cultivation of CPs in general. The two titles by this
author: 'Carnivorous Plants' and 'Insect-Eating Plants and How to grow them', are highly
Dr. Jan Schlauer has produced a complete listing of all known CPs, alive
or extinct. This scholarly work can be perused using Rick Walker's page
on the Internet.
Similarly, VCPS has produced a loose-leaf book listing all the known
carnivorous plants. The species within each genus are listed
alphabetically. All the known subspecies, varieties, forms, named
hybrids, cultivars and synonyms are included. Also, there is a listing of
the reference sources for the information, and a list of existing
carnivorous plant societies, world-wide.


What CP web and Internet resources are available?

There is a free Internet discussion group (a mailing list). This group is

very active, providing on average 15 messages per day. A digest option is
available. There are also several CP-related web pages maintained by various growers. A
particularly fine link is owned by Rick Walker and contains a good interface for searching a CP
database. An incomplete list of other links can be found on this CP page
there are some links to nurseries there too. Another CP nursery is also
on-line, which you can find through Yahoo or other web-search engines.
Because of various instances of personal bias against it, it will not be
referenced directly. You can read why by examining some comments
from previous customers.
E-Mail List Servers
International CP List Server
Subscribe to the CP List Server.
Subscribe by e-mailing
Leave the subject line blank
In the first line of of the body of the e-mail type: subscribe cp "your
Transmit the e-mail
You will be advised that you are on the list
Messages or queries are then sent through
Australian CP List Server

Sarracenia at meal

A List Server operates that is wholly devoted to Australian Carnivorous Plants, their habitat
and cultivation.
To join, sent a blank e-mail to
A confirmation of your subscription will be e-mailed to you.
Messages for the list are then sent to
So now that you have read about carnivorous plants, it is hoped that your interest in these
wonderful plants will grow, and increase your appreciation of the beauty of the natural world.
If you do perceive a need to learn more about this interesting group of
plants, the Victorian Carnivorous Plant Society can provide expert
guidance to assist you in your endeavours.
VCPS wish readers the best of luck with their ventures into CP culture,
and sincerely hope that these pages will provide worthwhile assistance.
Drosera lowriei - The environments where these plants grow naturally are valuable
named after Allen resources we cannot afford to squander. Enjoy them, but leave a light
Lowrie, of Western footprint.

Carnivorous Plant Growing Media

Peat compost
Most CPs require an acidic growing medium (hereinafter referred to as 'compost'), to match
their wetland origins. An important plant in acidic wetlands is a moss called Sphagnum
(Sphagnum is the name of the genus). When Sphagnum moss decomposes slightly, it is called
Sphagnum peat moss, or more simply, peat moss. Use this for your first attempts at growing
CPs. Peat moss is available in various quantities, and in the experience of most growers it is
best to buy it in bales (300 litres). It costs about AU$43. This is a lot of moss, but if you
become tired of CPs you can always use it in your garden. The reason to buy bales is that
smaller volumes are often pre-wetted (so you are paying for water) or, worse yet, treated
with chemicals such as wetting agents. These compounds seem to be toxic to some CPs. When
you use peat moss, grab a hunk (it is usually compressed), crumble it to powder in your
hands, and then add water. It is hard to wet. The best way is to submerge a handful, squeeze
out the air, then slowly let it expand. It will draw in water. Do not use peat dry - it will never
Most CP species grow well in a peat moss compost. In this part of the world a percentage
coarse sand is favoured in varying amounts, depending on particular plants.

All the Sarracenia species grow well in a 4:1 mixture of peat and coarse sand.
Dionaea plants prefer the slightly better drainage of a 2:1 mixture; as do the various Drosera
binata plants and many other non-Australian Drosera species.
Cephalotus and Brocchinia genera, together with the Australian pygmy Drosera and tuberous
Drosera species, and some of the South African Drosera species - D. regia, and D. pauciflora in
particular, should be grown in a 1:1 mix of peat and sand.
Byblis species prefer a drier compost consisting of 1:2 mixture of peat and coarse sand.
The terrestrial Utricularia species are much more water-loving. They prefer a 1:1 peat moss
and sand compost, with a high water-table.

Sphagnum potting medium

Some CPs prefer Sphagnum in the non-decomposed state. This is referred
to as long-fibre Sphagnum. Some plants even prefer live Sphagnum.
Finding long-fibre Sphagnum to buy may be difficult because few
nurseries carry it. Do not buy 'green moss' or 'sheet moss'. This stuff is
garbage, and is certainly not Sphagnum, despite what your well-meaning
nurseryman may think. Nearly all nurseries think they have Sphagnum,
but it is usually peat moss. Definitely avoid the material known as sedgeDrosera stolonifera
peat, which is sometimes available.
ssp. rupicola
Moisten Sphagnum, if dry, as you would peat.
Warning: when manipulating dry Sphagnum, use a face-mask and gloves,
as you may run the risk of contracting Sporotrichosis (see the 'technical topics' page for more
details on this).
If you go to a Sphagnum bog, usually to be found in snowfall areas of many mountains, it is
not appropriate to harvest big hunks of Sphagnum. If you must, take a few sprigs, but not
Many of the tropical CPs grow well in pure live Sphagnum: these genera
are; Nepenthes (both lowland and highland species), Heliamphora,
Genlisea, Pinguicula, and the epiphytic Utricularia species. The
Nepenthes plants benefit, in most cases, from the inclusion of about
30% orchid bark mixed with the Sphagnum.

Sand in compost
Many CPs like some additional drainage that is not provided by peat
compost. A common additive in compost mixes is sand. Propagating sand
or river sand, both fairly coarse-grained, are the best. It is available
from many of the nurseries. Larger grain 'sharp' sand is also useful. Do
NOT use ocean sand or bricklayer's sand because these contain too many
salts. Certainly avoid bags of 'builder's mix' or other sandy compounds
that are probably dry bags of concrete! Before using any sort of sand, it
should be cleaned. Do this by filling a bucket halfway with sand, then
run water over the sand while agitating the mix. The water is usually
tan and opaque. But after a few such washings the water in the bucket
clears and the sand is ready to use. The quantities of sand to mixed with
other compost ingredients are itemised in those other sections.
Warning: When using dry silica sand, use a respirator because you are
risking Silicosis (see the 'technical topics' page for more details on this).
Drosera auriculara

Other compost ingredients

Some CPs prefer compost mixes including portions of vermiculite, perlite, live Sphagnum,
orchid bark, or other additives. Feel free to experiment and by all means report your
findings. Sadly, there are no solid, reliable recipes that seem to work for everyone.

Carnivorous Plant Environment

Pure water is essential, as that is what the CPs expect from their wetland backgrounds. The
tap-water or well-water in many areas contain too many chemicals, including calcium. Over
time, these chemicals will kill your CPs. In Melbourne area the normal tap water is
sufficiently pure for CP usage. Otherwise most growers use either rain, distilled, or reverse
osmosis water. Good-quality reverse osmosis (RO) units work very nicely. Water softeners are
not helpful since they add as many chemicals as they remove. If you are starting, stick with
rain water (or tap water, in Melbourne) so if you have trouble, you know the water is not to
How wet should the compost be? Remember these are mainly wetland plants. They want
water. If you squeeze a handful of the compost, expect water to run out through your fingers
and track down your arm. Wet wet wet. A few require a dry season, like tuberous Drosera in
the summer months; but most want it wet. Keeping your pots sitting in a tray of water is a
good idea for many CPs - but not for Nepenthes, Heliamphora, Byblis, Drosophyllum, and
Pinguicula plants, and Cephalotus in winter months.

Carnivorous plants mostly come from boggy areas. To copy these conditions in cultivation you
should stand your plant in a few centimeters of water. Carnivorous plants hate lime so avoid
using water from your tap if it is hard. If you are not sure if your tap water is hard check
inside your kettle. If the bottom and sides of the kettle are covering in a hard white deposit
then you have hard water.
The best type of water to use is rain water. If you do not collect rain water you should
consider doing so - after all it is free and we get plenty of it!
An alternative is to boil up water in a kettle, let it cool and use this. Its not a complete
answer since there will still be mineral deposits but its okay in an emergency. If you water is
very hard you might need using a tea strainer to remove suspended particle of limescale.
Never use bottled mineral water for your plants.Most mineral water is actually has a quite
high lime content! If you are really stuck you can use water designed for topping up car
batteries as this has been distilled.

CPs, other than Pinguicula and Utricularia, require fairly high levels of
light - most need full sun. Providing this for them is challenging. If you do
not have a greenhouse or suitable growing area, you will need a brightly
illuminated terrarium. For illuminating terraria, you should have at least
four fluorescent bulbs approximately 30 cm (12") from the plants.
Unfortunately, expensive grow-lights seem to do no better than
inexpensive cool white fluorescent tubes. Some growers prefer the widespectrum or grow-lights (but do their plants?). Do NOT use incandescent
light bulbs because they produce too much heat. Low pressure sodium
vapour and mercury vapour lights are not useful.


Most CPs require high humidity conditions. A terrarium provides the 50 90% humidity most CPs desire. But since most plants desire some air circulation, do not seal
the terrarium. Air circulation seems to be particularly important for the USA Pinguicula
species, while Nepenthes do well in sealed terraria.

Dormancy requirements
Some CPs grow in regions where the temperatures do not have much seasonal variation.
These plants can be grown all year. But most grow in habitats that are inhospitable during
some season. To survive these times, plants either produce seed and
die, or become dormant. If you attempt to grow a plant that anticipates
a resting period, you must respect its dormancy requirements, or else
the plant will simultaneously try to grow and rest, and in the resulting
confusion your plant will die.
Different plants enter dormancy during different seasons. Many CPs rest
during the cold of winter by forming tightly bound hibernacula or
turions - some Drosera, Pinguicula, and Utricularia, are notable for this.
Others, such as Sarracenia, Darlingtonia, or Dionaea, simply stop
growing or die back to a rhizome.

Drosera tubaestylus
Cold is not the only enemy. Excessive heat is another reason plants may
hibernate. The tuberous and pygmy Drosera species of Australia are
famous for their dormancy techniques. Tuberous Drosera plants regress to an underground
corm for several months of the year. Simultaneously, the delicate pygmy sundews stop
growing and try to survive the heat and desiccating winds by hiding within the shade of their
dead leaves and stipules from the previous season's growth.
Some plants may not expect a significant temperature variation, but enter dormancy because
of an approaching dry season.
It doesn't matter if you intend to provide your plant with luxurious conditions year-round. If
your plant wants to enter dormancy you must provide an appropriately cold or hot resting
period. Some growers don't like this because they want to enjoy their plants every day of the
year. So they try to devise ways of keeping their plants awake past their bedtime! The only
truly successful method is to grow some plants that are active during the winter, and some

that are active during the summer - and this, of course, is a great way to feed the mania of
collecting plants.

The high humidity and bright light requirements of CPs point many growers toward terrarium
culture. This is fine, as long as you do not exceed the temperature extremes most CPs
tolerate. Beginners may have good results growing tropical CPs. These plants do not enjoy
temperatures much higher than 100F (38C). The challenge is to give your plants as much
light as they want without cooking them. A useful solution is to cover a terrarium nearly
completely with a sheet of glass, and then support the fluorescent bulbs a few cm above the
glass. If you are handy, a small computer fan can be bought from electronic stores for a few
dollars and easily modified to blow across the ballasts of the lights. Terraria illuminated by
direct sunlight get very hot very quickly, and if not ventilated, will fry your plants. Tropical
CPs are not frost hardy.

Fertiliser and hamburger meat


As a good rule, never fertilise. Most fertilisers will kill CPs. Only a few
types, such as Nepenthes, Ibicella and Proboscidea, seem to like
particular fertilisers. But if you wish to capture a few insects and
ghoulishly feed these live insects to your plants, enjoy! Dead insects are
rarely accepted by the plants that use movement as all or part of their
trapping mechanism - eg. Dionaea, Drosera. Certainly do not feed your
plants pesticide-killed insects. Oh, and as for feeding Venus Fly Traps
hamburger meat; that is a fine way to kill them. Venus Fly Traps are
expecting insect prey, not small fragments of cows. If you don't think
there is much difference, consider the following: would you like to eat a
'hamburger' filled with the bodies of dying insects?

Nepenthes plants grow well on a water-soluble fertiliser called Epiphytes

Delight - this is available at the VCPS. Also Nitrosol, at half strength, has been found very
beneficial for the same plants.

Winter Care
For the purposed of winter care, carnivorous plants can be divided into those that need a cold
period and those that do not.
Cold Hardy Plants
Venus flytraps (Dionaea) and North American Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia) need a cold winter
period. During this time they enter a dormancy (they dont actually completely die back as
some herbaceous plant do) but they do stop growing and sometimes produce special noncarnivorous leaves. The traps will gradually start to die back from the tips.
At this time the plants are very susceptible to moulds so it is essential that watering is
reduced. Aim to keep the soil just damp. In fact you will find that if you move the plant
somewhere cold you will hardly need to water the plant at all.

If you keep you plant in the house move it to a room that is not normally heated. A bedroom
or bathroom is ideal. At this time of the year full sunlight is not really necessary. A windowsill
is still the best place though since even now the plants need some light.
Keep an eye on the plant. As the old grow dies off you should trim it back to green growth.
Keeping the green parts of the plant help it grow in the spring. Removing dead growth helps
to keep the plant healthy and makes it far less likely to get attacked by moulds.
In the spring you can move your plant back to its original position.
Non-Hardy Plants
These include most other carnivorous plants you are likely to find in the garden centre etc.,
e.g Sundews (Drosera), Bladderworts (Utricularia) and Butterworts (Pinguicula).
These plants should be kept warm over the winter months (frost free is sufficient so dont
over-do the heat). Unless kept in a centrally heated room you should reduce the watering for
these plants. Aim to keep the soil just damp.

General Plant Naming Conventions

Plant name sub-divisions.
The following name parts exist and are in common use where necessary depending on the
break-down of plant variations.
Family a closely related group of genera. All family names are easily recognised because
they all have the ending 'aceae' (meaning "resemblance"). The botanical code specifies that a
family name is formed from the type genus with the 'aceae' appended conveniently.
Genus a group of plants having common characteristics distinct from
those of other genera, usually containing some or many species and
being one of a series constituting a taxonomic family.
Species (abbrev. sp.) a class having some common characteristics.
Sub-species (abbrev. ssp.) a category below a species, usually a fairly
permanent geographically isolated variation of the species.
Variety (abbrev. var.) an individual or group, usually fertile and breed
true from seed, within the species to which it belongs, but differing from
the species type in some qualities a natural variation.
Form (abbrev. f.) a plant displaying an inherited characteristic differing
from the typical species or variety. Not sufficiently stable or marked to
justify the rank of 'variety'.
Cultivar (abbrev. cv.) a man-made plant variety of a species or hybrid,
produced by selective breeding. A cultivar name begins with a capital
letter and is not italicised or underlined. Each additional word must start
with a capital letter (except for words like "of" or "the"). Other methods
of displaying cultivar names are permitted, but the method described here will be used in
VCPS publications.
Eg. Sarracenia X moorei cv. 'Marston Clone'.
Affinis (abbrev. aff.) having affinity with. When the plant may be an extreme variant or
hybrid the abbreviation "aff." is placed before the specific epithet. The plant may be close to

the named species but does not agree sufficiently with descriptions to allow a definite

Plant Naming Rules.

The following rules are as per the book Plant Names 'A guide to
Botanical Nomenclature' (Lumley and Spencer, 1995).
All genus names must commence with an upper-case letter,
followed by lower-case letters, and must always be printed in italics (or
underscored where italics are unavailable). The genus abbreviations
must be an upper-case letter and must be printed in italics. Genus
abbreviations can be used where the genus name has been used
previously in the text, and is not at the beginning of a sentence.
All officially recognised species, sub-species, varieties, and form
names must consist of only lower-case letters and must be printed in
italics (or underscored). The sub-division names, or their abbreviations,
Drosera binata
must never be italicised eg. Drosera binata ssp. multifida f. extrema.
Plants having probable species status, but not yet officially
recognised as such, have the interim species name enclosed in single quotes and not
italicised, and are preceded by the 'sp.' abbreviation, eg. Pinguicula sp. 'Pico de Orizaba'.
Natural hybrid names are printed in italic characters and Latinised, as for species. The
hybrid epithet is preceded by a 'X' (small caps) eg. Drosera X badgerupii.
Man-made hybrid and cultivar names are enclosed in single quote characters, printed in
normal lettering, and each word starts with a capital letter not preceded by an 'X'.
Eg. Nepenthes 'Dreamy Koto' or Nepenthes 'Hareliana' cv. 'Boca Rose'.
Cultivars of species retain the botanical name of the original species.
Eg. Nepenthes thorelii cv. 'Aglow Koto'.
Cultivars derived from the same parents as natural hybrids retain the botanical name
of the original hybrid. Cultivars of man-made hybrids retain the horticultural name of the
original hybrid.
Eg. Sarracenia X excellens cv. 'Lochness' (natural hybrid cultivar)
and Drosera 'Obovata' cv. 'Clavata' (man-made hybrid cultivar).
8. In a hereditary specification for hybrids, any pair of parents for that
hybrid are separated by a lower-case 'x' character and spaces. Hybrid
parents are specified in parenthesised groups if necessary, where
multiple groups were used in the composition of the plant.
9. In hybrid specifications any pair of parents are shown in alphabetic
order or, if the female parent is known, this parent is shown first.
10 .Man-made hybrid and cultivar names should not be Latinised from
now on. The ones previously accepted in their Latinised name-form will
remain as such to avoid the confusion of changing names, but no new
ones from now on.
11. In hybrid specifications any pair of parents should be shown in
alphabetic order or, if the female parent is known, it should be shown
12. Occasionally people wonder how you make the plural form of a
genus name. For example, if you wish to discuss several Pinguicula
species; do you call them Pinguiculae or Pinguiculas? The answer is that
you can do neither! Pinguicula, when used in its italicised botanical code form, is the name of

the genus, of which there is only one it cannot be plural. So instead, say: "I saw many
Pinguicula species".
However there is way around this problem. The references to genera can be specified as
common names not in italics and not starting with a capital letter. So, the sentences: "The
tuberous droseras were flowering beautifully at Anglesea." or "You can see many pinguiculas in
Mexico." are acceptable alternatives.
To provide some assistance with pronunciation, it is recommended, where this is
phonetically possible, that every vowel is pronounced as being in a separate syllable. The
letter 'Y' is classed as a sixth vowel in this instance, where is creates a distinct 'i' or 'I' sound.
Latin names like leucophylla, where 'eu' has a single vowel sound, must be pronounced with
that in mind. The only sensible rule to apply is that if it sounds reasonable when you hear it,
and you can say it without getting your tongue severely knotted, then that will be okay.
The total naming system of plants uses two coding systems with a combination of them
where needed.
There is the Botanical Code that accommodates all the possible variations of plants that have
occurred naturally in the wild. (Forget plant families and higher levels nobody uses or
remembers those names.) All the name levels occurring naturally should be printed in italics.
Genus names must start with a capital letter with the rest of the name lower-case. All lower
level epithets must consist of only lower-case letters. The natural hybrids are identified by
having a letter 'X' (small caps) preceding the epithet.
The use of the upper-case 'X' is not recommended because it is too big.
In the printing of books where the multiply sign is available (mid-way in
size between 'X' and 'x') this should be used. In MS-Word the 'small caps'
option of font format provides this character size, and so will be used
where possible. Otherwise lower-case 'x' will be used as the natural
hybrid indicator.
All the man-made hybrids and cultivars should use the Horticultural
Code. In this code the names are not printed in italics. Each word in the
name (no more 3 is recommended) must start with a capital letter. The
names are enclosed in single quote characters. Cultivar names should be
preceded by 'cv.'. Whilst the single quotes or the 'cv.' can be optional,
for the desire to be consistent and not leave the reader in any doubt, it
seems beneficial to always include both of them.
So, in our carnivorous plant realm we need to and now can
unambiguously accommodate the following difficult combinations, using
the coding systems specified in the Botanic Gardens book:
Species and species cultivars.
Eg. Nepenthes thorelii and Nepenthes thorelii cv. 'Aglow Koto'.
Species and extreme variants.
Eg. Byblis liniflora and Byblis aff. liniflora 'Noonamah, Northern Territory'.
Natural hybrids and natural hybrid cultivars.
Eg. Sarracenia X exornata and Sarracenia X exornata cv. 'Lynda Butt'.
Man-made hybrids and man-made hybrid cultivars.
Eg. Nepenthes 'Hareliana' and Nepenthes 'Hareliana' cv. 'Vittata'.

These Latinised names are difficult to understand.

What do they mean?
Common names for plants, like: grass, oak, fly trap, and pitcher plant;
may be fine for the masses, but when you want to study plants with any
degree of seriousness you must use more 'specific' names.
Every plant and animal known to science has a scientific name. For all
the plants resulting from natural evolution or natural hybridisation,
these are Latin or Greek roots combined to form Latin words. Each of
these individual portions of the scientific name is called an epithet. An
example of such a name is Homo sapiens, which is of course is what you
are. The first part of the name, 'Homo', is the name of our genus. The
word genus is related to the word generic, and indicates the broad
category that includes all humans and very closely related creatures. For
example, all dogs, wolves, and dingos are in the genus Canis. Most 'gum
erythrorhiza ssp. trees' are in the genus Eucalyptus, and all bears are in the genus Ursus.
(The Australian marsupial, the Koala, is NOT a bear its scientific name
is Phascolarctos cinereus.)
The second part of our scientific name is the species; in our case
'sapiens'. This 'specific' epithet distinguishes between the different members of a genus, for
example the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) from the wolf (Canis lupus), or a human from
previous species (Homo sapiens versus Homo erectus, etc). When you write a Latin name, the
genus name must start with an upper-case (capital) letter and the following characters must
be lower-case, while the species name must start with and consist of lower-case letters only.
Finally, to be correct for all the naturally occurring life forms, you should write each epithet
in italics; like Eucalyptus melliodora (our Yellow Box honey tree). On-line news-groups will try
to indicate the need for italics with underscore characters for example Felis catus or _Felis
catus_ (our domestic pussy cat).
In written works, once the author has identified the genus being discussed, it is common to
just use an initial; so if we were discussing Marsh Pitcher plants, we might first mention
Heliamphora heterodoxa, but then say something about H. nutans or H.
minor using abbreviated epithets. This should not be done where the
genus name is the first word in a sentence. A problem arises when there
would be a common initial for instance when discussing a mixture of
Drosera and Drosophyllum plants. The genus names should be specified
in full for each usage in such cases.
So those are the mechanics of the generic and specific parts of the
names. The meanings of the names are often very interesting. The
genus Utricularia is characterised by the presence of small bladders, or
utricles. The specific name is usually descriptive of the plant for
example U. pentadactyla has flowers with five (penta-) finger-like (dactyla) lobes. The species U. nova-zelandiae grows in New Zealand.
Other epithets, ending with suffixes such as 'i', 'ii', or 'iana', honour some
individual (usually a male), eg. Drosera slackii (named after the British
horticulturist and author Adrian Slack), Sarracenia rubra ssp. wherryi
(named after the American botanist Dr. E. T. Wherry), or Nepenthes
rafflesiana (named after Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore).
The 'ae' suffix is use when the plant is named after a woman, eg. N.
burbidgeae (named after the wife of the British collector F.W.
Burbidge). When the species name contains the suffix 'ensis' (and the 'ae'

suffix can be used this also) it indicates that the preceding name-portion is the region
(description or actual name) where the plant comes from: eg. D. capensis comes from the
Cape of Good Hope area of South Africa, and Nepenthes muluensis is found on Mt. Mulu in
Sarawak. Small botanical Latin dictionaries are very helpful in puzzling the meaning of plant
Cultivar names can be applied to a species plant Sarracenia leucophylla cv. 'Tarnok' or
Nepenthes thorelii cv. 'Aglow Koto'. Growers may use various subspecies, varieties or forms
within a single species to produce a new man-made variation. Although the resulting plant is
man-made, its derivation is from within a single species and the species epithet remains in its
italicised form. The cultivar name portion must be non-italicised.
It is noteworthy to mention here that, in many cases, within this document and usually in
verbal intercourse among CPers, that for the monotypic genera, the species names are not
used. This is because the genus name is quite adequate to identify the plant, and the species
name is considered an unnecessary redundancy. Such usage is not strictly correct, but it is
normal practice. This will be noticeable when referring to Cephalotus, Dionaea and
Darlingtonia; being frequently-discussed plants. At one of our monthly VCPS meetings the
name follicularis was mentioned there was some dismay and lapse of time before it was
realised that Cephalotus was really the plant being referred to.
Incidentally, the plural of genus is 'genera', and both the singular and plural of the word
species is 'species'. Just to introduce a bit of confusion; whilst the abbreviation for species is
'sp', the plural of this abbreviation is 'spp' hopefully, not to be confused with the subspecies
abbreviation 'ssp'.
What do you mean by complex names like - Drosera binata var. multifida f. extrema?
Sometimes a plant does not just fit into the moulds of genus and species. It may be very
similar to some species, but different in some subtle yet significant way. If it is not so
different as to be a different species, it may be defined as being a different subspecies (like
Sarracenia rubra ssp. gulfensis). Other species subcategories exist, such as 'varieties' or
'forms'. For example, some varieties of Drosera binata (binata = fork-leafed) produce leaves
with many (multi) branches, hence D. binata var. multifida. A rare form has a great number
(more than around 16) leaf tips, and is called D. binata var. multifida f. extrema. All this does
not mean you can call plants whatever you like; inventing names along the way. Botanical
Latinised names must be published in a scientific journal before they are considered valid.

How do you pronounce the Latinised names?

There are two approaches to this. The first is to be precise and pronounce everything using
the correct Latin. The second approach is more relaxed, and operates on the principle that
since Latin is a dead language, its pronunciation doesn't really matter. Say it however you feel
comfortable. Consider the species of pitcher plant found in mountainous terrain, Sarracenia
oreophila. Some people pronounce this orry-AH-fila, others say orr-ee-oh-FIL-a (preferred),
and others say orr-ee-oh-FYE-la. Just as long as you get the point across, it does not matter.
To provide some assistance with this, it is recommended, where this is phonetically possible,
that every vowel is pronounced as being in a separate syllable. The letter 'Y' is classed as a
sixth vowel in this instance, where is creates a distinct 'i' or 'I' sound. Latin names like
leucophylla, where 'eu' has a single vowel sound, must be pronounced with that in mind. The
only sensible rule to apply is that if it sounds reasonable when you hear it, and you can say it
without getting your tongue severely knotted, then that will be okay.

Drosera callistos

In some books, particularly in the earlier title by Gordon Cheers, there is

reference to a fictitious CP species called Sarracenia oreophylla there
is no such plant. It is unfortunate that this erroneous label was
associated with the species S. oreophila, in most cases.
The error probably came about because of the phonetic similarity
between the latter portions of the species names in S. leucophylla and S.
In the leucophylla name, we have from the Greek: leuco (white-) and
phylla (-leaf) a very appropriate description for those pitchers.
The species epithet for Sarracenia oreophila is derived from: Latin oreas
or Greek oreias (mountain-) and Greek phila (-loving) its natural habitat
being some isolated mountainous areas in north-eastern Alabama in USA.

What about hybrid plants?

In most of the CP genera, particularly Nepenthes and Sarracenia, many natural and man-made
hybrids exist. The scientific names are used in a slightly different way to accommodate the
hybrids and the cultivars.
Natural Hybrids.
Presuming, of course, that the usual conventions of the naming system are used in any
instance, when an 'X' is placed following the italicised genus epithet, then the plant is a
natural hybrid. For instance, Nepenthes X kinabaluensis (a natural hybrid, found on Mt.
Kinabalu) or, in the abbreviated form N. X kinabaluensis (verbalised as: "nepenthes hybrid
kinabaluensis"). Or, in the sundew genus, Drosera X badgerupii is a natural hybrid, usually
found in Western Australia.
Man-made Hybrids.
When the second part of the plant name is shown as normal upright letters (non-italicised),
without an 'x' preceding it and enclosed within single quote marks, this indicates that the
plant is a man-made hybrid. Although many of the man-made hybrid names are obviously
Latinised, this is not necessary, and in recent times not acceptable. More than one word is
permitted in such names (up to a recommended maximum of three), with each word starting
with a capital letter. Consider Nepenthes 'Rokko' (verbally "nepenthes hybrid rokko") or
Sarracenia 'Marston Mill' (verbally "sarracenia hybrid Marston Mill"): both of these are manmade hybrids, the latter plant produced by Adrian Slack.
Cultivar names can be applied to species or either of the hybrid types, as in Sarracenia X
mitchelliana cv. 'Red Lips' or Nepenthes 'Aigae' cv. 'Akaba'. The original name of the parent
plant (species, natural hybrid, or man-made hybrid) is retained in its original form, with the
cultivar abbreviation and horticultural name appended. The cultivar names must be
constructed and obey the same rules as for man-made hybrid names.
Un-named Hybrids.
If a lower-case letter 'x' is placed between a pair of names, the plant is an unnamed hybrid.
So, Nepenthes rajah x khasiana (if it ever could exist) should be interpreted and spoken as:
"nepenthes rajah crossed with khasiana".
Pre-existing hybrids can also be used similarly: Sarracenia X excellens x 'Judith Hindle', spoken
as "sarracenia hybrid excellens crossed with hybrid 'Judith Hindle'". (Sarracenia X excellens is
a natural hybrid and S. 'Judith Hindle' is a man-made hybrid.)

Similarly, Sarracenia leucophylla x 'Willisii' ("Sarracenia leucophylla crossed with hybrid

willisii"). (Sarracenia 'Willisii' is a man-made hybrid).
An interesting case arises when two natural hybrids are used as parents Sarracenia X popei x
X moorei.
The point to remember is that the plant definitions, when specified in this manner, are totally
unambiguous nobody can say: "Oh, I thought you meant something else."

Carnivorous Plant Propagation

How do I propagate my plants?
There are many methods of propagating these plants. Methods used by CPers include leaf
cuttings, root cuttings, stem cuttings, air layering, dividing clumps, separating growth
crowns, seeds, gemmae, daughter tubers, adventitious plantlets, and tissue culture methods.
But all methods will not work for all plants. For example, the only effective way to propagate
Byblis liniflora is by seed, while Drosera capillaris can be propagated by seed, leaf cutting, or
occasionally false vivipary. All pygmy Drosera species, like D. roseana or D. pulchella produce
small modified leaves (called gemmae) which detach and should be planted, without delay, in
a manner similar to seeds. Exactly which method will work depends upon the plant you are
growing. You will have to ask around or experiment on your own. Once you know the method
to use, any of the CP books in your library will tell you how to proceed.

How do I stimulate seeds to germinate?


Most CP seeds germinate in normal CP growing conditions. Prepare a pot

as you would a pot for a mature plant, then sprinkle the seed upon the
surface. Do not bury the seed. Keep the pot moist, as you would for a
growing CPs, and wait. Germination takes longer than garden vegetables
if some CPs germinate within a few weeks, most veteran growers are
pleasantly surprised. Some CPs take months to germinate. When you sow
seeds, do not give up on the pot until two years pass. Patience is the key
word. Plant the seeds, then try to forget about the pot a watched pot
never germinates. Some CPs require special treatment to germinate, like
chemicals, cold treatments (stratification), extreme heat (from fires), or
slicing the side of the seed. You'll learn about these techniques
elsewhere in these pages, and in other books, and on the internet.
The stratification of seeds is necessary in the case of Sarracenia and
some other genera. The preferably fresh seed should be dried for five or
six days to minimise any fungus difficulties. Put the seed, together with
a plug of moist Sphagnum moss into a medicine phial, or sealable plastic
bag, together with a label containing the plant details, seal the
container, and place it in the non-freezing section of your fridge. Leave
it there for about six weeks during the winter. After that time sow the
seed into its normal potting media. This process simulates the conditions
of the seed's natural environment, where the parent plant drops its seed

during autumn, and it remains dormant during the winter, to germinate when temperatures
and daylight hours increase in the spring.

