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Carnivorous Plant Care Guide

We provide you with a comprehensive care guide for each plant that you can purchase on our website. We want you to succeed in growing these fascinating plants. Click the links below to learn more about each carnivorous plant variety.

Venus Flytraps Sundews Nepenthes
Pitcher Plants Cobra Lily Butterworts
Venus flytrap seeds    

Life Cycle of the Venus Flytrap:
Year 1: Tiny seedlings emerge, their first two leaves are very small green petioles that will push the plant out of the seed and into the growing medium. Next tiny trap leaves will appear, fully functional despite their size of 1-2mm. The entire plant will rarely get larger than a penny the first year.

Year 2: After the first dormancy the tiny plants will perform pretty much just like their larger relatives. Traps will reach up to 3/8 of an inch, and the plant will grow to an inch or so across.

Year 3: Getting larger still with traps up to 1/2", now capable of catching something larger than a soil gnat. Third year plants will get to be a couple inches tall, and some more robust plants may even flower.

Year 4-5-6: Plants are now considered mature and will flower each season, and can self-pollinate to produce seed. These may also start to split beneath the soil level and can be seperated and repotted. Leaf cuttings may be taken to achieve more plants.

Year 7-8, beyond: Venus Flytraps will live as long as they are kept in proper conditions. They will sometimes form monster bulbs the size of a golf ball or larger, producing traps well over 1" on larger leaves. Sometimes the plants will continue to split and divide, producing many larger sized bulbs each year.

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Additional Care Information For Venus Flytraps:
The most important things to avoid:
1 Excessive heat. Keep indoor and especially domed or terrarium grown plants out of direct hot sun.

2 Low humidity. Keep well above 50%. If you live in a dry climate, you will not be able to grow these without a terrarium or humid enclosure.

3 Keeping your Venus Flytraps too wet for the amount of light it is getting. Plants that are kept too wet may rot. During the summer when kept outdoors, they can be kept very wet. Indoors they will require less water, but never let them dry out.

4 Excessive handling. As much as they may seem like pets, the more you handle them the more stressed they will be.

That are showing signs of stress are not necessarily doomed. They grow from bulbs, which store alot of energy for the plant. Leaves that have blackened and died are only leaves, and the plant can grow more as long as the bulb is healthy. The bulb should be a creamy white color. If the plant is really having a hard time, un-pot it and check for fungus or any rotting that may be occuring for various reasons. Dust the bulb with a fungicide and re-plant it. Even if most of the rest of the plant has died back, the bulb can still produce new growth. Some plants will die back quite a bit while acclimating to new conditions. Never give up on a Venus Flytraps plant until you are sure that the bulb has completely turned to mush, we have seen some amazing recoveries with these.

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Pitcher Plants

Sarracenia X [(Rubra Gulfensis) X (Leucophylla X Flava)] or A.K.A S.Rubra Gulfensis X MooreiiThis is a very hardy complex hybrid Sarracenia made up of 3 different upright species. These will grow tall green pitchers with a wavy lid and light red veining. With the Rubra being an influence, these will grow Many pitchers each year, compared to pure leucophylla or Flava. These are quite capable of catching larger bees and wasps, and smaller insects will not stand a chance. These are nice beginner Sarracenia, easily surviving dormancy, and ready for division each spring. These will do best as container plants outdoors in areas with humidity over 50%. They will appreciate full sun all day, and should be set in a tray of water at all times during the growing season. They will require a dormancy period of 3-5 months each year, with temps cold but not freezing. They will not require as much light during dormancy, and should be kept dryer as well.

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Sarracenia Oreophila X Alata
This is a hybrid of the endangered S.Oreophila, a strong spring performer, and S.Alata which will start later in the spring, then will grow pitchers all season long. The result is a very hardy plant mostly resembling S.Alata, but much more stout and hardy. These will produce many more sizeable plant divisions than S.Alata will. They will grow tall green pitchers with light veining that may intensify with stronger light. These are very deadly to the smaller sized insects such as bees and flies.

These will do best as container plants outdoors in areas with humidity over 50%. They will appreciate full sun all day, and should be set in a tray of water at all times during the growing season. They will require a dormancy period of 3-5 months each year, with temps cold but not freezing. They will not require as much light during dormancy, and should be kept dryer as well.

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Sarracenia Leucophylla X Willissii
This is a complex hybrid of both taller and more ground hugging sarracenia species. Sarracenia Leucophylla is capable of growing very tall green/white topped pitchers well over 3 ft, while the cultivar Sarracenia Willissi is a mix of shorter species with darker red coloring. This hybrid results in a tall but slightly curved pitcher, with bright shades of red which turn to deep plum, and bright pink fenestrations.

