Recommended Growing Mediums For Carnivorous Plants

We recommend using Sphagnum peat moss. NOT coco peat or sedge peat, because these contain high levels of salt which will kill carnivorous plants. We use Canadian TEEM Sphagnum peat moss.

We recommend using propagating sand, NOT river sand because even if washed, river sand still contains high levels of salt which will kill carnivorous plants.

Growing Medium Quick Facts

  • Propagating sand is usually used for propagating cuttings.
  • Propagating sand is coarser and sharper than normal sand, and is normally washed.
  • The sharp corners of propagating sand enables the water to get through the peat moss, encourage root growth, and doesn’t pack down as tightly as rounded water worn sand.
  • We supply a ready mixed Carnivorous Plant potting mix available at most nurseries.
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The Venus Flytrap (Dioaea Muscipula)

  • The most famous of all the carnivorous plants.
  • A large plant will grow to a maximum of 15 cm.
  • They have a white flower in spring.
  • They will catch and digest flies and mosquitos and other insects.
  • Dionaea muscipula is the only species in the genus.

Venus Flytraps’ Native Habitat

Peat bogs in Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina, U.S.A. The habitat fly traps grow in naturally is called the “Savannah”, which is a series of raised low islands, ranging in size from 1 to 5 hectares, of which probably no more than 50 of these islands remain in their original condition.

How Venus Flytraps Catch Insects

The trap consists of two halves, not unlike a clam shell. The outer margins are lined with teeth or cilia. A sweet nectar is produced by glands found along the inner base of the teeth that rim the trap. Insects are lured by the nectar to enter the trap. The flat surface inside the traps have 3 trigger hairs on each side of the V. When these are repeatedly touched by insects moving about drinking the nectar, the trap snaps shut. At first, the trap closes loosely, so that the bug can continue to run back and forth within the trap.

If the bug is too small, it can escape. If that happens, the trigger hairs inside the trap would not be further stimulated and the trap would reopen in about a day. This is how the plant avoids wasting time trying to digest sticks, rain drops or prey that gets away. But if a bug remains trapped inside, its continued running about would stimulate the trap to close more tightly, and digestion begins.

Glands on the inner surface of the lobes begin to secret digestive juices, and the insect drowns in this fluid. The trap stays shut for several days and when it finally reopens, all that remains is the exoskeleton of the insect. Each trap only has a life of about three meals, then the trap and petiole die.

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How To Repot Venus Flytraps

Use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss, and 25% propagating sand. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the early spring when the plants are just starting to grow. Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant. The pH of the sphagnum peat moss needs to be about 5.5. TDS (total dissolved salts) should be 0 (zero).

Watering Your Venus Flytrap

Never let your Venus Fly Trap dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

Should You Fertilize Venus Flytraps?

Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. The plant must enjoy the “thrill of the chase”, so that it releases it’s digestive juices, to devour the insect. You can give it some fish emulsion based liquid fertilizer at half strength to what is recommended on the container. Basically the plants live off the peat mixture they are living in.

Ideal Light Conditions for Venus Flytraps

Venus Fly Traps require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch and some growers grow them outside in the full weather.

Ideal Humidity for Venus Flytraps

Venus fly traps like humidity around 70-90%. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide this. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive. Venus fly traps don’t like temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius. Their growth stops at these temperatures and it is very hard to get them started again. Where the fly traps grow naturally, it reaches 40 degrees Celsius all through their summer. But the fly traps have finished growing at this time, and the ground is always cool, as they are watered by capillary action from beneath the ground.

Dormancy of Venus Flytraps

During winter your Venus fly trap will go into their dormancy period. They will stop growing and may even die back to almost nothing. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers. Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers.

Flowering In Venus Flytraps

Dionaea muscipula’s flower in spring, and are white. If you want to try pollinating your venus fly trap flower, you need to hand pollinate the flowers. Do this by taking the pollen off the anther and putting it on the stigma. You have to do this with each flower as it opens. The seeds take about 3-4 weeks to ripen and can then be planted straight away, or can stay viable for up to one year.