Smoke for germinating Australian native seeds

By K. W. Dixon & S. Roche, Kings Park Botanic Garden, Perth Western Australia
Fire has played a significant role in the evolution of Australian flora at least since the arrival
of arid conditions in the mid-Tertiary (Kemp, 1981). For many taxa, response to fire has
moulded plant growth and been responsible for the derivation of analogous structures and life
forms often in disparate taxonomic groups. In the fire-prone floras particularly those of
Mediterranean zones, fire has been shown to be crucial for the recruitment from seed of a
wide variety of taxa. For seeder or fire sensitive species and fire ephemerals, habit burning is
the single most important cue for triggering germination of the dormant soil seed bank (Bell
et al., 1993; Meney et al., 1994). For many fire responsive taxa,
germination of viable seed under controlled conditions has been
difficult or impossible using conventional treatments other than excised
embyro culture (Meney et al., 1994) or special treatments including
hormonal applications (Bell et al., 1993).
The Role of Smoke in Germination
Following the discovery that smoke stimulated germination of the rare
South African plant Audounia capitata (De Lange and Boucher 1990) the
exploration of benefits of smoke-mediated germination has expanded to
different continents with applications in nursery, land management, and
rare flora conservation.
Pinguicula weser x
As crude smoke or aqueous extracts applied to seed directly, or to the
surface of the seed trays, or as smoke to the soil surface in habitat
sites, germination has been stimulated for a wide variety of species
(Brown et al., 1955).
The study of Dixon et al. (1995) found that smoke applied in a variety of
ways was able to stimulate germination in Australian species both in situ
(in bushland) and ex situ (nursery and laboratory). This study
established, for a wide variety of species, the importance of smoke as a
cue for germination with resultant and sometimes spectacular
improvements in germination.
Smoke Stimulated Germination of Australian Species
Research by Dixon et al. (1995) has shown that smoke is a key principle
in breaking seed dormancy in a wide variety of native Australian species.
Though this study has concentrated on Western Australian plants, general
principles have emerged regarding the benefits of smoke for
Smoke can promote earlier and more uniform germination under
controlled greenhouse and laboratory conditions.
Smoke enables germination in species previously thought difficult or
impossible to germinate by conventional methods.
Smoke substantially promotes germination in species with low levels of

Nepenthes pilosa

The promotive effect of smoke is independent of seed size and shape; plant life form ie.
whether annual, perennial, herbaceous, seeder (fire sensitive), or resprouter (fire tolerant).
Aerosol smoke, smoke dissolved in water or direct smoked solids (active clays, sand
particles), or direct smoked seeds are effective methods for delivery of smoke for
High doses of smoked water can inhibit germination of many species.
Paper daisies (Rhodanthe, Schoenia) are suppressed by smoking.
Germination over time in response to smoke can change with taxa ie.
a) control and smoked seed attain final germination at the same rate eg. Conostylis species.
b) first seedling emergence occurred earlier in smoked seeds.
c) control germination was limited to the first week or so whereas smoked seeds continued to
germinate over a longer period.
d) difference between control and smoke treatment became apparent only after several
Smoked Water
Smoked water can be useful for direct priming or pre-germination of seeds prior to sowing.
Smoked water treated seeds have the advantage of not requiring the use of a smoke tent and
the convenience of priming seeds at will. Smoke water-primed seeds may germinate better
than smoked seedling trays with the process applicable to handling potentially large
quantities of seed such as for land restoration or automated seed sowing devices.
Smoked water is produced by drawing smoke produced from the combustion drum operating
as for aerosol smoke, through a container of water. Smoke bubbling is done for approximately
60 minutes and the resultant solution is frozen till required.
Seed to be treated with smoked water is soaked for 12 to 36 hours in a 10% solution of the
neat smoked solution and the seed is then sown, or dried then sown as required. seeds
treated with smoked water can be watered normally after smoke-water treatment. Although
this method has been shown to be useful for a number of native species,
caution is recommended as seed of some species can degenerate if
soaked in water for prolonged periods. Also, pre-germination as a
horticultural practice for seed of Australian native plants requires some
experimentation to ensure the process is applicable. In some cases pregermination can lead to decline in seed quality and viability and it is
recommended that species to be treated in this way should be tested
for tolerance to imbibing and drying treatments.
The Smoke Chemical What Makes it Work?
Research is continuing in various laboratories and Botanic Gardens to
better understand the sites and mode of interaction of smoke in
breaking the dormancy of native species.
A major aspect to be considered is that plants differ considerably in
their fruits and in the structure of the actual seeds.
Seeds that are wind-distributed are often produced in large quantities
and germinate readily, although their period of viability can be short.
Seeds of many of the fleshy fruits have a firm skin or outer shell. This
Drosera pulchella
allows them to withstand the digestive juices of the creatures which eat
the fruits and distribute the seeds. In some species actual seed
germination is assisted by this process.
A large number of tree and shrub seeds produced in pods have very hard individual coats,
which can give them a viability period of many years. Germination of these species can be

hastened by exposure to digestive juices or fire in their natural habitat, or by immersing the
seed in hot water, rubbing the outer coating with sand paper, or a range of other treatments
that break down the outer coating and allow water to penetrate.
Heat and fire also assist seed germination by stimulating fruits such as woody capsules to
open and release their seed. Usually the seeds contained in hard woody fruits do not have a
firm outer coating and therefore require no additional treatment for germination.
Some carnivorous plants occur naturally in areas where winter temperatures drop below
freezing point. Germination of these species is often aided by stratification through placing
the seed in a refrigerator for a period of days or weeks during winter, before sowing the seed.
It is by understanding the natural habitats of different plants that we can guess at some of
the conditions that might exist in nature where the seeds germinate, then use similar
techniques to assist us in our propagation of plants.
It has for many years been thought that fire has been essential to the
germination of many species. Although it is certainly of assistance in
some areas, as mentioned above, research now indicates that it is the
actual properties of the smoke that stimulates germination of a wide
range of low heathland-type plants, many of which have been regarded
as difficult to propagate in the past. Tests with trees and upper canopy
plants have to date been less successful.
Many of the carnivorous plants we seek to grow will germinate readily
from seed some to the point where we may even have an excess of
plants. Others frustrate us with their reluctance to germinate, and
provide a challenge which many growers regard as one of the fascinating
aspects of plant cultivation. It may not be worth the time and effort to
try any special germination techniques on plants that propagate readily,
Pinguicula sierra but for seeds that are difficult the use of smoke is certainly one of the
methods well worth trying. There is still much to be learnt regarding this
ssp. obscura
technique and species that occur in areas not usually exposed to fire
may also benefit from the properties of smoke.

Pests and Pest Control

What about pests?
Even though CPs eat insects, they are still victimised by pests. CPs can become infested with
scale insects, mealy bugs, aphids, thrips, slugs, caterpillars, and mites. When possible,
remove the pests manually (pluck them off), because CPs can be very sensitive to chemicals.
Biological controls, such as lady-bugs, are of limited use because they are rapidly consumed
by the plants! If you move to a chemical approach, the best results seem to have come from
isopropyl alcohol, pyrethrum, Rogor, or Malathion. The use of chemicals needs a disclaimer:
what works for one person may not work for everyone. Insecticidal soaps, unfortunately, seem
to be deadly to CPs although some growers seem to use them safely. Pyrethrum, a compound
extracted from Chrysanthemums, is often considered more plant friendly some growers like
using it on their CPs (but it can damage pitchers and flowers of Sarracenia). Some people like
Malathion it has the advantage of being available in wettable powder form, as it seems that
while Malathion itself is not too bad for CPs, the solvents used to transform it to liquid form

are CP-toxic. Rogor, a systemic insecticide, is very effective for killing scale and mealy bug
insects, as well as many other insects (beware - Rogor may cause problems with Nepenthes),
because it poisons the sap of the plant and so poisons all the sap-suckers and leaf-eaters
even if you can't see them.
Red Spider Mite, also known as Two-spotted Mite, is a particularly
troublesome pest on Sarracenia plants, and to a slightly lesser extent on
Nepenthes and Heliamphora. Its presence can be recognised by the
presence by a rusty colouration (flecking) on one side of the pitcher and
a fine silvery-white webbing on the other side. With either keen eyesight
or with the aid of a magnifying glass, final confirmation can be made by
seeing these pin-head size little red offenders.
Once known or suspected of being there, treatment should begin
immediately. The systemic insecticide Rogor, together with a small
amount of spreader (wetting agent) is probably best and safest for you
plants. (Some growers have had problems with using Rogor on
To apply this preparation use a fine misting gun or wand. When treating
follicularis - the a red spider infestation it is necessary to spray not only the infected,
possibly infected, and might become infected plants, but also every
Albany Pitcher
square centimetre of your planthouse. This includes the walls, roof, tops
and undersides of all benches. These terrible creatures are incredibly
tenacious, so it is essential that every possible nook and cranny must be
covered. Spray at fortnightly intervals until you can be quite sure that the problem is cured
not just contained.
When you apply insecticides, do so in the shade and on cool days because this may be easier
on the plants. Also, wear appropriate face-masks and gloves when using toxic compounds.
Some growers have problems with larger pests, such as cats, dogs, deer,
birds, and opossums. Unfortunately, once these animals have decided to
bother your plants you are in trouble. The only effective thing to do is
cage your plants. Birds dig in the compost in large pots looking for
potential goodies; and can seriously dislodge the plant therein. If you
can train your beloved Felis catus or Canis familiaris to stand guard and
keep the birds away very good luck.
It is possible to perform a bit of role-reversal on the snail pests to the
benefit of one of the very popular CP species. (A suggestion originated
by Richard Sullivan, in Bathurst.)
The plant to be involved is Sarracenia purpurea. Each of the subspecies, varieties and forms of S. purpurea have an erect hood one
that fairly obviously is meant to catch rain-water, and so drown the prey
that ventures into the pitchers.
When you find those bandits, the snails (the small to medium-sized
ones) in your garden, crush their shell with you foot slightly; just
enough to be sure that the snail will die. If the shell is dislodged and
Drosera adelae
lost so much the better. Next, drop these crippled gastropods into the
water-filled pitchers of Sarracenia purpurea. If you had not squashed
the snails a bit, they would be able to cling onto the inside of the pitchers and escape to
continue their marauding activities on your beloved plants.
(The snails too big for your Sarracenia purpurea pitchers should receive a much more
generous application of foot-power.)

So, the snails will soon drown and/or die in the water-filled Sarracenia purpurea pitchers. The
acids and enzymes produced by the plant will slowly break down their body parts and the
resulting nutrients will be absorbed in the usual way.
Then, you can watch the amazed and disbelieving expressions on the faces of your friends
when you inform them: "The plants are eating my snails."

CP Pest Control

Sarracenia and


Most CPs

Botrytis fungus

Most CPs


Most CPs

Mealy Bugs

Most CPs

Most CPs

Sooty mould

Sarracenia and

Red Spider Mite Most CPs

Two-spotted Mite

Ants, together with sooty mould usually

indicate the presence of scale - check
carefuly for scale insects on such plants.
Folimat, Rogor, or Malathion spray.
Rogor may cause problems for Nepenthes.
Fongarid spray, and increase air flow around
Do not use any copper-based fungacides.
Careful inspection and removal of
caterpillars, or
Frequent sprays with Malathion or Dipel.
Do not use carbaryl spray on CPs.
Folimat, Rogor, or Malathion spray.
Rogor may cause problems for Nepenthes.
Folimat, Rogor, or Malathion spray.
Rogor may cause problems for Nepenthes.
White oil is not recommended for CPs.
Ants, together with sooty mould usually
indicate the presence of scale - check
carefuly for scale insects on such plants.
Thorough and frequent sprays with both
Rogor and Malathion.

By far the biggest threat to carnivorous plants is from fungal infections. These tend to hit the
plant during the winter and early spring months. Keeping to the winter care instructions helps
but if you find mould on your plant you should treat it with a fungicide. These are available
from your garden centre. Use at the manufacturers full strength.
(Greenflies and Blackflies) can be a pest at almost any time of the year, though they are most
likely to infest your plants during the spring and summer.
Often the first signs are distorted growth. This is caused by the insects which feed on the sap
of the plant.
Small numbers of insects can be picked off by-hand. Larger numbers need to be treated with
an insecticide. Any branded insecticide can be used - get them from your garden centre.
Note. Some insecticides will damage the leaves of Sundews if sprayed onto the dewy trapping
parts. Try to avoid spraying the entire plant. If you do notice damage it will be replaced by
new growth in a few weeks.

Other Pests
Other insect pests can be sprayed against. Woolly Aphids and Mealy Bugs can be damaging if
not treated but are fortunately not common unless you grow other ornamental plants.
Scale Insects are so called because of the scale-like covering the insect produces to protect
itself. Look for small brown dome-like objects on the leaves. If you choose to use a pesticide
for these make sure it actually states on the packaging that it controls scale insects - many
products are ineffective against scale.
Slugs and Snails can do enormous damage, especially if your plants are growing outside. Pick
off those you find or use slug pellets.
Unfortunately there are a number of pests that can attack Carnivorous plants.
Below briefly are the most common culprits, and what can be done to stop them. In all cases
where using chemicals, it is best to try and make sure that you get as little as possible on the
soil - Carnivorous plants are not fond of dissolved salts or metals in their growing medium. It
is worth regularly checking all of your plants for pests and diseases - if caught early, most are
very easy to cure.
This pest appears as small brownish blister-like objects on the leaves of plants. They dont
move when prodded. They are actually small insects that have a protective covering. They
can be scraped off the leaves if they are few in number, or insecticides can also do the job.
They most often attack pitcher plants. I have found that they most often spend their time on
leaves / pitchers, and if an infestation is not too bad, it can be beaten by a mixture of
aggressive pruning and careful removal of stragglers.
These are the most common pests on Carnivorous plants. They are very small insects that vary
in colour, but once you have seem them, you will never forget what they look like!
Unfortunately, the females are born pregnant, so once a population has taken hold, they can
multiply at a frightening rate! If the numbers are very small they can be picked off,
insecticides can usually deal with larger populations.
I have used liquid Malathion on the aphids that continually attack my Venus Flytraps - they
really seem to love them ignoring everything else and heading straight for the VFTs!! A second
application a week or so after the first one seems to do the trick (for a while at least!).
Fortunately, while aphids may cause damage to young plants and leaves, unless the
infestation is massive they are unlikely to endanger a plants life.
Systemic insecticides can be used to treat this pest, which is related to scale. It is however
tricky to remove, and several applications may be needed. They most often attack pitcher
plants. I have only ever had one small infestation of this pest, which I was able to conquer
using some aggressive pruning.
The problem with insecticides is that they can often cause at least some damage to your
plants. While that is better than losing them altogether, there may be an alternative (and
cheaper!) medicine to try, based on the fact that most Carnivorous plants are considerably
more water-tolerant than the pests that attack them:

For plants that hail from marshes and boggy areas (such as Sarracenia (North American Pitcher
plants), Dionaea (Venus Flytraps), Darlingtonia (Cobra Lilies), Utricularia (Bladderworts), and
temperate Pinguicula (Butterworts) and Drosera (Sundews)), immersion in water for up to a
week may do the trick - the plants can take it since they are periodically flooded in the wild,
but the pests (which in the wild find another home when the floods come) drown. I have tried
this when my Venus Flytraps had a bad infestation some time ago. It was fairly successful - it
did reduce the population by about 90%, and I was able to pick the rest off by hand painstaking work, but it did the trick!
For all other plants, this is something I have read but never tried - spray the plants with the
following mixture:
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon liquid soap
1 gallon of water
The mixture should be shaken well to disperse the oil before spraying. The soap acts as a
wetting agent, and the oil encases small insects and suffocates them. After about 5 minutes
the plant should be sprayed with clean water - this will wash off all the soap etc, but in
theory should leave enough oil on the pests to kill them. This treatment does not kill eggs, so
a repeat treatment may be necessary in a few days to catch any hatchlings.

Technical Information
Definition of plant carnivory
Although many books have been written on CPs, until 1984 no-one had defined what
constitutes carnivory in plants. The following definition is adapted from an article by T. J.
Givnish and co-workers from Harvard University. This definition should be used in the future
to avoid confusion.
A plant must fulfil two criteria to be classified as carnivorous:
1. It must have adaptations whose primary function is the active
attraction, capture and/or digestion of prey.
2. It must be able to absorb nutrients from dead animals juxtaposed
to its surfaces, and gain some advantage from such nutrition in terms of
growth, increased chance of survival, pollen production, or seed
The first criterion is required to differentiate carnivorous plants from
other plants that can passively profit from nutrients from dead animals
decomposing in the soil or on their leaf surface.
The second criterion is to exclude those plants that have defensive
mechanisms capable of capturing and/or killing animals, but unlike
carnivorous plants are unable to gain substantial nutrition from their prey.
There are many plants that fulfil only one of these criteria, but which are not CPs. For
example, flowers are effective in attracting insect pollinators, and some plants such as

orchids temporarily trap insect pollinators to ensure pollen transfer. Other plants, such as
members of the South African genus Roridula, trap and kill insects by their sticky resins, but
apparently do not digest the prey. These plants do not fulfil all the criteria necessary to
qualify as a CP.

How can plants move?

All plants have the power of limited movement, which may be as simple
as the plant moving because it enlarges as it grows. But with CPs,
motion can be extremely fast and striking. Since plants do not have
muscle tissue, how do they do it? There are two main movement
mechanisms that CPs use. The first kind of motion is what Venus Fly
Traps use to close their traps. It involves changes in water pressure.
When the trap is activated (by touching trigger hairs on the leaves), the
cells on the inside walls of the trap transfer water to the outside walls
essentially they become limp. This snaps the leaf closed. The second
kind of motion is powered by cell growth. This action is triggered by
detecting a touch sensation. On any plant having tendrils, the cell
growth in the tendril takes place on the side opposite the 'touch' and so
the tendril will, by default, curl around the touched object (epinasty),
and hopefully provide physical support for that plant. The tentacles of
sundews bend towards prey because the cells on one side of the
tentacles grow. On the sundew many of the tentacles that move are not Drosera ramellosa
actually touched by the prey it becomes a generalised action for the
whole of that portion of the leaf. This is similar to the way bimetallic
strips work in thermostats. Also in many of the sundews the rear surface of the leaf will grow,
so that the prey is eventually 'wrapped' by the leaf.
Incidentally, not all CPs have rapidly moving parts. Many, like the various pitcher plants for
example, capture prey by forming very clever containers that creatures
are lured into but cannot escape from.

Can I grow CPs in my garden?

After reading the cultivation requirements, you tell me! Most people
cannot. Most CPers grow plants in terraria or greenhouses. Some,
however, dig holes in their yard, submerge plastic wading pools, and
create backyard peat bogs. This can be a very rewarding exercise when
properly installed as explained in the outdoor bog section below.
We are very fortunate in Victoria, and other parts of southern Australia,
in that we live in a climate that allows many CPs to successfully grow
and flower outdoors.
Sarracenia plants are probably best grown outdoors, since they are less
susceptible to fungal attack, and a cold winter dormancy encourages the
plant to flower more readily.
Cephalotus and Darlingtonia also appreciate the cooler conditions found
in the open. Most Drosera and Utricularia species will thrive, although
many tropical species are not hardy enough. Dionaea will also grow
strongly; even many Pinguicula species, often noted for their tenderness,
grow well unprotected.

Nepenthes pilosa

Rain and wind can have a stunting effect on some plants, but the only severe problem is snail,
slug, and caterpillar damage. This can be controlled fairly well using baits, or the other
suggestion for snails on the pests page. Plants grown outdoors are generally stronger and
more robust, and often have a healthy look about them when compared
to many greenhouse-grown plants.

What is hybrid vigour?

Hybrid vigour (or 'heterosis') is the phenomenon where a hybrid or cross
shows an increase in such characteristics as size, growth rate, fertility,
and hardiness over its parents, which are generally different from one
The first-generation offspring show these desired characteristics in
greater measure. However, this vigour decreases when the hybrids are
mated together until it becomes absent in about the eighth generation.
Therefore if heterosis is to be used to its full potential, the grower must
maintain the parental lines and make fresh crosses whenever a new
batch of seed is required. Of course, such vigour will persist through
vegetative reproductions.
There is evidence that heterosis occurs in three of the 'hybridisable'
genera of CPs, as far as is known. These are: Drosera, Nepenthes, and
Sarracenia. Such characteristics in these hybrids make them easier to
grow and more tolerant of temperatures usually outside the species'
range. It is not known it heterosis occurs in Heliamphora or Pinguicula


What is tissue culture?

Some growers prefer to avoid matters of compost entirely and propagate their plants on petri
dishes in laboratory conditions. This is called tissue culture. Despite its peculiar nature, tissue
culture is the best way to propagate some species rapidly. There are one or more members of
VCPS (and usually some people on the net) who are involved with tissue culture, and you can
meet them within the society. Many Pinguicula species and hybrids are distributed in tissue
culture flasks, nowadays.
As tissue culture plants have been protected for some months in their own sterile
environment, when transferred from tubes, flasks, or other containers, they are susceptible
to drying out, wilting, and attack from fungi.
To ensure this doesn't happen the plants must be hardened off gradually
while using a systemic fungicide. (Many fungicides have both curative
and preventative action the latter achieved by the residual activity of
the product.) Once fungal activity has commenced, halting its spread
requires stronger and more frequent doses of fungicide. It may be
necessary to spray twice a week instead of one a week.
To successfully transfer the flask plants to normal life in the outside
world, the following steps should be undertaken.
Dionaea muscipula 1. Use hot water and add the recommended dosage of fungicide. Pour
this over the compost and allow to cool.
- The Venus Fly

Carefully remove all plants from the container and place them in a container of
lukewarm water which contains a weak solution of fungicide.
Moving the plants around in the water will remove all the agar from the plants. The
agar must be removed from each plant before planting it in the fungicide-treated compost.
Spray with the recommended dosage of fungicide every week for four weeks.
Place the container of plants into a high humidity and draught-free environment, for
example a terrarium, or cover with a plastic bag. In this environment the plants should be
shaded at least 50 to 90%, with humidity 70 to 100%, and a temperature of 19 to 25C (66 to
77F). After about two weeks the plants are able to cope with the temperature and humidity
fluctuations and the lid of the terrarium can be lifted up slightly (or an opening made in the
plastic bag). Relative humidity of 60 to 80% is adequate at a temperature of between 15 and
25C (59 and 77F).
Maintain this environment for a further two weeks, after which
time the container can be placed in a greenhouse under normal
conditions. High temperatures exceeding 30C (86F) should be
prevented, as well as drying out of the plants and compost. If the plants
are looking limp then prolong the period of hardening-off by two or
more weeks until the plants look okay again.
After six to eight weeks the plants will be able to cope with more
sunlight and can be grown just as you would for other plants of the
same species.

What is Silicosis or Sporotrichosis?

Silicosis is a disease that is caused by inhaling particles of silica sand.
The particles lodge in the lungs and irritate the tissue. Wearing a
respirator when working with sand is advised.
The following section discusses the disease Sporotrichosis found in
Sphagnum in USA. Whilst enquiries so far have not found it to be present californica - The
Cobra Lily
in Australia, it is wise to be careful. It would be quite rare, from
experience and observation, for dry Sphagnum to be available or
handled in Australia.
Sporotrichosis is caused by the fungus Sporotrichum schenckii, which has been found in
compost, flowers, shrubs, and even wooden mine props. Also found in Sphagnum. How the
moss becomes contaminated is not clear, and attempts to detect the fungus in Sphagnum bogs
have not been successful, but it has been found in bales arriving at nurseries. The fungus is
found throughout the US, especially in Wisconsin. As of 1984, state forest tree nurseries no
longer pack seedling trees in moss because of this. The Michigan USDA Forest Service nursery
also discontinued the use of Sphagnum. Infection occurs when the spores of the fungus are
introduced through a small abrasion or scratch in the skin. In one to four weeks a small
painless blister develops at the entry site. This blister becomes inflamed and slowly enlarges.
Other areas may become infected as the fungus spreads through the lymph vessels. Nodules
may form along the infected lymph channels, and the lymph glands in the armpit or elbow
may become enlarged and sore. If untreated, the disease progresses slowly to the bones,
abdominal organs, and uninvolved skin. Diagnosed early, the disease can be adequately
treated and is rarely fatal. Treatment is potassium iodine taken orally several times a day for
up to three months. Expect upset stomachs. There is another treatment that has been
developed which is preferred over this. Newer information indicates some uncertainty as to
the fungal species.

An article in the AOS Bulletin, indicated that New Zealand Sphagnum (once thought safe) can
carry the fungus. The bottom line is, 'How contractible is this'? In CP culture circles there are
MANY people who use Sphagnum extensively. Use a mask and gloves whenever you work with
it, especially if you have any cuts or scrapes on my hands. Also use a mask and gloves
whenever you are using any type of pesticide or herbicide, too.
Regarding Sporotrichosis, an article written by Darroll D. Skilling, principal plant pathologist
at N.Carolina Forest Experiment Station, 1992 Folwell Ave., St. Paul MN 55108, has been
transcribed and summarised for the Carnivorous Plant Newsletter, March 1984. Have a search
of the internet for a copy of this article.

Why are most CPs wetland plants?

In wetlands there are very few nutrients available for plants from the
soil. Non-carnivorous species that live there have difficulty obtaining
necessary nutrients and so do not thrive. CPs have found a different way
to obtain nutrients, and so can survive. In environments with plenty of
available soil-borne nutrients, CPs do not have this advantage. CPs are
not well adapted to high nutrient levels, which is probably why they do
not tolerate fertilisers and pesticides.

Why are these wetlands nutrient poor?

In wetland environments where the water is not quickly recharged by
streams, chemicals released by decaying plant matter can become
concentrated. Some compounds, such as tannins, are acidic, and
increase the acidity of the water. When the water becomes acidic, two
things happen. First, many micro-organisms which aid in decomposition
cannot function, so when plants die they do not rot they just become
waterlogged. With little decomposition, there are few nutrients for
plants. Second, when the compost is very acidic, it is difficult for a plant
to assimilate nutrients (which is why there are special fertilisers available for people who
grow acid-loving plants). Both of these factors decreased decomposition and the difficulty of
obtaining nutrients from acid water contribute to making wetlands nutrient-poor settings.
Bog-water is sometimes so rich in tannins it is darker than well-brewed tea, but it is actually
quite clean and odourless.

Pond, bog, swamp, marsh, fen what are the differences?

People commonly describe wetlands with words like pond, bog, marsh, fen, and swamp,
thinking these are mostly interchangeable. Actually, these terms are distinct and well
defined. Ponds and lakes are all open bodies of water.
For many people, a boggy place means an infertile wasteland, notable mainly for getting your
car stuck and breading diseases like Malaria and Yellow Fever, but in fact a true bog is a
marvellous living and growing 'organism' that is home for many species of CPs.
A bog originates from a shallow fresh water source, such as a pond or small lake. In the
northern parts of Europe and North America, glacial action has gouged out hollows that have
filled with water from melting ice. Such glacial lakes have also been proven to be an ideal
place for a bog to grow.

A lake or pond shows signs of becoming a bog when Sphagnum moss starts to grow on the
water's edge. This Sphagnum mat then proceeds to spread over the surface, while pieces may
break off and become 'rafts' of floating moss. As the moss grows, it absorbs minerals from the
water and replaces them with Hydronium ions, thus making the surrounding water very acidic
(pH less than 7 (pH 7.0 is neutral neither acidic nor alkaline)). Because of the thick mat of
Sphagnum the water of such lakes soon becomes starved of oxygen.
These conditions greatly retard the action of decay on organisms in the
bog, so the sediments of dead plants that start to accumulate on the
lake bed only partly decompose. Such sediment, comprising mainly dead
moss that has fallen from the underside of the Sphagnum mat, mounts
up and is eventually compressed to form a substance that we call 'moss
Bogs like these in their early stages of growth are often termed 'quaking
bogs' because of their instability underfoot. Both men and animals have
drowned in quaking bogs as they have ventured onto the seemingly firm
bog, only to find themselves falling through the moss layer into the
water below. Indeed this is the quality that distinguishes a bog from
Pinguicula sierra
other wetlands: while bogs usually appear dry, marshes and swamps
ssp. obscura
have standing water visible.
Even in its early stages of growth a bog may be inhabited by heaths,
stunted trees and, yes, even carnivorous plants! The damp acidic, and nutrient-poor
Sphagnum raft proves to be an ideal place for a colony of sundews or pitcher plants
(Sarracenia) to establish itself. CPs often predominate under such conditions as they can
obtain from the insects they capture, the nutrients that are otherwise scarce in the mat
where they are growing.
There comes a time when moss peat fills up the space between the floating Sphagnum and
the original lake bottom. The bog may then be called a 'muskeg' with the arrival of a few
scattered conifers like larch and black spruce. Although the bog may now be considered
mature, it can continue to grow upwards if rainfall is sufficient to keep the raised moss moist.
When a bog continues to grow like this it is called a 'raised bog'.
Sometimes bogs can be formed by vegetation consisting of grasses rather than mosses, in
which case they are called 'fens' or 'marl bogs'. Without the acid-producing properties of
Sphagnum, the fen is usually alkaline (pH greater than 7), and is home to only a few tolerant
CPs such as Sarracenia purpurea and Drosera linearis.
While bogs are not the natural environment for all CPs, various Sarracenia, Drosera, and
Utricularia species could not grow under any other conditions. We therefore should take steps
to preserve such bogs from destruction through agricultural and drainage projects, for a bog,
just like any rainforest, consists of its own plants and animals, bound together by a unique
ecosystem. Anyone who has seen a photograph of a large stand of S. flava or S. leucophylla in
the wild will appreciate such a sight is unique to the Sphagnum bog and
cannot be adequately substituted by plants in cultivation.
Swamps are flooded forests. Places where the water table has
temporarily (or seasonally) risen so the land is flooded, does not really
constitute a swamp. Fens are usually considered to be places like bogs,
but where the nutrient levels are higher.
In different parts of the world other regional terms are used. Prairie is
used in Okefenokee to describe floating Sphagnum or sedge mats.
Savannah in the south-east US describes a grassy, seasonally wet
meadow. In Europe, moors are peatlands usually dominated by
Ericaceous shrubs (plants related to blueberries).

Drosera stolonifera

Build your own outdoor bog

An attractive and low-maintenance way to grow CPs outdoors is in an artificial peat bog. This
effectively entails turning an area of garden into an environment that roughly duplicates the
natural habitat of most CPs.
In an area sheltered on south and west sides and receiving morning to early afternoon sun
(preferable, but not essential), dig a hole ranging from about 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12") deep
and about ten square feet in area. Line this with two thicknesses of polythene and place two
5 mm holes in the polythene in opposite walls about 15 cm (6") for drainage.
The bog is then filled with a wet mixture of two parts peat to one of river sand, to within
about 7.5 cm (3") from the top, and then about 5 cm (2") of one part peat to one part
Sphagnum. Plant 30 cm (12") of 5 cm PVC pipe in the bog going from the surface down to
about 2 cm from the bottom, and kept free of compost. To water the completed bog a hose is
simply run down into this pipe and the bog can gradually be filled without disturbing or
wetting the plants on the surface. The water level can be seen at any time by looking down
the pipe, and hence the guesswork is removed from the question of when to water.
The plants are planted in fairly natural-looking clumps; shorter plants in the shallow and more
northern parts of the bog to give them adequate sun (not shaded by larger plants), while the
larger plants have more room for their roots. A shallow polythene-lined pond can then be put
in next to the bog to hold aquatic Utricularia plants like U. australis.
The bog can then be surrounded by suitable rocks.
In winter the water level will probably be only a couple of centimetres
from the surface due to rainfall; while in summer it will need to be
watered weekly, to keep at least 5 cm (2") of water in the bottom of the
indicator pipe. Such conditions will cause the Sphagnum on the surface
to go wild, and it grows at such a rate as to soon fill the bog and start
growing in a carpet up the sides of the rocks. Where easily-swamped
plants such as small Drosera and Pinguicula grow, the Sphagnum must be
cropped regularly to prevent overrunning these plants. Nevertheless,
the masses of dense Sphagnum will make the bog look very attractive.
The plants will propagate themselves and spread, there will be an
established balance between the contesting plants, and before long
every part of the bog will become a landscape of its own.
The bog should also illustrate the large variety of insects that can be
trapped by the CPs, in a number unknown in the greenhouse
environment; while in spring and summer it will stun the observer with
masses of colour.
Growing CPs in an artificial bog can be easy and economical, and the
resulting plants usually stronger and healthier than their greenhouse
counterparts. It can make an inspiring project.

Do plants have a nervous system?