These will do best as container plants outdoors in areas with humidity over 50%. They will appreciate full sun all day, and should be set in a tray of water at all times during the growing season. They will require a dormancy period of 3-5 months each year, with temps cold but not freezing. They will not require as much light during dormancy, and should be kept dryer as well until signs of new growth appear, then gradually add more water as the days get longer and warmer.

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Sarracenia X "Wrigleyana"
Part of the appeal of growing Sarracenia is the variety of form within the different species. S.Leucophylla for instance, can be over 3 feet tall with large white topped open pitchers, while S.Psittacina is a smaller ground hugging plant with not much room to catch an insect. Cross the two and you get S.Wrigleyana. This hybrid clearly shows influence from both of it's parents. Pitchers stand at about a 45 degree angle, the tops being bright red with white fenestrations. These plants will hold their form nicely throughout dormancy, making it an attractive plant year round.

Like all sarracenia, this one will need a dormancy period of 3-5 months each year. Temps during dormancy should be cold but not freezing.

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Sarracenia X "Judith Hindle"
The colorful and beautifully patterned "Judith Hindle" is a hybrid Sarracenia, who's parentage includes S.Flava, S. Leucophylla, and S.Purpurea. It is a registered cultivar, and is only reproduced through tissue culture and plant division, or leaf cuttings. They are capable of growing to 18-24" or taller, and will turn spectacular shades of red, pink and white when grown in full sun. These colors will attract many unlucky insects to their doom.

These will do well in a potting mix of 60% peat moss and 40% perlite, and will need plenty of water in the growing season. A dormancy of minimum 3-4 months is required each season, after which the plant may be ready for division or re-potting.

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Sarracenia Alata:
One of the North American pitcher plants, these are native to marshes and bogs, pinelands, and wet forest floors in the south eastern USA. Sarracenia Alata forms tall upright pitchers, which are more than capable of catching a variety of prey. S. Alata are prolific growers, producing pitchers throughout the entire growing season. Though there are certainly larger forms of sarracenia, this one will be as deadly as any to the unwary insect. Flying and crawling insects will find the nectar like secretions underneath the pitcher hood to be irresistable, and if they take a wrong step, they will tumble into the pitcher. Once inside, they will find that retreat is impossible, due to short stiff hairs pointing downward. The inside of the pitchers are also very slippery, even to insects with the best traction.

They will prefer full to slightly filtered sun, and will grow best outdoors in humid climates. They can be grown in terrariums as younger plants, but within a few seasons they will outgrow most setups. A standard mix of 60% peat moss and 40% perlite or white pumice will work great as a planting medium. These plants can be divided each year in the spring before active growth resumes.

Pitcher leaves of this variety can vary in color from pale yellow, to all green, to green with red veins, to dark red varieties. Pale yellow flowers form on tall stems in the early spring, usually before pitcher growth begins. They can reach a height of 35" in nature, or when grown in optimum climate such as a humid bright greenhouse. They will require a dormancy period of at least 3 months at temps under 45 degrees, but not freezing. 38-40 degrees will do nicely.

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Sarracenia Flava:
Sarracenia Flava is native to marshy and boggy areas in the southeastern USA. This is a vigorous growing plant, and very showy in the spring, growing Very large bright yellow blooms to lure in the victims. These plants can get very tall, even in small pots. Mid summer their pitchers can contain Many insects alive and dead. They will slow down growth after mid summer, and require 3-5 months dormancy each year. They can tolorate freezing temps, but not for extended periods. As container plants, they like full bright sun, and at least 1" of water in their tray all summer. These will do best outdoors in areas with humidity over 50% and moderate temps.

Sarracenia Leucophylla var. "Tarnok":
These are mostly a typical S.Leucophylla, except that their magnificent red blooms will grow double petals. These are some of the taller of the Sarracenia, easily reaching heights of 3 feet or more. Leucophylla are famous for their ability to gobble up even large bees and wasps. These will grow long spear shaped leaves with red hues on the edges, and the white topped pitchers can develop red veination in strong light and high humidity. They will appreciate full sun, and good clean water. They can be kept wet during the growing season, as with a watering tray, but these are more prone to rotting if kept too wet during dormancy. Mature plants can be divided each spring, or transplanted into a larger pot.

