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Carnivorous Plants

What are carnivorous plants?

Carnivorous plants are plants that attract, capture, and digest insects to obtain nutrients such as nitrogen. Carnivorous plants grow in nutrient poor habitats such as sphagnum bogs, where the ability to trap insects gives them an evolutionary advantage over other plants. Carnivorous plants use various methods to trap their victims:

Growing CP

Wherever your location you can probably either grow some species Carnivorous Plants in your home or outside in an artificial bog. Many Carnivorous plants such as temperate Drosera are very easy to grow if you give them the right treatment.

Carnivorous plants require very different care than typical houseplants:
Soil Water Fertilizer
Most common carnivorous plants should be grown in pure sphagnum peat moss. Carnivorous plants require a lot of water. Many of them grow better when their pot is set in a dish of water during the growing season. Most carnivorous plants should not be fertilized and should be grown in a nutrient poor growing medium. Carnivorous plants get most of their nutrition from captured animals, not from their roots.

My carnivorous plant collection

I have grown most of my carnivorous plants from seed. I set up an artificial bog outside to grow venus fly traps, Drosera intermedia, and Sarracenia purpurea. I also grow D. capensis and S. flava indoors. I have found that the plants growing outside do much better than the ones inside. In a single summer my square meter of D. intermedia plants would catch thousands of bugs. One leaf blade could kill a fly that is twice it's diameter. Many leaves or even several plants would work together to trap insects as large as dragonflies. Unfortunately, one winter I forgot to cover the bog with fir branches, and all the D. intermedia died. The remaining venus fly traps and pitcher plants are much more cold tolerant, however.

Growing Carnivores in your own garden

cover If you want to grow carnivorous plants in your own garden, you might want to begin with Sarracenia pitcher plants, as these are easy to take care of and can be cultivated in a wide variety of climates. They are also quite voracious, and will help you out by killing thousands of ants, flies, and other insect pests. To get started, I suggest you read Gardening With Carnivores: Sarracenia Pitcher Plants in Cultivation & in the Wild, by Nick Romanowski.


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This page last updated December 09, 2002


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