Sundew (Drosera)

Drosera or Sundews can be one of the easiest carnivorous plants to grow but are a large group of various plants. There are several groups: hardy, tropical, Cape/warm temperate, pygmy and tuberous sundews. They all love the sun, but some will tolerate light shade. A warm or cold greenhouse or conservatory is ideal for the majority.

The Cape sundews are ideal for beginners, but some tropical and tuberous plants require more care.

They are best grown in pots but can be added to an arrangement with Sarracenias and Venus Flytrap. Most are not too big and are fine on a sunny windowsill, but some, like the fork-leaved sundews, need a lot more space.

Hardy sundews can be in a bog garden or mini-bog outside. There are so many species it isn’t easy to generalize.

Use a water tray or saucer, and stand in 2-3cm of water. Use rainwater or soft water.

Feeding is not usually necessary as they catch their food quite well. However, if they are kept in fly-free conditions, try using ants or encouraging fruit flies.

Winter Care    
Most sundews (apart from the hardy ones) do not require a dormant period and, if kept warm enough, will keep growing all winter. However, some, such as the fork-leaved and Cape sundews (D. capensis, D. aliciae), will die back if kept in a cold greenhouse. They will withstand a light frost. Keep just damp rather than waterlogged. It is best to chop the tops right off; they will rejuvenate next spring. Hardy Sundews are best grown outside or in a cool greenhouse or cold frame. The plant will die back to a winter resting bud. Make sure there is plenty of ventilation to prevent botrytis. Tropical species need to be kept warm over winter or in a terrarium. Tuberous sundews die back to a tuber, and some need to be kept dry. Others will need a little damping. Remove any dead foliage.

We use 3:1 peat:sand.

Drosera capensis is easy to grow from seed and will seed into all your other plants. Many Droseras are easy from seed, but others, such as the fork leaved sundews and Drosera regia, grow well from root cuttings taken early in the season. Pygmy sundews produce gemmae -little buds that can be taken off and pressed into compost to develop.

Pest and disease
Greenfly can over-winter in the plants and cause problems in early spring, so watch for signs of damage. Never use soap-based insecticide on these. Good ventilation and hygiene prevent botrytis -sometimes a problem on the hardy sundews.

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