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Pinguicula grandiflora is a cold temperate carnivorous plant found in Europe and throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Unlike Mexican butterworts, p. grandiflora naturally grows in places with cold winters, so outdoor cultivation is ideal. If you want to raise one of these, follow the simple steps.
Pinguicula grandiflora is a cold hardy perennial that needs partial to full sunlight. This plant should be grown outdoors, and you have to mulch it in winter if you are in USDA zone 7 or below. Keep the soil damp during growth season.
Pinguicula Grandiflora Care Sheet
|Soil||1:1 perlite and peat moss|
|Water||Keep soil moist, purified water|
|Light||6 hours light, preferably outdoors|
|Food||Small insects, fish food, dried worms|
|Temperature||Up to 85 F (30 C)|
|Propagation||Leaf pullings, seeds|
Use equal parts perlite and peat moss. If perlite is unavailable you can use river sand. Pinguicula grandiflora also grows well in vermiculite, perlite and silica sand (equal parts) and two parts peat moss.
Majority of cold temperate pings handle acidic soils well. Do not use compost, fertilizer or standard potting soil. To be on the safe side, use only media labeled carnivorous plant safe. The soil must be constantly damp.
The simplest approach for a beginner is to buy p. grandiflora with ready made soil. In some cases the soil is already mixed so you just have to add water. If you prefer a hands-on approach, you can purchase each material separately. Our suggestion is Gardenera Potting Mix because it is compatible with these plants.
As long as the potting media is compatible with carnivorous plants there should be no problems. Once planted, do not fertilize the soil. Let the plant get nutrients from insects instead. This is applicable for tropical species and other butterworts too.
A 3-4 inch pot is big enough for most p. grandiflora, but some variants grow up to 6 inches. The larger variants are older species so if you have a modern plant, a 3-4 inch pot should be enough.
If you buy the plant online it will ship in a pot. Butterworts rarely need repotting so you can use that container as long as necessary. Even so you may still need to buy a pot. For instance if you propagate butterworts, another container is a must.
Any material should be fine, but make sure it can handle constant exposure to water. Since p. grandiflora are outdoor plants, the pot will be exposed to variable weather.
The tray method works well for pinguicula grandiflora. Let the plant sit in 1-2 inches of water. As the roots absorb the water, add more to keep the soil constantly moist.
Keeping plants in a container with standing water is known as the tray method. It is often used to water Venus flytraps but also works for butterworts.
Pour an inch or two of water in the tray and leave your pinguicula on it. After a day – or just a few hours depending on the weather – the water is absorbed by the plant and you have to refill it.
This method is very popular with growers because it is more convenient than overhead watering. You do not have to wait for the water to dissipate before replenishing.
These plants have a hard time growing in warm locations. If you live in a hot region, the tray method may not be enough. Mist lightly so the potting media does not dry out. Do this only if watering from the bottom is not enough to keep the soil damp.
You must only use distilled, purified or spring water. Ideally the water should have no minerals or not more than 50 parts per million. Rainwater is the best option and worth collecting if it rains often in your area.
These plants require 4-6 hours of direct morning sunlight. As the day gets hotter, move your pinguicula grandiflora under shade. Do not place it under complete cover as the plant needs light.
Because this is a cold temperate ping, it should be grown outdoors. They can handle the sun provided the climate is similar to their natural habitat. All you have to do is find a sunny location in your garden and let the plant grow.
Pinguicula grandiflora enjoys sunlight, but too much heat will cause problems. They do not respond to heat as well as tropical butterworts so partial shading is required.
Cold temperate pings left under intense sunlight end up with dried leaves. The lack of moisture makes it hard for pinguicula glands to produce mucus. Without it the plant will not be able to eat. There are many other reasons why this can happen though. For more details, here is an article on why butterworts are not sticky and how to fix them.
Artificial lights. P. grandiflora do not cope well with indoor lighting. Even if you leave the plant on a sunny window, it is not the same as being outdoors. You may keep the plant in a greenhouse if the temperature and lights are sufficient though.
Cold temperate butterworts can survive winter frost so there is no need to grow them inside. They can thrive in as little as four hours of full light so artificial lighting is not required. Since p. grandiflora goes dormant in winter it does not need much light during this time.
Pinguicula grandiflora naturally thrive in areas with winter. If you live in USDA zone 7 or below, mulch the plant before the cold season. If you live in the higher zones you can leave the plant outdoors as is.
There is debate on how much heat p. grandiflora can handle. Some people leave their pings in 85 F (30 C) or even at 90 F. But most p. grandiflora should be partially shaded when the temperature climbs up to 85 F.
If you are not sure, check the care instructions that came with your plant. If nothing is mentioned, set 80-85 F as the maximum. Once the temperature goes past that, partial shade is required.
You do not always have to keep an eye on the temperature. To make things simple, leave your butterworts under full sunlight in the morning then shade it in the afternoon.
Keep the plant in medium to high humidity. At least 50% is ideal, but a higher number is even better. If the plant grows in ideal temperature and gets water, its humidity should be enough.
Because pinguicula grandiflora are outdoor plants, you have limited control over humidity. What you can do is keep the plant in standing water. The water increases moisture around the plant, upping the humidity level naturally.
During spring and summer, make certain the soil is as damp as possible. P. grandiflora have a hard time in warm conditions especially at night. While most focus on daytime heat, very warm nights can be fatal to these plants.
This is where a higher humidity becomes important. By leaving it in a tray of water, you can keep the humidity at the optimum level no matter how hot it gets.
Nutrition and Feeding
The feeding habits of p. grandiflora are similar to Mexican butterworts. They need to eat a bug or two at least every 2-3 weeks.
Indoor tropical butterworts are often fed fish beta pellets, flakes or freeze dried worms. There is no need to do that with this pinguicula since it grows outdoors. If you leave it in your garden, insects and all kinds of bugs will come to it naturally.
If you see bugs trapped in its leaves, your pinguicula is eating well and is healthy. Do not overfeed your butterworts because it is harmful. You should only feed an outdoor pinguicula if it is unable to catch prey. Otherwise, the plant will have more than enough food. If the plant is not getting enough nutrients, we recommend Soil Sunrise Carnivorous Plant Food as a supplement.
Pinguicula grandiflora goes dormant in winter for 3-5 months. Some variants begin shedding leaves in early fall and form a nestling bud in the winter.
When winter ends, the plant comes back to life again and its flowers bloom in April to May. Here is a guide on how to pollinate pinguicula if you are interested.
These plants require very little water during dormancy. Do not be surprised if the plant looks sick, it is normal. As its leaves drop, the plant will slow down and eventually stop eating. Just wait for it to reemerge in spring and it will start to produce leaves again.
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.