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Drosera (sundew) need light just like other plants. But how much light is good for these carnivorous plants? Is direct sunlight better than indirect? When, if at all should drosera be placed under shade? Their survival depends on this so you have to know the proper approach. That is what we will explain in this article.
Majority of drosera benefit from at least 6 hours of full, direct sunlight. If it gets very hot, sit the plant in a tray of water to keep the humidity high without depriving it of sunlight.
Direct vs. Indirect Sunlight
Ask several sundew growers about full sunlight vs. shading and you will get different answers. The reasons is that some of these plants prefer direct sunlight, while others benefit more from indirect light.
Cape sundews do very well in bright, direct sunlight, as well as D. spatulata, D. regia and pygmy sundews. You can leave these plants outdoors or by an open window and not worry about direct light. The more light the better for these plants.
On the other hand, D adelae prefers indirect light. It is an exception however as most tropical sundews prefer direct sunlight. At least 6 hours of sunlight is ideal for drosera, more is better.
Indirect sunlight is not bad for sundew and it is better than no light at all. Plants can survive for short periods without light but over the long term they will perish. Light is necessary for many reasons not least of which is photosynthesis.
If your drosera is outdoors and not under any shade, it is receiving direct sunlight. This does not mean the sun bears down on it directly 6-8 hours a day. The peak light intensity is at noon and goes down in the afternoon.
Unless it gets extremely hot in your location, your drosera can handle the light. Due to the movement of the sun, passing clouds etc. the plant probably gets a bit of direct and indirect sunlight every day.
If sunlight is limited or you prefer growing sundews indoors,, you can use grow lights like these ones by Watotgafer. The light should be warm and bright. Aim directly at your plant for at least 6 hours or more. Some species prefer up to 16 hours of indoor lighting.
Because there are many drosera variants, please refer to the care instructions that came with the plant you bought. There should be information on how much light is needed, direct or indirect, ideal temperature, soil, feeding frequency etc. Learning the requirements of your drosera is a must.
When to Place Sundews Under Shade
First, determine if it is getting too hot for your drosera. One common sign is if the sundew turns red. It is normal for sundews to have red leaves, but if the entire plant looks reddish and hot to the touch, it is getting a sunburn.
Move your drosera under shade if its dew disappears or the leaves are hot to touch. You can also place the pot inside a larger container or place it on a bowl with water.
Too much heat also dries up the dew on its tentacles and leaves. Drosera produces dew to catch insects the same way a flypaper does. It is made up of water and a sticky, mucus-like material that dries up under too much heat.
The leaves on sundew plants turn brown, are hot and feel rough. With enough experience you will be able to tell if a sundew is getting sunburn or not. Differences in species aside they all have a dried, worn out look and the leaves look withered.
If you see any of these signs on your sundew, you have three options. One is to move the plant under shade. You can do this whether the plant is indoors or outdoors. When the temperature cools down you can restore the drosera to its original location.
A more permanent solution is to use two containers .Place the container holding your drosera into a bigger one. Add soil, preferably peat moss or sphagnum to occupy the space between the pots. This will insulate the plant and protect it from the heat.
Another option is to sit the drosera in a tray of water. This is something you ought to do even if the plant is not getting sunburned. Using the tray method you can increase the humidity which is what drosera needs to grow.
Is Too Much Direct Sunlight Bad For Sundews?
Direct light offers many benefits for drosera and is essential for growth. However, too much heat can be harmful so you have to move it under shade or increase the humidity.
Drosera can burn out from the heat, not light. Sundews prefer lots of light but can only take so much heat. Most sundews will be fine as long as the temperature does not exceed 100 F. If it does, move the plant under shade and wait for the heat to cool.
Or you can use the tray method to keep the humidity high in spite of the heat. Keep in mind you have to refill the tray so the soil does not dry out. If your drosera is indoors it is easier to manage the heat. You can use the Levoit 6l Humidifier for easy humidity management.
Light does a lot more for drosera though. Lack of it weakens the roots and stems which can stunt its growth. Leaves drop off faster than normal and the plant will be weaker and be more vulnerable to disease.
Lack of light also also limits the amount of flowers sundews produce. The point is that drosera requires sunlight to live and flourish. They can last longer without eating bugs, but light (natural or artificial) is a must.
The more light sundew plants get, the more dew they can produce. This allows them to consume more insects including spiders. With enough nutrition the plant can live longer and healthier.
Tips For Using Light on Sundews
- Follow the pack instructions. If you just bought a drosera, follow any care instructions provided. Bear in mind that species light requirements vary so some variants may need more light than others. Do not compare light needs with other drosera unless it is the same variant as yours.
- More light is better 6 hours of sunlight is the minimum, but 8 hours or more is even better. Provided you do not live in a dry, arid area, direct or indirect sunlight will not be an issue.
- Artificial lights will work too. Sometimes you have no choice but to use artificial lighting. And they work just fine. Since you will be using this indoors make sure the drosera gets 8-14 hours.
- Know the signs of drosera sunburn. These are little to no dew on the tentacles, plant turns red (as opposed to just the leaves), leaves turn brown and burn.
- Keep humidity high. You have to strike a balance between light and humidity. While sundews need lots of light, humidity must also be high. That is why the tray method is very popular with drosera growers. It offers a simple and effective way to maintain high humidity.
If your sundew is not eating, is all green and not looking well, give it access to more light. There are many reasons why sundew refuses to eat or looks ill, but providing more sunlight never hurts.
Most -not all- sundews prefer a maximum temperature of 85-90 F. If you are not sure what your drosera can handle, use that as a rule of thumb. If it goes past 90 degrees you should provide shading for the plant.
A few burned leaves is not going to kill a drosera. However you should take action and either give it shade or add humidity. Doing so will restore the plant to its regular state.
Hopefully this article was able to help you decide how much light to give your drosera. By combining the right amount of light with soil, water, air flow, humidity and food, your plant is on its way to a long life.
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.