The Secret Feelings of Plants from New Scientist magazine issue of 17 October 1992.
by Paul Simons.
Wouldn't it be nice to know that plants are more than just vegetables, that you can stroke
them and they "feel" it? Heretical though it may seem, this thought certainly occurred to
Charles Darwin who was fascinated by the Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula) and its

response to touch. The way the plant snapped shut its trap seemed to him just like the
response of an animal nervous system.
Not having the equipment to test his outlandish idea, Darwin handed it over to John BurdonSanderson, an eminent medical physiologist at University College London. Burdon-Sanderson
placed electrodes on the surface of the trap lobes and recorded something truly remarkable:
each time a trigger hair was touched it fired off a wave of electrical activity akin to the nerve
impulses, or action potentials, produced by animal neurons. Subsequent research showed that
similar electrical impulses accompany the movements made by leaves of the "sensitive plant"
(Mimosa pudica) in response to touch. Was this evidence that plants possess some kind of
nervous system?
Initially, botanists were sceptical. In animals, action potentials travel along nerve fibres at
between 1 and 100 metres per second, whereas the impulses of plants rarely travel at more
than 3 centimetres per second. Most damning of all, plants have none of the usual trappings
of a nervous system: no networks of neurons, nerve fibres, or synapses. So how do they
produce nerve-like signals?
Today we know better. Building on experiments done in the late 1960s and 1970s, which
confirmed that the impulses Burdon-Sanderson detected are indeed action potentials, plant
physiologists are beginning to unravel the molecular and cellular basis of the ability of plants
to respond to touch.
Thanks to research at a number of American Universities in the early
1970s, it is now clear that the action potentials of plants travel not
through specialised cells, wired up to communicate through synapses,
but through ordinary cells by means of microscopic membrane pores
called plasmodesmata. Physiologists elsewhere have since discovered
that many animal cells can pass action potentials through similar pores,
known as gap junctions. The big drawback with both plasmodesmata and
gap junctions is that they can only channel signals down one route. Once
a Venus Fly Trap is hit, the whole trap is stimulated and only performs
one movement. Compare that to an animal nervous system, which can
respond to a given stimulus with any of the thousands of different
erythrorhiza ssp. muscles or glands in its body.
The calcium trigger.
The main reason for this flexibility is the chemical versatility of the
synapses through which the neurons communicate. When an action potential reaches the end
of most nerve fibres, it cannot jump the synapse but instead releases neurotransmitters that
diffuse across the synapse and trigger an electrical response in the neuron opposite. Using a
variety of different types of neurotransmitters and neurons, a nervous system can process its
signals like a hugely complex telephone exchange, constantly converting electrical signals
into chemical ones and vice versa, and routing messages to different parts of the body. A
plant cell communicating through plasmodesmata, by contrast, is much more limited in range
and vocabulary: it can only pass electrical signals down one route and turn on one type of
movement. But there are important similarities. As with neurons, these signals consist of
currents of ions moving to and fro across cell membranes. Experiments in the 1960s showed
that action potentials in the Venus Fly Trap, Mimosa, and similar touch-sensitive plants are all
produced by currents of the same ions. In each species, a rapid influx of calcium ions into
cells seems to trigger an action potential, and an efflux of potassium and possibly chloride
ions appear to sustain it as it travels from pore to pore. The action potentials of neurons are
produced in a similar way, but are usually triggered by sodium, not calcium.
Considering its lack of specialised neurons and synapses, the Venus Fly Trap's response to
touch is surprisingly sophisticated. During the late 1960s, Stuart Jacobson, an insect

physiologist at Carlton University, Ottawa, discovered what appeared to

be the equivalent of a special touch sensor in the flytrap. Each time he
bent a trigger hair it translated the touch sensation into a localised
electrical "code", in the form of a reduction in the voltage across the
membranes of cells at the base of the hair. The harder the blow, the
greater this so-called depolarisation, until eventually it reached a
critical threshold and triggered the action potential that signalled the
trap to close.
Similar mechanisms seem to operate in Mimosa and the Venus Fly Trap's
underwater cousin Aldrovanda. More intriguingly, many animal cells also
possess sensors that convert mechanical stimuli such as touch into
electrical signals, a prime example being the "hair" cells of the inner
ear's cochlea which produce ionic currents when their hairs vibrate in
response to sound. Coelenterates such as sea anemones and jellyfish
have what is perhaps the closest thing in the animal kingdom to the
neural system of the Venus Fly Trap a nerve net where touch sensors,
nerves, and muscles are all connected without synapses.
Nepenthes mirabilis
The Venus Fly Trap and its relatives are no botanical oddballs. Touchsensitive movements occur in more than a thousand species, spread
across 17 families of flowering plants, and these, too, probably depend on electrical
impulses. Research completed over the past two decades reveals that action potentials
trigger the movements of Drosera (sundew) carnivorous traps, Mimosa, Biophytum, and
Neptunia leaves.
All of which leads to the question: if excitable plants are so widespread, are "ordinary" plants
touch-sensitive too?
Because most plants don't move very much, it is easy to assume they are not touch-sensitive.
This assumption is wrong, as one American plant physiologist discovered. Mordechai Jaffe
from Athens University, Ohio, started off in the late 1960s by looking at a familiar garden
phenomenon how pea tendrils coil around a support. Gently stroking a tendril a few times
was enough to trigger the tendril's coiling, redirecting its growth from a fairly straight habit
into rapid bending.
Incomplete though the picture is, one thing is certain: touch-sensitivity in the plant kingdom
is commonplace.

What is CITES?
CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species. This
international agreement concerns itself with the shipping of endangered plants and animals.
Many CPs are endangered, and so are under the jurisdiction of CITES. If you are trading plants
internationally, you may need CITES permits. More information, including the document itself,
is available on the Internet.

Preparation of carnivorous plants for postage

With the growing number of CP enthusiasts, more and more people are
exchanging and selling CPs. Where distance is involved, it becomes
necessary to send the plants by mail. This is standard practice for the
suppliers that provide a mail-order service. It is quite a simple procedure


to pack any number of plants of any size in such a way that they will arrive at their
destination in the best possible condition.
It is useless trying to send plants through the mail in large pots, as it only results in the plants
becoming damaged. With some species it is possible to send the plants in a 50 mm
propagating tube if it is packed in such a way that the contents of the pot cannot be shaken
loose. This would entail packing some Sphagnum moss around the top of the pot and securing
it. It will also be necessary to take steps to ensure that the plant is not damaged by the pot
moving around in the outer container.
The above method may be suitable for small numbers of small plants, but the extra weight of
the pot full of potting mix (wet potting mix) generally makes it impractical as the postage
charges are based on weight. So the more weight you have, the more you pay.
A far better method is to send the plants bare-rooted, packed in a little damp Sphagnum
moss, wrapped in a cling plastic like 'Gladwrap'. This is packed into a suitable container (a
small box or similar), and packed securely. The important point to remember is that there will
be other mail on top of your container, so the container must be reasonably crush-resistant.
For Sarracenia plants, a large box will be necessary, or you can use one of the many sizes of
cardboard box or mailing tube available from Australia Post.
It is a total waste of time and effort putting plants in a padded mailing bag, an envelope, or
anything that will become crushed in the mail. The best methods of sending the plants are by
Express Post delivery mail this is very much essential. These services usually guarantee next
day delivery anywhere in Australia, provided the parcel is lodged early in the business-day
morning. The postage of such plant materials should be done on Mondays, Tuesdays, or
Wednesdays; to make fairly certain that the shipments will not be sitting around in the postal
system over a weekend. It naturally costs more than normal postage mail.
It is also necessary to take similar precautions with the larger seeds (Sarracenia, etc.) as they
can be easily crushed in transit or by the Australia Post sorting or cancelling machinery.
Bubble plastic is probably the best packing material for seeds, and any spare space in your
box of plants. If a large parcel of seeds is sent, then a padded post bag will be suitable.
It is certainly worth the little time and effort, and the bit of additional postage cost, to make
sure that the plants or seeds you are sending will arrive in the best possible condition. It is
very upsetting to open a package and find that the contents have been destroyed in the mail
due to careless packing.

Genera and Species Descriptions

Brocchinia and Catopsis

Ibicella and Proboscidea


Carnivorous Fungus

This is a free-floating aquatic plant found through parts of Europe,
Asia, and Australia common name is Waterwheel Plant. It is
related to Dionaea muscipula, with which shares many attributes:
whereas Dionaea has three trigger hairs on each side of the traps,
Aldrovanda has about twenty. Like the Venus Fly Trap, Aldrovanda
vesiculosa is the only species in its genus (monotypic).
From the common name, the plant consists of a series of wheels
where the spokes (the leaves) have small traps on the tips. Each
wheel has eight spokes with a trap at the end of each spoke. A
whole plant may have up to a hundred traps.
The traps prey on tiny fresh-water creatures, such as water fleas
and daphnia. When the trigger hairs are touched the trap closes
most of the way in about two hundredths of a second total
closure then takes some hours (a closure habit much like that of
the VFT). The traps can open after several days, depending on the
size of the creature therein.
In cool climates the non-growth end will gradually die away, with
new growth continuing from the 'live' end. During winter where the
water temperature falls below about 17C (63F) the plant will
form a winter resting bud and sink to the bottom of its water
habitat, and resurface when warmer times arrive.
When conditions are favourable in the spring or summer (when the
water temperature reaches 25C (77F)) Aldrovanda produces a
single small five-petalled flower on a short scape.
Aldrovanda can grow well with moderate care in an aquarium
where the water is aerated using a normal fish air pump, with
water fleas or daphnia added to provide a food source. Other
aquatic habitats may be experimented with as required if plants
can be replaced easily when failures occur.

Brocchinia and Catopsis

There are two genera of Bromeliads indicted of carnivory; Catopsis
and Brocchinia. Catopsis berteroniana is a nondescript epiphyte
found in Florida and tropical South America. Insects are caught in
its leaf axils and supposedly digested. The Brocchinia genus
contains a few species, some of which are included in the list of
carnivores (B. reducta, B. hechtioides).
Since the early 1900s, there have been many claims of carnivory
among tank Bromeliads. However, until recently, all attempts to
confirm these claims have been in vain.
Brocchinia reducta, a native to Venezuela and Guyana in South
America was the first of the Bromeliads in which carnivory has
been confirmed. The plant is a common inhabitant of highly acidic
moist sand savannahs and bogs above 1200 metres in the Guyana

Highlands an area of warmth and high humidity. There, it shares its habitat with numerous
CPs (Drosera, Utricularia, Genlisea, and Heliamphora heterodoxa).
Brocchinia reducta is a terrestrial plant 20 to 45 cm tall with bright yellow-green leaves
forming a vertical cylinder. The inner surface of this cylinder is coated with a fine waxy
powder that easily exfoliates, thus making escape difficult for insects that have ventured too
far down the tube. The base of the cylinder contains a highly acidic fluid that emits a nectarlike odour similar to that produced by H. heterodoxa found nearby. This odour presumably
plays a role in attracting insects, especially ants, which are found in large numbers at the
base of the trap. There are no digestive glands in this plant. The soft
parts of the insect bodies are broken down by bacteria in the tank
B. reducta fulfils the two requirements necessary to be classified as
carnivorous. First, it has adaptation for active prey attraction (bright
colour and nectar-like odour) and second, it is able to absorb nutrients
from animals juxtaposed to its surfaces, and presumably benefits from
the nutrients thus obtained. The absorption of the results of this
bacterial action is performed by gland-like structures in the leaf bases
and have been shown to absorb nutrients (amino-acids) at a high rate.
Use of a compost of 50/50 peat and coarse sand, together with having
the pot sitting in a water tray, have been found okay.
The B. reducta plant produces many small white flowers on a stem up
to 60 cm (24") tall, during the spring or summer.
The tank collects rainwater, or should be topped up manually insects
fall into this and drown. The inner surface of the tank leaves is waxy
and very slippery, so there is no foothold for the unwary nectarseekers. They have difficulty flying from the cylindrical structure, and
gravity takes care of the rest of the trapping for the plant. As for the
various pitcher plants, there are no parts that move as a mechanism
for trapping it is a pitfall trap.
Catopsis berteroniana has a rhizome with offshoots, called pups. The
pups usually develop before flowering and should be removed for
replanting. The plant should flower after three years if grown from
seed, or after one year if it started as a pup. The flowers are usually
single-sexed male and female separate plants are necessary to obtain
seed in this case.
The growing environment for Catopsis can be Sphagnum moss mixed
with some orchid bark; or in a 50/50 compost mix of peat and coarse
sand. Fertiliser is of some benefit for this plant. The water tank in the
centre of the leaves should be filled with clean water regularly.
If scale insects are seen on Catopsis, do not use white oil; it will kill
the entire plant.

This genus contains two species that resemble Drosera plants in many
ways, although their zygomorphic flowers indicate they are not quite
the same. They are herbs having long narrow leaves with mucilagesecreting glands on short tentacles. A common name used for these
plants is Rainbow Plant, although it is not in frequent use among CPers.

This name supposedly derives from views of spectral colours being refracted in the digestive
droplets a simple enough effect that can be seen in Drosera, Drosophyllum, and Pinguicula if
the viewing geometry is correct. Prey-related motion is minimal. Pot both plants in a compost
of equal parts peat moss and coarse sand.
Byblis gigantea, the larger of the two Rainbow Plants, likes subhumid warm temperate
conditions, and comes from the south-west coastal area of Western Australia. It is an erect
plant with a strong base that can grow to a height of 60 cm (24"). It has slender triangular
leaves up to 24 cm (10") long, and bears numerous lilac-purple flowers, with bright yellow
stamens, during all of the summer months. The flowers open in the warmth of day and close
at nightfall. This plant enjoys drier conditions than many other CPs. Most failures of this
subspecies in cultivation seem to be caused by keeping the compost too wet. By using the
following method, you should be able to grow this plant successfully.
Use a 150 mm (6") pot and line the drainage holes with Sphagnum moss. This acts as an
indicator while retaining the potting medium, which should be two parts river or propagating
sand and one part peat. The plant can be planted in this mixture and the pot watered by
placing it in 25 mm (1") of water for about half an hour. Then remove the pot and place it on
the bench. By monitoring the colour of the Sphagnum moss, you will know when to re-water
it. As the pot becomes drier, the moss will get lighter in colour, but do not allow the pot to
become too dry as the plant may become water-stressed. Place the pot back in the water as
necessary, always removing it to drain after about 30 minutes.
On reaching maturity, the plants will flower: if you wish to collect the seed, the flowers need
to be cross-pollinated. Using a small brush, collect the pollen from one flower by tapping the
anthers to make them release their pollen. This can be collected from the petals and
transferred to the stigma of another flower, the pollen of which may, in turn, be used on the
first flower. Seed is exceptionally difficult to germinate, but some success will be achieved by
placing the seed in a container and pouring boiling water on it and allowing it to soak
overnight before sowing it on the same moist potting medium as the parent plant. See also
the section dealing with smoke treatment of seed on the progagation page.
At the end of the growing season, this subspecies will start to die down, at which time the
pot should be allowed to dry out completely.
At the start of winter, the pot should be re-watered using the above method, taking care not
to allow the potting medium to become soggy at any time. This would probably result in the
death of you plant.
Watering may be necessary every day in hot weather, whilst in cooler weather, every few days
will be adequate.
Byblis Gigantea is a perennial plant. It may be grown from root cuttings or stem cuttings.
Seed can be difficult to obtain. If the above method of seed preparation with boiling water is
unsuccessful a fire treatment can be tried. This involves placing a bundle of loose dry grass
over the seed in its pot and lighting the fire, making sure that the grass is fully burned. It is
uncertain at this time whether the heat from the flames or the chemistry of the smoke is the
triggering mechanism. Treatment with gibberellic acid is another possible solution to the
germination difficulty.
Use 1 gram (powder or tablet) or 10 ml of gibberellic acid liquid (Pro-Gibb G.A. from Schering
Agrochemicals) to 1 litre of water. The liquid Pro-Gibb gibberellic acid has been found to give
best results.
Byblis liniflora, usually an annual, comes from the tropical north of Australia, and prefers
humid tropical conditions, growing in wet sandy environments. It is an exceptionally pretty
plant that grows to approximately 20 cm. in height, with many lilac flowers. This plant
produces plenty of viable seed, and is easily grown by this means. Some clones require crosspollination to set seed. B. liniflora in common cultivation is easy to grow.

See VCPS journal articles for further information.

Capsella bursa-pastoris is a widely naturalised European mustard (Shepherd's Purse). When
moistened, the seeds of this plant release an adhesive compound to which small aquatic
animals stick. It is not clear if this is a real connection indicating carnivory.

Number of species:
Only 1, C. follicularis
Where they are found:
Permanently wet areas in extreme southwestern Australia; a range
of only about 250 miles.
Trapping mechanisms:
Cephs have small, highly detailed pitchers that usually reach about
1 - 1.5 inches tall. They are drenched in nectar. The lid, which does
not allow water in, is semitransparent to allow light into the
pitcher. Insects follow the nectar trail to the ledge where it is most
abundant and footing is slippery. There is also a "lip" under the rim
which further prevents escape.
The one species in this genus, Cephalotus follicularis (the
Albany pitcher plant), has a natural habitat restricted to a
small region of south-west Western Australia. The plant is
remarkable in the shape of its pitcher leaves. Each pitcher is
shaped like a small pouch, similar to the flowers of
Paphiopedilum or Cypripedium (lady slipper orchids). The
pitcher contains a bath of digestive fluids, and there is some
opinion that this plant specialises in trapping ants. It is found
Cephalotus follicularis
in paddocks, near slow-flowing rivers (and is often trampled by
cattle). This plant is now rare and on the endangered species
list, mainly because of the 'heavy harvesting' in its native area.
The Albany Pitcher Plant has pitchers that grow to approx. 5 cm (2") long, and also has small
non-carnivorous leaves. It has two ways of catching insects:
1. Flying insects are attracted to the pitcher but are fooled by the reflective light from the
fenestration on the lid, and fall into the liquid, not knowing which way leads to freedom;
2. Crawling insects on the ribbed rim lose their grip on the slippery surface and fall into the
pitcher. Spined ribs point downward on the inside of the rim and their menacing points do not
allow escape.
Cultivation is often difficult if its basic needs are not provided. Many growers use live
Sphagnum in moist conditions. A 50/50 mixture of peat moss and coarse sand has been found
satisfactory. Occasionally the plant becomes dormant after a few to several months later,
new growth will appear.
The plant does not like wet conditions during the cooler winter months the long fibrous
roots are likely to rot if left in a water tray at this time. Remove from the water tray and
water from the top, at weekly intervals, during winter.
Use a 150 mm (6") full depth plastic pot this allows enough room for the plant to expand.
Propagation is a simple matter. Older plants may be divided when the pot becomes crowded.
Root cuttings and leaf cuttings are usually successful. A large plant may be uprooted and a

few roots removed, always leaving enough roots on the plant to support it. It is a good idea to
remove a few of the larger pitchers and leaves at this stage to reduce the transpiration rate
and compensate for the loss of roots.
For root cuttings, pot them in a compost of 1:1 peat and coarse sand, cutting the roots into
lengths of about 10 mm and covering them with 3 mm of the potting mix. If more than one
plantlet forms on a root, it is a simple matter of further cutting that section of root and
potting the pieces separately in the recommended potting mix.
For leaf cuttings, pull non-carnivorous leaves carefully from the plant, rather than cutting
them. Pot these leaves into live Sphagnum, placing about 3 mm of the leaf stem into it. Place
a plastic dome over the pot to maintain a humid environment. When plantlets have formed
they can be potted as for the parent plant.
The hot weather of summer can be a problem also. If the root system is subject to high
ambient temperatures, especially if the pot is subject to direct sunlight, the root system
initially will be killed, shortly followed by the whole plant. It is recommended that a cool and
shaded environment is chosen for the plant during summer.
One way of growing Cephalotus follicularis is in a hanging basket, because this allows the
plant to remain moist without being wet. When mature, the plant produces very long stalks of
not-overly-attractive flowers. The pitchers will remain green if the plant is in shaded
conditions, but will redden when the plant is given more sunlight. As the leaves or the
pitchers die off, they become a yellow colour, then brown and should be removed at this
time to reduce the risk of disease.
Although the lid of the Cephalotus pitcher doesn't move to trap its prey, it will slowly become
nearly closed when the humidity is very low. This is to help prevent unnecessary evaporation
of the digestive liquid contained therein.
I grow my Cephalotus on a windowsill that receives about 2-3 hours sun on a sunny day. These
plants do not require a winter dormancy period, although during the cooler winter months
they may cease growth. They also grow from a rhizome that may be divided in late winter or
early spring. They are best kept in tall pots because they like to put down deep roots. They
also like slightly less water than the Sarracenias, so I keep the pots in just about 1cm of water
at all times. I use a soil mix of approximately equal parts of peat moss and perlite.
This plant produces massive flower spikes for a plant of it's size (up to a metre in length!),
and the effort of doing so does have quite a weakening effect on the plant. In fact, in my
experience pitcher production virtually stops for the several months that the flower spikes
are growing. The flowers are very unspectacular, so unless you are after seed, I would
recommend that flower spikes are cut off soon after they appear.
I have found that the rhizome that this plant grows from does not divide as clearly or as easily
as those of Sarracenia and Dionaea, and a lot of care and good judgment is required to make
sure that each divided plant has sufficient roots available. I also read somewhere that if
pitchers are emptied of the fluid they contain they will die, even if quickly refilled. I can't
remember where I read this, and I don't know if it is actually true, but whenever I do move
my Cephalotus around, I always try to make sure that the pitchers remain full!

Cephalotus is an ideal terrarium plant and grows quite rapidly if given proper conditions.
Our personal cephalotus plants are planted directly in fish tanks filled with a 50/50 mixture
of sphagnum peat moss and silica sand. Make sure NOT to use white or beach sand since it is
high in salts & calcium, which will kill your plants. The commercial plants are grown in 3 inch
pots filled with the same mix. Good results have been reported using a mix of 33% peat, sand

and pearlite, so that will be tested as well. Generally speaking, Cephalotus doesn't like
having its roots disturbed, so make sure to be very careful when transplanting.
Cephalotus can take full sun and the pitchers develop striking color when grown outside.
When first putting them outside in the spring, make sure to acclimate them to full sun slowly
over a week or more. They like warm humid conditions with summer temps between 70-90
degrees. NEVER allow them to dry out! Winter temps can go as low as 35-45 degrees with no
ill effects, but can also be considerably higher as well. They don't have to have a dormancy
period, but seem to do better if given one.

If possible, you should put your potted plants in front of a south facing window, to bring out
their best color. The relative humidity should be above 50% at all times. Spring to Fall keep
your plants very moist, but not standing in water. The trays commonly used under window
box planters make excellent decorative trays for the windowsill.

Most likely, additional lighting will be necessary and the design for custom built lids will soon
be available from this page. If you aren't relying on natural light, attempt to mimic the
seasons by gradually adjusting the photoperiod between 14-16 hours for "summer" and down
to 8-10 hours for "winter". Enclose the terrarium with plastic wrap or glass to keep the
humidity in the tank. Make sure not to completely enclose the tank if you have it in front of
a window, as this may lead to overheating. During the winter, place the terrarium in an
unheated room or by a drafty window, to provide cooler conditions. You may want to spray
the plant with a fungicide, such as Benomyl, to prevent fungal growth.

In full sunlight, Cephalotus turns a deep purple color, but produces slightly smaller pitchers.
Conversely, in more shaded environments, the plant produces larger, green pitchers. One trick
I have used with some success has been to keep the plant in a shadier spot until the pitchers
have reached a nice size, then place the plant in a sunnier spot. In this way, you get the large
pitchers, along with the deep color.

Divide rhizomes while transplanting in the early spring, before vigorous growth resumes.
Individual leaves and pitchers can be used as well. We place them under fluorescent lights,
floating in distilled water in perti dishes or in clear containers filled with live sphagnum.
Plantlets start developing in about 4-6 weeks.

Seed Germination
We sow the seed on the surface of 50/50 peat and sand. After stratifying for 4-6 weeks, the
seeds start sprouting in 4-6 weeks. This cool period breaks down chemicals that naturally
prevent premature germination (during the season the seed is produced) and naturally occurs
during the fall and winter. Don't worry, you can simulate this in your refrigerator. They are

kept 4-6 inches from standard shop lights, or outside in full sun. From
seed, it may take cephalotus two or three years to reach maturity, and
they can live several decades.

Another of the pitcher plants, this species (Darlingtonia californica the
only species in the genus) grows in the mountains of the pacific northwest of USA northern California and Oregon. It is commonly known as
the Cobra Lily due to the cobra-like head and fangs of the top of the
pitcher. This plant is not threatened, but its small range means that
logging and development may cause problems. Field collection occurs
but may not be a significant problem to the species.
Cultivation is difficult, as it expects cool conditions, especially cool
roots, high humidity, and a long cold-weather dormancy. The suggested
planting medium is live Sphagnum. The plant produces long stolons
under the surface of the Sphagnum compost. When growth of pitchers, together with a root
system are developed from a node on a stolon, this portion may be cut off and potted
separately to create a new plant. Propagation by seed is successful also. Watering by having
the pots sitting permanently in a water tray has been found satisfactory.
These highly prized and unique plants are a must in any CP enthusiast's collection. Their
incredible bulbous heads and snake-like fangs on top of the twisted stems immediately
capture a person's attention and interest. Needless to say, much time can be devoted to
ensuring one's plants are in their best health, and due to their relative rarity, much concern is
expended over what we are doing is best for the plant.
For the perfectionist, a cobra should have 14 hours of cool bright light, good air movement
with humidity above normal, and its roots constantly washed by underground cool water
seepage that has a temperature no warmer than 17C. Fortunately, cobras are reasonably
hardy and fairly forgiving, allowing us, with a few improvisations, to have reasonable success
with these plants.
Definitely the first major requirement to consider is how to ensure a cool root system, hence
the tendency to terracotta pots and not black plastic. Terracotta can be kept cool by frequent
wetting on the outside. Another method, where plastic pots can be used, is to make a sleeve
of cotton material to surround the pot. The material must be fixed fairly tightly and securely
around the top of the pot, and the sleeve must be of sufficient length to be folded under the
bottom of the pot. Thus, when this cotton-covered pot is sitting in the water tray, water will
be absorbed by the cotton, by capillary action, and this will be continually evaporated by the
warm conditions around the body of the pot. The air between the cotton cloth and the body
of the pot will be cooled by this Coolgardie Safe action, and so keep the pot relatively cool. It
should be remembered that most of the root system will tend to be close to the outside of
the Sphagnum potting medium and near to the actual pot.
A further method is to place the cobra pot in a poly-foam container the ones you can obtain
from a greengrocer. The poly-foam box is them filled with live Sphagnum moss and the whole
lot watered regularly. The pot temperature (and those sensitive roots) will be kept quite cool
by this means.
The ambient temperature above ground can be up to 40C (>100F) for a while without
causing any detrimental effect on the plant as long as the root system can be maintained at
its usual much lower temperature.
Another idea is to water the pot frequently from above on very hot days with the water from
recently melted ice cubes. This would be essential if the grower is foolish enough to have the

pot in direct sunlight on such days. It is much more sensible to move the pot, together with
its tray of water, to a cooler shaded location when it is hot.
In the winter the water tray is less necessary and may be dispensed with by allowing the
Sphagnum to be a bit drier and watered from the top of the pot.
Repotting is required no more often than every third year. However, a three year old plant
may be sending out runners (stolons) by that age and repotting will be necessary to provide
extra room in the pot. These stolons are similar to those of couch grass (pardon the
comparison) and travel underground from the parent plant up to 40 cm (16"), where they may
surface and their ends establish new plants.
The main growth period is from October to May (in Australia) our normal spring to autumn.
Stolons begin to grow about new year and new growth from early spring. The first leaves tend
to be abnormally vigorous and a three year old plant 10 cm (4") tall can suddenly grow to 30
cm (12"), followed by two or three more slightly smaller pitchers. The thickness of the base of
a new pitcher will give a good indication of how tall that pitcher will become. The pitcher
grows to full height first, then the head and fangs blow out to their full size, and the tube of
the pitcher undergoes a 180 twist.
Flower spikes appear in late spring. The 'nodding' flowers, hanging down at the top of 60-100
cm (24-40") stems. The flower buds are enclosed in five pale green sepals that open widely to
reveal the pretty flower. In the typical form of this plant the five petals are a deep red to
burgundy colour. There is also an albino form having white flowers. The petals become much
narrower near the bottom of their length, so that there appears to be holes between them
near the lower end.
Spring is the time to be particularly vigilant, for pests and grubs can cause havoc on the
young tender growth. It only takes a very small hole on a developing new leaf to completely
ruin it, for the hole grows with the pitcher.
Cobras are sensitive to many insecticides and fungicides, so use caution here. Half strength
trials are wise. Do not use Carbaryl on cobras. Rogor insecticide appears to be fairly safe on
these plants. Benlate fungicide is a discontinued product due to its harmful effects. Fongarid
is useful on both counts. The brown rot fungus can seriously afflict the rhizome, and its
presence may not be noticed until the pitchers start to wilt and die. A regular spray of
Fongarid every six to eight weeks will help prevent this difficulty.
These plants often grow by streams in mountainous areas of California and Oregon, and as a
result are very tolerant of cold temperatures, and indeed, like their roots kept very cool,
which is the key to growing these plants well. High temperatures are not a problem for this
species, as long as the roots can be kept cool.
I grow my Cobra Lilies in an unheated greenhouse in a corner that gets less sun than the rest
of it. I use the same soil recipe as for Heliamphora above. While these plants are kept in a
water filled tray as with Sarracenia, it is also beneficial to water these plants from above,
which helps to keep the roots cool. Fortunately in the UK we do not often have very high
temperatures, and there is always a drop in temperature at night. On very warm days, I
refrigerate some rainwater, and water copiously twice a day with the cold water.
These plants should be allowed to go dormant in the winter. Their pitchers will not die back
as much as with the Sarracenias - in fact in the wild they grow in areas where snowfall during
the winter is not uncommon, and I have seen pictures of stands of Darlingtonia poking through
a blanket of snow!

Number of species:
Only 1, Dionaea muscipula
Where they are found: Flytraps are naturally found only in a small area within 70-100 miles
of Wilmington, North Carolina, USA. I have been told that they have been introduced, with
some success, in areas of New Jersey, California, and Florida.
Trapping mechanisms: A sweet nectar is produced that lures insects to
the trap. Once there, they must trigger 2 of the 3-4 tiny hairs found on
each side of the trap, or trigger one hair twice within about 20 seconds.
The trap then closes, trapping the prey. Further movement of the prey
after the trap has closed further triggers the hairs, causing the trap to
close tightly. Digestion takes about 1 week and the traps will then
Dionaea muscipula (common name Venus Fly Trap) is probably the most
commonly known and most intriguing of the carnivorous plants. Its native
habitat is peat bogs in North and South Carolina, USA. Unfortunately, its
endangered status does not stop collectors from risking high fines and
field collecting them. Insect capture is performed by attracting the
Dionaea muscipula
insects with nectar to bilobed leaves, which snap shut upon the prey.
- The Venus Fly
Dionaea muscipula is the only species in the genus.
It's colours attract insects. The trap has three trigger hairs on each side
of the "V" shape, and if two or more of the hairs are touched, or a single
hair touched more than once, the trap will quickly close almost. Along the edge of each side
of the trap is a row of green fingers. When the trap has completed the first rapid movement
of closure, there is still a gap between trap halves, and the interlacing fingers are like bars of
a gaol cell. If the 'trapped' insect is small enough to escape between the finger gaps, then the
plant doesn't care. For economics of trap usage and time, the plant would rather not waste
its resources 'processing' a tiny insect, but would prefer to open quickly and attempt to catch
larger prey. The plant is able to detect the presence or non-presence of an insect in its partly
closed trap. So, if the caught insect cannot squeeze between the 'bars' of its 'death row' cell,
the trap will close totally on it and digestion will commence.
Each plant has a bulb, and approximately six traps that grow to about the size of two AU50
cent coins. Even in smaller plants, the trap can still capture small insects.
After the trap fully closes, it squeezes tighter, and digestive acids and enzymes are secreted
to 'break down' the insect, so the results can be absorbed. Each single trap will open and
close a few times in its life, then blacken and die. It should then be removed to allow another
trap to grow in its place.
Flowers appear in spring, and are white, on a 15-30 cm (6-12") vertical stem.
There is a widely-held view among CPers that the production of flowers causes a significant
reduction of vigour in these plants. VFT growers usually remove all the flower stems as soon
as they are noticed during the whole of spring and early summer. Then, beginning in January
(mid-summer in Australia), when the plants have gained substantial size and vigour, and only
if the grower wishes to obtain fresh seed, the flower stems are allowed to fully develop and
produce seed.
Using a stick or your finger to activate the trap will cause the trap to close and re-open after
a short time ... BUT BE WARNED!! If you continually poke and prod the traps, the plant will
surely die. The plant grows its traps to catch and digest an essential part of its nutritional
requirements. Falsely triggering the traps frustrates this process. Imagine how long you might
last if your human stomach was gone or made totally unusable by some meddling outside

Yellowing or brown traps and petioles should be removed, using fine-pointed scissors, to assist
in the prevention of fungus infection of the plant, and to make room for new growth of traps.
Provided the VFT plant's basic requirements of: compost (2:1 mix of peat and coarse sand),
moisture (sitting in a water tray, with the level reduced considerably in winter), humidity
(should be kept fairly high if possible), and lighting (high lighting, full sun mostly, is beneficial
for vigour and red colouring), for growing the plant are met, it is quite easily cultivated.
Stanley Rehder, representing The Flytrap Company in Wilmington, North Carolina, is a VCPS
member at the time of issue of this publication. The Venus Fly Trap native environment is
totally contained within a radius of only 50 miles from Wilmington. It inhabits savannas and
bogs where the soil remains moist and poor in nutrients.
In a brochure received from Stanley there was a statement that the red colour on the traps
develops when the compost is low in nutrients and the plants are in bright light for the
colour forms that can be red coloured. There was also a recommendation that VFTs like bright
light full sun is best and the best temperature is about 27C (80F). These plants prefer a
humidity in the range 70 to 90%. The preferred soil is acidic (pH 5-7). Do not use lime,
bonemeal, or other similar additives to the compost they grow naturally where the mineral
content is very low.
VFT seeds are viable up to one year and very few are viable after that time. Germination
takes about 20-40 days at temperatures of 21-27C (70-80F). Sow the seed on the surface of
the moist compost and place the pots in bright light. Transplant the seedlings after 3 or 4 trap
leaves develop. Mature plants propagate by division or by leaf cuttings place whole leaf
onto compost.
There are many colours and minor shape variation forms of VFT in various CP collections and
available from nurseries for the interest of CP enthusiasts. The petioles can be long and thin,
or short and wide. The trap colouring can be plain green, yellow, and varying amounts of
bright red. Some of the colourings are seen only when the plants are kept in a warm, humid,
high-lighted situation, where there is also a large variation between daytime and night
temperatures. The fingers around the edges of the traps can vary in colour and length; and
vary in thickness from very thin (hair-like), to the dentate form where they are triangular in
The forms having substantially maroon colouring of their petioles and traps (both inside and
outside), are currently subject to Plant Breeder's Rights (PBR) protection in most countries of
the world. PBR is granted where the applicant has developed a distinctly different plant by
his or her propagation of the genus, or is the first to introduce that form into the general
commercial environment it is just like owning the copyright on the plant form. (The PBR
approvals were granted, or are undergoing trial, in Australia in each case.) These plants must
not be sold, or propagated with a view to selling, without having a licence from the PBR
holder to do so; and a royalty must be paid to the PBR holder for each plant sold. This is
enforceable under the PBR Act, and very heavy fines can be levied in default.
As at November 1996, D. muscipula "form Royal Red" has been granted full PBR approval; and
the two plants D. muscipula "f. Claytons Red Sunset 96/206" and D. muscipula "f. Claytons
Volcanic Red 96/207" are under trial for the granting of PBR approval.
Why the name 'Venus Fly Trap'? Those hopeful for tabloid headlines have suggested that Venus
Fly Traps arrived on meteorites. But for the origin of the botanical and common names we
must look to the puritanical, yet bawdy, colonial botanists who explored the new world. A
recent historical account has revealed that the form, attractive properties, and amazing
behaviour of Dionaea muscipula, reminded them of female genitalia.
(Aphrodite's Mousetrap, 1990, Nelson and McKinley).
(Dione was the mother of Aphrodite (also known as Venus), the Greek goddess of love.)
Sorry, we didn't make this up, you'll have to level all the blame on those early botanists.

