Sundew ( Drosera )

Sundews can be found all over the world including the south eastern United States. They are not found in desert regions or rain forests. Most of the 160 species known are found in Australia. While not as easy to grow as pitcher plants they are much easier to grow than fly traps.

Their small size and cool coloration make them great for dish gardens and terrariums. Most lay flat and are only a couple of inches across. Some grow upright but even those are very tiny and tend to have super thin strands like a spider web. Very few of them are large or viney.

At the end of each leaf is a gland that emits a sticky fluid to trap insects.

The most important factor in growing sundews indoors is sufficient light. They need a very bright window and some direct sun each day. They easily flower indoors, flowers are also quite tiny and grow on a long stem that shoots up from the center of the plant.

I find sundews do best in regular unfertilized potting soil. The wild ones I saw on my expedition were growing in a half sand, half soil mix so I trying that now. The part sand/part soil/part peat mix was also recommended to me by an expert carnivorous plant grower. Since they like acidic soil it is also recommended that you mix a bit of peat in with the soil when you repot them. Be cautious buying soil, I had to look far and wide to find potting soil that did not have fertilizer mixed into it.

I place the potted sundew in dish with about and inch of water and keep the water level at about an inch. I use tap water and rain water when available.

Droseae have a dormant time in the wild and you may find yours will die back in the winter. Give them less water, you don’t want the roots to rot. You should see them perk back up come spring.

Never give them fertilizer. It is far to strong for them. They are accustomed to growing in poor soils. That is why they developed their bug eating capabilities.

Remember the bugs they eat must be very tiny, these are very small plants. Do not feed them meat. They eat bugs, not animals. ( at least all the ones we’ve found so far ). They really love mosquitoes which is as large of a bug as you should ever consider feeding your sundews.

The Droseraceae family of plants contains waterwheel plants, flytraps, and sundews. Waterwheel plants use sticky substances to trap prey while both flytraps and sundews actively trap their dinner.

Most of the sundew plants are perennials. Some sundews have storage roots, some do not.

The Drosera name is derived from the Greek word, droseros which means ‘dew covered’.

Sundews were well known in the Middle Ages and covered in many herbal books of the day. They were often recommended in the treatment of respiratory ailments, heart ailments and as aphrodisiacal. Extracts were most commonly added to alcohol. ( ‘Rosoglio’ ). In Australia they were used as a nutritional supplement and the red dye was used to color foods. Today they are mainly used as ornamental plants.

Charles Darwin was the first to demonstrate that there some plants were carnivorous.

You can fertilize them but only use the fertilizer at one tenth the normal dose and spray it on the leaves only.  Do this no more than monthly.

Aphids, mealy bugs, scale and thrips can all be a problem for fly traps  Orthene or some other systematic insecticide is best. Follow the directions on the label  Do not use soap based insecticides.

Black spot and other fungus can also be trouble. Captan is the favorite fungicide right now. You should be able to find it at any plant supply store.

Other information:
Wolf spiders build larger webs to steal food from sundews
Sundews long flower stalks prevent sundews from devouring their pollinators
Sundews caught stealing insects from neighbors