Tips for Growing Carnivorous Plants

Member Spotlight: This is a guest blog post by GrowIt! member Patrick Urbanski. Patrick grows multiple carnivorous plants including sundews, venus flytraps, and pitcher plants, near Lake Oswego, Oregon. He also grows a variety of other plants ranging from Petunias to Heliotropes. You can connect with Patrick and all his plants by following him (tap from mobile) on GrowIt! 

Carnivorous plants are one of the most misunderstood plant groups in the world. Many people think they are difficult to grow, but just because the sick Venus flytrap in a death cube that you bought from the store dies, does not mean you should get discouraged. With just a few care tips, carnivorous plants are easy to grow. Pretty soon you’ll have beautiful carnivores eating your wasps, flies, and mosquitos!

Venus flytraps are one of the most common carnivorous plants. They are native to sub-tropic wetlands in North Carolina. No one brings them in for winter. These plants need a winter rest and are hardy down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit without protection. In fact, if they do not get a winter dormancy, the plants will deplete themselves and die.

These plants are also not houseplants; they need six hours or more of full sun to be happy. They can survive with less sunlight but it will hinder their growth. They will be light green, floppy, and the traps won’t be as big.

Venus flytraps and other carnivorous plants (with the exception of Nepenthes) can’t handle water with dissolved solid of 50 parts per million or more, so I recommend using distilled water or purified water. If you have tap water that is clean or filtered, go ahead and use it.

Pitcher Plants are another common plant sold in nurseries or garden centers. These plants are hardier than flytraps, but they can still grow alongside a Venus flytrap. Care is virtually the same; moist soil, direct sun, and distilled water. Most of the species can withstand up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and sometimes even lower. These plants come in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes. You have a lot to choose from, so I suggest you get started!

Cobra Lilies can be striking and enticing to the first-time grower. Although they look impressive, they are more pricey and relatively more temperamental. Same kind of care with the low mineral water, full sun, and peat moss-perlite soil will do. But the difference between Cobra Lilies and the plants mentioned above is that the Cobra Lilies are native to running water bodies in the Pacific Northwest. They like to keep their roots cool and need a constant water flow. You could use trays, but the plant won’t grow as well. My method is to have a seedling tray or a propagation tray full of water with a pump that moves the water through their roots, and they love it! Although these plants are a bit harder grow, that doesn’t mean you should get discouraged.

Hardy sundews are one of the first plants to emerge from dormancy. Again, they have the same care procedures as the Venus flytrap and pitcher plant. But make sure your sundew is hardy. Hardy vanities include the sagittaria intermedia, smilax rotundifolia, and a few others.

These plants are a bit harder to find, but they are totally worth it. Some of the bigger varieties are called dew threads. If you can’t find anyone around you who sells these plants, Sarracenia Northwest is a carnivorous plant grower that ships all over the U.S.and its territories. They are very trustworthy and have excellent quality plants. From tropical and hardy, there are many plants to choose from, all of which require similar care. Theses plants need to be moist all the time with low mineral water. And the more sun, the better; mine just experienced over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Portland Oregon! That was hot for us at this time of year, but my plants love it. I hope for your success in growing these plants and keep watch for posts about tropical carnivores!