The seeds are hard and black when ripened, about half the size of a grain of wheat. Seed production can tire the plant considerably, so if you notice the plant not looking too well, this is why.

Pest & Diseases In Venus Flytraps

  • APHIDS: result in twisted and deformed new traps. Spray with Malathon.
  • SPIDER MITE: common in hot dry climates. Spray with a general House and Garden spray or Folimat.
  • BLACK SPOT FUNGUS: can appear on plants in an overly wet and humid environment. Use a fungicide for control.
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Hanging Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes)

  • Hanging pitcher plants grow in the tropical forests of South-East Asia and very north eastern Australia.
  • They are vines that can climb to the top of 15 metre trees.
  • They have jug shaped pitchers, some varieties up to 30cm long.
  • These pitchers fill with liquid as the pitcher grows, and when the liquid is ready to digest prey, the lid opens and the trap is ready.
  • The traps can catch flies, mosquitos, wasps and bees, and even moths, rats and small birds have been found in large traps.
  • In the Philippines and Borneo, large pitchers are sometimes used for cooking rice and vegetables.

Repotting

When re-potting your Nepenthes you should use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss and 25% medium size orchid bark, or they can be grown in straight Sphagnum moss. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing. Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.

Watering

Do not ever let your Nepenthes dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all
the time.

Fertilizing

Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. You can give it some liquid fertilizer at half strength to what is recommended on the container. Basically the plants live off the peat mixture they are living in.

Light

Nepenthes require a high level of light to help produce their pitchers. They need at least a couple of hours of natural light a day. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch. Don’t put the nepenthes outside in the full weather because they require more protection.

Humidity

The number one reason for Nepenthes not growing pitchers / traps is lack of humidity. The easiest way to create humidity is to place a tray of water under the pot filled with pebbles. The tray underneath nepenthes should be twice the area of the pot, and the pebbles should be porous i.e. scoria, so that they absorb the water and create humidity. Change the water in the tray every month. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide warmth and humidity. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

Dormancy

During winter your Nepenthes will go into their dormancy period. They will slow down in growth. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive. Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitcher When a Nepenthes goes through its transition stage and starts to grow its vine, it will have a time gap before it starts to grow upper pitchers. In the wild, they won’t grow upper pitchers until the vine reaches the top of the tree where it gets more light, and to catch the insects that live up there.

Flowering

Nepenthes will only flower in a high light situation. They will only flower once they start to produce upper pitchers. Nepenthes plants are either male or female, so cannot be self-pollinated. You need one of each to pollinate. Check Dionaea Muscipula for how to pollinate.

Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia)

  • Pitcher plants grow on the east coast of North America.
  • Their brightly colored pitchers attract flies, wasps, bees and other flying insects.
  • Crawling creatures such as ants and slaters climbs up the pitchers, attracted by the sweet smelling nectar, or by the smell of insects already rotting inside the pitchers.
  • The pitchers have downward pointing hairs to stop any insects crawling out.
  • They all flower in spring with the flowers varying in color from red, yellow, pink or green.
  • A mature plant can grow up to 60cm tall.
  • Most have hoods to stop the pitchers filling with rain water and washing the food away.
  • Some varieties don’t have hoods and use the rain water to drown their prey.

Re-potting

When re-potting a pitcher plants use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss, and 25% propagating sand. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing. Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.

Watering

Never let your Sarracenia dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

Fertilizing

Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. You can give it some fish emulsion based liquid fertilizer at half strength to what is recommended on the container. Basically the plants live off the peat mixture they are living in.

Light

Sarracenia’s require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch and some growers grow them outside in the full weather.

Humidity

Sarracenia’s like a reasonable amount of humidity. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide this. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive. For sarracenias, heat doesn’t seem to be a problem. Our growing houses reach 50 degrees celcius in summer. We don’t put any cover over the plastic house, as the more light you can give the sarracenias, the better they are. But they must never dry out. Be very wary of high fertiliser concentrations when the temperatures get up this high.

