Sundew Care Instructions
Sundews are one of nature's most intricate creations. Each leaf is covered with a sticky residue that mixes with morning dew to create a glistening trap for insects. These traps are perfect for catching pesky mosquitoes, ants, and fruitflies, but you'll need more than this to keep your pet healthy for years.
Sundew growing instructions
How a Sundew works
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Sundews are one on of the most common carnivorous plants across the world. There are over 100 species of sundews spread across six of the seven continents (the lack of arctic insects has perhaps kept them off Antarctica). In the U.S., 15 varieties of sundews grow mostly in the Southeast, though some species have spread up the East coast. Sundews grow quickly and spread quickly and have been able to remain strong despite development growth and plant poaching. My Carnivore does not collect any plants collected from the wild and is working hard to preserve these plants in their natural environment.
Though sundews come in all sizes and shapes, they all have one thing in common--their sticky leaves that not only trap insects, but digest them as well. As the unsuspecting bugs land on one of these inviting leaves, they become completely stuck as if on flypaper. The plant, sensing the movement, slowly wraps its small tentacles that cover the leaf around the bug. In some varieties, the entire leaf also moves to engulf the bug and turn it into a meal. The bug is then digested on-site and its nutrients are absorbed, giving the plant vital Nitrogen that it can use to grow. Though sundews are more of a passive trap than the flytrap, they are still just as much fun to feed as you can watch the poor bug struggle to escape only to get itself further trapped in the deadly dew. In certain species, you can watch the sundew slowly move as the tip of the leaf curls over its new prey.
The name sundew is derived from the way these plants look when the sun shines on their sticky leaves. Like most plants, sundews glisten with morning dew as the sun first begins to shine on them. Unlike most plants, sundews keep their glisten all day long as the sticky traps stay moisturized to keep the traps ready. Their genus name, Drosera, means something. My Carnivore curretly works with two species of sundews. Adalae are distinguished by their long, wide leaves and red and yellow flowers. Capensis have long narrow leaves that only bear traps at the tips. Adalae have a very large surface area to catch insects and are quite effective. Capensis have smaller traps that actually curl up over its dinner in about in hour. If you watch closely after a fresh insect lands on the trap, you may be able to see it move!
Sundew growing instructions
Your pet carnivore is very easy to take care of. However, there are some very important instructions that must be followed to ensure that the plant will stay healthy in its new home. These instructions can vary depending on where you live and how close to its natural environment your area is. Be sure to email us if you have any questions or need help. We will be glad to give you personal care for your pet.
Unless you live in a humid area, keep your sundew in its cage most of the time. In humid regions, such as the Southeast U.S., you may keep the plant outside of the cage in its pot. Just make sure the soil stays moist (dark brown) at all times. When in the cage, feel free to keep the lid off. In dry areas, you may take the pet out for a few hours at a time for display or feeding, but make sure you replace it and spray-mist it with rain or distilled water to keep it moist. You may keep the lid off during the day, but make sure the bedding and moss stay moist, and you should keep the lid on at night. The bedding is long fiber sphagnum moss, which can hold up to twenty times its weight in water. Make sure the bedding stays moist, but not soaked, to help maintain humidity in the cage.
Your plant will need to be spray-misted or watered once or twice a week, depending on where you live and how you keep it. In a closed cage, the plant will need watering only once a week. Spraying the leaves and surrounding soil with a spray bottle is a great way to keep it wet. Make sure the soil stays dark brown and moist to the touch at all times. If the leaves seem to be drying out, try spray-misting them daily and keeping the plant its closed cage until it seems to hold the "dew" on its leaves on its own. Be very careful not to over-water or drown the plant. This can rot the roots of the plant. You may have over-watered it if you see standing water on top of the soil or if the soil appears saturated. If this happens, hold the plant and soil upside down and press down on the soil to squeeze out extra water.
Sundews have developed to grow only in mineral-poor acidic soil. To preserve this, be sure to use only natural rainwater or distilled (RO) water on your plant. Tap water contains too many minerals that will build up in the soil and kill the plant. Place a collection bowl outside to collect rainwater, or collect moving water from a nearby creek. Stagnant water, such as from a lake, may contain little creatures that can infect the plant. If you must you tap water, let it sit for 24-48 hours to dissipate the Chlorine.
Sundews are small plants that often grow amidst grasses, weeds, and trees. Thus, they prefer to receive direct sunlight for only part of the day. Place your pet in a good windowsill where it can get strong natural light for at least half the day, preferably in the morning when it is less hot and intense. If your plant is in direct sunlight all day, keep the only partially on the cage to keep it from overheating. The moist bedding and terra cotta pot should hold enough water to keep the humidity up in the cage. Plants can also be grown outdoors in humid and warm temperature regions. Keep the lid off when outdoors. After rain, you may need to dump extra water out of the cage and pot to keep the roots from drowning and rotting.