Growing Cycle of Dionaea Muscipula

Dr. Samuel Vergio Miensinompe

The Venus Flytrap

After studying the cycle growth behavior of Dionaea Muscipula, as well as consulting with
expert growers, I am finding inaccuracies in some parts of the growth theory regarding
dormancy periods, trap size and plant coloration. As a result, I have written this small thesis
attempting to clear some of the misconceptions concerning this growing cycle.
In this thesis, as you will soon find out, I describe some parts of the theory with an almost
tedious nature, but if you like to know the most about this plant, I am hoping that you will be
able to find such a manner of explanation interesting and informative.

One time, when I was a kid at school, I was shown for the first time a large magazine type of
book about carnivorous plants. The book showed many interesting plants, but the one that
mostly got my attention was the Venus Flytrap. I did not know exactly what the plant ate or
how it did it, but the shape of it gave me a very good feeling of curiosity and amazement, for
I had never seen anything quite like it!
Later on, when I grew up, I saw one for $3.00 at a Kmart store, and I was amazed! I could not
believe that this plant was being sold where I lived, and, furthermore, I could not believe
that such an amazing plant could possibly be sold for three miserable dollars!!
So I bought one. It later died, but I was determent to know its growing behavior, so that the
next time I got one, I could be able to grow one. So, I checked out some books. Some of them
stated that it was dangerous to fertilize; some stated that it was not such a big deal. To make
the long story short, I killed over seven Venus Flytraps; one of them, a giant I bought at a
Builders Square store, with traps as large as an inch an a half, which I found to be quite rare.
I feel so incredibly dumb when I kill things, especially when they are rare things; so after hard
determination, I found the time to know how to grow a Venus Flytrap (instructions of how to
grow one at the end of the thesis). Since I wanted to know for sure how this was done, I read
a lot about them and wrote to many expert growers until, finally, without realizing it, I
learned a lot more about this plant than I ever expected.
The advance understanding of these plants, have made me realize the many rumors and
inaccuracies concerning their growing behavior:

All of the theories that I have read, so far, have stated that the dormancy period of the Venus
Flytrap is activated by light and temperature conditions; however, I have a couple of Venus
Flytraps which did not get fully affected by the light of the sun or the temperature during this
winter (mostly 65F-50F). These plants were growing fast and large all throughout the
winter months. However, on April, these two plants began to enter into their dormancy
The most common dormancy
signs of the Venus Flytrap are:
very slow growth; many of the traps turn black and die;
the few traps and leaves left may become
slightly dried and brown by the edges; and the healthy traps
left may be sluggish when closing or may not close at all.
I bought these two plants four months before their April dormancy. During which time,
although winter was just beginning, the plants appeared to be growing their summer leaves.
Apparently, this dormancy process is triggered by more than light, it is also governed by a
biological timing rhythm.
These plants I bought, where probably subjected to dormancy until the late summer, to be
sold during the winter months. I know that the dormancy period can, indeed, be forced by
giving the plant a cold temperature of about 40F. Perhaps the light and the temperature
which these two plants received during the winter, might have trigger another dormancy
period; but because of their biological timing rhythm, which tells them they recently came
out of dormancy, it took a few months for this dormancy period to activate again.
Also, If the biological cycles of the plants have been scrambled by the manner in which they
where grown, it will take about a year, for the growing cycles to be well formed so that they
can be well recognized.

Although the VFTs cycle behaves mostly in this manner, they are those very few VFTs whos
cycles can be controled by heat, cold, and light.
Also, transplantation can also confuse the growing cycle of the VFT.

Trap Size:
The theory states, that the traps of the VFT grow the largest during the summer months;
however, I have one plant that went into a very short dormancy period, and it is now growing
its largest traps on hart shaped short spring leaves. It is my belief that the growing genetic
differences of this plant are so many, that a statement claiming when the traps are the
largest can not be stated as a true factor of the cycle growth theory.
Although, during the fall, near their dormancy period, the new traps which are deployed in all
of the VFTs, which I have observed, are significantly smaller than in any other stage of the
cycle. However, even in this cycle stage some plants, especially when their cycles are
confused, tend to deploy large traps.
Since mostly all of the Venus Flytraps sold in stores are sold with their summer leaves, when
people buy them, the plants are just about to deploy their fall leaves, which might make the
plant seem as if it was dying or getting weak, which makes many people loose their interest
for the plants, giving them less attention which may lead to their death.
Besides being affected by light and humidity, trap size also seems to be affected by the way
in which the root system is growing. It appears to be, that if the root system on one side of
the plant is not growing well, the leafs taking nourishment from that side of the root system
will grow smaller traps.
There are many things that could affect the root system. From the damage cause by small
creatures which may feed on it, to not having enough oxygen and organic nutrients. For
example: a potted plant growing in old sphagnum moss or peat moss, although it may have a
lot of organic nutrients to feed on, as time goes by, it might suffer from a lack of oxygen, for
gravity, as well as the braking down of the sphagnum or peat, begins to cause the collapse of
the media, compressing it and taking away the pockets where oxygen may be, causing the
plants root system to grow a bit weak in certain parts of the soil.
A small spot of fungus on the new forming leaf or a small insect feeding on the nutrients of
the small forming trap, can also affect its size, as well as prevent it from growing at all.
By my observations, there is also a reason to believe that the side of the bulb that is, on some
occasions, thicker, which is the side where most of the leaves are growing, is the side which
may sometimes get more nourishment to grow the largest traps. The reason why the plant
sometimes grows more leaves on one side than on the other, is because the bulb of the plant
tends to go through a cycle where it migrates deeper into the grown. The most successful and
quicker manner that the plant can drill deeper into the ground is by creating one growing
point where the plant grows deeper. By growing on one side only more deeper than the one
before, the Venus Flytrap pushes itself into the ground like a drill, achieving a downward bulb
indentation growth, which, at the same time, makes the plant deploy most of its leaf growth
at the opposite direction of its growing motion.
I have not studied this process long enough, but I would assume that the plant does this
during the late summer to protect itself from the low winter temperatures, and during the
dry seasons to protect itself from the dry environment and what ever else comes with it.
Because of this factor, the Venus Flytrap is not always a rosette growing plant.
However, sometimes a VFT can place itself in the soil in a certain manner that it actually
becomes a rosette plant. Such growing pattern may be started by the leaves themselves,
growing in a random manner which end up making a nicely formed rosette shape. Such shape

then may prevent the bottom of the new growing leaves from coming out towards one side of
the bulb, thereby preventing such new growth from leaving the center area of the bulb.
This rosette growing pattern of the plant may stay for a long time, but only if the soil and the
live moss, where the bulb is growing in, prevents the bulb of the plant from growing towards
a certain direction, breaking the rosette growth.
In certain cases, such a lack of growing space may also slow down the plants growth, making
the plant deploy larger traps by sending the nutrients, which could not be able to accumulate
in the pressured bulb, to the leaves themselves. But, because of this same factor, if the plant
is fed too much, the bulb may cluster, sending out new leaves from many of its sides.
Furthermore, such pressure to the bulb sometimes may also, in time, prevent the new
rosetted growth from coming out at all, causing the plant to cluster more intensively.
Only half the numbers of plants that I have had established in such growing condition have
ever clustered. A Royal Red VFT which I have growing in a tight condition, caused by live moss
growing around the plant, as well as tight soil around the bulb, has been growing as a rosette
plant for about a year now without clustering or any other growing problems.
Personally, I prefer the plant to grow as it pleases, in a lose mixture of sphagnum moss.

Another misconception, is that the plant always grows red when in strong light. This is only so
in some biological stages of the growing cycle. In most plants, there are some biological
stages where the plant losses almost all of the red, even in full sun. I have a Red Dragon
growing in full sun, that when it came out of dormancy, its growth was more green than red.
This lack of reddish color happens mostly during the spring time; however, there are some
Venus Flytraps during this season which may have a lot of red in their traps.
This reddish color can also be affected by the PH of the soil. If the soil can not keep its
acidity, because of alkaline influences introduced to the soil by ornamental rocks or the water
itself, the red colored trap plants may loose their nice reddish color.
When the plant gets too much nourishment from the insects that it catches, it also looses a
lot of the red on its new growth. When the growth of the plant slows down by the lack of
nourishment, then it begins to deploy redder traps in full sun, if the weather is cool.
I believe that there are a combination of factors which makes the plant become red when not
fed. The first one is, that because the growth of the plant slows down, the plant no longer
deploys as many traps as before, and it needs to maintain the few traps that it has alive for a
longer period of time. In order to do so, it must build color on the traps and leaves to better
protect them from the sun light, just the way we build color on our skin when we get
The second one is, I believe that this sunburn process also has served the plant as an
evolutionary step for further adaptation, for this sunburn has evolved, in some plants, as a
means to acquire a more attractive color in the traps which the plant uses to attract more
Certain nutrients taken from the soil also build up in the leaves during any slow growth, and
so the plant often tends to look more robust than when fed.

Leaf Shape:
Unlike most plants leaves, the leaves of the Venus Flytrap plant tend to look different in the
different stages of the plants growing cycle. Sometimes the leaves are long and slim, mostly
during the summer; sometimes the leaves are wide, hart shaped and short, mostly during the

spring; and sometimes the leafs are about half as long as the summer ones but a bit hart
shaped at the top, mostly during the fall, before going dormant.
However, within cultivars, because of genetics, sometimes these cycles can be very difficult
to spot. During the spring, some of these Venus Flytraps might deploy leaves that look a lot
like the fall leaves while growing fairly fast. I have some Flytraps which are growing what
appears to be their fall leaves, but, strangely, are not showing signs of dormancy at all (This
could also be that these plants were put into dormancy during another stage of their growing
cycle). Some, not even grow their long summer leaves; instead, they deploy a short rosette of
thin like leaves and large traps.
However, the spring leaves, in all of the Venus Flytraps I have seen, appear to be the widest;
and no matter which plant or cultivar, the dormancy period of the Venus Flytrap can mostly
be recognized by the slow growing stage of the plant, as well as the total inactivity of the
healthy traps when activated or a significant reduction of their closing speed.
In plants of the wild, It appears that the plants deploy their wide hart shaped leaves during
that time of the year where the sun is not quite overhead. Since the leaves of any plant are
just like solar panels which grab energy, by making the leaves wide during this time, the plant
can take more energy from less light. Then, during the summer, when the sun is at its
strongest position, the plant can deploy its long slim leaves in order to stand out from the
grass and be seen by insects. However, even in the wild, there appears to be many subspecies
of Venus Flytraps. This is probably due to the different environmental changes of the area.

Although fertilizing a VFT can be harmful to the plant, the plant can, indeed, be fertilized
with an average orchid fertilizer, using the full strength formulation. However, and this is very
important, the fertilizing must be done very carefully by placing a q-tip inside the container
with the fertilizer-water mix, taking it out, and making sure that it does not drips. The q-tip
must be wet but not so wet that it will make drops fall out of it when placed in a vertical
downward position.
Once that is done, you can begin to fertilize the foliage by rubbing the q-tip on the top parts
of the leaves (rubbing on three leaves would be enough), preferably, the underside of them.
Such action will feed the plant for about a month without harming the roots, if done properly.
This is also a great idea for making a weak growing VFT come back strong, especially one
without active traps. As long as the fertilizer does not trickles down to the bulb and the roots
of the plant, the plant will be safe. This is why the q-tip needs to be the least wet possible.

Some theories provide distorted information about minerals being bad for the Venus Flytrap.
This is not all together right since the Venus Flytrap, in the wild, grows in mineral soil. The
VFT may not like certain minerals, but the one which the VFT may not like the most is salt.
I have never done an experiment to find out if this is true, but I have seen the areas where
VFTs sometimes grow, and the fish that live there, I know for a fact, like brackish water.
So natural salts may or may not be bad for the growth of VFTs.
However, the water that the VFT likes, must be clean of pollutants, for the same mineral sand
they live on, is the same one which filters out the water, making it very clean.

The mineral soil in which the Venus Flytrap grows in, since it is silver sand, it is very poor in
nitrogen. This is why fertilizers can also be dangerous for the root system, for the plants
roots are used to a very low nitrogen environment.

Many VFT growers suggest using coarsed sand such as silica sand as a soil mixture. By checking
the PH of soil mixtures, I have recently become aware that silica sand, as well as many other
sands that are sold for horticulture purposes, are not acidic but highly alkaline, and when
mixed with peat moss can make the soil quite alkaline.
By making such a mixture the plant may suffer the following symptoms: growing too green,
not flowering, growing weak and small, growing traps which tend to die when feed, growing
very slowly, dyeing when feed too much, plant stops growing and roots die.
Even when VFTs grow in silver sand, which is the soil they grow in the wild, such soil is still a
bit alkaline by nature. The reason why VFTs grow in silver sand and the sand is acidic is not
due to the sand itself but to the highly acidic PH of the water caused by the peat moss and
other factors which dominate the PH of the environment.
Since in a pot, this environment is not possible, in order to maintain the soil mixture to the
most acidic levels so that the plant can grow healthy and colorful, the medium for the plant
should be only peat moss. A good peat moss also has a bit of bark in it which provides the
plant with more than enough air for the root system to grow.
If you live in Florida, then, you can be able to go to the back yard and pick up some silver
sand, wash it very good, and use it in the mixture of peat. This is the only sand that I have
seen that does not affects the PH of the soil in a significant manner, for it is the sand that
VFTs naturally grow in.
Perlite, even though it is a bit alkaline, can be mixed, half and half, with peat moss, and the
peat moss will dominate the soils PH so that it will stay acidic.

Amazing Evolution:
Knowing how many genetic variations this plant has in the wild, as well as the location where
the plant lives, makes me think that it is possible this plant might have a nature of mutating
fast. If this is so, this might be the reason why it has evolve in ways that other plants have
fail to do.
When an animal or plant tends to mutate fast, the different genetic strands in a small
population vary largely; and, therefore, the adaptations caused by natural selection happen
rapidly. The more significant that the genetic mutation might be within a group of beings, the
bigger the evolutionary steps which such organisms can take through natural selection.
This actions within cause and effect also create fast extinctions to most of the individuals
with genetic mutations that do not fit within the environment or can not compete with the
new generation.
Furthermore, besides creating a fast evolutionary pattern, this fast adaptation factor also
tends to leave very few living ancestors behind as well as fossil, which could explain the
mayor gap of missing links that the Venus Flytrap possesses.
Until now, it is to belief that the Venus Flytrap evolved from one of the carnivorous plant
families we know today as Droseras (Sundews); but genetically speaking, Droseras are farther
away from Venus Flytraps than small tree monkeys are from humans.

Could This Be The Way Some Ancestors Of The

Dionaea Muscipula Might Have Looked?
When it comes to evolution, the Venus Flytrap we see today might have not been the last one
to have evolved, for evolution is not about becoming more complex but adapting to ones
environment. The Venus Flytraps that exist today might be near the last specie to have
evolved or it could be around the middle in its history of evolution or, indeed, it could be the
last one to have done so.
This plant gives us an idea of what imperfection and perfection is. This plant due to its
possible ability to be genetically prone to mutations, has actually helped the plant evolved
and survive. If, however, the plant would have grown almost perfectly, with almost the same
qualities from one generation to the next, the plant would have not been able to have
survived in the confusing transitional environment where it lives.
Thriving towards perfection, is relative to the environment one is in. A being that may not
look perfect, may be closer to being perfect than any other being, relative to the
environment where it is living; and a being that is almost perfect in one environment, might
be quite handicapped and imperfect in another.

Who could have thought that a plant, without eyes, brains or legs, could become a true
predator. Within cause and effect, this plant is a part of the universal deities of creative
forces, for only the strong, intelligent or/and agile can have the chances to escape its deadly
tests, thereby, affecting the future evolution of many tiny creatures, opening doorways for
new species to be born.
I sometimes wonder how many insects have been created through the testing processes of this
By watching these plants for many months and asking expert growers about the cycles of the
plant, I have been able to acquire a better understanding of the plant, than I ever got from
books. Other scientist studying the Venus Flytrap should care to mention all of the factors
which govern the way that these plants grow, in order to understand the specie more fully.

Research Continues
There are a few more scientific questions which answers I have been trying to find. The
answers to the following questions are a part of such research.
Why has this plant not evolved larger size traps?

I have been studying one of the largest VFT of all when it comes to traps. It is called the Red
Purple VFT, and I am finding that the traps are so large that after it has digested an insect,
the plants manner of synchronizing the trap back to a normal none distorted form, is far
more difficult than on the plants which have average size traps.
The trap also tends to grow so large during the synchronization process, that it weakens and
distorts its closing mechanism. This factor, tends to prevent the trap from being used many
times over, making the active lifespan of the trap shorter than an average size trap.
Although a plant with this type of genetic trait could survive in the wild, it would not be as
successful as the other plants with average size traps. This may also be the reason why the
Venus Flytrap has not evolved to a giant form.
Another disadvantage which large traps have is that the larger the traps get, the weaker they
become at holding a pray inside. Since the trap reopens by growing the inner side of the traps
more than the outer side, if the trap grows thicker to become stronger, then, it would lose its
flexibility, and therefore, it would also lose the ability to close fast, for the thicker the trap
becomes, the more difficult it would be for the inside layer of the trap to affect the outside
layer, as well as the outside layer affecting the inside.
It is not to say that the Venus Flytrap could not, through mutations, find a way to correct all
of these problems and grow gigantic in size, but it is the amount of chances against
something like this happening which probably has kept the plant small.
One last disadvantage which could be found in large traps may be the fact that when large
traps close, they leave a lot of space inside; so, many insects can have the time, before they
are pressed to death, to drill a hole through the trap and escape.
Why one trap per each leaf?
Perhaps the plants ability to catch insects with one trap on each leaf is more than enough.
Also, perhaps the plant has not been existing long enough for certain mutations to have taken
place successfully. It would take not only the mutations of traps but the mutations which will
divide the petriole of the leaf to support each trap. The probability of this happening is very
rare, and because of it, I believe, the plant has not being able to evolve in such manner, yet.
Or, on the other side, maybe such a genetic mutation is not as difficult as it may seem. It
could just be a possible factor that a leaf with many traps may not be cost effective to the
plants survival.
Because the Venus Flytrap deploys only one trap per leaf, the plant can afford to loose that
leaf, for not much nutrients have been use to make such structure.
However, if the plant comes up with leaves which have more than one trap, if for some
reason a few of those leaves are lost due to an animal stomping on the plant or an insect
passing by and eating some of the leaves, the plant may be loosing a lot of energy which may
affect its growing strength.
So, because this plant grows in a nitrogen poor soil, and gets its best nutrients from outside
sources, it may, indeed, be a significant factor for the plant to save as much energy when
making leaves and traps, just in case a stump now and then may happen.
Furthermore, if each of the leaves would have more than one trap, when one trap would die
faster than the others due to further use of it, the plant would have to tell the whole leaf to
die to prevent the plant itself from getting sick or let the leaf live with some dead traps and
take the chance of letting some fungi growth take a hold on such area.
Therefore, in each case the multi trap leaf would have been a waste of growing energy for a
plant which can not afford it.
So, a plant which would develop multi trap leaves may not do so well after all.
When it comes to evolution, lets face it, we sometimes question why do beings look the way
they do, behave the way they do, and grow the way they do. But, within natural selection,
one fact is for sure: if a being has existed for millions of years is because that look, that

behavior, and that growth is what was selected, for relative to such beings environment, the
genetic mutations which made such being, were the most successful ones to make.
Sometimes, a being that is perceive as having a design flaw, may just be perfect in design, for
such a design flaw may just be the perfect factor which such a being needs to survive,
relative to the environment where such a being exists.
This plant is, without any doubt, the most famous , and commercial one. It is commonly
called the Venus Fly Traps (VFT). Even if its the most popular cp, this is not the easiest
carnivorous plant to grow. Note that it can be interesting to have a flowering plant, but if you
don not want to produce seeds, it is better to cut down the flower stalk : the growth of this
stalk reduce the growth of traps, making them smaller.
Example : Dionaea muscipula (the only specie in the genus) .
Substrate : 2 parts of peat mosswith 1 part of sand.
Watering / humidity : Use the tray method, it is perfect for this plant. VFT are often sold in
garden center with a plastic dome over them. This dome isnt necessary if you use the tray,
and your plant will only be healthier (less risks of fungal attacks). It can be useful though to
make a transition between these 2 differents environments, by removing the dome
progressively, avoiding the plant to be suddendly in a dryer environment. There will be a
small adaption period in which the plant may look a little unhealthy, but dont worry, it is
only temporary.
Light : Full sun. These plants love to be placed outside during summer, where they can find
food, light and show their wonderful colors.
Feeding :Like it is said in the general growing section, it is not necessary to feed these plants,
even if the temptation is strong toward this impressively aggressive trapping system. If you
want to feed it anyway, only use insects No meats! It would cause the leaves to rot and only
risk to introduce diseases in your plants.It is important to do not play with the traps without
reason: these have a limited life spawn (2-4 closing each) and each triggered traps use a good
part of plants energy. If this one cant gain this energy beack by digesting a prey (aka a
closing occasioned by, let saya finger!) it is going to be weaker and then perhaps die (which
is, in my opinion, one of the greatest cause of VFT loss). We must not forget that this plant
isnt a toy, it is not as durable as we would like if we threat it like that
Dormancy : The VFT, growing in wild in North and South Carolina (USA), enters in a dormancy
period during winter. We can observe a slower growth in this period, with the formation of
smaller traps. Keep the substrate moist, but not wet. Try to keep the plant between 4-10C.
Few growers keep their plants in the fridge, but since this practice will not be loved by most
mothers, the plant can be placed without much problems on a cool windowsill. Return to the
tray watering method in spring, when the growth get back to its normal speed.

How to Grow a Venus Flytrap

The Following Are The Most Important Factors When Growing A Venus Flytrap:
Water: Always give the plant clean rain water (Avoid the water that falls from the roof of the
house.), distill reverse osmosis water, or distill water. Do not use water which contains salts,
such as some distill bottled water and water from softening filters .

Also make sure that the PH of the water is acid. These plants like to grow with an acid
content in their water that is from 5.5 to about 6.0. Below or above, plants may not grow
well. Plants that are given alkaline water tend to have greener traps, and plants that are
given too much acid, in certain conditions, tend to grow too red and stunned.
Many people do not worry about the acidity of the water, for clean water usually has a mild
alkaline to neural level of PH which VFTs can tolerate.
However, if the plant is growing in pure peat moss, then the soil itself can be able to turn the
water acidic without changing the waters PH.
Soil Mixture: Just peat moss (A good peat moss also contains bark which is very good for
drainage) or if you find a sand with a neutral PH which does not contains salts, use a mixture
of half sand, half peat moss (Sand will not make your plants grow better, it is just a fancy soil
mixture which attempts to copy the wild environment).
If you feel that you will need more drainage than a good peat moss can provide, use perlite
up to the amount that you will use sand.
Keep the soil moist at all times, more so during the growing season (spring to summer). Do so
by placing a two inch tall saucer at the bottom of the pot (pots can be from 4 to 6 in. large
for one plant), then keeping the water level in the saucer to about an inch. You may want to
let the level of the water go down a bit before watering again.
Dormancy: During dormancy (explained on the thesis), take the pot out of the saucer, take a
none toxic rope that could easily absorb water (a little more than an eight of an inch thick,
twelve inches long), wet it, place a part of it into the pot through one of the holes of the pot,
then place the other end into a half full glass container which the pot can be placed on. The
pots soil shall take water from the rope and keep the soil moist but at a level which will help
the plant go dormant. Check the pot every day for about a week to make sure this is working.
If the pots hole is choking the rope as it goes into the pot, the water that is being taken by
the rope may not properly reach the pots soil. If so, open the hole more by inserting one part
of the blade of a medium size scissor into it an rotating it in. Be careful not to hurt the
plants roots.
If the cold temperatures of your area are mostly from the fifties to the forties, keep the plant
outside during winter, away from frost, with the method I just explained; it will do fine. If the
temperatures are significantly lower or higher than this, take the plant out of the pot, but
only cut the dried leaves, spread some fungicide on the plant (Cinnamon appears to be a good
organic fungicide. Spread just a little all over by flickering a brush with cinnamon in it.),
wrap the bulb in moist, not wet, sphagnum moss, put it inside a plastic transparent bag, close
it, then place it in the fridge (away from the freezer), or a cold place in the house. Chose a
spot that will take about 50F to 40F, careful with low temperatures. Then check every few
weeks to make sure no fungi is growing. Also, if in the fridge, put a note so that whoever
wonders looking for food will not think of it as a strange exotic onion.
Personally, I have never had to use fungicides of any type. I find it very rare when a healthy
VFT gets fungi. However, wet sphagnum usually causes fungi. This is why it most be wrapped
in moist sphagnum.
If you want your plant to grow the healthiest, it is better to leave the plant in the pot that it
is growing during dormancy. So, do not disturb its roots by taking it out of the pot. Place the
plant in the pot inside a plastic ziplock bag, and then place it in the fridge, taking the same
precautions with the soils moisture.
The reason why this may be better is because the plant does not takes transplanting well,
especially in hot climate areas; and although it will grow back when taken from the pot and

placed back into one after dormancy, it will spend a lot of time growing back its roots, and
this can affect the growing size of the plant.
Sun: Give the plant full sun, about four to six hours is fine. To make the plant gain the best
color, however, is better to give full sun light from morning to late afternoon, avoiding the
hot, directly overhead afternoon sun in hot climates, and giving full sun from morning all the
way to late afternoon in cool climates. And as a tip, keep the plant in a place with few
insects; the plant can grow happily without eating for many months. The plant also looks
better with the traps open and red, as supposed to closed or opened after a meal, looking
distorted and pale.
Furthermore, If you want your plants traps to get as red as they can be, a trick used by
growers is to starve the plant. For this, the plant must be healthy and strong; you keep the
plant healthy and strong by ether feeding it or fertilizing it (read fertilizing). Starving the
plant will not hurt the plant. As far as we know, this plant can live without eating insects
indefinitely (in the right conditions). The only gain that the VFT gets by eating insects is that
it gets to grow faster, larger and reproduce more. However, it also looses some of its red
when on a full stomach; and in some cases the traps also grow smaller.
When the plants live outside, it is very difficult to keep the plants from eating insects, so that
their growth will slow down and the red can come strong. So if, like me, you prefer a
terrarium, give the plants very high light, from fluorescent light sources. These provide a lot
of light, but not a lot of heat, which can kill your plants. If you are not experience with
terrariums, ask experts about it, for many things can go wrong.
When getting a new plant, because you do not know in what conditions it has been growing,
for over a period of a month, gradually introduce the plant to the sun. If the plant has red
color on the traps, it may be used to the sun already; so start with three hours of morning
sun, then, if no leaves burn, increase the sun light by about half an hour. If the plant is all
green, start with two ours of sun. Check every day and move further to the sun light every
two to three days (as long as the leaves do not get burned), until the plant is fully adjusted.
Very Important: Never forget to water. The roots die fast when dry, and this may make the
plant sick from the inside out, which can prevent you from doing much about it if you do not
spot the problem.
And last, if you fertilize the plant, do so very mildly. A little bit on one or two of the leaves
can supply a lot more nitrogen to the plant than you can imagine (See Fertilizing in the
thesis section). If your plant eats insects, do not fertilize, for too much nutrients can hurt the
If you would like to find out more about carnivorous plants, check out a book at your local
library called Carnivorous Plants of the World, by James and Patricia Pietropaolo.
If you are interested in Venus Flytrap cultivars, here are a few cultivars which I like the most:
Red Purple (formally known as Big Mouth from Atlanta Botanicals, USA) a very large plant
with traps that can reach up to one inch and a half in size.
Royal Red (from Australia) A fairly large plant, which is also the most beautiful cultivar I have
seen up to date.
The common green one (sold in houseware stores) Many of them have the fastest closing
Red Dragon (from Atlanta, USA) a very red plant during the summer months. It grows fairly
large traps and closes them fast as well.
Dingley Giant (Goday, mate!... Australia) Grows very large; apparently, to the size of a
dinner plate. However, I recently bought a green giant at a Builder Square houseware store
that appears to be a little bigger than this one.

This Royal Red bloomed quite nicely.

However, because the plant was growing in a pressured media,
the blooming stalk eventually prevented the young leaves from
coming out, and the plant clustered, becoming many plants
about half the size it used to be.

My Favorite Of All
The Red Purple VFT deploys very intense red purple traps.
In this picture, however, the plant is not that colorful
due to the hot temperatures of the area.
Also, due to the lack of moisture in the air, the teeth like structure
of the traps are growing a bit shorter.

This is the same Red Purple VFT

with a beautiful pearl white flower cluster bloom.
There is no way that I can say that the VFTs blooms are unattractive flowers.
They are quite beautiful as well as large
relative to the size of the plant.
(In hot, dry climates, some of the VFTs leaves
may become damage during blooming, for the plant looses
a bit of its strength doing such.)

This is a nice red purple trap VFT (looking kind of

green at the moment) which I bought at a supermarket.
It is growing in a porcelain pot.

A collective group of carnivorous plants

just coming out of dormancy.
Venus flytraps are fun to grow, although they do have particular requirements.
To germinate the seeds, sprinkle them on top of a moistened potting mixture of three parts
sphagnum peat moss and one part vermiculite (or coarse river sand). Place the pot in 1 or 2
inches of water, and ensure that this water never dries up completely. Put in a sunny

Do not bury the seeds in the potting mixture, as they need to be exposed to sunlight to
For best results, grow in a humid area such as a greenhouse. A simple mini-greenhouse can
easily be made with clear plastic and shade cloth.
Always use distilled water, rainwater or tap water that has been boiled then left to stand for
48 hours. Alternatively, put the plants in a garden pond.

Never give the plants fertilizer. They get all the nutrients they need from the insects they
Don't feed the plants other food as this may cause the traps to rot and die.
Don't tease the traps into closing as this will drain the plants energy.
Venus flytraps can be grown indoors, as long as they are kept in a sunny position, such as a
sunny windowsill.
In extremely sunny environments a 30% shade cloth may be necessary.

Dionaea muscipula
The Venus' flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is perhaps the most famous of all the Carnivorous
Plants. This rare and exotic plant is found infrequently in bogs and savannahs in a small area
of the coastal plains of SE NC and extreme NE SC. The plant is federally protected and is on
the Endangered Species List.