Dormancy

During winter your Sarracenia will go into their dormancy period. They will stop growing and all the traps will die off. Do not worry, this is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers. Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers.

Flowering

Sarracenia’s will flower in early spring, if the plant is of flowering size. They put up their flowers first so that naturally in the wild, the insects will pollinate them. They they put up their traps to catch and eat the insects. To learn to pollinate sarracenias, we have some good books on the subject available for sale.

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Sundews (Drosera)

  • Droseras are found in most parts of the world, but more live in Australia than anywhere else.
  • They catch mosquito’s, ants, flies and other small insects by catching them on the sticky nectar on the tentacles of their leaves.
  • They all flower at different times of the year.
  • Some varieties go dormant in summer when the soil dries out, others grow all year round.
  • Some lay flat on the soil to catch crawling insects, and others stand upright to catch flying insects.
    Some varieties can grow up to 60cm tall.

Re-potting

When re-potting your sundew plant you should use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss and 25% propagating sand. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing. Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.

Watering

Never let your Drosera’s soil dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

Fertilizing

Don’t fertilize Sundew plants with flies or insects. You will end up killing your sundew plant this way. You can give it some liquid fertilizer at half strength to what is recommended on the container. Basically the plants live off the peat mixture they are living in.

Light

Droseras require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch and some growers grow them outside in the full weather.

Humidity

Drosera’s like humidity. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide this. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

Dormancy

During winter most Drosera’s go into their dormancy period. They will stop growing. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers. Cut off any dead leaves at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers.

Albany Pitcher Plant (Cephalotus Follicularis)

  • The Albany Pitcher Plant is native to a small part of south western Australia, called Albany.
  • They have small jug-like pitchers with slippery sides and sharp teeth around the rim to prevent insects from escaping.
  • They can catch flies, mosquito’s, slugs, ants and slaters.
  • When grown in the shade the pitchers will become green in color, but when grown in the sun, the traps or pitchers will turn dark red.
  • A mature plant will have pitchers up to 5cm in length

Re-potting

When re-potting your Cephalotus follicularis you should use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss and 25% propagating sand. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing. Use a large deep pot for the plant, and mound it up on top of the surface.

Watering

Do not let your Albany Pitcher Plant’s soil dry out, they like to be wet all the time. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit your plant in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water quality is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is okay to use on your plant. If not, you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water 24/7 either.

Fertilizing

Don’t fertilize Albany pitcher plants with flies or insects. You will end up killing your sundew plant this way. You can give it some liquid fertilizer at half strength to what is recommended on the container. Basically the plants live off the peat mixture they are living in.

Light

Cephalotus require a medium level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch.

Humidity

Cephalotus like humidity. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide this. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

Dormancy

During winter your Cephalotus will go into their dormancy period. They will stop growing but will not die back. Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves and pitchers.

Butterwort Plant (Pinguicula)

  • Butterworts (Pinguicula) live mainly in North America, but some are common in South America, Europe and Asia.
  • They grow in shady places and trap ants, mosquitos and flies on their greasy leaves.
  • When an insect lands on the leaves, the plant covers it with a sickly, sweet smelling liquid and the insect drowns.
  • The flowers can be purple, blue, yellow, white or red.
  • New plants will grow on the tips of the leaves and these are called ‘pups’.
  • They can be removed and planted in a pot of their own.

Re-potting

When re-potting your Cephalotus follicularis you should use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss and 25% propagating sand. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing. Use a large deep pot for the plant, and mound it up on top of the surface.

Watering

Do not let your Pinguicula’s soil dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

Fertilizing

Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. You can give it some liquid fertilizer at half strength to what is recommended on the container. Basically the plants live off the peat mixture they are living in.

Light

Pinguicula’s require a low level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch.