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Sarracenia Leucophylla
These are sometimes called the "white topped pitcher plant". Sarracenia Leucophylla is native to boggy and marshy areas in the south eastern USA. They are the tallest of the Sarracena family, easily reaching heights of 4ft in nature. Large plants in cultivation will also grow quite tall. Leucophylla will put up pitchers with their blooms each spring, but the fall is when these plants really start to show off. As most of the other Sarracenia will be slowing down for the season, Leucophylla will rapidly start pushing up it's largest pitchers yet. Pitchers are green with red highlighting, up to a red veined white fenestration covered top. Some plants will have more red coloring than others. Having such notable characteristics makes it an excellent choice for hybridization.

Like all sarracenia, these will prefer full sun and being in a tray of water during summer months. Keep them dryer during their required winter dormancy of 3-5 months, with temps about 35-45 degrees. These are also more prone to rotting if too wet in the spring so be careful not to let them get too wet. Peat moss and perlite 50/50 makes an ideal planting medium for all sarracenia and most all Carnivorous Plants.

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Sarracenia Minor:
This is an odd form of Sarracenia that has a style all it's own. Known as the "Hooded Pitcher Plant", Sarracenia Minor pitchers form a slightly overhanging hood, which is coppery in color with white fenestrations on the upper back side. These are native to swampier areas of the far southeastern USA. In nature these plants can easily reach over 3 ft in heigth, but in captivity they will usually reach up to 12-18" in larger pot sizes. They can take on a comical appearance, the hoods resembling mouths, clusters of pitchers can look almost sociable. These will form woody rhizomes with a smooth texture, new leaves can form anywhere on the rhizome. Keep these in full sun, and nice and wet during the growing season, and dryer during dormancy.

Like all sarracenia, this one will need a dormancy period of 3-5 months each year. Temps during dormancy should be cold but not freezing.

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Sarracenia Purpurea ssp. Purpurea
Sarracenia Purpurea is native to boggy and marshy areas east of the Mississippi River. They form a rosette of ground hugging, bulbous hooded pitchers. Purpurea pitchers are capable of catching many crawling insects, and even snails and slugs. The pitchers fill with water during rainy spells, and many captured insects will drown before being digested. These plants can take lower temperatures than most sarracenia, and as a result they hold their form nicely through the winter. Pitchers can vary from yellow with red veins, pure green, green with red veins, and some will turn deep shades of red.

Like all sarracenia, this one will need a dormancy period of 3-5 months each year. Temps during dormancy should be cold but not freezing.

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Sarracenia Psittacina:
Also known as the "Parrot Pitcher Plant", Sarracenia Psittacina is native to the southeastern USA. They aren't much like other sarracenia, looking more like a Cobra Lily. They form ground level rosettes of short pitchers with bulbous ends. Their coloring is similar to that seen in s.leucophylla, red topped veined pitchers with white fenestrations. These love sun, and will do best as container plants in a tray of water all summer, and will require a dormancy of minimum 3 months each year.

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Sarracenia Rubra
Sarracenia Rubra is known as 'the Sweeet Trumpet,' because their dark maroon blooms actually smell good which is rare among Sarracenia. There are 5 subspecies to the Rubra family, some of which are still debated among scientists who feel that some are actually species. These are native to the southeastern USA, and are perennial carnivorous plants found in boggy areas.

These are smaller in stature than the other upright species of sarracenia, and will produce clumps of pitchers from mid spring until early fall. These will do best as container plants outdoors in areas with humidity over 50%. They will appreciate full sun all day, and should be set in a tray of water at all times during the growing season. They will require a dormancy period of 3-5 months each year, with temps cold but not freezing. They will not require as much light during dormancy, and should be kept dryer as well.

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Sarracenia X Catesbaei
This is a hybrid of the tall Sarracenia Flava, crossed with the Sarracenia Purpurea which is a much shorter plant. These will form pitchers with wide open mouths, which will have red veining on the underside of the lids, which continues down into the throat of the tubes. These will grow tall red flowers in the spring that will easily self pollinate, or can be crossed with other Sarracenia for further complex hybrids.

These will do best as container plants outdoors in full sun all day, and will appreciate being in a tray of water all summer long. They will observe dormancy in winter months, and will resume growth in the spring.

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Sundews

Drosera Capillaris "Giant Form":
These are the giant form of d.capillaris, which will get a bit larger than normal capillaris. The form is very similar to d.rotundifolia, but these will cluster more and will grow longer leaves. Plants can reach up to 2" across, and will grow up to 12 pink flowers on each flower scape. These will flower through much of the summer time, and seed can easily be collected from flower scapes when fully dried. Keep these nice and damp and in bright light.

