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Sundews are available in different species so there is bound to be one that is to your liking. One of the first things you need to study first is how long it will take for the plant to fully grow. As we will show in this guide, it really does not take long, especially if you use the right approach. So if you are a beginner, this guide is for you.
Germinated sundew seeds produce carnivorous leaves within four weeks, but winter species might take a couple of years or more to grow. Sundew seeds grow faster with nutrition free soil, hours of sunlight and pure water.
Timeline For Sundew Growth
The sundew growth rate is determined by several factors such as humidity, temperature, light, water, air circulation and nutrients.
Tropical sundews do not need to go into dormancy, but other sundew species do. Some species can handle direct sunlight better than others.
Most popular variants like Cape Sundews grow leaves within a month. Temperate sundews take longer which is why you should learn as much as you can about the species that you will buy. You should also check your hardiness zone and compare to the plant to see if it is suitable.
Sundews require nutrients to grow so proper feeding is a must. Most species reach a height of 10 inches (25 cm) but others grow larger. Once the plant reaches its maximum size, it still needs to feed regularly to maintain this stature.
How to Grow Sundews
No matter which you sundew you buy, the basic process for growing is the same. There may be some additional steps depending on the species, but in general it consists of the following.
- Prepare the soil.
- Place the seeds on the soil. Harden the seeds if you want.
- Water the seeds and feed them.
Sundews can grow indoors or outdoors. Seeds that have been germinated and hardened indoors can be moved outside too. Remember to check your hardiness zone to ensure the plant can handle the temperature. With the right approach, sundews can live for many, many years.
What Soil and Container Should I Use?
Sundews will not grow in rich, fertilized soil. The plant obtains nutrients from insects so nutrients in the soil will cause serious problems.
You can use 1:1 mixture of peat moss and silica sand. You can also use long fiber sphagnum moss if peat moss is unavailable. Perlite is also a good choice. If you want a ready to use potting media with no mixing needed, we recommend Spring and Stone Carnivorous Soil.
Whichever soil materials you decide, rinse it first. You can also mix with silica sand as thoroughly as possible. You may try other mixture ratios but for beginners, 1:1 is ideal.
The container should have drainage and is at least 5 inches tall. Plastic containers are well suited for sundews as well as resin plasters, Do not use unglazed ceramic pots as it could be hazardous to your sundews.
Some tips on soil preparation:
- Clean the pots prior to putting any soil in.
- Place 2-3 seeds in each pot.
- Do not stuff the soil too tightly. This could prevent air from circulating properly and damage the roots.
- Drop the seeds onto the soil. Do not bury them. Each seed should be at least half an inch apart from the next.
- Tropical sundew seeds prefer a temperature range of 70-80 F (21-26 C). This might vary depending on the variant.
How Much Light Does a Growing Sundew Need?
Sundews require at least 8 hours of light for optimum growth. Natural light is preferable but you should supplement it with artificial light if your house does not get enough sunlight.
You can put sundews on a sunlit windowsill or us indoor grow lights. Our choice is the iPower Dual LED Grow Lights because it provides excellent lighting anytime any season.
If you are going to use grow lights, keep it at a distance of at least 6 inches. Adjust the distance when necessary. For instance you should bring the fixture nearer during winter and push it back further during summer.
Any fluorescent bulb will do as long as it is good quality. Combining natural and artificial light is a safe and proven way to fast track sundew seed germination.
Sundews need light, not heat. Move the plant under shade if the temperature goes above 100 F as it could burn the leaves. Some species can handle hotter climates so check the temperature tolerance of the sundews you have.
How Much Water Do Growing Sundews Need?
The best choices are distilled, reverse osmosis purified and spring water. Filtered water and rainwater will work too. Do not use tap water as the minerals will build up in the soil and could kill the seeds. While it is possible to revive a dying sundew, preventing this from happening is obviously better.
There are two ways to water sundews, from above (top water) or below (tray method). The tray method is easier to do and more practical.
Get a plastic container and fill it with water. For a 5 inch pot an inch of water is fine. Put the pot there and the plant does the rest. The light causes the water to dissipate into the roots and through the soil.
The tray method makes it easy to keep the soil damp, which is what sundews need. Refill the tray when the water disappears. How often you do this depends on the season and how much water your sundews use up.
Even if you use the tray method you should still water the pot from above once a month to remove any mineral buildup in the soil. If your sundews are outdoors, you can save on the water by allowing rainwater to do the job. You can also place buckets near the plant and collect rainwater for later use.
Some tips for watering sundews:
- Sundews prefer a humid atmosphere. The water tray should be taller than the pot to keep moisture in. Second, put a wrapper over the container so the humidity does not escape. This is very important if your sundews are stored in a warm room.
- Do not worry if the first few leaves that appear are regular, non-carnivorous. That is normal.
- You can harden the seeds by creating small holes in the plastic wrapper you placed over the container. Do this over a period of several weeks to get the plant used to the humidity.
How to Feed Sundews For Fast Growth
Without nutrients sundews will not grow, and with some species the plant might even shrink. When the plant has sprouted carnivorous leaves, you can start feeding it.
Beta fish pellets, fish flakes, free dried mealworms and tiny insects provide sundews with the nutrients they need. Feed the plant once a week and you might be surprised at how much it grows.
Sundews do not distinguish between living and dead bugs, so if you catch a dead spider or fly, they will eat it. Just make sure the bug is dead otherwise it might damage the plant when it attempts to escape.
No matter what food you give, grind it into small bits. Use tweezers to drop the food into the sticky stuff. Or you may opt for an eyedropper if you added water to the food. The water dissolves the food and makes it easier for a sundew to consume it.
Feeding sundews is easier compared to say, a Venus flytrap. For this reason it is easy to overdo it. For most species, stick with the once a week schedule and the plant will thrive.
If you have placed the plant outdoors and it is eating, do not give it any more nutrients. You can tell if the sundews are feeding by the tentacles. Assuming your sundews eat four times a month and takes a week to consume a meal, one tentacle should always be curled up.
How fast sundews grow depends on two things, the species and how well you care for it. The steps given here shows you how straightforward caring for sundews is.
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.