Humidity

Pinguicula’s like humidity. The easiest way to create humidity is to place a tray of water under the pot filled with pebbles. The tray underneath nepenthes should be twice the area of the pot, and the pebbles should be porous i.e. scoria, so that they absorb the water and create humidity. Change the water in the tray every month. A terrarium or glasshouse or a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

Dormancy

During winter your Pinguicula will go into their dormancy period. They will slow down in growth. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers.

Bladderwort Plant (Utricularia)

  • Utricularia’s are found in most parts of the world, usually growing in ponds or in slow flowing creeks and others in very damp soil.
  • Balloon like sacs or `bladders’ grow at the roots of the plants and are very small, some no bigger than the head of a pin.
  • If a small insect swims past the bladder and touches the tiny trigger hairs, the trap door swings open and creates a vacuum inside the bladder, sucking the insect inside. The door snaps shut behind it.
  • The prey of Utricularia’s is usually mosquito larvae that live in the water.
  • They all have flowers varying in color from yellow, white, pink or purple.

Re-potting

When re-potting your terrestrial Utricularia you should use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss and 25% propagating sand. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing.

Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant. Aquatic Utricularia’s can be grown floating in a tank of water on a window sill or in a pond.

Watering

Never let your Bladderwort’s (Utricularia) soil dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit your terrestrial Utricularia in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter don’t let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

Fertilizing

Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. You can give it some liquid fertilizer at half strength to what is recommended on the container. Basically the plants live off the peat mixture they are living in.

Light

Utricularia’s require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch.

Humidity

Utricularia’s like a bit of humidity. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide this. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

Dormancy

During winter your Utricularia will go into their dormancy period. They will stop growing. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers.

Sun Pitchers (Heliamphora)

  • Heliamphora’s grow on mountain tops called tepuis in Venezuela, South America.
  • They have vase like pitchers which trap insects.
  • They can catch flies, mosquitos, wasps and crawling insects such as slaters and ants.
  • They flower in spring.

Re-potting

When re-potting your Sun Pitcher (Heliamphora) you should use Sphagnum moss. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it.

The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing. Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.

Watering

Do not let your Heliamphora’s soil dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

Fertilizing

Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. You can give it some liquid fertilizer at half strength to what is recommended on the container. Basically the plants live off the peat mixture they are living in.

Light

Heliamphora’s require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch.

Humidity

Heliamphora’s grow in high humidity. You can create humidity by placing a tray of water under the pot filled with pebbles. The tray underneath nepenthes should be twice the area of the pot, and the pebbles should be porous i.e. scoria, so that they absorb the water and create humidity. Change the water in the tray every month. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide enough warmth, or a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

Dormancy

During winter your Heliamphora will go into their dormancy period. They will slow down in growth. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers. Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers.

Bromiliad (Brocchinia Reducta)

  • Brocchinia’s grow on the planes of Venezuela, South America.
  • The leaves form a vase like shape and are the only ones in the Bromiliad family that digest the prey that drown in the rain water of their vase.
  • They can catch such insects as flies, mosquitos, wasps, slugs, slaters and ants.
  • They are cool growing.

Re-potting

When re-potting your Brocchinia you should use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss and 25% propagating sand or orchid bark. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing.

Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.

Watering

Do not let your Bromiliad’s soil dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

Fertilizing

Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. You can give it some liquid fertilizer at half strength to what is recommended on the container. Basically the plants live off the peat mixture they are living in.

Light

Brocchinia’s require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch.

Humidity

Brocchinias’s like humidity. The easiest way to create humidity is to place a tray of water under the pot filled with pebbles. The tray underneath nepenthes should be twice the area of the pot, and the pebbles should be porous i.e. scoria, so that they absorb the water and create humidity. Change the water in the tray every month. A terrarium or glasshouse or a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

Dormancy

During winter your Brocchinia will go into their dormancy period. They will slow down in growth. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers. Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers.

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