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With its pinkish hues and lavender flowers, the tiny pinguicula esseriana – which grows to an inch in diameter – is truly a beauty. Caring for a small, delicate plant is not as hard as you might expect. In the following sections you will learn the essentials for its proper cultivation.
Pinguicula esseriana grows best on a sunny windowsill or partial sunlight outdoors. Keep the plant in 50-90 degree conditions and stand in two inches of water from spring to summer. These butterworts turn non-carnivorous in winter.
Pinguicula Esseriana Care Sheet
|Soil||Equal parts perlite, peat, pumice and sand|
|Water||Spring water, purified, distilled|
|Light||Full light in mornings, partial in afternoons|
|Food||Midges, aphids, flies small insects, fish food worms|
|Temperature||50-90 F (10-32 C0|
|Dormancy||None, but its carnivorous leaves are replaced by non-carnivorous rosette|
Mix equal parts peat, sand, pumice and perlite. Use as much distilled water as necessary for the soil. Plant your pinguicula esseriana and do not let the soil dry during its growth season.
Most p. esseriana are sold bare roots, so you have to prepare the soil. Some vendors include premixed soil with the plant. With others it is sold separately. Usually though the media is already mixed so you just need to add water. To make things easier we suggest Perfect Plant Soil as it is ready to use.
Other growers use silica sand instead of perlite, which should also work. Some use sphagnum moss, but it might be too wet for some butterworts. In most cases, peat with perlite is enough, with pumice optional.
If your P. esseriana comes with premixed soil, use that to speed up planting. Or you can try 50/50 perlite and peat moss. This is the same potting mix you can use with pinguicula agnata and other butterworts.
Because pinguicula esseriana are so small, a 3 inch pot is enough. You can also plant several p. esseriana in one large container.
If you are going to grow several p. esseriana in one container, place each one a few inches apart from the other. There is no limit to the number you can grow in one pot. The only constraint is its size. But make sure the pot contains enough soil and receives adequate water and light.
Whether you plant one p. esseriana or several, the container must have drainage holes. There are a lot of pots to choose from and even a plastic cup will do. For the best results, you should get a quality container. This is very important if you are going to plant numerous p. esseriana together.
From spring to summer, pinguicula esseriana may sit in two inches of water. When rosettes appear in winter, allow the soil to regularly dry. Lightly mist it every few days.
Water is crucial for many reasons. The lack of it can be fatal to your plant and is one of the reasons why some butterworts are not sticky. However you must be careful not to overwater because this can damage the leaves and roots.
A small plant like p. esseriana can be overwhelmed by too much water.. There is no need to water from the top if you are using the tray method. Because it is so small, watering from the bottom should be enough.
During its growth seasons the plant absorbs water quickly. Replenish to keep the soil moist. Clean the tray regularly to prevent water from stagnating and bacteria from growing.
Whether you use the tray method or overhead watering, avoid tap water. For butterworts and other carnivorous plants, rainwater or purified water is better. Reverse osmosis and spring water are also suitable.
If a pinguicula esseriana is indoors, use four T5 bulbs or place it on a sunlit window. If outdoors, expose it to full sunlight in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon.
Natural light. Sunlight should be the number one option. At least 6 hours is recommended, but 10-12 hours will be even better for the plant. However you need to keep watch on the heat intensity as it could cause damage.
P. esseriana turns pink when exposed to light. This is normal. But if the plant starts drying out and feels crisp to touch, it is getting sunburned.
You can avoid this by shading the plant during the hottest hours. Morning light is great for full, direct light. As the afternoon gets warmer, give your pinguicula partial cover.
Artificial light. P. esseriana is suitable for indoor cultivation. You can keep it in a terrarium with Durolux HD T5 Grow Lights. If your ping is in a terrarium, make sure it receives sufficient water and the humidity is sufficient too.
There are many types of indoor plant grow lights available. There should be no issues with your ping as long as it is in a suitable environment.
A typical pinguicula esseriana has a wide temperature range, from 50-90 degrees F (10-32 C). Do not expose the plant to 100 F or higher.
As long as the temperature is somewhere between 50-90 F there should be no problems. Some variants thrive better at 65-85 F. If that is the climate in your area, these pings might grow faster. With enough experience you will soon get a feel for how much heat or cold your pings can handle.
If you have very cold winters and very hot summers (above or below the recommended range) it is best to grow the plant indoors. You can place the pinguicula in a terrarium and sit in water. This type of structure will keep its environment humid regardless of what happens outside.
Humidity plays a key role in its growth. For pinguicula esseriana, 50-80% humidity with adequate airflow is perfect.
The higher the humidity, the more water vapor is in the air. Too much might induce plant rot which is why air circulation is important. When humidity is low, limited airflow will not have much of an effect.
A humidifier gives you greater control. This is something you might want to consider if your p. esseriana is in a terrarium for instance. But as long as the humidity level is between 50 to 80% your butterworts will live.
The important thing to remember is that the growth environment is the priority. If butterworts are planted n the right soil, eat, have lots of light and sufficient water, it will thrive. If you keep the plant in the ideal temperature range, the humidity level should be sufficient.
Nutrition and Feeding
Feed your pinguicula once every 2-3 weeks. One bug or a very small amount of fish food will do. Take care not to overfeed the plant.
Similar to other butterworts, p. esseriana feeds on gnats, aphids, flies, midges and other small insects. Their leaves secrete mucus which entices bugs, which end up getting trapped by the sticky substance.
Once captured, p. esseriana uses digestive enzymes to eat its prey. Because these pings are very small, they only need a bug or two every couple of weeks. Alternatively you may sprinkle crushed bits of fish beta pellets or flakes. For more on how to feed butterworts check out this article.
Do not give any fish food -or any food- if your ping catches insects regularly. If you see bugs caught in its leaves every two weeks or so, it means the plant is getting enough nutrients. But if the plant is in a greenhouse or terrarium, hand feeding is necessary.
Pinguicula esseriana do not go dormant in winter. Instead the plant drops its carnivorous leaves and grows a succulent rosette.
As winter approaches, plant growth and activity will slow down. Eventually the plant will discard its bug-eating leaves. You will see succulent leaves appear. When it does, remove the plant from the tray (if you are using the tray method).
Let the soil dry for a few days. Mist it lightly, but not as much as you would during growth season. Whereas in spring and summer you never let the soil dry, here it is the opposite. You must allow the potting media to get dry.
Once winter ends, the plant will slowly grow new leaves. These are carnivorous and if healthy, produce mucus and start catching insects.
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.