You can also grow your plant indoors under fluorescent lights. Be sure to use high temperature light bulbs with full spectrum light placed about a foot over the soil. In the summer, a 14 hour light cycle is perfect. In the winter, an 8 hour cycle will help them go through dormancy.
Your sundew loves to eat to give the plant nitrogen and other compounds that will help it grow. The leaves can handle several small bugs each, but it could get overwhelmed if you feed it to much at once. Without food, the plant may survive, but it will not grow very well. A good feeding cycle for optimal growth is to let it capture a few small flies every week. If you ever see fruitflies or gnats in the house or outside, get your sundew and help him help himself to some great grub. Ants also make good fun and can be fun to feed to the plant. Make sure the leaves are sticky when you feed him. Otherwise, the food could just walk off. If the leaves do not seem to be wet, spray-mist them as describe above. Your plant will also grow well when fed only once a month, but that isn't nearly as much fun!
The plants prefer living food as they can sense movement on their leaves and will know to wrap their tentacles around it. However, freshly killed bugs should be fine, and dried flies from a pet store should also work. Do not feed the sundews insects that are too big--it could damage the leaf, though most likely the large bug will just walk or fly away. Feel free to touch a sundew to test it out, but don't rub the leaf as that will damage it.
Your pet came in a mixture of sphagnum peat moss, construction sand, and perlite. The peat moss is a nutrient poor acidic soil, and the sand and perlite keep the soil from becoming too dense so that water can flow around the roots. Although your pet will grow, it will never outgrow its pot. If you do want to transplant it, use a mixture of 70% peat / 30% sand or perlite. Make sure the sand is construction grade without salt. Do not transplant directly into the ground or into potting soil.
Your sundew will need a few months in the winter to hibernate. During this time, many of the leaves may die, and those that do live may not look as good or be as sticky. Typical dormancy period is from November until February. During this time, your sundew will still need light, but for a shorter time during the day. It will also need less watering--just make sure the cage stays humid and the soil stays dark brown. Cut off any browning leaves. Keep the plant cooler than in the summer. It also may not be hungry, so don't try to feed it too much. As spring rolls around, give the plant more sunlight and let it grow! Once it starts, it will grow even bigger than the previous year.
Sundews will typically grow a flower on a long stalk during the Spring. Adalae have beautiful star shaped red flowers with yellow centers. Capensis have flowers. Both of these beautiful flowers can be pollinated to produce seeds. Nicely, the flowers grow about 6 inches above the traps so that pollinating insects are not as easily devoured by the plant, though no guarantees are made after the pollination. Making a flower takes a lot of energy, and the traps of a flowering plant do not develop as well. If you would prefer traps, pinch of the flower stem as you see is start growing. Otherwise, you may either allow insects outdoors to pollinate the flower or you can do it yourself by gently rubbing two fully open flowers face-to-face against each other. After a month or so, you can remove the tiny seed pod (it is ripe to pick when it looks like it is about to open on its own), split it open, and spread the seeds in a peat/sand/perlite mixture (as described above). Seedlings are very cute and grow quite quickly. In six months you will have a very large plant from seed.
• Unless you live in a humid area, keep your sundew in its cage at all times
(unless you are feeding it or playing with it).
In humid regions, such as the Southeast U.S., you may keep the plant
outside of the cage in its pot. Just make sure the soil stays
very moist (dark brown). When in the cage, feel free to keep
the lid off. In dry areas, you may take the pet out for a few
hours at a time for display or feeding, but make sure you replace it
and spray it with rain or distilled water to keep it moist.
You may keep the lid off during the day, but make sure the bedding
and moss stay moist, and you should keep the lid on at night.
• Sundews require a medium amount of light. Find a good windowsill where they can get strong natural light for part of the day, preferably morning light when it is less hot and intense. If your pet is in direct sunlight all day, keep the lid partially off the cage to keep it from overheating. The moist bedding and terra cotta pot should hold enough water to keep the humidity up in the cage. Plants can also be grown outdoors in humid and warm temperature regions.
• Make sure to use only natural rainwater or distilled water to water your plant. If you must you tap water, let it sit for 24-48 hours to dissipate the Chlorine.
• Dying leaves are part of the sundew's growth cycle. Cut off browning leaves immediately before they have time to rot. Chances are, a new larger leaf will grow in its place.
• When feeding, don't let more than 1 or 2 bugs accumulate on a leaf. The plant needs time to digest these before moving on to others. Only feed it live or freshly killed bugs. Make sure the bugs are small enough so that the plant can catch it. Sundews eat smaller bugs than flytraps and other carnivorous plants. Never give your plant raw meat. This will kill it.
• In the winter, your plant will naturally go into dormancy. Give it some sunlight, but make sure it stays a little cooler than in the summer, gets less light, and stays a little dryer, but don't let it dry out. Typical dormancy is from Thanksgiving until Valentine's day.
How a Sundew works