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Is your pinguicula no longer eating or blooming? Are its leaves turning brown? Knowing the symptoms of a dying pinguicula (butterwort) is essential for any grower. If you know the symptoms, you can take steps to prevent it or save the plant. In this post you will discover the most likely signs of a dying ping and its causes.
The most common signs of a dying pinguicula are dry brownish leaves, foul smell and slow growth. The most likely causes are not enough light, too much or too little water and the wrong soil used. Extreme temperature swings can also kill butterworts.
What are the Signs of a Dying Pinguicula?
Butterworts are usually easy to grow, but you have to provide the right environment. This is true for any plant but what makes butterworts challenging for a beginner is their requirements are very different from other plants.
When a pinguicula is ill, one or more of the following symptoms will appear. And usually the best remedy is to ensure it grows in the right setting. By right environment, that means trying to match its natural habitat as much as possible. This applies to pinguicula colimensis and other types.
So here are the most common indications of a sick pinguicula.
- Leaves are dry, deformed or turning brown. This is number one on most lists. When brightly colored leaves turn brown, it is usually a sign something is wrong. This can be accompanied by deformation or dryness and you need to take action.
- Dryness of leaves – lack of mucilage – is usually due to lack of humidity or too much heat. Without mucilage, insects will not stick to its leaves and the plant cannot eat.
- Not eating. This can be attributed to lack of mucilage.
- Slow or no growth. The plant is not getting enough light or nutrients.
- Foul smell. This is usually due to root rot or other fungal or bacterial infection.
There are many other symptoms, but these are the most common. To be sure that your ping is sick, there should be at least two signs present.
Many times the reason a pinguicula gets sick or dies is an unsuitable environment. To make things easier, we will look at the most common symptoms of a dying pinguicula and the possible remedies.
If the leaves are turning brown but there are no other symptoms, it could simply be your pinguicula is shedding old leaves. But if other signs are present, then there is indeed a problem.
Most Common Reasons for Dying Butterworts
So now you know the indicators of sick or dying butterworts. The question now is what is causing them and what can you do about it? The good news is that in many cases, the fixes below can work.
The key is to catch the symptoms early. The later you spot the sign, the harder it will be for butterworts to recover. If your butterworts displays any of the symptoms, check the signs below and see which is lacking or what needs to be changed. If you catch the symptoms at an early stage, there is a good chance your pinguicula will make a full recovery.
Not Enough or Too Much Light
Most butterworts prefer partial or indirect light. You want the plant to get a lot of light, but do not let the sun shine directly over it.
If your pinguicula is on a windowsill, that should provide enough shade without depriving it of light. If your plant is in the garden, make sure it is not directly under the sun.
This rule applies to artificial lights too. Do not shine the light directly on the plant. If you have to, position the light at least 12-15 inches away. For optimum results we recommend Roleadro Grow Lights as it is made specifically for plants.
Butterworts need light, but too much leads to sunburn. It can also cause leaves to dry out and mucilage to evaporate, making it impossible for pinguicula to catch insects. Too little light is not good either so you have to strike a balance.
Using the Wrong Soil
Butterworts can only grow in low or zero nutrient soil. Use peat moss and perlite or sphagnum moss and silica sand. Ordinary potting soil is going to kill your pinguicula. Do not fertilize the soil because butterworts obtain their nutrients from insects.
If you planted in the wrong soil, repot immediately. Use only soil labeled safe for carnivorous plants. Water the soil as directed earlier. Do not let any food drop into the soil when you feed it.
If your pinguicula is sick, repotting may be required. Use new soil, not what is in the current pot. Again, use only low nutrient media.
Temperature and Humidity Too High or Low
Most Mexican butterworts prefer warm conditions, around 60-85 F and 50-100% humidity. Pinguicula plants do not go dormant in winter, but they do change form. Their carnivorous leaves are discarded in favor of non-carnivorous succulents. A good example of this is pinguicula Aphrodite.
This only occurs during winter and is an essential part of their life cycle. Without it there is a good chance the plant will get sick or die. This is why temperature and humidity are important for growing pinguicula.
If your region has mild weather there should be no problems growing pings outdoors. If it gets too cold in winter and too hot in summer, it might be better to raise pinguicula indoors or even a terrarium.
A terrarium or greenhouse will give you greater control over these two factors. A humidifier or an electric fan can also be helpful here.
Too Much or Too Little Water
The rule of thumb is to water pinguicula just enough to keep the soil constantly moist in summer. Once a rosette forms in winter, let the plant go dry. In spring, water a little before returning to your normal routine in summer.
The easiest way to know if the soil is moist or too wet is to use is to get a moisture meter such as the Sonkir Soil PH. Alternatively you can dip your finger in the soil. If water seeps, the soil is too wet, and if nothing sticks to your finger, it is too dry. If some dirt sticks but is not soaking, the moisture level is correct.
Do not use tap water on pinguicula. The chlorine and other chemicals in it are not good for butterworts or any carnivorous plant. Distilled, spring or purified water. Are the best Also, most – but not all – butterworts do not handle the tray method well.
Using Fertilizers or Insect Repellents
Insect repellents and strong pesticides are harmful to many plants, butterworts included. If you have to use a pesticide, make sure it is mild and safe for plants. Follow instructions for its use and apply only the need amount.
You can feed pinguicula with fertilizer, but only in small amounts. This can speed up growth, but too much and it can be dangerous. You just need to mix a it of fertilizer with a gallon of water and spray on your ping every two weeks. You can also do this with nepenthes.
If insects infest your pings, spray them with water. Usually that is enough to get rid of pests. You can repot if necessary, making sure to remove any bugs clinging onto the leaves first.
A common concern of new pinguicula growers is their plant might not be getting enough food. In reality it is the opposite. Pinguicula plants are often overfed, which is not good for their health.
If your pinguicula is already getting enough food from insects, do not feed it anything else. You should only give food to carnivorous plants if they are unable to catch bugs on their own.
A pinguicula uses energy to produce mucus, catch and digest insects. However, the energy lost is replenished by the nutrients it receives. The problem is if you feed it too much (like covering all its leaves with fish food or worms), the plant will not have enough resources to digest them all.
If the plant does not eat all the food, they will rot on its leaves or fall into the soil. Food contains nutrients which could enrich the soil and harm your pinguicula.
My fascination with carnivorous plants began many, many years ago with Venus Fly Traps. Now I am more than happy to impart what I know with other enthusiasts and those who are curious about meat eating plants.