The plant is in the form of a rosette of leaves up to five inches in diameter. The leaf blades
are specialized in the form of traps. The trap is composed of two hinged lobes, each having
three "trigger hairs". The insect, upon being attracted to the trap by its sweet odor, has to
touch two trigger hairs or touch the same trigger hair twice to cause the lobes to snap shut.
Prongs lining the trap edges keep the victim from escaping. In a short time, digestive juices
are secreted and the animal is digested over a period of a few days to about a week.
Afterwards, the trap re-opens for another meal. If by some chance the trap closes empty,
possibly due to a foreign object other than an insect, it will re-open in about 24 hours or less.
The plant can sense whether or not it has captured protein.
Even though the Venus' flytrap has this unique ability to capture and digest insects, it is also
a beautiful plant within itself. The leaves are bright green and carry on photosynthesis just
like any other plant. The inside of the trap has numerous anthocyanin-containing cells which
will make the inner lobes turn red in bright sunlight. A small cluster of white flowers will
appear in the Spring on a stalk about 10 inches in height. This plant is truly one of Nature's

I keep my Venus Flytraps in the same trays and conditions as the Sarracenia above, although I
tend to keep the water level a little lower as they do not enjoy quite as soggy conditions as
the Sarracenia. I use a little less perlite in the soil mix, the rest being roughly equal amounts
of moss peat and silver sand. I tend to repot and divide my Venus Flytraps every spring, which
helps keep them growing vigorously. I have found these plants also grow very well on sunny

windowsills, but it must be remembered that the plants should be given a cool dormancy
period during the winter - if they are not given a winter rest, they will gradually weaken and
eventually die. They are hardy down to nearly freezing point, and will bounce back from light
frosts, but these are best avoided if possible. During this time the soil should be kept just
damp (not wet), or fungal attack is a real danger.
Venus Flytraps produce new leaves throughout the growing season, and as old leaves die and
blacken, it is best to cut them away to help prevent fungus and mold taking hold. On average,
a leaf will be able to catch and digest three meals before it dies, or it can open and close
without catching anything up to 10 times before becoming exhausted and dying. Since the
traps use energy in closing and then opening again (usually next day) when they have not
caught anything, it is best not to trigger the traps just to watch these amazing plants in
action - even though it can be tempting - especially for youngsters! It generally takes a trap
about a week to digest a meal before the trap re-opens to reveal the dried out husk of it's
prey. However, if the meal is very large, the effort of digesting the prey may exhaust the leaf
to the point where it will never re-open.
I have found that Venus Flytraps tend to flower prolifically in the spring - even young plants
may well flower if kept in suitable conditions. However, the flowers are not the most
beautiful of blooms you will ever see, and they do significantly weaken the plant, so it is best
to cut off the flower stalks as soon as they appear. This should help keep your plants growing
strongly. If you are looking to obtain seed, I have found it best to fertilise the flower in warm
sunny weather. After it has been successfully fertilised, the petals will roll inwards and
rapidly turn brown, covering the seed pod as it develops. The seed should be ready in about 6
weeks. It can be refrigerated or sown straight away.
Venus Flytraps will also divide readily if kept in good conditions. They will do this in late
summer-early autumn, and a large plant may well divide 2-4 ways, and can be broken into 2-4
plants in late winter-early spring by removing the plant from the soil, and snapping apart the
divided sections of rhizome, making sure that each section has its own root system. When a
plant divides, this may too weaken the plant, and smaller leaves (or leaves with no /
deformed traps) may be produced for a time. This is nothing to worry about, as the plant will
soon recover, and more leaves than ever will be produced because now there are more
growing points producing them!
Plants take 2-3 years to reach maturity when grown from seed. The seed should be sown on
top of a moss peat/silver sand mix, and kept in warm bright humid conditions out of direct
sun. Germination should occur within a few weeks.

Mas descripciones:
Do you think the Venus Flytrap is from a tropical country or steamy rainforest? Surprise - they
are only native to NC & SC, in an area about 100 miles around Wilmington, NC! Have you seen
the movie "Little Shop Of Horrors" and hope your plants may some day be large enough to
capture small animals? Sorry, but a mature plant is usually six to eight inches in diameter, and
that is the entire plant! The traps will usually be a maximum of 1 1/2 - 2 inches long. The
leaves consist of leaf stems, or petioles, which are usually heart-shaped, and grow low to the
ground during the winter. In the summer, they typically grow more elongated and upright. At
the end of the petiole sits the "true leaf" or more commonly known, the "trap" The traps
attract insects by secreting nectar along the margin of the traps. Inspect the inside of the
trap and you should see 6 to 8 tiny trigger hairs. An insect needs to touch two hairs once, or
one hair twice, in order to close the trap. This helps the plant conserve energy, by only
closing when likely prey is in the trap. They will catch their own insects when growing
outdoors, but you should feed them crickets if they are enclosed in a terrarium. DON'T feed

your plants hamburger since this rots the traps and often leads to the death of the entire
Avoid the temptation of closing the traps for fun. Unlike muscular movement, this is a rapid
growth process within the leaf. Each trap can only close a limited number of times. Once in a
while isn't bad, but making a habit of it will actually weaken your plant, and may even kill it.
In ideal conditions, the trap will close in less than a second. When an insect is caught, the
trap will seal shut and begin secreting digestive juices. If nothing "edible" is in the trap, it will
reopen in about a day. Prey is usually digested in 7-10 days and when the trap reopens, all
that will remain is the shell of the insect.
The typical habitat of the Venus flytraps is along the moist edges of bogs and sandy low areas.
Growth begins in Spring when the plant sends out a rosette of small leaves and by April or May
the plant is flowering. Cross pollinate the flowers and in six weeks, the flowers will begin to
die, exposing the seeds. Let the flowers blacken before collecting the seeds. Unless you
really want to see the flowers, we suggest you remove the flower spike, since it takes a lot of
energy away from making traps. Summer arrives and the plant produces its largest leaves,
typically on upright petioles. As autumn approaches, the plants again return to the compact,
low rosette. During winter dormancy, the leaves typically die back to the ground level, and
your plant will appear dead. In their native habitat, the Venus Flytraps enjoy a warm and
humid summer, but still experiences cold winters, with occasional lows of 10 degrees F.

Growing Media / Pot Size

Our flytraps grow best in plastic pots, in a 50/50 mixture of sphagnum peat moss (Canadian)
and silica sand. Make sure not to use white or beach sand, since it is high in salts & calcium,
which will kill your plants. Commercial plants grow in 2 and 3 inch pots, and the younger
plants live in communal trays. Larger pots are used for the plants in our private collection
- five or ten plants growing in a half gallon pot is an AWESOME sight! Cover the holes at the
bottom of the pot with plastic mesh or some long-fibered sphagnum moss, to hold in the
growing mix.

Temperature / Light
GENERAL - VFT's grow well in temperatures ranging from 80 to 95 F. during the growing
season. If your plants aren't getting enough light, they will have weak growth and the traps
may fail to form correctly. Insect pests like aphids and spider mites attack these plants, so
check deformed leaves closely, before assuming the problem is just insufficient light.
Apply or Orthene or Isotox according to the directions If you have certain forms of the VFT
that are supposed to be all red, you may wish to grow them outside. They frequently remain
greenish inside, but will become completely red in sunlight, especially with the onset of cool
evenings in the fall.
OUTSIDE - VFT's can take full sun and the traps will frequently develop a lovely red hue.
When first putting them outside in the spring, make sure to acclimate them (in the shade) for
a week or more. If you live in an area where digging creatures are problematic, make sure to
protect your plants, or they may become a squirrel's lunch! If you live in an exceptionally
arid area, it may be easier to keep them inside, under lights.
TERRARIUMS - A shop light can be placed over two 10 gallon tanks, placed long side to side,
for spectacular results. You can also build a custom lid to fit on one tank. If you don't want
to get complicated at all, flytraps do well in a south facing window during the growing
season, but make sure you give them an adequate dormancy period. Forcing these plants to

grow by keeping the photoperiod high will weaken, and possibly cause them to die. Just trust
us on this, yes we have tried it! Artificial light is much less intense than sunlight, so that is
why we suggest longer photoperiods than they get outside naturally. Attempt to mimic the
seasons by gradually increasing the photoperiod to 14-16 hours for "summer" and back down
to 8-10 hours for "winter". An appliance timer is especially helpful for this.

Watering / Humidity
General - Try and keep the humidity at least 50%. Allowing tap water to sit out only removes
chlorine, leaving the harmful salts and minerals behind, so you will have to find a way to get
pure water for your plants. If your collection is just starting, you can collect plenty of water
off your roof, in a five gallon bucket. Save a few empty milk jugs and once filled, store them
away from direct light. Another good source of pure water is your dehumidifier. If your
collection is quite large, you might wish to purchase a Reverse Osmosis unit, for a more
reliable supply of water. These plants like a moist, but not waterlogged soil. They will
tolerate a flood condition for a short time with no ill effect, but they may die if submerged
for extended periods of time. They can also tolerate dry conditions, but it best to keep the
soil evenly moist.
Outside - During the growing season, most of our plants sit in trays filled with an inch of
water. Periodically allow the trays to go dry, to kill mosquito and other bug larvae. It is
almost impossible to over water them when they are actively growing. If you are going away,
fill the trays as much as possible so they don't dry out in your absence.
Terrariums - The trays commonly used under window box planters make excellent decorative
trays for the windowsill grower. Spring to Fall your plants can be kept quite moist, but you
don't need to keep them standing in water. While dormant, make sure to keep the media
moist and not soaking wet. Previously plastic wrap was used to cover the tanks but we have
switched to plate glass. The plastic can be a pain - rips, crinkling up, etc - but it does work
just as well. An aquarium pump runs into each tank, to provide a little air flow.

General - Venus Fly Traps need a dormancy period. The plants may continue to grow, but at a
much reduced rate. During this time, the plants set the flower buds for the following year.
More importantly, they just need a "break" and appreciate the rest.
Outside - If you live in areas which don't get hard freezes, you can keep your plants outside.
In more severe climates, you should heavily mulch your bog gardens, or keep potted plants in
a cold frame. Rapid freezing and thawing can kill many CP, and mulching helps regulate the
temps and reduces the wind at ground level. They don't need any light during dormancy and
can be completely buried under 6 inches of leaves without any harm. With the onset of
spring, remove the mulch, so they can resume growth.
Terrariums - Reduce the photoperiod and move to a cooler part of the house. Single plants
can be moved directly next to an east or west facing window. A cellar, garage or unheated
porch works fine, as long as you keep them around 40 - 55 F. Decrease watering and keep
barely moist.

The traps have a limited life span and generally die after the second capture. Even if the
traps haven't captured prey, they will die off naturally and the plant will continue to grow
new leaves. The dead leaves should be removed and if fungus develops, apply Benomyl
according to the directions. Repot at least every other year in the Spring.

Leaf Cuttings: remove a leaf at the base of the rhizome and place it
in any of the following: live sphagnum, a 50/50 peat, sand mix, or in
petri dishes filled with water. In about 4-6 weeks you should have
tiny plants forming at the base of the leaves. Some of them will rot
first, so make sure you inspect your leaf cuttings and remove any
dead material.
Seed Germination
Seed is sown on the surface of 50/50 peat and sand mix. The seed requires a cold period,
called "stratification" and this can be imitated by placing the pot in a sealed bag in your
refrigerator. The seeds sprout in 4-6 weeks and even the the first young leaves have tiny
traps! They sit 4-6 inches from standard shop lights, or outside in full sun, standing in 1/2
inches of water. From seed, it may take a flytrap 4 to 5 years to reach maturity and they can
live several decades.

The Drosera genus (common name Sundew) is a very widespread group
of carnivorous plants. It contains more than 160 species, scattered
around the globe about 65 species native to Australia. They vary in size
from 2 cm. in diameter to 60 cm (24") tall, and grow in a variety of
environments from tropical rainforests in Queensland, to the sandy dry
plains of outback Western Australia. Most of our Australian sundews are
found near Perth.
The species bear glands (often brightly coloured) on stalks or tentacles
Drosera binata
that are scattered over the surface of the leaves. The glands exude
attractive nectar, adhesive compounds, and digestive enzymes. Insects
that land on the leaves stick fast and are digested. Often nearby glandular tentacles are
stimulated and also adhere to the insect, and on many species the entire leaf will coil around
the insect. These motions are slow, taking minutes or hours to occur, although some species
exhibit faster motion for example, D. burmanni can produce 180 of tentacle movement in
30 seconds. Once an insect has touched a leaf, sometimes trying to eat the sticky glue, it will
become hopelessly stuck, and moves about, touching more tentacles. The leaf will probably
move other tentacles toward the stuck insect, and may even curl to further engulf the insect
with tentacles (ie. an active trap). Then the digestive acids and enzymes are released to
dissolve the insect. Afterwards the leaf opens and the insect shell is left to blow away.
The diversity of forms in this genus is impressive. While some species
grow year-round, others die back to fleshy roots or tubers during dry
seasons, others survive cold weather by forming densely packed
hibernacula. Some species are tall, erect or viny plants, others are
ground-hugging rosettes. Other than the usual problems associated with
habitat destruction, most species do not have any particular threats.
Drosera callistos Some species, especially pygmy forms of limited range in Western
Australia, have gone extinct because of land development.
As expected for a genus with so many types of plants, there is no prescription for growing
every species. The two temperate species D. spatulata and D. capensis are pretty-well

indestructible and make good starting plants for beginners. These, and various others, will do
fine in a terrarium or in open air culture using a 2:1 peat and coarse sand compost mix.
You can always tell when a sundew is healthy by the quantity of sticky glue (mucilage)
droplets on the small tentacles. The leaves can be a variety of shapes, with some having long
and thin leaves, while others may be spoon-shaped, or like a thick wedge; all have their
sticky tentacles.
Sundews have beautiful flowers, some with up to 50 on a stem, but only a small number open
at any one time. Some species, particularly those from South Africa, can be seriously
weakened due to growth of flowers. It is recommended that flower stems be removed in such
Pygmy Sundews (all are native to Australia) are tiny plants about the size of a fingernail but
even at this size, they manage to snare many tiny insects. These plants have a method of
spreading their species that is unique to the pygmy sundews. As the cooler damper months of
winter approach the plants produce additional non-sexual parts called gemmae, or winter
buds formed in the centre of the rosette. Each gemma is seed-like, but is living and must
reach a suitable environment for growth or it will die just as other living plant parts would
die if damaged or allowed to become dry.
When removed from the plant, and placed on the surface of the
compost, each gemma will soon produce leaves and roots to form an
exact genetic replica, a clone, of the parent plant. The pygmies can
spread rapidly across a pot or terrarium base by means of their gemmae
and the usual seed production from their flowers.
There are two major, quite different, types of sundews. One type has
roots like most plants, and will rejuvenate each year in spring to produce
Drosera falconeri in flowers, after dying back in winter. The other type has a tuber
underground, and dies down to exist as just the tuber during the hot dry
the wild.
months in Australia. Most the tuberous Drosera plants are native to
Australia. When the days shorten near winter, and the autumn rains
come, its active growing time starts.
Generally, Drosera plants like quite a bit of sun, and don't like to be over-watered.
The common name for this genus of plants, sundew, was derived from the visual effect of
sunlight shining, glistening, on their gluey tentacles. One particular plant, Drosera capensis
from South Africa, can be used for demonstration. If you hold the potted plant almost
between the observer and the sun, you will see this beautiful sundew effect.
Informacin de varios sitios
Number of species:

About 130

Where they are found: Nearly all parts of the world.

Trapping mechanisms: Drosera leaves are covered with tentacles which have a
small drop of a glistening, glue-like substance at the end.
When an insect mistakes this for nectar and lands on the
leaf, it is quickly trapped. Other tentacles will then move
in (with varying degrees of speed, depending on the
species) to prevent escape. The victim is then digested by
the enzymes produced by another set of glands on the

leaf surface.

Drosera adelea

Drosera capensis 'Alba'

Drosera capensis 'Typical'

Drosera multifida 'Extrema'

I grow only temperate Sundews at present, and again they are grown in the same trays and
conditions as the pitcher plants and Venus Flytraps above. I use the same soil mix as for Venus
Flytraps. There is a huge range of diversity in the habitats of these plants, and it is not really
practical to give an in-depth guide to their cultivation here. If you are interested in growing
any Drosera other than the more common temperate species, I would highly recommend that

you purchase a book such as 'The Savage Garden', which gives some species specific
cultivation information.
Cultivation of Winter Growing Drosera
As the title implies this section covers the cultivation of Drosera species have a summer
dormancy and then recommence growth during the cooler autumn and winter months. Species
are mainly found in Western Australia and South Africa with a few species also occurring in
other parts of Australia.
During the late spring period, these plants will enter dormancy, at which time the parts above
ground will die back completely, the plant surviving below ground either as a tuber or a fleshy
Cultivation of these species is somewhat different to most other Drosera species, specific
attention being needed to keep the plants through their dormant period.
Soil The aim is to provide a soil that is both structurally free draining but at the same time
has enough moisture retention to prevent complete drying out during the dormant period.
Use a gritty mixture based on 50% gritty sand and 50% moss peat. To this mixture add
approximately 1/4 of coarse grit - rounded river grit with a particle size of about 5 mm is
For the South African species I find a slightly more open mix is beneficial, which can be
achieved by adding an extra 10% of gritty sand.
Generally speaking the larger the pot the better. Although most species have a very
rudimentary root system, during the growing season the plants will produce dropper shoots
which eventually form new tubers. These shoots can penetrate quite deeply into the soil - if
the pot is too small there is a danger that the tuber will grow in soil that is too damp and will
thus be subject to rotting off. I have even seen dropper shoots appear from the bottom of the
pot before!
An additional advantage of using large pots is that the relatively large volume means the soil
tends to dry out slower compared with smaller pots. This is crucial when the plants enter
dormancy as will be explained later.
For most species the minimum pot size is 125 mm (5 inches)diameter. Some species (e.g. D.
erythrohiza ssp erythrohiza) require deeper pots. The best option are special shrub pots which
are deeper than standard pot sizes. These not only give good depth but the narrower profile
means they take up less space.
General Care
When planting your tubers aim to cover the tuber at about 2-3 times its depth.
Above ground growth can be expected at any time from August through to January, depending
on the species.
I like to commence watering about September whether the plant has re-appeared on the soil
surface or not. Initially it is best to water overhead. A good way to do this is to leave the pots
outside for a few weeks during rainy weather.
You should examine the pots every few weeks for signs of growth. Once new growth is seen
the pots can be moved to the usual tray system. I tend to keep my pots in a few CM of water,
though some growers prefer not to allow the pots to sit in water.
Winter temperatures should usually be a minimum of 5C. Most winter growing species will
probably take lower temperatures for short periods but it is not recommended. Generally at
temperatures below 5C you will find that growth virtually stops. To maintain optimum growth
a slightly higher temperature is preferable around 8C seems ideal.
I do not find that the light requirements of these species is particularly high. I insulate the

greenhouse with bubble plastic during the winter to minimise heating costs. Although the
insulation cuts down on the transmitted light considerably, it does not seem to affect the
Flowering takes place at various times in the season usually depending on the growth pattern.
Unusually for Drosera the flowers of most winter growing species are not only quite large and
showy but are also strongly scented.
Most rosetted species will flower early in the season, some species will actually flower before
they produce the leaf rosette.
The upright or climbing species usually produce their flowers at the end of the growing
season, the flowers being produced at the apex of the climbing stem.
Fan leaved species such as D. stolonifera tend to produce several sets of flowers. Some are
produced at the ends of the stem or stems while others may be produced on separate scapes
emerging from the centre of the rosette.
Some species such as D. peltata will produce prolific quantities of seed. Most species however
are poor seed bearers in cultivation and probably require different clones to pollinate the
Just as different species commence growth at different times, the onset of dormancy will
differ from species to species. Other factors also stimulate the plants to enter dormancy.
Generally these are environmental factors such as average temperatures and day length. Also
some species are probably genetically "timed" to enter dormancy once they have finished
At the first signs of dormancy - that is the dying off of the above ground growth, you should
start to reduce watering. The important thing to remember is that even when all the above
ground parts of the plant are fully dead, the underground stolon is still very much alive and
gradually retreating to the tuber. The retreating stolon adds considerably to the eventual size
of the tuber - maybe as much as 40% of the tuber's reserves are added at this time. The
watering at this point is crucial. If the soil is allowed to dry out too quickly the stolon will die
without its reserves being transmitted to the tuber. With a reduced tuber size the chances of
the tuber surviving the summer dormancy are greatly reduced.
The easiest way to achieve a gradual drying of the soil is to move the pot to an area that is
both shaded and away from any direct sunlight - under the bench in the greenhouse is the
obvious place. I find that in this sort of position, with a large enough pot (and thus a large
enough volume of soil) a gradual drying period of about 6-8 weeks is easily achieved. Another
advantage of a having a large volume of soil is that the soil in the centre of the pot will alway
retain a tiny amount of moisture - hardly detectable but just enough to colour the soil and
prevent it from falling apart when the plant when removed from the pot. This seems to help
the tubers survive the dry dormancy and is easily achieved by having the right soil structure
and a large pot size.
Tuber Division
This depends on the species involved. Some species produce substantial quantities of new
tubers each year, often producing dropper shoots from the main plant. Other species are less
generous, producing the occasional extra tuber with a number of species that never produce
additional tubers.
Obviously the way to tell whether the plant is producing extra tubers is to see if more plants
are appearing each year.
To remove tubers the pot should be upended in a tray and the soil removed while the plant is

dormant. The best time to do this is late August when the tubers will have gone fully dormant
but will soon be starting to grow again. Incidentally, this is also a good way to check you have
the right soil mix. If the soil can be removed from the pot in one piece without it
disintegrating you have the right structure.
Carefully break the soil up looking for the tubers. Usually these will be red, white or orange
depending on the species. They can also vary considerably in size and shape depending again
on the species.
You should aim to keep about three or four tubers if possible. The remaining tubers can be
potted up separately or distributed among fellow growers.
There is no great advantage to repotting tuberous Drosera too often, in fact some species do
not take kindly to the disturbance and will take a season to fully recover. The one advantage
to repotting (apart from gaining spare tubers) is that some species will gradually move the
tubers lowering in the pot - eventually reaching the bottom of the pot. This can cause
problems as the tuber is likely to be too wet and may rot. It is wise in most cases to repot
your plants every 3-4 years.
Seed is a very efficient way to raise large quantities of plants, and is often the only way to
obtain new species or forms. Also, since the resulting plants will be clonally different it
should be possible to cross pollinate the plants once they flower to get more seed.
The bad news is that seed is often very slow to germinate and seedlings can take many years
to reach maturity. Treating the seed with giberellic acid has been reported by some growers
to be very effective at achieving fast and reliable germination but I have not used it enough
to be able to confirm this. Seed should be soaked for 24 hours in a 1% solution of fresh
giberellic acid. Giberellic acid should only be obtained from reliable sources and has to be
made freshly for each use - as an organic acid it is short lived and after 36 hours is completely
ineffective. Powdered giberellic acid should be kept in the fridge and used within 6 months.
Sow seed onto the surface of the soil in a 75 CM (3 inch) pot. do not cover the seed. Seed not
treated with giberellic acid can take up to 18 months to germinate - extreme patience is
Once germinated treat the seed as for the mature plants. Greater care is needed when the
plants enter dormancy but do not be tempted to keep the pots wet throughout the summer as
this will cause the tubers to rot. You will probably find the survival rate from season to season
is quite low.
Seed sown during the summer months is unlikely to germinate whatever the treatment
applied. Hot summer temperatures appear to prevent germination.
Leaf Cuttings
Like most Drosera tuberous species can be propagated from leaf cuttings, although I do not
have a great deal of personal experience in this method at the moment.
Leaves should be removed from the parent plant and laid onto the surface of a pot with the
same compost as the parent. Cover the leaves with chopped live sphagnum moss. It is
probably beneficial to keep the cuttings slightly warmer than usual to accelerate the growth
of new plants. Once new plants are seen they should be left until large enough to move to
separate pots, or they can be left in the original pot.
South African Winter Growing Drosera
Generally speaking these species need the similar growing conditions to the tuberous Drosera.
Be warned though that I find these considerably harder to grow than the tuberous species.
They are definitely worth persevering with though, not only because of their unique
appearance but for the flowers, which are among the largest and showiest of the genus.
The main differences in cultivation are:
Soil - add about 10% extra gritty sand

Commence all watering at the end of August - the South African species seem to respond to
soil watering as an end of dormancy trigger
Generally warmer temperatures are required for constant growth during the winter months.
Generally at colder temperatures and minimum winter day length the plants will stop
growing. In order to get the plants to full growing size it is crucial to wake them up from
dormancy as early as possible - hence watering is started in late August.
Seed is a useful method of propagation usually taking 3-4 years for seedlings to reach
maturity. Unfortunately the seed appears to be quite short lived so should be obtained as
fresh as possible - not always an easy task. If fresh seed will germinate at temperatures of 10
- 15 C within 4 - 5 weeks.

Drosera Growing Guide

Click below to learn about that type of sundew:
Temperate - comes from areas that have frosts and freezes in winter
Tropical - grow year round
Petiolaris - heat loving, tropical group
Imagine a plant whose leaves are sticky and capable of acting like flypaper to trap
insects. That is the special gift of the sundew! This carnivorous habit allows the
plant to live in nutrient poor regions. The sticky portion of the leaf varies in size
and shape depending on the regions of the world that they are native. The name
Drosera is derived from a Greek word which means "glistening in the sun", hence the
name Sundew. Many drosera from different climates can grow together with little
special care. Even those that require extra care, are well worth the trouble.
Separate plants as they divide and start forming clumps. Most drosera grow from
leaf and root cuttings.
Germinating Seed
Germination most drosera seed is quite easy and may require stratification similar
to the Sarracenias. General rule of thumb - if it ever gets cold where they are
native, stratify them. If you intend to grow them outside, we have best results
when planting them in the spring. If you intend to grow your plants under lights,
you can start them year round. A mix of peat and sand is used and then topped off
with half an inch of pure sand. When algae build up on the peat moss it smothers
the little seedlings - the sand usually prevents this or at least slows the problem
The main pests for these plants are aphids. Treat with Orthene or Isotox according
to the directions on the bottle. The plants will lose their dew for a short period,
but it will return if given high enough humidity.

Temperate Sundews Back to Top

General - Ours grow in a 50/50 mixture of sphagnum
peat moss and silica sand. Make sure not to use
white or beach sand since it is high in salts and
calcium, which will eventually kill your plants. If it
is at all possible, you should put your plants outside
for the growing season. Drosera can take full sun
and develop their best color when grown outside.
They like warm humid conditions with summer
temps between 70-100 degrees. NEVER allow them Screen Mesh helps keep
creatures out.
to dry out! As fall approaches, the summer leaves
die off and form a hibernaculum. These look similar
to a small pea and are made of modified leaves.
Since they aren't actively growing plants, you can put them directly in full
sun in the Spring. Winter temps should be between 35-45 degrees and keep
them moist only - never sitting in water over dormancy. We suggest checking
the dormant buds every other week to see if any fungus develops. If spotted,
or as a general preventative, use Benomyl according to the directions. If you
have only a few temperate plants, they can be placed in moist sphagnum in
the refrigerator, as detailed in the Venus flytrap section.

Windowsill and Greenhouse - You can leave them in

the pots year round, as long as they will get a cold
dormancy. By cold, we mean at least down to 45 F
and even freezing won't hurt them at all. Believe it
or not, many of our plants live outside in bogs and
freeze solid from December until March. The key to
their survival is not getting any rapid thaws,
followed by rapid freezing. Another advantage of
the refrigerator - a very controlled environment! A
few other spots would be an unheated sun porch,
cold frame or even the garage. Since they aren't
growing at this time, they don't need light.

vent detail on cold


Terrariums - Attempt to mimic the seasons by gradually adjusting the

photoperiod between 14-16 hours for "summer" and down to 8-10 hours for
"winter". As you decrease the photoperiod, so should the amount of water.
If possible, grow all temperate plants in the same terrarium, so you can
place the terrarium in an unheated area for the winter.

Tropical Sundews
Back to Top
General - Most thrive in full sun or partial shade. Temperatures in the range
of 60-90 range, keep these plants quite happy. Certain tropical drosera like
D. schizandra, prolifera and adelae prefer very shady conditions. They grow
well in enclosed east or west facing terrariums, or even under a greenhouse

Windowsill and Greenhouse - The relative humidity should be above 50%
and your plants can be kept standing in trays of water year round. Half an
inch of water has always proven sufficient for us. The trays commonly used
under window box planters make excellent decorative trays for the
windowsill grower. If you grow in a greenhouse, periodically allow the trays
to go dry for a day or so, to kill mosquito and other bug larvae.
Terrarium - If you plant your plants directly in an enclosed terrarium, you
don't have to keep them in standing water and in fact, we advise against it.
Personal experience has shown this leads to the environment inside the tank
becoming "stagnant" since the water isn't flowing through a bog ecosystem.
In some larger tanks, we have potted plants suspended above circulating
water and achieve excellent results. Additionally, submersible aquarium
heaters can be used to regulate the temperature within the tank.

Back to Top

The petiolaris complex likes it

! This
terrarium lid uses incandescent grow lights to
keep the temperature in the tank above 80F. We
have grown these plants as hot as110F and they
love it. The plants were previously planted
directly in the terrarium. We have since
switched to 4 inch wide square pots, that are
about 6 inches tall. This group has very long
roots and definitely appreciated the root room.
The pots are topped off with gravel to keep
mosses from taking over. The plants are kept
very moist, but not standing in water. Like most
sundews, these do best when placed outside
over the summer. They enjoy over 4
months outside in the DC Metro area. Cold will
definitely stunt their growth and may eventually
will kill them. These sundews can get quite
large and will form dense clumps, if left alone
for several years. None of the complex is self
fertile and requires cross pollination between
two different clones if you wish to make seed.
You can make hybrids between the species since
they are so closely related.

The Portuguese Sundew, Drosophyllum lusitanicum, is one of the few
dry-land CPs. It grows on rocky slopes in Spain, Portugal, and the
northern tip of Morocco. In visual appearance it is much like a sundew


its long whip-like leaves are covered with short-stalked adhesive tentacles. However, while
the glands of Drosera hold fast to their prey, the glands of Drosophyllum mostly function to
coat the prey with mucous. In its struggles to escape, the prey becomes completely immersed
in mucous and drowns. The conservation status of this species is not known.
This plant is not easy to grow for the uninitiated but with due care the species can be
cultivated fairly successfully. To germinate, the seed must be fresh. Various forms of pregermination treatment involving gibberellic acid, boiling water, fire, scarification, and
stratification have been suggested and tried, if the seed is less than a few months old it will
germinate well. Another method for assisting the germination process is to nick small piece
from the blunt end of the outer covering of the seeds with a sharp knife. Place them in warm
water, allow this to stand overnight, and then plant about 3 mm deep in the compost. The
compost should be a 50/50 sand and peat mix, in a 150 or 175 mm (6" or 7") terracotta pot.
Mixing about two tablespoons of garden lime with the compost in each pot has been found
beneficial. The pot should be standing in 25 mm of water only while waiting for germination
and early growth of the seedling plant. Place live Sphagnum moss inside the drainage holes of
the pot to prevent loss of the compost, and later on as a moisture indicator. Include some
rocks in the compost too. The seed normally germinates in about four to six weeks at a
temperature of about 24C (75F).
Once the young plants are about 25 mm (1") tall remove the pot from the water tray and
place it on the bench. By watching the Sphagnum moss in the drainage holes you will be able
to tell when to re-water the pot. As the moss gets drier, it will become lighter in colour do
not let the pot become too dry as the plant may die. To water the pot, place it back in the
water tray for about 30 minutes, and then return it to the bench for further monitoring. Do
not water the plant from above. Remember that the pot will dry out much quicker in warm
weather, and may need watering daily at this time.
When the plants have reached about 100 mm (4") in height they may be exposed gradually to
some direct sunlight do not overdo this at first; some morning sun is usually adequate. These
plants grow well in a 50% humidity greenhouse without special treatment.
The plants will flower in their second year of growth, in early summer. The flowers are bright
sulphur yellow, about 3 cm (1.25") in diameter and stay open for only one day. Manual
pollination is essential if viable seed is required.
Grow only a few plants to each pot for best results. Do not fertilise. Do not transplant a
specimen unless it is less than a few cm tall and you are practiced at the genus. Vegetative
propagation is rarely successful. A perennial in the wild, it is difficult to maintain past two
years in cultivation just long enough to obtain seed. Also, this plant seems to die if the
temperatures ever exceed 40 - 43C (>100F).