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Drosera Spathulata:
These Sundews are known for growing clusters of plants that will flower like mad. The mature plants will take on a more earthy tone of green, with orange hues showing through their sticky dew drops. They grow small spoon shaped leaves, and can grow white or pink flowers depending on their geographic background. They are quite widespread in nature, growing throughout tropical zones. They require summer temps of 70-95 degrees, and can be kept at these temperatures year round. They appreciate bright light, and can live as windowsill plants in areas with higher humidity, but avoid direct sunlight that might burn them. Keep them wet throughout the growing season. These plants require no dormancy, making them excellent terrarium plants.

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Drosera Intermedia:
Drosera Intermedia forms a rosette of paddle shaped leaves, ending in a pad covered with sticky red tentacles. Leaves can grow up to 2" long. This plant will bloom throughout the growing season, with up to 20 white flowers on each scape. They are quite widespread throughout nature, occupying humid marshy and boggy areas. They will usually catch smaller flying insects such as soil and fungus gnats, but can also catch larger prey. The tentacles will send captured insects to the center of the trap pad, where they will be consumed. These plants will form winter buds during dormancy, and will resume growth each spring. They can be kept quite wet during the growing season, and dryer during dormancy to avoid rotting.

During the winter they can survive freezing temperatures, but not for long periods of time. Soil mixes can vary from pure peat moss, to mixes ammended with perlite, pumice, sand, or long fiber sphagnum moss.

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Drosera Filiformis var. Tracyii:
These are Drosera Filiformis var Tracyii, which are a subspecies of D.Filiformis. The Tracyii are much more stout than the pure Filiformis. Leaves grow upright 4-12" like long thick blades of grass, unrolling as they go. Their leaves produce more dew than most Drosera. They are native to the south eastern USA, and can occupy many low lying wetlands through Florida, such as roadside ditches. These plants will observe dormancy when temps dip lower than 40 degrees, and will slow growth, focusing it's energy into the bud. Growth will resume in the spring when temps get warmer.

They can be grown in a wide variety of peat based mixes, from pure peat moss to long fiber sphagnum moss, or mixes ammended with perlite or pumice. They will like to be wet during the growing season, and dryer during dormancy to avoid rotting.
This plant can take on some crazy growth patterns, forming a shock of white dew covered leaves catching whatever crosses their path.

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Drosera Capensis:
One of the easier sundews to grow, Drosera Capensis is also a very beautiful plant. Long bright green leaves end in a sticky pad, with red tentacles covered in digestive dew. They are a tropical type of sundew native to Cape Province South Africa. Bright pink flowers will form on many tall flower scapes. These will self pollinate, and after the flower stems fully dry out, you can shake hundreds of tiny black seeds from them. These plants require no dormancy, but will die back during colder months, resuming growth in the spring. Prolonged temps under 40 degrees can potentially be harmful to them.

This type of sundew can trap and digest larger insects than you might expect. Their long sticky leaves will envelope their prey, rolling downward to fully incapacitate and digest struggling victims.

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Cobra Lily

Darlingtonia Californica is one of the strangest carnivorous plants that you can ever see. Commonly referred to as the "Cobra Lily", the leaves of this plant take on a serpentine form complete with a long forked-tongue like appendage. Pitchers twist slightly and stand up tall, giving this plant a menacing appearance. These plants are native to mountainous areas of western Oregon, down through areas of north western California. They grow in sphagnum moss bogs, and also near fresh water springs. In nature their pitchers can reach a monstrous size of 40" or taller, with heads the size of a softball. Hanging blood red blooms form on tall, odd looking pale green stalks.

They are a pitcher plant utilizing a passive trapping mechanism, the 'pitfall'. The bulbous tops of the pitchers have a small opening underneath in front. Insects will land on the forked 'tongue' of the plant, and wander underneath following a scent of nectar which leads to the opening. They will crawl inside the top of the pitcher, which contains many small windows called 'fenestrations'. Light comes through these fenestrations, and when insects are ready to leave, they will usually fly up toward the light and hit the top of the inside of the pitcher, then fall down into the neck where they will be digested.

Darlingtonia are a distant cousin of the Sarracenia. But, unlike Sarracenia, Darlingtonia are monotypical, meaning they are the only species of their genus.

