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One of the best things about growing sundews is how straightforward it is to collect seeds. And this is possible because sundews have multiple ways of propagating themselves. If you want to know about sundew reproduction and the easiest ways to propagate and grow seeds, this is your guide. The best approach depends on what type of sundew you are growing.
Majority of sundews self pollinate and can be propagated through leaf cuttings and seeds. Tuberous sundew seeds require hot, dry conditions to grow, whereas temperate sundews prefer cold weather stratification.
Different Ways Sundews Reproduce
Since majority of drosera are self fertile, they can pollinate without any aid. Sundews can be cultured by cutting leaves, roots or the crown and repotting. Seeds are also used to culture drosera plants.
Sundews self pollinate when a flower closes. As the petals close down the stigma makes contact with the anthers. Pollen makes its way into the ovary where egg fertilization occurs. These eventually turn into seeds.
Self fertile drosera produce large amounts of seeds which you can collect. Seeds from temperate sundews need stratification, so keep them in a cold, wet environment.
In contrast, tuberous sundew seeds can only flourish in dry conditions followed by cold weather. There are also drosera that undergo vegetative reproduction. This is most common in sundews where the roots approach the top of the soil. This type of reproduction also occurs with drosera that generate stolons.
Pygmy sundews multiply through asexual reproduction, while other self fertile drosera germinate depending on the temperature, humidity, moisture and amount of light available. If your sundew can propagate through leaf cutting, make sure to use the same methods for the cuttings.
How to Help Sundews Pollinate
There are some sundews that do not self pollinate or produce very few seeds. A good example are variants of the drosera binata, which benefits from cross pollination. Other species do self pollinate, but very few seeds are generated.
Pollination aid is done by rubbing the pollen on the pistil. This stimulates the plant and results in greater seed production. This is a good technique if your sundew does not self pollinate. Some species such as drosera graomgolensis benefit from cross pollination..
If your drosera can self pollinate you do not have to do anything. For instance, drosera burmannii, drosera capensis and others are so good at self pollinating that aiding it will not be necessary. .
On the other hand, some sundews do need assistance. There are some drosera species where the anther and stigma barely produce any seeds. In these instances you can help with the pollination.
Some sundew flowers remain open all day, but others only for a few minutes. How often and how fully the flower opens will depend on the drosera species. The amount of light and shade the sundew receives affect the growth and behavior of the flowers.
To help sundews pollinate:
- Find the anther with the pollen and rub it with a soft brush.
- Rub the brush on the carpel style. You can also set the stamens on the stigmas using a pair of tweezers. This is a delicate task so we recommend BinaryABC Tweezers to make it easier.
Most sundews produce 20 or more flowers each stalk when properly fed. Unlike Venus flytraps, drosera does not get exhausted by flowering. This means you can let your sundew flower and it will not affect production of dew.
How Many Seeds Do Sundews Produce?
The more food sundews eat, the more seeds can be produced. Healthy, well fed sundews produce more flowers and larger seeds.
A sundew with little to no nutrients can produce a couple of flowers and a few tiny seeds. Those flowers will not last long and getting the seeds to grow is going to be a challenge.
If you feed that sundew four times a month, the plant can yield a dozen or more flowers and long stalks. Expect the seeds to be several times larger than those produced by drosera which does not eat.
Here you can see why insect nutrients are essential for sundews. The more meat sundews eat, the more nutrients they can provide for the seeds. Larger seeds grow faster and healthier, which is all the more reason to ensure your sundew is regularly fed.
If you have self fertile sundews and they are well fed, seeds will not be a problem. If your species does not self pollinate or produces a small number of seeds, help the plant pollinate using the suggestion given earlier. There are a lot of carnivorous plant foods available, and one of our favorites is Jessi Mae Feeding Supplement which provides nutrients for different types of sundews.
How to Collect Sundew Seeds
There are several ways to collect sundews seeds. You can use any of the following for most types of drosera species.
Method 1. If you want to get the seeds as soon as possible, cut the stalk right at the base of the drosera. Fold it and leave it on a paper sheet until the stalk has dried. You can collect the seeds then.
Do not be surprised if some of the seeds fall off, it just means they are ready.
Method 2. Fold a piece of paper and flick the stalk. This is a simple and effective way to collect seeds.
The last option is to just let the seeds ripe on the stalk. When it has fully ripened, cut off the stalk. Hold the section where the buds are and snip it off.
When snipping, keep the stalk straight, otherwise the seeds could scatter all over. Give the stalk a bit of a shake to loosen the rest of the seeds. Or give the bud a bit of a squeeze to force the seeds out.
How to Germinate Sundew Seeds
Most sundews do not need stratification so they can be planted right away. Some species germinate in two weeks or less. You should also check out this guide on how to make sundews grow faster.
The following assumes the seeds do not require stratification or that you had already done so if it is needed.
1. Prepare the Soil
Use peat moss, sphagnum peat, long fiber sphagnum or silica sand for the soil. After rinsing, mix the components equal parts each (ex: 1 part silica sand and 1 part peat moss),
You can use any container or pot, but for seeds, 2 to 4 inch containers is enough. As the plant grows you have to repot them into a larger container.
Mix the soil well and pack it in. Well packed soil allows the seeds to better use the water and reduces the risk of algae spreading. This is also the best way to prevent mold from manifesting.
2. Sow the Seeds
Scatter the seeds on the soil surface. Burying the seeds should be avoided as it will prevent them from growing.
Place each seed an inch apart from the other. To grab a seed, just let it stick to your finger. Next, press it on the soil softly. Use your other finger if necessary. Repeat this with all the seeds you want to plant.
3. Prepare the Environment
Sundew seeds grow best if it is humid and warm. This is particularly true for temperate and tropical seeds. The ideal temperature is 80 F but some drosera prefer 75-90 F.
Seeds can be grown indoors or outdoors, with artificial light or sunlight. There are many ways to set the area up, but as long as the temperature is ideal the seeds will grow..
Most drosera seeds take two weeks to germinate, but others need only one. At the other end are tuberous sundews that take up to 3 years to germinate.
For most drosera seeds however, you will see leaves appear after a couple of weeks. Slowly increase the humidity to harden the seeds. Eventually the leaves will produce dew and be ready to catch insects.
The information above is a general overview of how sundews reproduce. Due to the differences in variants and species, you should get familiar with the type of drosera you bought and which propagation method works best.
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.