This is a genus of about 20 South American, African, and Madagascar
plants related to Utricularia. The common name is Forked Trap. Auguste
de Saint-Hilaire described the first Genlisea in Brazil in 1833, and
Genlisea hispidula
named it after Stephanie de Genlis. Genlisea is generally found at
altitudes of 100-2000 metres (3200-6400 ft) above sea level, although
one species is found on Brazil's Mount Roraima at 2800 metres (9000 ft), in moist sandy peat
Genlisea is a rootless terrestrial, perennial plant with numerous green linear to spatulate
leaves. They are up to 20 cm long and 9 mm wide, and appear above soil level giving little
indication that below is a second type of 'leaf' that catches small creatures in a trap similar to

that used for lobsters. As with the Utricularia genus, the traps are below ground each
descending stolon ends in a digestive pouch which bears two long, spiralling tubes. These
tubes are slit along one side, and are arranged in such a way that creatures can enter the
tube but cannot escape. The only direction they may progress is towards the digestion
chamber the utricle. Other than threats of habitat destruction, the conservation status of
this genus is not known.
There are up to ten flowers on a single 30 cm (12") scape. The flowers measure up to 13 cm
(5") long and range in colour from purple, deep blue, pale purple to yellow. The seeds are
quite large, oval shaped and up to 1 cm across, appearing almost triangular in cross-section.
This genus responds to the same cultural treatments that many of the
Utricularia species enjoy.

The Heliamphora species common names are Sun Pitcher and Marsh
Pitcher are fairly recent introductions to collectors. They have existed,
probably, for a very long time in their native habitat of the tepuis
(vertically-sided, inaccessible, high sandstone plateaus) in Venezuela
and Brazil. They belong to the same plant family as Sarracenia, but have
a much more primitive appearance. Five species grow in South America.
Because they grow in such inaccessible locations, the only threats posed
to them are climatic changes from deforestation (which could affect
rain patterns) and field collection.
These are relatively new to common cultivation, so we won't list many
hints. They appear to do best in moderate temperatures in the range 16
to 27C (61 to 80F) higher temperatures combined with insufficient
humidity are likely to be disastrous. There is some indication, counter-intuitive though it may
seem, that tissue-cultured specimens are easier to grow. Use an airy growing medium of live
The pitcher appears to be little more than a rolled leaf, but is really more sophisticated than
this. Rain collects in the upright pitchers, as far as a slit at the front near the top of the
pitcher. The sides of the pitcher then taper into the rear of the upper part of the pitcher,
called the 'bell'.
The bell has a very slippery inner surface that is likely to precipitate the alighting insects into
the water below. At the top of the bell it tapers to a short narrow stalk on top of which is an
inward-leaning spoon-shaped addition called the nectar spoon studded liberally with nectar
glands on the inside. The outside of the pitcher has some nectar glands also.
So, the insect is attracted to the nectar available on the pitcher, and will
frequently find its way to the most concentrated source of this food in
the nectar spoon. At this point there is a good probability that the insect
will slide down the surface of the bell, and if it doesn't quickly fly out of
danger, falls into the water.
The Heliamphora pitchers don't have digestive glands this process is
provided by bacterial action, and the pitchers are able to absorb the
The tepui environment of the Sun Pitchers is interesting. The tops of the
tepuis may be from 1000 to 3000 metres above sea level so the tops are
cool places. But, the surrounding area is tropical jungle. The frequent
rain, and the evaporation of the water in the base-level jungle causes
the Heliamphora habitat to be very misty most of the time. The collector


must be able to provide these cool, misty, very humid and damp conditions for the plants to
grow adequately.
The old pitchers should not be pulled from these plants mainly because this is likely to break
the plant into two or more pieces, one of which will come away with the unwanted leaf,
minus any roots it may have had otherwise. They are very brittle. The best way is to cut the
old pitchers off carefully with a pair of fine-pointer scissors. Also these plants don't like
change. Do not divide them in the summer. Do not divide them at all. Bigger is better, and big
plants have big pitchers.
Pest control of the Heliamphora species is not difficult. Scale, Mealy Bugs, and Aphids may be
present sometimes. Removal of these should as for Sarracenia plants. Fungus attacks are rare,
but if Botrytis is noticed spray with Fongarid. (Benlate fungicide kills Sphagnum moss and is
no longer available. Do not, under any circumstances, use a copper-based fungicide this will
kill your plants.)
There are five species of Heliamphora, as follows:
Heliamphora heterodoxa -Pitchers olive green up to 40 cm (16") tall, with thin red line on the
rim. Flowers are pink and white.
Heliamphora ionasi Has a large rosette of the largest pitchers in the genus up to 46
cm (18") tall, widely flared at the mouth, like a French Horn, and having a large nectar
spoon. The pitchers become red with age.
Heliamphora minor -Pitchers green or red to burgundy, depending on sunlight. The smallest
species up to 7.5 cm (3") tall.
Heliamphora nutans
-Has pitchers 10-15 cm (4-6") long, 2-3 cm in diameter.
Heliamphora tatei -There are three varieties of this species.
var. tatei
-Produces shrubby stems up to 4 metres (13') tall. Pitchers are long and narrow,
flaring only at the top. The nectar spoon is wide-stalked and rather large.
var. macdonaldae - Differs from var. tatei only in that the inner surface of the bell is almost
var. neblinae - Has yellow-green pitchers up to 25 cm (10") tall. The flowers can be white or
greenish turning pink with age. The bell is rather narrow and very long, usually equalling the
length of the lower part of the pitcher. In proportion to the pitcher size, the cap is the largest

I grow these in a heated terrarium, with a soil mix of approx 3 parts perlite to 1 part moss
peat, and a top dressing of live sphagnum moss. These plants like to be kept fairly cool, so
the heater is on a timer that heats the terrarium to just over 20 degrees centigrade during
the day. At night the plants are allowed to cool to ambient room temperature. On particularly
warm nights I place a couple of frozen cool blocks into the terrarium to make sure that there
is a decent drop in temperature overnight. I give a light foliar feed to these plants about once
every couple of months, and occasionally catch ants etc to feed them. These plants have no
winter dormancy, and will grow throughout the year.
These plants have roots that will rot if kept permanently very wet, so the above quickdraining soil mix should be used, and the water tray or saucer etc that the pot sits in should
be allowed to dry before re-watering. It is important however, to mist this plant often almost daily - the Heliamphora are found only on table-like mountains in South America called
Tepuis, which are often shrouded in mist. Temperatures should not be allowed to exceed 30
degrees Celsius, and night time temperatures of 15-18 degrees are required for best results.

As your plants grow, the lower leaves and pitchers will brown and die off. As this happens,
make sure to remove the dead material to avoid fungal problems. They don't need fertilizer
to grow, but in the absence of food (in an enclosed terrarium,) it is advisable to feed your
plants. HINT: Only feed the the older pitchers. Even if the top is starting to die, they still
absorb the nutrients and if you put too much in, you don't kill a new trap. Flake fish food
works well, as do small crickets, available from your local bait or pet shop. The following
directions apply for terrarium growing only.

Many people swear that heliamphora must be grown in cool conditions, but all our plants
experience 80-90 F. in the summer without any problems. By no means are we advocating that
you keep them warm however.... They do prefer cooler conditions (50-70 F.) and if kept warm
for too long, they will decline. They generally just stop growing when kept too warm and
once fall and cool conditions return, normal growth resumes.

Growing Media
25% cypress mulch
25% perlite
25% Canadian peat moss
25% live sphagnum moss
The first three ingredients are mixed together and the pot is topped with the live sphagnum.

If your plants are lacking any red pigment, they are probably not getting enough light. We use
shop lights with one cool white and one vita light. The light fixture is suspended directly
above the tank with 4-6 inches between the bulbs and the pitchers. The closer to the
artificial light source, the developed, as compared then when the plants are grown in dimmer

As with most Carnivorous Plants, it is essential to water with pure or distilled water. We do
not keep the media soaking wet. It has been reported that this can be done, but our best
results have been achieved when the media is allowed to dry slightly between waterings.

A combination of high humidity and good air circulation give us the best results. Two inches of
water is kept from stagnating with an aquarium pump and bubbler. It also keeps fresh air
coming into the tank. The plants grow on a plastic shelf suspended above the water on plastic
pots. The tank is sealed with a sheet of glass. One corner of the glass is cut off on a 2"
diagonal to allow the air tube to enter the tank.

While repotting in the spring, break apart the crowns, making sure that each section has
some roots. Heliamphora are VERY brittle so you must use extreme care when handling and
dividing. If you break off a division without roots, place it in an enclosed terrarium in live
sphagnum, and new roots should start forming within 4-6 weeks.

Germinating Seed
The seed is short lived and usually difficult to obtain. The best results were on dead
sphagnum moss, with the pots placed in a terrarium among established plants. Fresh seed will
start germinating within 4 weeks, but it may take as long as six months. Once your seedlings
have one or two new leaves, transplant into live sphagnum and keep it trimmed to prevent
the young plants from being smothered. Germinating heliamphora seed has been quite
difficult for us. Since the plants divide so readily, we don't use this form of propagation
frequently. This is where tissue culture really comes in handy.

Ibicella and Proboscidea

Ibicella lutea and the very closely related Proboscidea louisianica are
South American weeds that have naturalised in many countries. The two
plants are widely known as 'Devil's Claws' or 'Unicorn plants' because of
the characteristic shape of the seed pods. It has been suggested they
are carnivorous in a manner similar to the Pinguicula species that is
glandular leaves. An article on these families of plants is available on
the Internet. These plants are easily grown to maturity insects can be
Ibicella lutea
seen captured by the leaves. Both of the two species are annuals.
Cultivation as a somewhat dry desert plant has been tried, but they also
seem to appreciate a good availability of water. Osmocote slow release fertiliser seems to be
An interesting feature of these plants is that the two halves of the stigmatic surface quickly
close on each other with physical stimulation, presumably to avoid self pollination. It appears
that the stigma surface of each flower will accept and retain pollen before the pollen is ready
on the stamens in that same flower. Thus when pollen from another flower is deposited on
the stigma by a pollinating insect the stigma snaps shut; similar in action to the VFT trap,
effectively 'trapping' the delivered pollen (but not the deliverer). Ripe pollen is significantly
prevented from reaching the stigma in its own flower.
The grower can assist in the transfer of pollen from flower to flower, so that there will be
more assurance of obtaining ripe seed pods for each following season. A small artist's paint
brush is used for this. It should be dry and clean from any previous pollination activities.
Touch the brush on the leaf surface to make the brush hairs slightly sticky to stick together
and retain the pollen better. The pollen is available from the stamens; situated in the top of
the trumpet and behind the stigma area. Be careful to avoid touching the stigma when
obtaining pollen so that it will be still open to receive pollen from a different flower. Take the
brush to a different flower (on a different plant if possible) and gently touch the pollen-laden
brush point between the two stigma halves just inside the top of the trumpet opening. You
will then see the stigma trapping action take place. Perform this action as many times as is
necessary to make sure that each freshly-opened flower gets pollen from some other flower.
The seed should be planted in very early spring, to give the plant plenty of time to fully
mature the seed pods (for your next-season seeds) before the cooler times of mid-autumn
approach. Warm conditions are needed for germination. Germination of the seed is assisted
considerably for both plants if a small portion of the hard outer covering of each seed is
sliced off, near the growth end, with a sharp knife, and the seed then placed in warm water,
and allowed to stand overnight. Many seedlings die from 'damping off'(a fungal infection).
Both plants are annuals. Plant in a large pot, an 200 mm (8") pot at the very least, of normal
plant potting mix (not peat and/or Sphagnum). They should be situated in the open air with
maximum availability of sunlight.

The leaf and stem portions of the two species are very similar. One well-known nursery-man
in the Melbourne area called both of them 'potato plants' because of a similarity in the
general appearance of the leaves to that vegetable plant but that's where the likeness ends.
The flowers of the two Devils Claw plants are very similar in form, both are a bent expanding
trumpet shape. The flowers hang vertical initially, with the bend in the tube and a longer
extension on the side further from the opening making the opening also vertical. But, they
differ significantly on the inside colouring: the Ibicella flower has some bright orange spotted
colouring on a golden-yellow background, while Proboscidea flowers have fake orange
stamens drawn at the bottom on a pale lilac background strewn with a combination of purple
The mature seed pods of Ibicella have many protruding spikes (that make handling even more
difficult), but Proboscidea seed pods are just plain and rough on the outside.
There is a problem with the Devils Claw plants: one you will fully appreciate after you have
grown any of them. This is the particularly obnoxious odour produced by the secretions on the
leaves. You may even consider that Ibicella and Proboscidea are trying to attract carrion
feeders. Then, if you touch a leaf accidentally, as you may do when transferring pollen from
one flower to another, to ensure that pollen transfer is achieved, you will want to go and
have a good wash to decontaminate your hands. Nevertheless, as you observe (from a
distance) the large green leaves, the pretty flowers, and the large developing hooked seedpods, you will still think them to be fascinating plants.
There are a couple of stories on how the 'Devils Claw' plants came to get that common name.
Firstly, the very sharp points on the ends of the two hooks of the matured seed pod can easily
stick into the leg or whatever of an unsuspecting animal that walks too close to the plant.
The animal will carry the seed pod around for some appreciable time, during which time the
seeds might be shaken from the splitting seed pod by the movements of the transporting
The second story is a very bizarre continuation of the previous tale. Consider the poor animal
with this terrible 'thing' stuck into some portion of its body; the creature doesn't know how to
dislodge the offending item. The seed pod has a toothed membrane protruding from its top
with the teeth pointing toward the hooks making removal much more difficult when it is
also in the fur of the animal. Because the wound where the hook(s) penetrated will be a
continuously open one, infection will be able to gain access at the same point. The infection
will spread, the body temperature of the animal will rise, and this fever will cause the
creature to go to its water source for more and more drinks. Eventually the animal will die
nearby near to the water. This is probably what the plant desired to have its seeds
deposited near a water environment. We are then lead to believe that much later you will be
able to see Devils Claw plants growing near the bones of the dead

This genus has about 80 species (nosotros Nepenthes mirabilis), and is
probably the most spectacular of the carnivorous plants, that snake
through the undergrowth and trees in the jungles of Malaysia and nearby
islands, northern Australia, Indonesia, and Madagascar. With a wide
variety of colour and shapes, Nepenthes are also the largest of the
pitcher plants. The plants have two common names: Tropical Pitcher
Plant, and Monkey Cup.

Nepenthes rajah

The pitchers, borne at the tips of the leaves on tendrils, are shaped like tubes, tubs, or
drums, and capture various small invertebrates (and the occasional small vertebrate). The
ecology of the species is very complex, and many have symbiotic relationships with ants,
spiders, and other creatures.
These plants are plastic in appearance the form of their pitchers is influenced by light
conditions, temperature, humidity, the age of the plant, whether the pitcher is near the
ground or high in the trees, and the particular species determining the identity of a plant
can be extremely difficult. These plants are endangered, mostly because of habitat
destruction from slash and burn agriculture, together with export timber production
techniques in various areas in south-east Asia. Populations are so small that collectors are
having serious impact on the plants. Several species are extinct. One species, N. mirabilis, is
a native of Cape York in Queensland but not exclusively so.
Because of their size, shape, and care required, these plants are valued
highly by collectors, and are avidly sought. Thus the genus is one of the
CPs most involved in illegal overseas trade. For the collector, this is one
of the most expensive genera a single small plant is regularly priced at
AU$200 or more smaller plants of the more available species or hybrids
can be much cheaper in price than this. Sadly, the high price of the rarer
plants has produced a proprietary attitude among aficionados similar to
the attitudes of some orchid enthusiasts. Herbarium sheets of extinct
specimens have been stolen! There are cases of some growers breaking
into and entering other growers' greenhouses to steal their plants!
They have a long history, being first cultivated during 'Victorian' times in
England, where they were a real favourite. These plants grow a long
vine, 15 metres or more in height, and have pitchers up to 30 cm. long
and 8 cm. wide. The pitchers are formed on long tendrils at the end of
bicalcurata - lower the leaves. They often have different pitchers on the upper and lower
levels of the plant. The flowers of Nepenthes are rather peculiar, like a
feather duster, and only appear on mature plants.
To keep these plants you need to provide humidity, good drainage, and warmth in winter. In
Melbourne, N. khasiana is about the easiest for a beginner to keep it will live through our
cold winters if kept protected from strong winds. In Queensland many species of Nepenthes
are grown outside.
A suitable growing medium for Nepenthes has been found to be a mixture of 2 parts live
Sphagnum moss mixed with 1 part orchid bark. This should not be packed down, but left fairly
loose in the pot, so that it provides the adequate drainage that the
plants must have. Nepenthes containers must never be placed in a
water tray or other shallow reservoir, as is recommended for most other
carnivorous plants. Watering must be only from the top of the container,
must be regular, and must be frequent, particularly in the warm
months. When watering, the leaves should be sprayed as well these
methods simulate the frequent rainfalls of their native tropical jungle
However, most of the Nepenthes species are not a recommended
carnivorous plant type, unless you can provide the needed humidity, and
learn about the requirements of individual species.
For those who have the space, this is a glorious genus. Unfortunately,
you often find them languishing in mistreatment at botanical gardens.
Nepenthes truncata

Growers divide the genus into two broad groups: the highland and the lowland species. The
highland species are generally considered to be epiphytic, and desiring cooler night-time
The lowland species are normally situated less than 1000 metres above sea level, where
summertime minimum temperatures are around 21C (70F), together with a high humidity
both day and night. In winter, minimum temperatures down to 16C (61F) can be tolerated.
At these low altitudes the difference between day and night temperatures is mostly small.
Maximum temperatures greater than 30C (86F) are common and readily tolerated, as long as
the humidity remains high.
The highland plants grow on the mountains of the tropical countries, usually higher than 1000
metres above sea level. Here the daytime minimum temperatures in summer are about 1822C (64-72F) with high humidity, and at night they can be in the range 8-15C (45-59F) with
much lower humidity. Winter temperatures in such locations will be slightly lower than in the
summer. For most growers not situated in a genuine tropical location, the highland Nepenthes
species are preferred, due it being relatively easier and cheaper to provide a reasonable
growing environment for these plants.
The Nepenthes hybrids may be derived from both highland and lowland parents, and so are
then generally less demanding with their temperature needs. Hybrid vigour, described on
page 37, is another factor making the Nepenthes hybrids fairly suitable and easy to
accommodate within non-tropical locations.
There is a little-known trick for use with Nepenthes plants. If you remove the tendril,
together with embryo pitcher, from a leaf just before the pitcher starts to develop, the
pitcher on the following leaf will be up to 50% larger than it would have become otherwise.
An additional size-gain can be achieved if this is done to two tendrils, and the larger results
seen in the third-in-line pitcher. However this should not be done on a regular basis, because
you are robbing the plant of much of its nutrition-gathering capability. Try it a month before a
show to obtain a large and impressive pitcher for the judges to see.
Nepenthes are one of the only two CP genera being dioecious share this with Catopsis. That
is, there are male and female Nepenthes plants. This state is uncommon but not rare in the
plant world. Many images of Nepenthes are displayed on the Internet.
For further horticultural information on this genus, some VCPS members are very
knowledgable with good collections, and are happy to help interested people.

There are two distinct categories of Nepenthes - Highland and Lowland. There are some
plants that are intermediate between the two, but as a general rule, about 70% of Nepenthes
are Highland, and 30% are Lowland. Highland Nepenthes require warm (but not hot) days, and
appreciably cooler nights. A range of about 20-25 degrees during the day and 15-18 at night is
ideal for most Highland species. The Lowland species require warmer temperatures of about
25-30 degrees Celsius, with little drop at night. Both categories of Nepenthes like high
humidity at all times, but the Lowland species in particular prefer the steamier, more humid
conditions. From my experience, and what I have read from others, it seem to me that the
single most important criteria to get right when growing these plants is the humidity - of
course, temperature, lighting and water are all very important as well, and plants will die if
they are not appropriate, but humidity seems to be the most important with most species.
I grow these in a similar soil mix as that for Heliamphora, but with less perlite, and more
vermiculite, live sphagnum moss and sometimes orchid bark if I can get it! I grow a couple of
very cold and low humidity tolerant varieties on bright locations near windows that get a
small amount of sun per day, and I also have some terrariums that house plants that require
higher humidity. A terrarium is ideal for growing many Nepenthes as it is easy to provide high

levels of light and humidity, but one word of warning - research the plants you are intending
to keep in a terrarium before you make your purchase - some species of Nepenthes can grow
very large in time, and unless you have a very large terrarium, you may find you have a plant
you love, but have nowhere to keep!
These plants have no winter dormancy, but may well reduce growth if they don't like the cold
during winter! It helps to mist them with rainwater often, and it is also helpful to give these
plants a light foliar feed about once every couple of months - go easy though - too much
fertiliser is just as likely to kill the plant as help it! I also feed my Nepenthes any spiders etc I
happen to find around the house - if I can get to them before my wife squashes them out of
existence! They like a very fast draining soil mixture, and as with Heliamphora, any water
that the pot is sitting in must be allowed to evaporate before re-watering.
I am by no means an expert on growing these plants, but I have found an excellent document
written by Chris Creel, and you can access it or download it through this link: Nepinfo.txt (37
kb). You could also try checking out the excellent Nepenthes University on the CP Jungle
website (click the 'More Info' link to the left for more details). It has specific guides for many
individual species, plus great general info on how to approach caring for these plants.

Growing Nepenthes in a Completely Inorganic Substrate

Heiko Rischer
CPN 29(2):50-53
Nepenthes are usually planted in mixtures incorporating organic matter such as peat, pine
bark, Osmunda fiber, Sphagnum, etc. While these materials produce good results, they have
disadvantages. Most of the ingredients decompose rapidly, and the result is a compressed
substrate that inhibits air circulation among the roots. As a consequence the plants have to be
repotted frequently. This means extra expense and work for the grower, and in almost every
case, a temporary cessation in growth of the freshly repotted plants which lasts until the
disturbed roots acclimatize. Another problem is that the use of peat directly contributes to
destroying the wetlands where it is quarried. The destruction of habitat, in turn, is the main
reason for the disappearance of many carnivorous plants. Because of these disadvantages,
new planting media are always being sought
In the wild, some Nepenthes species are found growing in inorganic soils. For a few examples,
N. danseri, N. neoguineensis, and other species from New Guinea and the Philippines grow in
lateritic soil (see Back Cover), N. eustachya grows in bare rock (Figure 1), N. lavicola thrives
in volcanic rock, and N. madagascariensis lives in quartz sand. These observations suggest
that it may be possible to grow Nepenthes in inorganic media.

Alternative Substrate
Rockwool is commonly tried as a non-organic planting material. In spite of limited success
with some Nepenthes species, this method is not favoured because of health risks associated
with handling this stuff. In two papers, Feler (1982, 1986) described growing Nepenthes in
lava-clinkers. He attributed his successes with lowland species to the available N, P2O5, K2O
and Mg the lava contains, and also to the fact that it has the ability to store up to 20% water
by volume. From this description an alternative potting mix was developed, which works for
all sixty Nepenthes species tested--lowlanders and highlanders alike. Even species such as N.
ampullaria and N. bicalcarata do well, even though they often grow naturally in peat swamps.
The mixture consists of one part each: Seramis clay perls (Effem, Verden/Aller), lava gravel
(sold in aquarium shops, grain size approximately 1 cm), Lecaton (expanded clay perls used
for hydroponics, grain size approximately 1 cm) (Figure 2). These ingredients have the
advantage of being more widely available than lava-clinkers. The mixture is slightly alkaline
with a pH of 7.2, and should be soaked in purified water before being used.

Table 1. Advantages and disadvantages of the new inorganic potting mix.

1) Moistens easily, even when completely dry.
2) Compresses/degrades slowly (repotting is less frequent).
3) Airy mix is optimal for the roots.
4) No peat or Sphagnum is required, so habitat destruction is not promoted.
1) Heavy (adding one part Styrofoam chips may help).
2) Initial cost is higher.

Potting Plants with Inorganic Mix

The best pots are plastic baskets commonly used for cultivating water lilies. These baskets
promote air circulation near the roots. They are available in square and round shapes, and
the round ones are best used as hanging baskets. Conventional plastic pots may also used,
especially for smaller plants.
The potting procedure is as follows. Remove the plant from its old pot, and remove all the old
substrate from its roots by submerging it in a bucket of purified water. This decreases the
chance of residual organic material, caught in the roots, of rotting. Put a layer of the potting
mix in the new pot. Plant the specimen in the middle of the pot, filling the pot with the
inorganic potting material. Immerse the whole pot in purified water, at room temperature.
Plants grown in organic soil, repotted into the inorganic mix, show almost no interruption of
Repotting plants already grown in inorganic substrate is even easier (although this is rarely a
necessity!). The roots easily separate from the substrate, and are ready for repotting.

Watering can be done by immersing the entire pot, or from above until water drains from the
pot. Both methods serve to provide the plant moisture as well as to leach accumulated salts
out of the planting medium. As long as the pots do not sit in water, it is impossible to
overwater them.
The water quality is of great importance. If your rainwater is polluted or contaminated, use
reverse osmosis water.

It is necessary to fertilize your Nepenthes because this planting medium does not contain
decomposing organic matter. Slow-release fertilizers such as Osmocote 16-8-12(-2) (i.e. 8.3%
N from NH4 + 7.7% N from NO3, 8% P from P2O5, 12% K from water-soluble K2O and 2% Mg
from MgO) are preferred. One third of the amount suggested on the label is enough for
Nepenthes. The fertilizer is best mixed with the substrate before potting. At six-month
intervals, add the same amount of fertilizer onto the top of the pot.

Cuttings root exceptionally well in the substrate. They are directly planted in the substrate,
(with or without rooting hormones), and are treated like rooted plants. If the cuttings have
pitchers, add water to them. The substrate is too coarse to be used for sowing seeds. Use
pure Seramis or fine vermiculite instead.
The medium is very good for the acclimatization of sterile grown (i.e. tissue culture)
Nepenthes. After removing the agar sticking to the plants, pot them in clear plastic boxes
containing the substrate. Maintaining a relative humidity of almost 100% is most important
during the first two weeks. Afterwards, the plastic cover is removed and the plants are
treated like adult plants. Since the substrate can be autoclaved, the plants may be kept
sterile or at least minimally contaminated by troublesome moulds during the beginning of this

weaning procedure. Figure 3 shows a specimen of N. sumatrana two years after planting it
out. When weaned it had a diameter of only 5 cm!

General Conditions
The described results are all obtained growing Nepenthes in terrariums of varying sizes with
artificial lights (cool white fluorescent lamps or high pressure mercury lamps). Modifications
of the methods described may be necessary to adapt them to greenhouse conditions.
Nevertheless, hopefully many other growers are encouraged to experiment and report on
their results in the future.
Back Cover: N. danseri growing in laterite gravel. See article on page xx.
Figure 1: N. eustachya growing on bare rock.
Figure 2: The ingredients of the inorganic potting mix.
Figure 3: N. sumatrana growing in the potting mix.
There are two basic types of Nepenthes:
Once you understand their basic requirements, you can determine which group your growing
conditions are best suited for. You will likely find that with a little creativity, you can grow
both! Additionally, many can be grown in intermediate conditions.

You do not need a fancy Wardian Case to grow nepenthes. A simple fish tank works well and
will hold many plants in a small space. The following photographs illustrate how to set up a
simple terrarium.

As the plants grow, the lower leaves and pitchers will brown and die off. As this happens,
make sure to remove the dead material to avoid fungal problems. You can fertilize these
plants with Miracid, at 1/4 strength, applied directly into the pitchers. With young plants you
may have to use a syringe, but the results are well worth the trouble! They don't need
fertilizer to grow, but in the absence of food (in an enclosed terrarium,) it is advisable to
feed your plants. HINT: Only feed the the older pitchers. Even if the top is starting to die,
they still absorb the nutrients and if you put too much in, you don't kill a new trap.

If you find a tall plant unattractive, you can cut it off and root it to make another plant. New
growth will appear from the lower part of the stem. (We will detail this process in a future
Germinating Seed
We sow nepenthes seed on moist dead sphagnum moss and place the pots in a terrarium
among established plants. The environment is perfect because they get plenty of light and
humidity. Fresh seed will start germinating within 4 weeks, but it may take as long as six
months. Plant your nepenthes seed immediately, because it has a very short shelf life. I allow
the plants grow for several months before I transplant them individually into larger pots.

Lowland Nepenthes

Many of the lowland plants grow in this terrarium, but fancy grow chambers aren't essential. Many of our best plants grow in enclosed
greenhouse trays or fish tanks.

Lowland species grow best in very warm temperatures, around 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit is
ideal. If the temperatures are lower, growth is much slower. Temperatures below 45 will
almost certainly kill these plants. You can place a submersible aquarium heater in a few
inches of water and place the pots above the water on a tray. (More details and photos in a
future update)
Growing Media
25% coarse orchid bark (approximately 2" pieces)
25% seedling orchid bark mix
50% Canadian peat moss
Commercial plants are grown in pots ranging from 3-6 inches, depending on the age and size
of the plants. Personal plants are grown directly in terrariums, which are filled with 10 inches
of the same mix.
Lowland species don't like direct sunlight and their leaves can easily burn. Some species like
N. ampullaria, N. bicalcarata, N. hirsuta, N. macfarlanei and N. rafflesiana enjoy partially
shaded conditions. Make sure to adjust your plants slowly to new conditions, and it is safer to
error on the side of dimmer light. It is easier to adjust your plants under artificial light, since
you have more control of the environment.

With most Carnivorous Plants, it is essential to water with pure or distilled water. Nepenthes
are more forgiving and can tolerate occasional tap water. If you use tap water, make sure to
flush out the pots seasonally. Open drainage is essential for healthy Nepenthes roots, but
lowland species can tolerate much wetter conditions than their highland counterparts. The
heated humidifier is especially handy, because it keeps the interior of the terrarium very
humid, thus illiminating the need.
Lowland species require a very high humidity for proper pitchering. I keep the humidity above
50% at all times, while still allowing air flow to keep the air from stagnating. A heated
humidifier is attached through the terrarium's back wall and runs 15 minutes every two hours.
This eliminates the need for daily hand misting. Fancy grow chambers aren't essential - you
can just place your plants in an enclosed tray or fish tank to raise the humidity.

Highland Nepenthes

Highland Nepenthes live in enclosed trays, on the bottom level of this grow shelf. Since the unit is in the cellar, the plants cool down
substantially in the evenings.

Most highland species prefer a maximum temperature around 80 degrees Fahrenheit during
the day, and 55 degrees F. at night. In the wild, some of these species encounter frost and
light freezes during the night. If the temperatures are too high, the plants will stop growing
and possibly die. Certain species from EXTREMELY elevated conditions, are near impossible to
grow "well", in cultivation. Most notably, N. villosa and to a lesser extent, N. rajah. You would
almost have to grow these in a refrigerated terrarium or greenhouse to dupilcate their year
round, naturally chilly conditions!
Growing Media
25% dead long fiber sphagnum moss
25% coarse orchid bark (approximately 2" pieces)
25% seedling orchid bark mix
25% Canadian peat moss
Most plants are grown in pots ranging from 3-6 inches, depending on the age of the plants.
The pots are topped with live sphagnum to keep the humidity high around the young plants.

Highland species need brighter light than the lowland species and even appreciate morning
sunlight if possible. When changing any plants' environment, do it slowly, or you may burn the
leaves and pitchers.
Highland nepenthes require a very well draining soil and don't like to have "wet feet". Plants
in enclosed terrariums normally need to be watered about once a week. Allow the soil to dry
out a little in between watering and never water them on a schedule. You should water more
frequently for plants growing in open hanging baskets, perhaps every two or three days, and
mist every day. To keep the leaves from burning, mist in the early morning. Burning is more
likely when the plants are grown in direct sunlight, since the droplets act like magnifiers of
the sun's light.
If you have a plant which refuses to produce pitchers, it is likely due to insufficient humidity.
If the plant isn't in a terrarium, try spraying it twice a day. Highland species can tolerate
lower humidity than the lowland species, but I still keep the humidity as high as possible.
Comparing temperature and humidity, the more important factor to control is the
Number of species:
Where they are found:
Southeast Asia
Trapping mechanisms:
Lured in by nectar, ants and other insects fall into the pitchers, much the same way as
Sarracenia catch their prey. They are quickly digested. Many creatures have a symbiotic
relationship with Nepenthes, living unharmed in the pitchers.
Other notes:
Nepenthes are divided into highland and lowland species. Lowland species are those generally
found below 3,000 ft. They experience hot days and warm nights with continuous high
humidity. Highland species are those generally found at 3,000 to 10,000 ft. They experience
warm days and cool nights with high humidity, especially at night.
Nepenthes khasiana, a species from the mountains of northern India.

A brief overview of general requirements for Nepenthes cultivation.

It is now widely known that, insofar as cultivation is concerned, Nepenthes may be classified
as lowland (growing at or below 1000 m elevation) or highland (growing above 1000 m
elevation). The principle distinction with which the grower must be concerned is the marked
difference between nocturnal temperatures which these two groups experience. In general,
lowland plants require temperatures between 20 and 35 C. They may therefore be grown
fairly easily in the home, or in a well heated greenhouse. Highland Nepenthes, however, are
more demanding since, virtually without exception, they require warm days and rather cool
nights. An acceptable temperature range is roughly 10 to 30 C. Failure to heed this
requirement will likely lead to the death of these plants, and it is therefore recommended
that one avoid highland plants unless able to address this need.

