Drosera Carnivorous Plants

Drosera carnivorous plants are part of the Droseraceae family. Their common name is sundew because they have glandular leaf hairs that shimmer like dew when sunlight strikes them. The plant traps prey with its sticky hairs before edges of the leaf are rolled up to encompass the creature.

What is a Drosera?

The Drosera, commonly known as the sundew, is a species of carnivorous plant. These plants attract, ensnare, and digest insects for nutrition by using sticky glands covering their leaves. The trapped prey is decomposed by glands that secrete digestive juices. The sundew naturally grows in bogs, marshes, sandy banks, and places where the dirt has poor mineral content. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica. There are over 194 different species of Drosera. Their flowers contain female and male reproductive organs and produce seeds by self-pollination.

How does the Drosera get food?

The main feature of sundews are their glandular tentacles with viscous secretions. Small prey are attracted to the secretions, which are sweet. When an insect touches the glands, it becomes stuck. Sundews can move their tentacles in response to contact with edible sources. The hypersensitive tentacles will position prey to as many stalked glands as possible. The prey dies from exhaustion or asphyxiation, usually within 15 minutes. Enzymes dissolve the prey and the plants absorb nutrients through the surfaces of their leaves.

How do you care for a Drosera?

  • Growing location and sunlight - Keep in mind that these species of plants originated in warm, tropical regions. In colder climates, grow sundews indoors. You may simply grow these carnivorous plants in pots; terrariums are not necessary. In warmer, more tropical climates, you may grow these plants outdoors, given that temperatures do not go below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Find a spot that has partial to full sun to grow them in. Four or more hours of direct sunlight provide an ideal growing habitat. If natural sunlight is not possible, you may use 40-watt fluorescent light bulbs. Bulbs should be positioned eight inches above the plant. Do not use incandescent grow lights as they reach high temperatures that sundews cannot tolerate.
  • Water and soil - It is important to use mineral-free, distilled water for sundews. They are very sensitive to water with high mineral content. Soil must be kept moist and should never dry out completely. Set the pot in the correct standing water at all times. The soil mixture that works best consists of one part perlite and one part peat moss. It is not advisable to use potting soil or compost.
  • Feeding - Feeding your sundews yourself with insects is not necessary; bugs will naturally be attracted to them. You can choose to lightly mist them with a diluted solution of bromeliad or orchid fertilizer and water. To make the solution, mix only a quarter teaspoon of fertilizer with one gallon of water.
  • Repotting - When a plant becomes too big for its pot, you can repot it into new soil during any season. Changing the soil restores its acidity and boosts root aeration. Clipping dead leaves off helps to stimulate growth.