How Do You Prune a Sundew?

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As sundews grow they will produce more and more leaves. This is fine in most cases, but when they get unwieldy, will pruning help? Trimming is done on most plants so should you do the same with sundews? In this article we explain how you can prune sundews and if it is required.

All you need is a pair of sharp pruning shears to prune a sundew. Pruning is not necessary, but it keeps the plant looking tidy and you can use the leaf cuttings for sundew propagation.

How to Prune Sundews

If you want to prune your sundews, get a nice pair of cutters like the Growneer 3 Pack Pruning Shears. If you are going to propagate the leaf cuttings you will also need a new pot or container.

Hold the pruning shears with one hand. Use your other hand to cut off the leaves. Try to do this with as few snips as possible.

Be careful when you cut so you do not trim any more leaves than necessary. If you are removing dead, brown or black sundew leaves, take care not to cut off the healthy ones.

If you are pruning due to pest infestation, you have to remove all dead and infected leaves. You should keep the sundew apart from the other plants and repot it. Get a new container and prepare a new soil mixture so you can give the sundew a fresh start.

Reasons to Prune Sundew Plants

Trimming sundews is not necessary as the plant naturally discards leaves over time. But there are many reasons why you may want to do some pruning.

Whatever reasons you might have, use the method described above to cut off the excess leaves. In due time the plant will grow new ones to replace them.


Yes, some sundews go into dormancy. This takes place in winter (except for tuberous sundews that go dormant in summer), but the plant starts shedding leaves in the fall.

If there are plenty of withered leaves on your sundew, it will take a lot of effort to discard them one by one. By cutting off the leaves you save the plant energy and makes the transition to dormancy easier.

How much to prune is a personal choice. You can just remove dead leaves or you can cut off whole chunks. Pruning from the ground up could stimulate growth in spring in many sundew variants.

Even dormant sundews prefer moist soil, so do not let it dry. Even if you prune from the ground the soil needs to remain moist.

Frosting. Dormant sundew leaves might get frost during winter. Most variants can deal with this but an extended freeze may be too much. Sundews conserve energy during dormancy so frosted leaves are an additional burden. By trimming the leaves the plant can go into dormancy without wasting more energy.

Cleaner Appearance

This is more of a personal choice than anything else. You may prefer sundews with plenty of leaves, or you may like a more trimmed down look. It depends on you, but the important thing is you can go either way and not worry about ill effects for the plant.

Not pruning sundews is perfectly fine. Brown, withered leaves will fall off eventually so there is no need to trim them off. But if there are a whole bunch of dead, withered leaves, you should remove some so the plant retains its aesthetic appearance.

If you prefer a tidier looking sundew, prune the plant regularly. Again it is difficult to say what regular is because it depends on the kind of look you want for your plant. Let your eyes be the judge on whether it is time for pruning or not.

Remove Brown and Black Leaves

A few brown leaves here and there is normal. When a leaf nears the end of its life cycle, it turns brown, withers and falls off. But too many brown leaves could be a sign of pest problems or a sick plant.

There are many reasons why sundew leaves turn brown or black. Whether there is a serious problem or not, you should prune the excess leaves. This not only makes the plant look better but you can speed up production of new leaves by getting rid of the old ones.

Effective Pest Removal

Brown and misshapen leaves are signs of pest problems. The most likely cause are aphids, which sundews actually eat. However these bugs can be a major problem and even cause serious damage.

If you notice any signs of pest issues on your sundew, cut the infected leaves. Immerse the plant in water to kill the pests. Use only pure water like Snugell Distilled Water to keep harmful chemicals away from your plant.Use an insecticide if they are really stubborn. Once you have removed the pests, repot the sundew.

Pruning leaves will not solve the pet problem though. You have to find out the cause and eliminate it. A good pesticide for sundews will come in handy here.

How to Use Leaf Cuttings For Propagation

Sundews are safe for humans and pets so there is no harm in propagating them. Sure you can buy several sundews, but it is just as easy to grow new ones from leaf cuttings.

To propagate sundews with leaf cuttings:

  1. Cut a few leaves along the stem.
  2. Gather these leaves and place them in a container full of water. The water must be purified, distilled, reverse osmosis or rainwater. Keep the cuttings in the container for 8 to 10 weeks.
  3. After that period, remove some of the water. Do this slowly over several days.
  4. Mix 1:1 perlite and peat moss and place it in a container. Put one leaf cutting in each pot.

Place the containers on a window bay. Indirect sunlight is ideal but as the plant grows, it will need more light. You can use artificial lighting if there is limited natural light in your home. As the plant grows, you can sit it in water and feed it the same way as your other sundews.

How Do I Keep Sundew Leaves Healthy?

If your sundew produces a lot of leaves, that is a good sign as it means the plant is healthy. Lots of leaves also means the plant can produce dew to catch insects. So how do you help your plant maintain this level?

  • Sundews need light. Like all plants, sundews need light to flourish. Natural light works best but artificial light is also effective. Light makes photosynthesis possible so plants can generate glucose for food.
  • Enough nutrients. While glucose is sundew food, insects supply the nutrients. This allows sundews to create more leaves. Nutrients and glucose combined makes sundews stronger and more resistant to fungus.
  • Trim leaves during dormancy. If your sundew goes dormant, you should trim off dead leaves so the plant does not have to. This way your sundew can preserve its resources.
  • Keep the soil moist at all times. Cape Sundews and other popular variants grow best in a humid atmosphere and moist soil. Drying the soil could be fatal to the plant.
  • Move sundews indoors during harsh winters. Most sundews can handle winter. But if it gets extra cold in your area, bring the plant inside.
  • Shade the plant during intense heat. Sundew leaves can turn crisp or burn up during a heat wave. If the temperature goes above 90 F, move the plant into a shaded location.
  • Keep an eye out for pests. Sundews need insects for nourishment, but too many and that spells trouble. The key is to prevent insects from pestering your sundew and stop it immediately from spreading.
  • Keep the sundew in a stress free environment. This can be summed up as follows: no incessant touching or poking by human hands or animal paws, moist soil, light and mineral free water.
  • Do not feed meat to sundews. Sundews cannot eat steak, beef or any of that stuff.


In the end the choice is up to you. Pruning is not needed, but you can do it without harming your sundews. And those leaves will come in handy in case you want to propagate. Of course pruning is also an option if you want to give your sundews a neater appearance.