Humidity is a must. If one does not reside in an area with high levels of natural humidity, it
will be necessary either to purchase a humidifier, or to grow one's plants in tanks containing
some amount of water. We recommend ultrasonic humidifiers, which work quite well -provided that they are kept clean to prevent the possible buildup of microbes in the water
reservoir, a condition quite dangerous.

Nepenthes can be grown successfully using a number of different sources of illumination.
Possibilities include common fluorescent lamps, metal halide grow lamps, or filtered
sunlight. If you elect to use fluorescent lamps, be sure to replace the bulbs every six months
or so to ensure adequate illumination. The output of biologically useful light from them
declines substantially after several months, and your plants will suffer from this if bulbs are
not replaced accordingly. We also recommend the use of a timer to provide a regular
photoperiod. Approximately twelve hours of light per day is adequate to ensure rapid
growth. Illumination for longer periods of time can burn the leaves of many species of
Nepenthes. Metal halide lamps are a good source of light for larger growing areas, or to
supplement natural light during the darker months of winter. However, such equipment can
be costly. Finally, if you simply rely on sunlight, be sure that your plants are adequately
ventilated to ensure that they don't overheat, especially if they are highland plants.

We do not, as a rule, fertilize Nepenthes. Since these plants have evolved a means of
extracting nutrients from their environment which does not rely upon absorption through
roots, it is our opinion that the best way to grow them is to feed with insects. This may be
accomplished by buying crickets from your local pet store, or via e-commerce. Crickets may
be stored for long periods by freezing them, and may then be rapidly thawed out for feeding.
Based upon a number of years of growing experience, we believe that this is the single best
way to obtain large plants in rapid fashion.

Being rainforest plants, Nepenthes must be kept moist. With a few exceptions, most should
not be permitted to sit in water, but should be watered every day, or every few days. Ours
are refreshed with water purified by a reverse osmosis unit, available commercially at most
home improvement centers for roughly $200. The use of purified water prevents the buildup
of mineral salts in the compost, a condition which is detrimental to most Nepenthes.
Furthermore, water so purified is also far more palatable than the chlorinated slop coming
directly from one's tap!

Having not as yet had the pleasure of observing Nepenthes in habitat, we cannot comment
directly upon their natural compost. However, we have had success with a number of
compost blends composed of materials commonly available. Typically, a mix consisting of
sphagnum peat moss, fine horticultural charcoal, and fine orchid bark, in the approximate
ratio 1:1:1, is used. However, those species growing in swampier areas, e.g., N. mirabilis,
generally fare well in a mixture with more peat than anything else, while a number of the
highland plants, such as N. rajah, seem to prefer a more coarse, well drained mixture,
consisting of less peat, and possibly including other components, such as pumice.

Cultivation Difficulty
Nepenthes may generally be successfully cultivated by anyone, provided that one meets their
basic needs. However, such needs vary greatly from one species to another, and for some
species, they may be rather challenging to meet. Of course, what may be difficult for one
grower to provide may be quite easily offered by another. Nonetheless, it is possible to offer
some general guidelines based upon personal experience, consultation with other growers,
and basic awareness of the tools and methods commonly used to cultivate exotic flora in
Therefore, in the interest of providing some broad guidelines for those new to Nepenthes
cultivation, or for those who may be considering a new and potentially difficult species, our
personal estimation of cultivation difficulty for each species presented on this site is given
according to the scheme below. Such assessment is reasonably subjective, and is intended
only as a guideline. Obviously, given the unique set of conditions you provide, or even
possibly due to a unique clone you may have, your experience could differ greatly from ours.
Difficulty Classification Scheme
1. Easy Most lowland Nepenthes are considered easy, as are many intermediates which
generally have a reasonable tolerance for warm nighttime temperatures. Such plants are
usually fairly rapid growers which need little more than warm temperatures, approximately
fifty percent shade, 60 to 70 percent relative humidity, and frequent watering with
reasonably pure water. Most are commonly available, and are therefore good choices for the
beginner. Of course, if you live in a rather cool climate, you may find such plants to be far
more difficult than someone living in a warm or temperate country. Nonetheless, because it
is usually easier to provide heat than to remove it, most lowland plants are considered fairly

2. Moderate Many Nepenthes considered intermediate growers (those growing from about
900 m to 1400 m elevation) fall into this category. Such plants typically require some degree
of nocturnal cooling (usually below 20 C). Therefore, for those living in tropical or
subtropical locations, such plants should only be cultivated if such cooling is provided. In
addition, plants in this category are often more slow-growing than those in category 1.
3. Challenging These plants should probably only be grown by those who have reasonable
experience growing Nepenthes, and who are well aware of, and capable of providing for, their
needs. Such species are typically true highland plants, and are therefore absolutely in need
of substantial nighttime cooling, or other specific conditions or composts.
4. Difficult Nepenthes in this category are few in number, but are notoriously difficult
because of the very specific conditions they require, and because such conditions are difficult
for most growers to provide. Moreover, they are often quite slow-growing and are a poor
choice for most younger growers or those who are not yet settled enough to provide the
plants with a stable growing environment for the long term. Therefore, these plants are only
recommended for those with considerable experience, patience, and genuine devotion.
One final point to consider regarding the matter of cultivation difficulty is that many species,
particularly highland species from tissue culture, are much more tolerant of overly warm
conditions when small than they will be as they mature. It is therefore probably wise to plan
for and provide the cooling they will need as adult plants.

Nepenthes may be propagated by a number of different means, including modern tissue
culture techniques. However, for most growers the most popular method of propagation
simply involves taking cuttings. Cuttings should be taken from healthy plants which have one
or more developed shoots in addition to the one to be used for propagation. Listed below is a
step-by-step procedure for this method of propagation.
1. Simply remove the desired plant material and cut it into sections, allowing two or three
nodes per section. If healthy pitchers are present on leaves, they may be left on and filled
with water to act as a reservoir; this can help cuttings to stay hydrated. However, if healthy
pitchers are not present, it is usually advisable to cut leaves in half to limit transpiration and
the stress it places on new cuttings.
2. Trim each section with a very sharp knife to ensure that the vascular bundles inside the
stem are not crushed and remain viable; it is also useful to perform this task under water to
prevent the formation of an air embolism at the site of the cut. Furthermore, make the cut
at a very oblique angle to allow for maximum surface area at this end of the cutting; this will
allow better hydration of the cutting.
3. Make three or four longitudinal incisions approximately 2 mm deep and about 2 cm long at
the base of the cutting. In a few weeks, these incisions will split open, and somewhat later,
roots will grow out of these areas.
4. Treat the root ends of the cuttings with a rooting hormone. Such treatment usually
increases the percentage of cuttings which successfully root.
5. Place the root ends of the cuttings in moist sphagnum, or a similar substance, and locate
them in an area with conditions similar to those favored by the plant from whch they were
taken. However, be sure that humidity is high and that temperatures do not climb to too high
a value, lest the new cuttings wilt and die. In a few weeks to a few months, roots should
appear on the cuttings; when these roots are several centimeters in length, the cuttings may
be removed from the moss (taking care not to break the fragile, new roots) and planted in
regular compost.

An approach to growing highland Nepenthes in almost any climate: basement cultivation.

Cultivating Nepenthes is a fun and rewarding hobby, enabling the grower to observe the
development of some of the most beautiful and bizarre plants on earth. Moreover, with the
advent of tissue culturing techniques in recent years, plants hitherto all but unavailable may
be had for as little as one hundred dollars. However, given the rarity of these plants,
responsible growers must ensure that they can provide conditions appropriate for their new
aquisitions. Since most highland Nepenthes require warm days, with good light and
temperatures ranging from 25 to 30 degrees C, and cool nights down to 10 C with attendant
high humidity, it is apparent that their cultivation presents a special set of challenges for
those not fortunate enough to live in the appropriate climate.

Cool Conditions
Living in a rather arid, and for most of the year, relatively cold part of the United States,
several years ago we decided to try to find a way to grow these plants that would allow us to
emulate their moist, montane conditions. Since summers throughout most of North America
are too hot for all but the most adaptable highland Nepenthes, it was immediately apparent
to us that the only way to provide a consistently cool environment, short of having massive
electrical bills, was to grow the plants in a basement room. A reasonably deep basement will
usually offer ambient temperatures much cooler than 30 C, even on the hottest days, with
even cooler night temperatures. Moreover, plants grown in such a location are not subject to
untimely death in the event of a sudden power failure, as they might be in a conventional,
air-conditioned greenhouse in midsummer.
However, having selected a basement room as a location for Nepenthes cultivation, lighting
and humidification needs must also be addressed. The former may be readily accomplished
by means of a variety of electric lamps. Initially, we grew many of our plants under broad
spectrum fluorescent lamps, with excellent results. The only drawback to the use of these
lamps is their relatively short lifespan of approximately six months, and the fact that plants
must generally be located fairly close to the lamps to receive adequate illumination. This
latter matter can prove troublesome as plants grow larger, and does tend to interfere with
one's observation and enjoyment.

So, after speaking with several other growers, we decided to obtain a metal halide lamp and
fixture. Although the initial cost of such a system is high, (presently about $350) this is
somewhat offset by the fact that a single 1000 W lamp can adequately illuminate an area of
about 2.5 m x 3 m, at a distance of at least 1 m. In addition, lamp life is typically about one
year. Furthermore, one can obtain lamps specially formulated for plant growth, which ensure
good results. Drawbacks to such a system are few, but among them is the fact that a 1000 W
lamp does take a fair amount of power to run 13 to 14 hours per day. We figure that our
system costs us around $1 per day when set for a 13 hour photoperiod. In addition to the cost
of electricity, such lamps do generate a lot of heat. This can be a boon since this will tend to
warm one's plants during the day, helping to simulate their natural habitat. However, one
must remain aware of the fact that, unless shielded, the lamp can explode if it comes in

contact with water, with disastrous results. In addition, if hung close to any flammable
items, the lamp can start a fire, or damage items with a low melting point. In the final
analysis, though, if one wishes to grow a number of Nepenthes, and is circumspect in one's
placement of the lamp, such a system is an excellent choice.

However, for those of us living in an arid climate, there also remains the matter of
humidification. Humidification can be accomplished several ways, since there are a variety
of humidifers and foggers now on the market. Having tried a variety of these, we can state
with some conviction that, for a sizeable growing area, a good choice is an ultrasonic
humidifier. These devices use high frequency sound to break water up into microscopic
droplets, thereby creating a virtual fog and enabling one to put a considerable amount of
water vapor into the air rather quickly. There are three major caveats associated with this
choice, however, which we feel compelled to point out. First of all, these devices require
freqent cleaning (approximately weekly) to prevent buildup of potentially harmful
microorganisms in the water reservoir. Secondly, one must use a reasonably pure source of
water, or may have to contend with a fine white "dust", which arises from the evaporated
minerals naturally occuring in most tapwater, and which is not good for the lungs. This
problem may be circumvented by the use of distilled water, or by means of water purified by
a commercially available RO (reverse osmosis) unit, which is what we use. Finally, of course,
one must fill up the unit regularly, a routine which can become tedious after awhile.

The matter of humidification is not the end of our concerns, though, for it is generally
necessary to restrict the humidified air to the growing area, both to ensure adequate
humidification, and to prevent rot in other parts of one's home. It is here that one can get a
bit creative. To solve this problem we constructed a simple rectangular frame. The frame is
made from standard 1 inch diameter PVC pipe. This material was chosen for several reasons:
It is cheap, lightweight, durable, strong, easy to cut and work with, and most importantly, it
will not rot! It is then a simple matter to construct such a frame and set it up at the desired
location. We recommend that the pieces of the frame be fitted together (rather than glued)
since one will surely need to take it apart at some point, and the joints, if hammered
together, are not likely to break apart.
Finally, one must cover the frame, and an obvious choice is some sort of plastic. We
recommend 6 mil poly; it is durable, and will permit the transmission of light. However, be
sure that the poly covering used is UV resistant. The lamp will give off enough UV radiation
to degrade the plastic, and in a year or two, one will likely find oneself recovering the
chamber or, at the very least, repairing a number of tears in the covering. On the other
hand, if one wishes to maximize reflection inside the chamber, mylar may be a better choice.
Keep in mind that it is not a good idea to have the lamp inside the chamber. The humidity
will promote rust, and may, as mentioned earlier, cause the lamp to shatter. Therefore, it is
necessary to make sure that there is enough room between the top of the chamber and one's
ceiling to hang the lamp. In addition, it is necessary to construct a window, larger than the
lamp housing, in the chamber top to allow light from the lamp to enter. For this purpose we

chose a thermally resistant transparent plastic, which we put into a frame. This was then set
on top of the chamber, over a region devoid of the plastic covering to maximize light entering
the chamber (and avoid the obvious risk of fire). Allow at least 6 inches between the frame
and the lamp -- more if you fear that the proximity of your lamp to your window is
hazardous. We urge caution in the interest of reader safety, but also wish to point out that
we have had such a chamber running for several years now without any problems at all.

Details, details
Once all is in place, photoperiod may be simulated by means of a typical appliance timer used
to control the lamp. We usually leave the humidifier on continuously, having found that it
typically needs to be filled only once each day. Heat from the lamp will increase the capacity
of air within the chamber to hold water, thereby reducing the relative humidity during the
day, and allowing it to rise during the night. This variation seems to be beneficial to our
plants; overnight they experience a kind of "fog", which burns off after the "sun" is up.
Furnishings for the growing chamber are a matter of personal taste. For our needs, we
elected to constuct simple benches, with tops made from cedar, which is rot resistant.
Casters have been installed at the ends of the legs to allow easy movement of the benches
within the growing chamber. Beautiful they are not, but they serve our purposes nicely. In
addition to keeping plants on benches, it is also possible to install shelves, or run steel pipes
through holes drilled in the frame to provide a support for hanging plants.
To cool down the enclosure at night, one may use a fan to draw in cool air from outside,
possibly routing the fan to ductwork allowing it to draw in air outside the basement. During
the summer months, an airconditioner may be used, a technique which we have employed
during the past year. This has allowed us to reduce overnight lows to about 15 C, even during
the hottest months of the year.
Since implementing such a growing environment, we have enjoyed a substantial degree of
success cultivating a number of Nepenthes commonly considered challenging, as well as many
other plants with similar environmental needs, such as various species of Heliamphora,
Drosera regia, and so forth. We do not believe that we would have enjoyed such success
otherwise. In fact, at least three local growers have constucted similar chambers for their
plants at the time of this writing, and we believe that all of them have been pleased with the
results they have obtained. In closing, it is our hope that these simple guidelines will serve to
help a number of other people to successfully grow these fascinating plants.

Number of species:
About 70 (pinguicula caerulea)
Where they are found: Pings are found in a wide variety of
soils throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere, some
extending into South America.
Trapping mechanisms: The small leaves of Pings are
covered with thousands of tiny hairs, each with a gland on
the end that secretes a shiny, glue-like drop. When a small
insect lands on the sticky hairs it becomes stuck. A second
set of glands then produce acid and enzymes to digest the
prey. These same glands also reabsorb the nutrients from
the catch.
Other notes:
Some Butterworts can move their
leaves, over the course of a day or so, to cover their prey
and prevent digestive juices from dripping away. Pings may
also produce a strong bactericide.
The Pinguicula genus (common name Butterwort) has
about 70 species, and are flat, rosetted, greasy leaved
carnivores, ranging in size from 2 to 20 cm ( to 8") in
diameter. These plants are perhaps the most noncarnivorous looking CP. The leaves and plants are
unspecialised, and the small rosette of leaves looks similar
to (and no more remarkable than) an artichoke in a
grocery. The trap is similar to flypaper: the leaves are
covered with small glands that can capture small insects
such as gnats. The leaves are also capable of limited
movement. They are called Butterworts because of their
greasy buttery surface. This 'greasy' surface is due to the
secretion from almost microscopic stalked glands on the
upper surface in their tens of thousands. On alighting,
small insects stick to this, are overwhelmed, and digested
in a way very similar to the Byblis and Drosera plants.
Pinguicula x sethos
The Pinguicula plants are somewhat more challenging to
grow than most. From the perspective of cultivation, the
species can be generally broken into three broad groups. The first group contains the Mexican
and South American epiphytic species, the second group contains the south-eastern US
terrestrials, and the third group contains the European and boreal hibernaculum-forming
species. Most other species could be fitted into these groups with various degrees of error.
The south-eastern US species easy to grow, but those growers who employ terraria have
difficulties with them. The hibernaculum-forming species can be grown
as long as you provide them with a cold season the dairy compartment
of a refrigerator is useful for this purpose if your location doesn't have a
cold winter.
There is a large amount of lore involved in the best planting media for
the Mexican species. Many growers currently favour pure live Sphagnum.
They grow in wet places, often with mosses in between wet rocks, on

Pinguicula weser x

hummocks in swamps, or on wet sand. Many have smaller winter leaves while the plant
remains fairly dormant.
The Butterworts have beautiful flowers. These plants were hard to obtain, but are becoming
more available now particularly from various interested collectors in
this society.
Plants should be kept away from strong heat, wind, and heavy rain.
Insects trapped on the greasy surface find the leaf edges begin to roll
inwardly. As for Drosera plants, the rolling of the leaf puts more
digestive leaf surface in contact with the insect, improving the
efficiency of digestion. Digestive juices then decompose the insects.
Taxonomically they are in the same family as Utricularia and Genlisea.
The conservation status of this genus is generally good.
Those interested in this genus can obtain good advice from experienced
P. pico de orizabo
growers in VCPS, or you can contact the International Pinguicula Study
Mexican Species
The life cycle of most Mexican Pinguicula species consists of two seasons, one dry the other
wet. To adapt to these different conditions the Mexican species form different leaf rosettes
according to the season. During the winter months the rosette consists of a compact bud of
small, non-carnivorous leaves. In early spring larger, more fleshy leaves are produced, which
are carnivorous.
Not every species follows this regime though. A few species (P. emarginata for example) exist
which are homophyllous ~(that is, they only produce one type of leaf throughout the year.
Mostly the winter phase is termed "dormant" though this is strictly speaking incorrect for most
species since they are still in active (though non-carnivorous) growth at this stage. A few
species though have taken this phase of their life a stage further and form underground bulbs,
consisting of very compact leaves. These species can be considered to have a dormant period.

General Cultivation
Mexican species like a light airy situation, not in direct sunlight. Some growers use water
daily from overhead but I prefer to stand the pots in a small amount of water - 5 - 10mm is
usually enough. In very hot weather increasing this water level can help the plants cope.
Once the plants enter their winter phase by producing their non-carnivorous winter leaves the
pots should be immediately dried out. It is usually a good idea to stop all watering by October
to give the pots a chance to dry out. Some species are more forgiving than others. I have
found for instance, that P. gypsicola will rot unless the soil is bone dry during the winter,
whereas P. moranensis will put up with wet conditions all year round.

The majority of Mexican Pinguicula species grow on calcium based rock faces. Usually the
rock is either gypsum, tufa or occasionally limestone.
In cultivation I find most species do well on an alkaline mixture consisting of equal parts of
perlite and vermiculite with about 20% crushed tufa rock added and a very small amount
(about 5%) of garden potting loam (e.g. John Innes). If you cannot find any tufa then regular
garden lime is a good alternative.
In the past I have also used other limestone based media such as coarse limestone or dolomite
chippings. If you wish to experiment with these then add about 20% of gritty sand to help

retain moisture in the soil.

At one time I used to plant Mexican Pinguiculas into a mix of pure tufa. I place a few medium
sized lumps of tufa into the pot and then filled in the spaces either with a mixture of
powdered tufa and sand or straight powdered tufa. The aim was to create at least one area in
pot with soft tufa that the plants could easily root into.
Plants grown in this mixture grow slower but have a far better root system and are also more
tolerant to over watering during the winter. However, I found that after a few years the tufa
started to break down creating a very inhospitable growing media that leads to the loss of the
plant if it is not repotted. I find the inorganic media overcomes these problems.

By far the easiest means of propagating Mexican Pinguicula is by leaf cuttings.
Leaf cuttings can be taken at virtually any time of the year but early spring is the best time.
Wait until the new carnivorous leaves are being produced, then remove by gently tugging, a
few of the winter fleshy leaves. It is important to remove the entire leaf including the base of
the petiole since this is where the new plant will be formed.
Pot the pulled leaves in a pot filled with a 50/50 mix of perlite and vermiculite. Do not cover
them but place them out of direct sunlight. In about 4-6 weeks you will see a small plantlet
being formed on the end of the leaf. Once roots have been formed the cuttings can be potted
up using standard potting mix.
Seed can also be used to propagate Mexican Pinguiculas.
Seed is often difficult to germinate due to chemical inhibitors present in the seed case. In
habitat these are washed out by rain and serve to prevent seed from germinating after
occasional showers during unfavourable seasons.
In cultivation the best method to germinate seed is to float it in a small dish of water. After
about three weeks or more you should start to see the seed germinate. Look for tiny patches
of green. As soon as a seed has germinated it should be transferred to a 50/50 mix of perlite
and vermiculite. If you leave the germinated seed too long in the water it will rot.
Grow the seedlings in the same conditions as the parent plants but be even more careful to
keep them out of direct sunlight.
Plants are slow to grow from seed - 2-3 years from germination to flowering size is not
unusual. The addition of a small amount of potting compost helps the growth rates in the
second and subsequent years, once the plants are large enough.
You can obtain seeds from your own plants by pollinating the flowers. Mexican Pinguiculas do
not in general grow well from seed which has been selfed so if you can try to cross either
clones of the same species or different species to make hybrids.
To pollinate the flowers, use a cocktail stick dipped in kitchen oil to transfer pollen from the
stamens to the stigmata. The stamens produce the pollen and are usually at the top of the
entrance to the flower. They are covered with a small flap that when lifted reveals the yellow
pollen. The female part of the flower is above the small flap. The flap is a simple but
effective means to ensure pollination is not from the flower's own pollen.
After a week or so, the flower will drop. If you have successfully pollinated the flower the
remaining part of the flower will start to swell. The fine seed is ripe when the ovary splits this takes about 3-6 weeks from the flower dropping. Be careful - if you are even a day late
the seed will be lost!
Pinguicula macroceras

This is one group of plants that does well in a variety of conditions. Some of our best plants
grow on mossy logs in heavy shade and at the same time, they grow well in 50/50 peat sand
mix in pots.

Growing Media / Pot Size

Most of our pinguicula grow in a 50/50 mixture of sphagnum peat moss and silica sand. Make
sure not to use white or beach sand since it is high in salts and calcium, which will kill your
plants. These plants have few roots, so large pots aren't necessary.

Temperature / Light
Pinguicula don't need full sun and in fact, they seem to appreciate partial shade. They like
warm humid conditions with summer temps between 70-100 degrees. NEVER allow them to
dry out! Winter temps should be between 35-45 degrees.

Attempt to mimic the seasons by gradually adjusting the photoperiod between 14-16 hours for
"summer" and down to 8-10 hours for "winter".

Watering / Humidity
The relative humidity should be above 50% and Spring to Fall your plants should be kept very
moist., but we don't sit them in water.

During the winter months keep the soil just damp and you may want to spray the plant with a
fungicide, such as Benomyl, to prevent any winter time fungus growth.

Break off the thicker winter leaves while transplanting in the early spring. They develop
young plants at the base of the leaf in the same manner as african violets.

Seed Germination
We sow the seed on the surface of 50/50 peat and sand. They pots are kept 4-6 inches from
standard shop lights.

Polypompholyx, the Pink Petticoats, was once a separate genus, clearly
closely related to Utricularia. But in his preparations for publishing his
monograph, Peter Taylor concluded that it was best considered just a
subgenus of Utricularia. Many CPers dislike this ruling, but the

differences separating this old invalid genus from Utricularia is minor. The differences were
the four calyx lobes of Polypompholyx versus two for Utricularia, and different trap details.
But species with a pair of major calyx lobes and a pair of minor multifida calyx lobes, and the
great diversity of trap appendages on Utricularia, argued against a separate genus status.

Roridula is a genus of two species that were thought to be carnivorous. The plants are
covered with sticky glands which capture insects, much like Drosera. It
has been discovered that the plants do not assimilate the nutrients from
Roridula gorgonias
the dead insect. The sticky material is a resin and not a mucous and
doesn't contain any enzymes for digestion of prey. So, Roridula is not a
carnivorous genus. But the species are often included in lists of CPs for historical reasons.
The Roridula plants have a relationship with bugs in the genus Pameridea. Roridula captures
plenty of prey with its sticky resin, but these are soon eaten by the Pameridea bugs that wait
around on the leaves. Then, the excrements of the Pameridea bugs, which contains useable
quantities of the nutrients needed by the plant, are absorbed by the leaves of Roridula.
This total plant activity is said to be only sub-carnivorous, because it involves the symbiotic
relationship of the plant and the bugs to complete the food-gathering process.

Number of species:
8 species and countless hybrids (nosotros Sarracenia purpurea)
Where they are found: Sarrs are found in wetlands of the southeast coastal plain of the
United States, with the exception of S. purpurea ssp. purpurea, which is found as far north as
Trapping mechanisms: Nectar is produced to attact prey, which become trapped when they
fall from the slippery walls of the pitchers. The walls are also covered
with tiny downward pointing hairs that prevent escape. The slight
exception to this is S. purpurea which, being the only species whose
pitchers are open to collect rainwater, drowns its victims. All species of
Sarracenia produce their own enzymes to digest the prey.
Other notes:
Sarrs form a wide variety of natural hybrids,
producing some beautiful plants. Also, S. oreophila and S. rubra ssp.
jonesii are extremely endangered.
The Sarracenia plants are a favourite among collectors because of their
beauty and ease of growing, especially in southern Australia. They grow
natively in North America, on the Gulf coast from Texas to Florida, and
along the east coast from Florida into Canada. Most of the upright
species look like clumps of erect trumpets sticking out of the growth
area hence the common name, Trumpet Pitcher, for this genus. The
plant has no rapidly moving parts; only its natural growth.
The spectacular
They are a passive trap in that they don't move to catch their prey, as
flower of S. flava
with all other types of pitcher plants. The insects are attracted by the
colour of the pitchers and their nectar secretion. Some species exude an
amazing variety of chemicals, including digestive enzymes, wetting
agents, and insect narcotics! The inside of a pitcher is covered in minute downward-pointing
hairs making it extremely slippery; a foothold is impossible, and the space in there is far too
restrictive to allow an insect to fly out.

There are eight Sarracenia species and many hybrids. The species
names are as follows:
Sarracenia alata has a rounded lid green with either no venation or
some red veins. Its flower has near-white to lemon coloured petals.
There are three forms. one produces green pitchers with inconspicuous
veins, and another has bright red inside the lid and column this can
extend to the outside. The third form has fine hair covering
A fly meets it's
the whole of the outside of the pitcher.
doom, while more Sarracenia flava is a yellow/green background colour,
insects line up!
with a lid that folds back on itself. It is a fine species when
at its peak in October/November (in Australia). Each plant
produces a few large pitchers, and then from December on, the colour fades and
the new pitchers become progressively smaller. The late-summer leaves are flat
and uninteresting. One variety is plain green, another has a red throat patch,
and another has a coppery tan colour on the upper pitcher and lid. The heavilyColin Clayton, of
veined variety is red-veined all over, and a rare variety is deep red all over. The
Triffid Park,
colour varieties are consistent and appear year after year, and are carried into
inspecting S. flava
the hybrids. The full colourings are present only on plants in full sunlight, and
in the wild.
then only for a relatively short time. The scented large yellow flowers are
impressive and attractive.
Sarracenia leucophylla the white topped pitcher, with striking red
venation and bright red petals on the flowers of most of its forms. This
plant has two distinct growing periods during the year: these are the
spring and the autumn there is little or no noticeable growth during the
summer months. Of course, as for all Sarracenia, winter is their
dormancy time. This tall-growing species has some main varieties with
minor variations of vein colour and hood shape making it a fairly varied
S. leucophylla
plant. The most common variety has pitchers that are green at the base,
but the hood and upper part of the pitcher is white with green and red
veins. Another one has smaller pitchers that are dark crimson and the
white area is reduced it is as vigorous as the common form. A third variety is rare, and is
less vigorous than the others its flower is a pure clear yellow. Its pitchers are pale green and
the tops white with some light green venation. It looks like an albino, except that there is
some red pigmentation on the new growth and old pitchers. A further variety has the pitchers
covered with very fine downward-pointing hair.
Sarracenia minor. This stable species has a character of its own interesting pitchers with
translucent spots like windows (fenestration) on a coppery coloured domed hood. The hood
covers the top and is open at the front. There are two varieties. The main one grows from 15
to 20 cm tall, while the other (originating from the Okefenokee Swamp) grows to twice the
height with more slender pitchers that are harder in texture. This species makes its main
growth in the spring and early summer. Its flower has yellow petals. It produces longer and
stronger roots than the other Sarracenia species this characteristic extends to some of its
Sarracenia oreophila has a green pitcher with a lid like S. flava, but has phyllodia (crescentshaped non-carnivorous leaves) in winter. Some forms are veined while others are quite pale.
Its flower has strap-shaped lemon coloured petals, smaller than S. flava with a sweet but
weaker scent.
Sarracenia psittacina is a prostrate plant the pitchers have a lid shaped like parrot's beak,
simulates a lobster-pot function for its trapping mechanism. An insect enters the horizontal
pitcher through a round hole, and will hardly ever find the way out it will probably go into

the thin one-way part of the pitcher, and die. In the natural environment for this species the
plants can be totally submerged in water for months at a time: the lobster-pot trap is at least
as capable of catching aquatic prey as it is for trapping air-breathing creatures when above
the water level. Its small flower has red petals, produced on a tall stem.
Sarracenia purpurea is a prostrate plant green to maroon depending on sunlight. Plants of
his species have a hood that is meant to catch rain water, and keep the pitchers substantially
filled. The insects drown in these pitchers. There are two subspecies.
Sarracenia purpurea ssp. venosa. This southern plant has large pitchers
that are finely hairy on the outside. There are some colour forms. The
more common one, when grown in full sunlight, has green pitchers with
purple venation and a large wavy-edged hood. Another form has deep
reddish purple pitchers, especially in winter. Other varieties have various
types of enlargement of the nectar roll of the pitcher. The flowers of
these red-coloured plants have bright red petals. One yellow/green form
S. purpurea ssp. has no red venation or red colouring, and yellow petals on its flowers.
Sarracenia purpurea ssp. purpurea. This northern plant has pitchers with
a smaller, less frilly hood. Their outer surface is slippery smooth. In full
sunlight the pitchers are dark red coloured. The flower colour is maroon.
One yellow/green form, S. purpurea ssp. purpurea f. heterophylla, has no red venation or red
colouring, and yellow petals on its flowers. Intermediate forms, which have pale pitchers with
some red venation, produce orange flowers.
Sarracenia rubra. This is the most variable of the Sarracenia species, with five subspecies.
The species has two separate growing seasons during the year these are in the spring and
the autumn. In the autumn the pitcher growth is larger and considered much more
representative of the subspecies as appropriate. The summer is a time when there is very
little growth.
Sarracenia rubra ssp. rubra is the typical plant having slender pitchers with dark veins. It
seems to favour a drier compost than the other species.
Sarracenia rubra ssp. jonesii differs from the typical plant by having taller pitchers that are
expanded at the top. Three colour forms are known. One, the heterophylla form, has pitchers
of a pure yellow/green, and has yellow flowers. Another has is a pale-looking intermediate
with maroon flowers. The third is the darker typical form. The flowers of each form are
Sarracenia rubra ssp. gulfensis has taller stout pitchers that are a dull reddish colour with
faint venation. It can grow as tall as the larger Sarracenia species, grows easily and flowers
freely. The flower is similar to the typical S. rubra.
Sarracenia rubra ssp. alabamensis has pitchers that are generally pale, but with a distinct
yellow colouration of the pitchers. In the autumn these pitchers are very tall and expanded.
The deep red veins can be seen on the inside of the pitcher and column but less noticeable on
the outside. The flower is similar to the typical S. rubra.
Sarracenia rubra ssp. wherryi resembles S. rubra ssp. alabamensis, but seems to be a bit more
active over summer. It is easier to grow, and its pitchers are a bit darker than ssp.
alabamensis. The flower is similar to the typical S. rubra.
The Sarracenia species can be divided into two distinct groupings the prostrate plants,
where the pitchers lie on the ground for all or most of their length (S. purpurea and S.
psittacina comprise this group), and the tall upright plants (the other six of the abovementioned species).
The upright species of Sarracenia can grow up to a metre tall (S. minor and S. rubra are
smaller versions of this), and would then have large openings. The lids of the upright pitchers

are meant to prevent rain from getting into the pitchers. In these plants the digestion is a dry
bacterial process.
All the species of Sarracenia may be grown outdoors in Melbourne, as our conditions are
similar to their native environment.
These plants expect, and benefit from, the cold conditions of winter, in order to have their
dormancy period the compost should be kept moist at this time.
Sarracenia plants should be protected from the strong winds, however. In summer the plants
should not be exposed to the hot afternoon sunlight but do require
good lighting conditions to produce their red colouring. In all non-winter
months the plant pot should be sitting continuously in at least 3 cm. of
soft water (rainwater is best) depending on plant size.
Spring brings new growth, and if the plant is mature (2 to 3 years)
should flower. The flowers are on long vertical stems and may be as
large as a man's fist. Dead brown pitchers should be trimmed off
especially just before spring.
The following practices are recommended for the propagation of
Sarracenia plants:
A 4:1 mixture of peat and coarse sand for Sarracenia compost pots
S. flava red variety
filled to level with the top.
When dividing rhizomes use a sharp knife wherever possible and dust
the cut or broken ends with a fungicide powder.
Plant the rhizomes so that any cut ends are below the surface of the compost.
2 cm of water in the tray during winter; 3 cm (1") deep the rest of the year.
Use large pots to obtain large plants.
Plug the drainage holes inside the pots with a permanent water-passing substance, like rock
wool or similar, so that the compost cannot escape from the bottom of the pot.
And when is the best time of the year for dividing and/or repotting Sarracenia plants?
Any time of the year. Admittedly late winter and very early spring are usually recommended,
because there is a difficulty of causing damage to very tender growth of flower stems and
pitchers at other times of the growing season. That's okay, but if one is prepared to be very
careful and treat the new growth with the respect it deserves, there is no perceived problem
in doing the job at any time whenever the need is observed. In hot times, like summer, work
in the shade and it is vital that the process be completed quickly with plenty of water on
hand to keep the exposed roots moist at all times, and with the new compost fairly wet.
When using the methods described above, there is little risk of losing plants to fungus
infection or dehydration.
A further great fascination for the Sarracenia collector is the ever-increasing number of
beautiful hybrids. The species in the Sarracenia genus are easily crossed. Desirable qualities
of colour and form can be combined by cross-pollination to produce exciting new plants. Many
breeders have had success in producing desirable hybrids.
All the species are endangered, because of wide-scale habitat destruction S. purpurea less
so. Recently, pitcher collection for the floral arrangement industry is posing new problems.
Field collection of rare forms by collectors has wiped out some stands of plants.
These plants require a winter dormancy period of decreased moisture, light, and
temperatures. The species S. oreophila, S. rubra ssp. jonesii, and S. purpurea ssp. purpurea
expect cold weather, even frosts, during the winter.
Sarracenia minor

Sarracenia purpurea ssp. venosa

Sarracenia leucophylla X purpurea ssp. venosa

The genus Sarracenia is North American with most species being found infrequently from the
Carolinas to Louisiana, mostly along the coastal

Sarracenia purpurea (purple pitcher plant)

S. purpurea (purple pitcher plant) Leaves are short, 4 to 8 inches; green, with many purple is
purple (common). GA to N. FL and LA.