These plants will require cooler soil temps than most Carnivorous Plant's. They appreciate filtered light, but can grow in brighter conditions. Plants grown in strong light will be more compact with more color, plants grown in less light will be greener but larger. High humidity is a must for growing Cobra Lillies. These plants will also prefer distilled water or rain water when available. Plants can be kept quite wet during the growing season, and drier during dormancy. Some growers will water their Darlingtonia with ice water in the hotter months of summer, to help keep the root system cool enough. A dormancy of 4-6 months is required during winter months, during this time the previous year's pitchers will slowly deteriorate and brown. Through the course of each year these plants will produce plantlets on thick stolon roots. These plantlets can be seperated in the spring and replanted.

These plants can be grown in terrariums, but must be kept cool. Some growers will use a small pump to recirculate water over their Cobra Lily plants, helping to keep fresh water available to the root system. Keep them out of direct sunlight, and larger pots will also help to keep their roots cool. Misting will also be a plus.

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Nepenthes

Nepenthes 'Judith Finn':
This is a hybrid of 2 highland Nepenthes, N. Spathulata X N. Veitchii. The ideal temperatures for this plant is 50-70 degrees, but they can do just fine in higher temps when acclimated. This is one type of highland Nepenthes that can do well in lowland conditions, or temps 70-85 degrees. Nepenthes are carnivorous pitcher plants which lure and trap insects, which they digest in a pool of fluid. Both color and odor can lure an insect to the pitcher rim or 'peristome', which is very slippery to insects. If they crawl around too long, they will likely fall into the pitcher and be consumed. In their native habitat, many Nepenthes can reach heights over 50ft, vining into the trees and dense brush. In captivity, they grow more compact, and can be trained to live in mid sized terrariums. If artificial lighting is used, a photoperiod of 14 hours per day will do fine. In contrast to most carnivorous plants which grow both pistilate and staminate flower parts, Nepenthes are either male or female. Their pitchers have been used for everything from storage to cooking pots and water containers, and the digestive enzymes have been used medicinally for many generations.

Nepenthes are native to tropical areas of (not limited to) Indonesia, Malaysia, Madagascar, Thailand, the Phillipines, and surrounding tropical regions. Their habitats vary from limestone cliffs, to sandy savannas, or swampy areas where they may be submerged in wet seasons.

Even if your local climate seems within the proper requirements, they will do best in a terrarium with very high humidity and still air. Outdoor breezes can disturb the ambient humidity, and can cause Nepenthes to wilt rather fast. Full sun or overly bright lighting can burn Nepenthes that have not been exposed to it slowly.

When Nepenthes get too tall, you can take cuttings from the upper stem and they will root quite easily. Start the cut 3 nodes down, and put the cutting into a small pot of growing medium. Keep it damp, and in a terrarium or humid enclosure with bright light. Within 2 months or so it will root and begin to grow. Rooted cuttings can grow quite fast and produce full pitchers much faster than seed grown or tissue cultured plants.

Nepenthes Rafflesiana:
N.Rafflesiana is a lowland Nepenthes that performs nicely in warm humid terrariums, or hot greenhouses. These will produce pitchers 3-5" tall, with different markings depending on the variety of species. These will do nicely in filtered light or under 50% shade cloth. Keep Nepenthes just damp, never too wet and certainly never let them dry out. Plants in cultivation also seem to prefer still air.

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Butterworts

Pinguicula Primuliflora:
These carnivorous plants are native to the southern United States. They grow long sticky leaves up to 3.5 inches, and will commonly create 'baby plants' at each leaf tip. During the spring and summer they will grow beautiful violet flowers on a very sticky bloom stalk. They prefer indirect or filtered light, and can do quite nicely in shaded terrarium corners.

These plants will require a dormancy each winter with temperatures between 35 and 50 degrees. During this time, the plant will remain green, but will slow down growth substantially. Small winter buds may form that will grow into many small plants in the spring.

Pinguicula Moranensis:
These Pinguicula can get quite large compared to most, rosettes can be more than 6 inches across. They are a Mexican Butterwort that grows in wet limestone cliff areas. They are prolific in flowering, putting up many deep pink blooms. Their carnivorous leaves are a sticky mess for insects to encounter, small flying insects and soil gnats will be easy victims.

Keep this plant in a shallow tray of water at all times. These plants will do great in terrariums, and can also be grown on windowsills in areas with higher humidity. Avoid hot sun or prolonged high temps, this one will prefer things a bit cooler. Though no dormancy is required, they sometimes will die back in colder temps, putting all of their energy into a small central bud. Growth will resume in the spring, or when you provide it with warmer temps such as with a terrarium.

 

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