Sarracenia psittacina

(parrot pitcher plant)

S. flava (Southern yellow pitcher plant) Leaves 10 inches to 2 feet; green to yellow (common)
with red veins sometimes present. Also, "copper top" (rare). Flower is yellow. N. FL to AL,
Carolinas and S. VA (rare).

Sarracenia flava "okee" (in natural habitat)

(southern yellow pitcher plant)
S. rubra (sweet trumpet) Leaves 4 to 12 inches; usually green with thin reddish-brown veins.
The flower is maroon (common). SE NC and N. FL to MS.

Sarracenia rubra (typical) from seed

(sweet trumpet pitcher plant)

S. leucophylla (drummondii) (white top pitcher plant) Leaves are 10 inches to 3 feet or more
not uncommon; green to reddish-brown at bottom with hood and opening area white and
sometimes with red veins. The flower is purple. GA to NW FL and MS.

Sarracenia leucophylla (drummondii)

(white top pitcher plant)
S. minor (hooded pitcher plant) Leaves generally 10 to 20 inches; green to yellow sometimes
with maroon and top is covered by hood with transparent spots. The flower is yellow. SE NC to

Sarracenia minor (okee) in natural habitat

(hooded pitcher plant)
There are two other species of Sarracenia, S. alata and S. oreophylla as well as several subspecies and many natural and "man introduced" hybrids. The hybrids will, of course, display

the intermediate characteristics of the parent plants. There are also "cross-backs" which
contain two parts one parent and one part other parent. A perfect example is shown below.

Sarracenia x mitchelliana x leucophylla

(S. leucophylla x purpurea x leucophylla)

I grow the North American pitcher plants in a soil mix made up of roughly equal parts of moss
peat, silver sand and perlite. They seem to thrive in this, and I tend to divide and repot them
every second year or so (spring is the best time of year to do this). Some growers recommend
using less sand and perlite, which makes the mix more acidic, and can help red Sarracenias
maintain their colour better. They do need a lot of light, so I grow all of mine in locations
where they will get at least 4-5 hours sun if we happen to get a sunny day! I never use any
fertiliser. They are kept in trays that usually have about 4-5cm of rainwater in them, and
when I go on holiday, I just fill up the trays so they don't dry out while I'm away. This actually
mimics what can tend to happen in the wild where marshes and bogs can be flooded
periodically. Most of my Sarracenias are grown in my largely unheated greenhouse, and when
they start to go dormant, I just reduce the amount of water in the trays so as to keep the soil
fairly damp, but not wet over the winter.
During the summer, temperatures in the greenhouse average 25-30 degrees Celsius during the
day, and about 15 degrees Celsius at night. I leave the door and windows of the greenhouse
wide open during warm sunny weather - this allows more air to circulate (which helps prevent
fungal attack), and also prevents the plants burning under the glass. It also allows more
insects in to meet their doom! In winter time the daytime average is about 5-8 degrees
Celsius, and the night time average 1-3 degrees Celsius. On sunny days I again open the door
(and windows!) to the greenhouse to prevent temperatures getting too warm - warm
temperatures might fool the plants into coming out of dormancy early! Also, good air
circulation is even more important than in the summer - fungal attack is more likely to occur
during the cool damp winter months. I have not yet had problems with fungal attack, but it is
wise not to take any chances!
It is much better to prevent fungal attack than to try and cure it, so it is essential that dead
growth is removed in the Autumn before cooler, damper weather sets in for the winter fungal growth usually starts in leaves that have died back before moving onto living tissue. In

the same way that you can remove fuel to stop a fire, removing dead growth can help deprive
fungus of the starting point that it needs to get hold.
If you are planning to grow these plants from seed, it is best to stratify the seed first - that is,
give it a cool damp period that simulates winter conditions in the wild. There are two good
ways to do this:
Wrap the seed in some damp (but not soaking) peat or paper towel, and store in a refrigerator
for about 6-8 weeks (but don't let it freeze).
Sow the seed in late autumn, and let winter do the rest!
The seed should then be sown on a medium of moss peat and silver sand (or any other limefree sand should be ok) and keep in warm, bright conditions. The seeds should germinate in
about 6-8 weeks. I find that good ventilation is beneficial to help prevent fungus.
Conventional wisdom says that the seed should be sown direct onto the surface of the soil,
but I have found that a light covering of peat makes no appreciable difference to the
germination rate, and helps protect the seeds from fungus - which they are very susceptible
to. If the seeds do not germinate after 8 weeks, don't give up - I have had seeds germinate
over a year later (perhaps I didn't stratify them well enough first time!). Please remember
that it takes about 3 yrs before the young plants will start to take on their adult colour and
shape, and it will be 4-5 yrs before they reach maturity - patience is a virtue!

Certain Sarracenias produce their best pitcher early in the season - Most notably: Sarracenia
flava, oreophila, and to some extent S. minor.. S. alata, rubra, and leucophylla produce their
best pitchers in the fall.

Growing Media / Pot Size

I grow most sarracenia in a 50/50 mixture of sphagnum peat moss and silica sand. Make sure
not to use white or beach sand since it is high in salts & calcium, which will kill your plants.
For the commercial operation, mature plants are grown in gallon pots and the younger plants
are in 3 inch pots. We use larger tubs for our personal plants since they definitely like the
room for deep roots.

Temperature / Light
If it is at all possible, you should put your plants outside for the growing season. Sarracenia
can take full sun and the pitchers develop their best color when grown outside. When first
putting them outside in the spring, make sure to acclimate them to full sun slowly over a
week or more. Pitcher plants like warm humid conditions with summer temps between 70-100
degrees. NEVER allow them to dry out! Winter temps should be between 35-45 degrees.

Attempt to mimic the seasons by gradually adjusting the photoperiod between 14-16 hours
for "summer" and down to 8-10 hours for "winter". Place the terrarium in an unheated room or
by a drafty window, to provide cooler conditions.

Watering / Humidity
The relative humidity should be above 50% at all times. Spring to Fall your plants can be kept
standing in trays of water. The tray should be filled with at least 1 inch of water. Certain
species like minor "giant" and psittacina "giant" only seem to get very large when grown
almost submerged. Others like the typical minor and rubra ssp. rubra grow much further away

from standing water, in moist sand. The trays commonly used under window box planters
make excellent decorative trays for the windowsill. Periodically allow the trays to go dry for a
day or so, to kill mosquito and other bug larvae.

During the winter months, keep the soil just damp and put in a cool area such as a garage.
You may want to spray the plant with a fungicide, such as Benomyl, to prevent fungal growth.

Divide rhizomes while transplanting in the early spring, before vigorous growth resumes.

Seed Germination
We sow the seed on the surface of 50/50 peat and sand. After stratifying for 4-6 weeks, the
seeds start sprouting in 4-6 weeks. This cool period breaks down chemicals that naturally
prevent premature germination (during the season the seed is produced) and naturally occurs
during the fall and winter. Don't worry, you can simulate this in your refrigerator. They are
kept 4-6 inches from standard shop lights, or outside in full sun, standing in 1/2 inches of
water. From seed, it may take sarracenia 4 to 6 years to reach maturity and they can live
several decades.

Stratification Instructions
1) Place the seed in a moist paper towel and put in a plastic bag
2) Then place it in the refrigerator about four to six weeks
3) Prepare pots of media - 50% fine sand and 50% Canadian peat
4) Use a spray bottle to flush the seed onto the surface of the media
5) Place in a bright location and sit in half an inch of water
6) Sit back and wait about 4 weeks for germination!

Triphyophyllum peltatum is a plant that is not yet in cultivation. Usually it is not carnivorous,
but shortly before flowering it produces glandular leaves in the fashion
of the Drosera species. This plant is from western tropical Africa (Sierra
Leone, Liberia). Because of the extremely high rate of deforestation and
political instability in these countries, it is possible the plant will
become extinct before it has a chance in cultivation. No reliable
cultivation information is known although something similar to
Nepenthes techniques may be successful.

This extraordinary genus (common name is 'Bladderwort') contains the
most complicated and devious trap of all the carnivorous plants, and is
surely one of the wonders of the botanical world. The above-ground
parts of the plant are inconspicuous and non-carnivorous the leaves
are grass-like, oval, or strap-shaped, and are usually very small (less
"Rabbit Ears"

than a cm long); although some species are much larger. These plants do not have roots. Many
of these plants grow in Australia, and are very easy to grow. They must be kept damp to wet
ALL year round. There is a great variety of plants in this genus: fully aquatic species (live in
water only), terrestrial (live in sandy, peaty, wet soils), and epiphytic species (living wholly in
trees; in various mosses, such as Sphagnum).
The carnivorous action happens underground, in the water-soaked medium. Each plant
produces a great number of bladders (utricles), a few to several mm in size, which serve as
the mouths of the plant. These bladders have trap doors, and when a free-swimming organism
bumps into long hairlike organs attached to the trap doors, the hairlike organs lever the door
ajar. The pressure inside the bladder, having the water removed, is lower than the
surrounding water, so the partial vacuum instantly sucks the organism inside the trap. The
trapdoor resets and the plant begins digesting the creature that has no chance to escape,
since it is drawn into the trap in as short as 1/30 of a second.
This genus contains about 250 species, and occurs throughout the world,
in every continent other than Antarctica. Species have pioneered many
habitats, including wet ground, lakes (as freely floating aquatics),
epiphytic conditions, seasonal deserts, and have even been found living
in the pools of water that accumulate at the center of carnivorous
Bromeliads! Except for a few species of very localised range, few are
particularly threatened, although some are already extinct.
The flowers of Utricularia are usually small, but make up for their small
size by a wild display of colours, variety and beauty, in the spring.
Several useful articles on the taxonomy and cultivation of Utricularia are
A "forest" of
on the Internet. Recently the carnivorous plant genus Polypompholyx was
deemed a subgenus of Utricularia. With so many species in so many
habitats, exhaustive cultural hints are impossible. But most of the
terrestrials can be grown just like the temperate Drosera species.

The aquatic Utricularia generally require sunny conditions, but the tricky thing about growing
these plants is trying to beat the algae, which is their worst enemy. There is no easy solution,
except make sure that the water it is grown in is acidic - lots of peat will help make the
water acidic, and I also add the contents of tea bags to my water butt every now and then the tannic acid in the tea keeps the water acidic. If a plant starts getting overrun with algae,
try rinsing it and moving it to some fresh water. These plants can live for years - as one end
of the stem dies off, the other grows. Some species grow all year round, others produce
winter dormancy buds that burst back into life in the spring. Many can survive brief freezes.
The terrestrial bladderworts often form clumps and colonies of small plants that produce a
profusion of very pretty delicate flowers. As a general rule I grow mine in a mix of
approximately 1 part sand to 1 part peat, and keep them in a tray that has pure/rain water in
it at all times. They should receive about 3-8 hours sun on a sunny day, and make ideal
windowsill plants since many require no winter dormancy. No fertiliser is necessary. For more
detailed information on growing individual species, I can heartily recommend 'The Savage
Garden' by Peter D'Amato.

Abaxial the side away from the axis, such as the underside of a leaf.
Abscission the natural falling off of plant parts such as leaves and flowers, induced by
biochemical processes within the plant.
Actinomorphic radially symmetrical symmetrical about multiple planes passing through the
centre of the flower, eg. Drosera flowers. See also Zygomorphic.
Active trap is a CP trap in which a movement of plant parts takes place during the trapping
Acuminate narrowing suddenly to a point.
Acute narrowing gradually to a point.
Adaxial the side toward the axis, such as the upper side of a leaf.
Ala literally, 'wing'; a broad blade-like expansion of the axial margin of a pitcher leaf.
Allantoid sausage shaped
Alternate (of leaves) growing from different heights along the stem
Ampulliform flask-shaped, swollen below like a short flask eg. Nepenthes ampullaria.
Annual a plant that grows from seed, germinates, produces more seeds and dies in one
growing season, which is usually one year (opp. perennial).
Anther the end portion of a stamen which bears the pollen.
Anthesis the period in which a flower expands and/or pollination can take place.
Anthocyanin a glucoside plant pigment (red in acidic cell sap) responsible for the colours of
many plants and flowers (eg. the red pigmentation in Sarracenia, Dionaea, etc.).
Apex the end part of a plant which is furthest from its point of attachment.
Apical bud the bud at the tip or apex of a stem.
Areola (pl. areolae) a small pit; also used to describe the translucent 'windows' in upper
pitchers of Darlingtonia and some Sarracenia also known as fenestration.
Ascidiform pitcher-shaped, or with hollow tubular leaves.
Asexual reproducing from vegetative parts.
Axil the angle between the stem and upper surface of the leaf stalk growing from the stem.
Back-cross a reproductive cross between a hybrid and one of its parent plants.
Basal at the base; as in a basal rosette.
Basisolute (of bracts and bracteoles) having the base produced downwards below the point
of attachment, like a spur.
Beard a confluence of plant hairs on the palate of a flower.
Binomial nomenclature the modern system of biological classification whereby each living
organism bears a two-word name corresponding to its genus and species.
Bog a freshwater constantly moist or wet area dominated by mosses and herbaceous plants.
Bracts small modified leaves without an axillary bud, found at the base of or along flower
stems; and sometimes near or on the calyx as in Sarracenia flowers.
Bracteole a small bract below the calyx.
Bulb a swollen or rounded underground part, composed of a layer of fleshy scales and a bud.
Calyx the outer group of parts of a flower consisting of the sepals.
Cambium the living tissue just beneath the bark that gives rise to secondary xylem and
phloem cells.
Campanulate bell shaped.
Canaliculate with a longitudinal groove or channel.
Capsule the ripe seed case.
Carpel in flowering plants, the ovule-bearing structure.

Cauline inserted on the stem.

Chasmogamous having flowers which are pollinated when open. See also Cleistogamous.
Chitin the hard material of which the skeleton and wings of insects are composed.
Chlorophyll the green colouring matter of plants which enables them to manufacture
carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water, by using energy from sunlight.
Cilia sometimes used to refer to the bristles of the Dionaea trap.
Circinate rolled inwards from apex to base like a watch spring, as in the embryo leaves of
many plants (eg. Drosera regia).
Clavate club shaped.
Cleistogamous having flowers that can self-pollinated and set seed without fully opening
(eg. Utricularia subulata). See also Chasmogamous.
Clone plants obtained by vegetative (non-sexual) propagation.
Column the neck-like portion of the lowest part of the hood of the erect Sarracenia species.
Compost a potting mixture usually containing two or more of the following: peat moss,
coarse sand, Perlite, Vermiculite, Sphagnum moss, orchid bark.
Concave curved inwards
Convex curved outwards.
Cordate heart shaped (as on playing cards).
Corm a short, erect, swollen underground stem surrounded by dry leaf bases and lasting for
one year only, each years corm arising from the last. See also tuber.
Corolla the collective name for the petals of one flower.
Corymb an inflorescence in which the branches and flower stalks are of different lengths
which become increasingly shorter up the stem, so that the flowers are all held on the same
Cotyledon leaves the leaves present in seeds and the first to appear following germination;
seldom resemble the mature leaves of the plant.
Crenate margin cut into blunt or rounded teeth.
Crescentic crescent shaped.
Crocks pieces of broken terra cotta pot sometimes placed at the bottom of a plant pot,
covering the drainage hole(s), to improve drainage.
Cultivar (abbrev. cv.) a plant variety obtained in cultivation.
Cuneate wedge shaped; a term applied to leaves.
Cuspidate ending in a sharp, stiff point.
Cuticle a waxy, waterproof material forming the external layer of the epidermal cells.
Cyme a branched inflorescence which keeps branching.
Cymose having flowers arranged in a cyme.
Decumbent lying on the ground but with the apex or tip pointing upwards; decumbent and
prostrate are mostly used interchangeably.
Decurrent where the base of a leaf extends down the stem in two wings.
Dentate (of a margin) toothed, having sharp teeth.
Dichotomous repeatedly dividing into two branches.
Diffusion the passage of molecules of a substance in solution from a liquid where they are in
high concentration to one where they are in low concentration.
Dilated broadened, expanded, widened.
Dioecious having male and female flowers on separate plants (eg. Nepenthes).
Door in Utricularia, the veil of tissue that closes a trap opening.
Dormancy the time when a plant is not in active growth
Dropper a shoot which, in some seedling Drosera plants, is sent down into the compost from
near the base of the stem, the growing tip then forming a tuber at a suitable depth (eg.
Drosera whittakeri).

Ecosystem an interacting community of organisms and their physical environment that is

Ellipsoidal a solid shape with an elliptic figure.
Elliptic oval shaped, and somewhat narrower towards the ends.
Emarginate notched at the end.
Endemic a plant native to a specific region that is not found elsewhere in natural conditions.
Endogamous self-pollinating.
Endosperm nutrients enclosed in the seed to sustain early growth of the embryo plant.
Ensiform leaves that are sword-shaped and are not hollow.
Entire (of a margin) without teeth or lobes.
Enzymes substances produced by and found in living cells; also found in digestive juices of
carnivorous plants, each one having power to break down specific substances.
Epidermis living cells which form the thin surface layer, usually one cell thick, on leaves and
young shoots.
Epinastic growing faster on one side of the leaf or stem than the other the means by which
many active traps move.
Epiphyte (adj. epiphytic) a plant which grows on another plant but is not a parasite; using
the host plant purely for physical or environmental support.
Erose (of a margin) irregularly toothed or apparently gnawed.
Falcate curved like a sickle.
Family a closely related group of genera. A family may have only one genus (eg.
Cephalotaceae), but classification is at the same level as other families with two or more
Fenestration depigmented window-like areas of plant tissue also known as areola.
Fibrous root system when all the roots arise from the same area and are about the same
thickness and length.
Filament thread-like; the stalk of a stamen.
Filiform leaves whose shape are thread-like.
Fimbriate feathery, or very finely divided.
Flabellate fan shaped.
Flexuose zig-zagged.
Flypaper trap a carnivorous plant trap in which the victim is ensnared by sticky mucilaginous
Form (abbrev. f.) a plant displaying an inherited characteristic differing from the typical
species or variety, but not sufficiently stable or marked to justify the rank of variety.
Gamete a sex cell; contains half of the chromosome number of the organism; two gametes
combine to form a diploid cell.
Gemma (pl. gemmae) a small body or modified leaf produced by the parent plant by nonsexual means which, when detached, may form another clone of the original plant.
Genus (pl. genera) a group of closely related species; the generic name is given as the first
of the two names of each species.
Gibbous swollen or distended on one side.
Glabrous having no hair.
Gland a structure of one or many cells which secretes a substance.
Globose sphere shaped.
Gnamma a chemically weathered pit on a sheet rock surface.
Hermaphrodite said of a plant having organs of both sexes.
Heterophyllous said of a plant having dissimilar leaves.
Heterosis is hybrid vigour. Refer page.

Hibernaculum (pl. hibernacula) a winter resting bud formed when the main plant dies back,
and from which the plant regenerates in suitable conditions. It is often rootless.
Hirsute covered with fairly coarse and stiff long erect, or ascending hairs eg. Nepenthes
Hood the lid-like appendage hanging over or above the opening of many pitcher leaves.
Hybrid the off-spring resulting from a cross between two species or previously established
Hypha, hyphal thread (pl. hyphae) one filament of the vegetable body of a fungus.
Indumentum a covering formed by hairs.
Inferior said of the ovary when the sepals, petals and stamens appear to spring from the top
of it.
Inflorescence the flowering branch or flowering part of the plant above the stem leaves;
includes branches, bracts and flowers.
Internode the part of the stem between two adjacent nodes.
Interspecific cross a hybrid between two species, sometimes called an interspecies.
Intraspecific cross a hybrid between (most usually) two subspecies of the one species;
probably given the rank of cultivar within the species.
Juvenile leaves the leaves that form after the cotyledons appear; usually not resembling the
mature leaves.
Lacinia (pl. laciniae) fringed.
Lageniform flasked shaped.
Lamina the flat widened portion of a leaf or petal.
Lanceolate shaped like a lance, narrowing to a point (eg. leaves of Drosera adelae).
Larva (pl. larvae) immature insects in the 'worm' or 'grub' stage. The stage of gross feeding
and development, between the egg and pupa stages.
Lenticulate resembling a double convex lens.
Limb the main part of a leaf after the petiole.
Linear leaf one which is narrow with near-parallel sides.
Lobe a division of a leaf, petal, sepal, or stipule.
Marl bog a bog in which the 'soil' is alkaline marl with calcium carbonate.
Marsh a tract of wet land, usually with fresh, salt, or brackish water to some depth,
dominated by taller grasses and reeds.
Midrib the main vein of a leaf running centrally and longitudinally through the blade.
Monotypic only one species in a genus.
Morphology the form and structure of an organism.
Mucilage glue-like organic compounds of vegetable origin and complex structure; most
usually found as the droplets on the ends of the tentacles of Drosera and similar genera
Mucilaginous containing or pertaining to mucilage.
Mutant an organism in which the characteristics have been changed by alteration of its
hereditary material.
Mycelium the mass of fine threads or hyphae which forms the vegetable body of fungus and
which seeks and absorbs nutriment.
Mycorrhiza a mutually beneficial association between the root cells of a plant and the
mycelium of a fungus-often called a mycorrhizal association.
Node the region on a stem where leaves or branches arise.
Oblanceolate inversely lanceolate, that is with the narrower end towards the point of
Obovate somewhat oval; a term applied to a leaf or petal which is attached at the narrow
end so that the distil end appears broader.

Obovoid having a solid shape, obovate in outline.

Obpyriform pear shaped, with the wider end towards the point of attachment.
Obturbinate a solid shape, top-shaped with the narrower end towards the apex.
Obtuse blunt, terminating gradually in a rounded end.
Orbicular circular.
Ovalis a solid with an oval figure.
Ovary the container in which seeds are formed.
Ovate egg shaped in outline, with the broader end towards the point of attachment.
Ovoid a solid with an ovate figure.
Ovule the part of the ovary that will develop into a seed after fertilisation.
Palate a projection or platform-like structure on the lower lip of a sympetalous corolla.
Pandurate cello shaped.
Panicle a branched raceme.
Papillose bearing minute pimple-like projections.
Parasite an organism which lives in or on another, obtaining nourishment from it without
being of service to its host.
Passive trap a carnivorous plant trap in which no plant movement occurs as an integral part
of the trapping process.
Pedicel a stalk which is the last branch of an inflorescence, bearing the flower or fruit.
Peduncle the major flower stalk which bears a cluster of flowers, or a flower stalk which
bears a single flower.
Peltate a leaf or other flattened structure in which the stalk is attached to the
Pendulous hanging down.
Perennial a plant which normally lives for more than two seasons, as compared with an
annual plant which flowers, sets seed and dies in a single season.
Perianth the calyx and corolla of a flower or tepals.
Peristome in Nepenthes, a plate inserted on the rim of the mouth in most species; it is
down-curved on both sides, and thus semicylindrical in cross-section, and ribbed, the ribs
being usually sharply toothed on the inner margin.
Petal the leaf-like structure inside the sepals that is often coloured.
Petiole the leaf stalk.
Petiolate of leaves where the leaf-base narrows into a stalk before joining the stem.
pH a logarithmic index for the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution; a reading below
pH 7.0 indicates acidity, and one above pH 7.0 indicates alkalinity.
Phloem the softer vessels (other than xylem) which carry food made in the leaf to the rest
of the plant. See also xylem.
Photoperiod the length of the daylight period.
Photosynthesis is the synthesis by plants of carbohydrates and more complex substances
from carbon dioxide and water, using the energy from light through the agency of chlorophyll.
Phyllode (pl. phyllodia) leaf-like structures-in Sarracenia plants these are predominantly
widened petioles.
Pistil the female part of a flower comprising the ovary, style and stigma.
Pitchers the leaves of Sarracenia, Darlingtonia, Cephalotus and Heliamphora. Typical leaves
are ascidiform; that is, tubular or hollow. Ensiform leaves tend to be sword-shaped and are
not ascidiform.
Pitfall trap a carnivorous plant trap into which the prey falls and cannot exit.
Pollen grains the male gametophytes that give rise to sex cells; they are produced in the
anther of a flower.

Polymorphism the condition in which plants of the same species (subspecific classification)
have much variation in form.
Prostrate lying flat on the ground.
Protozoa (sing. protozoan) single-celled microscopic animals found in great numbers in both
salt and fresh water, and in damp compost.
Pubescent covered with hairs, eg. Sarracenia alata f. pubescens.
Pupa (pl. pupae) the passive stage following the insect larvae stage, during which it
undergoes metamorphosis and transforms into an adult insect.
Pyriform pear-shaped, with the narrower end towards the point of attachment.
Raceme an inflorescence consisting of a single main stem along which the flowers are borne
on pedicels.
Reflexed turned backwards abruptly.
Retentive glands long-stalked secretory organs which have the ability to move towards and
enfold the prey.
Retuse with a rounded, shallowly notched end.
Revolute that which is rolled inwards.
Rhizoid a root-like structure with the appearance and function of a root.
Rhizome an underground root-like stem bearing scale-leaves and at least one bud.
Rhombie of a lamina when quadrilateral.
Rosette a circular cluster of leaves.
Rostrate provided with a long beak.
Saccate forming or having the shape of a sac or pouch.
Saprophyte an organism which obtains its food from dead organic materials.
Scadent climbing.
Scale small sap-sucking insects, having a green or brown chitinous shell to protect them
from insect predators and contact insecticides; may be removed by hand, suffocated using
white oil spray, or poisoned using a systemic insecticide spray.
Scape a leafless flowering stem extending from a rosette of leaves or root itself to the
flower or inflorescence.
Scapose a plant whose flowers are borne on scapes.
Sepal one of the leaf-like or petal-like members which make up the calyx of the flower.
Serrate saw-edged, with the teeth pointing forwards.
Sessile attached without a stalk or petiole.
Spatulate spoon-shaped, wide at the top, narrowing toward the base.
Spathulate an alternate spelling of spatulate.
Species (pl. species) a group of mutually fertile and closely allied plants displaying
differences from other related plants.
Spike an elongated inflorescence where all the flowers are arranged as in a raceme, but
where all flowers are sessile.
Stamen part of the flower which produces pollen, usually consisting of a filament which
bears the anther.
Stigma the end of the style to which pollen must be transferred in order to germinate and
bring about fertilisation.
Stipule one of the two leaf-like appendages which are often present at the base of the
Stolon in Darlingtonia, Utricularia, and some Drosera species, this refers to the underground
stems of terrestrial and epiphytic species.
Stoloniferous produces stolons.
Stratification in horticulture, the process whereby seeds are exposed to a period of damp
cold before they will germinate.

Style the part of the pistil between the ovary and stigma.
Subglobose not quite sphere-shaped.
Suborbicular not quite a true circle.
Subspecies (abbrev. ssp.) a plant that may be very similar to a species, but different in some
subtle yet significant way. If it is not so different as to be a different species, it may be
defined as being a different subspecies (eg. Sarracenia purpurea ssp. venosa).
Subulate awl-shaped, linear, very narrow, tapering ro a fine point from a broad base.
Superior said of the ovary when it is placed above the level of the sepals, petals and
stamens in the structure of the flowers (opp. inferior).
Symbiosis an internal link between two organisms which is to their mutual advantage.
Sympetalous flowers having petals which are partly to completely fused.
Synonym a different name, usually redundant, for the same species.
Tendril a filament of varying dimensions special to climbing plants and having the ability to
wind around a support.
Tentacles stalked glands which produce mucilage and other secretions, and which hold
trapped prey.
Tepal used for flower parts where there is no distinction between the petals and the sepals.
Terete solid, cylindrical in cross-reference.
Terrestrial growing in the ground as opposed to aquatic or epiphytic.
Testa the seed coat or outer covering of a seed.
Threshold in Utricularia, the thickened surface against which the edge of the door rests.
Tomentose covered in tomentum.
Tomentum matted woolly threads on the surface of leaves and stems.
Trapdoor trap a carnivorous plant trap in which an appendage closes over an opening and
incarcerates the plant's prey.
Trichome general term for an outgrowth from an epidermis, a hair or scale branched or
unbranched, secretory, absorbing or non-functional.
Trichotomous dividing into three approximately equal branches.
Tridentate forked into three points.
Trigger hairs spike-like structures which must be stimulated in order to induce the trapping
action in Aldrovanda, Dionaea and Utricularia.
Trullate shaped rather like a bricklayer's trowel
Truncate cut off squarely at the tip.
Tubaeform trumpet-shaped.
Tuber a swollen underground stem, or occasionally a root, used to store food material.
Turbinate top-shaped.
Turion the hibernaculum or winter resting bud containing food, formed by many water
plants including some of the aquatic Utricularia species.
Ubiquitous having a wide geographical spread around the world; seen everywhere.
Umbel an inflorescence in which all the pedicels arise at the top of the peduncle, are more
or less equal in length, and hold the flowers at about the same level.
Umbraculiform umbrella-shaped as in the Sarracenia flower.
Utricle an organ in the shape of a wineskin capable of capturing prey, particularly in all
Utricularia species.
Variety (abbrev. var.) a large number of individuals which differ from others in that species,
and breed true from seed.
Vegetative concerning the growth of leaves as opposed to flowers; concerning non-sexual
reproduction by means of cuttings, gemmae, grafting, etc.
Vegetative apomixis a form of asexual reproduction in which plantlets bud from flower
parts, including sepals, petals, stamens, and pistil.

Velum in Utricularia a thin membrane which helps to seal the door by filling the chink below
the lower edge of the door and the threshold.
Venation the veins of an organ as a whole, or their arrangement.
Ventricose having unequal swelling (eg. Nepenthes ventricosa pitchers).
Vernation the manner in which the leaf is packed in the bud.
Viviparous germinating from seed while still attached to the parent plant.
Wallum health vegetation on sandy soil, low in nutrients.
Whorl a group in which identical organs (eg. leaves) are arranged around the stem in a
Xylem tubes or vessels conducting water and minerals from roots to leaves. See also
Zone a distinct region esp. the interior of a pitfall trap, exhibiting characteristics differing
from neighbouring zones.
Zygomorphic flowers symmetrical about one plane only eg. Utricularia flowers. See also

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