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Pinguicula moranensis is one of the most widely known butterworts. It is easy to care for and also produces strikingly beautiful flowers. Naturally found in Guatemala and Mexico, these carnivorous plants are ideal for anyone who wants to learn how to nurture butterworts.
Pinguicula moranensis needs full sunlight with temperature between 55-85 F. The plant grows in low to mid humidity but can handle higher levels with sufficient air flow. Feed with insects every 2-3 weeks and soil should be nutrition free.
Pinguicula Moranensis Care Sheet
|Soil||1:1 peat and perlite, damp soil|
|Water||Spring, distilled, rainwater|
|Light||Full light if temperature is 85 F (29.4 C) or lower, 6-8 hours|
|Food||Mealworms, fish food, flies and small bugs|
|Temperature||55-85 F (12.7-29.4 C)|
|Dormancy||No, but its carnivorous leaves are replaced by a non-carnivorous rosette|
Just like other Mexican butterworts, p. moranensis only grows in poor soil. A 50/50 mix of perlite and peat moss is ideal. Keep the soil moist especially during spring and summer.
There are other potting media options:
- 2 parts perlite and 1 part sphagnum moss
- 1 part perlite, 1 part sand, 2 parts peat moss
- Pure sphagnum moss
- 1 part sphagnum moss, 1 part sand
If you are a beginner, the best approach is to buy a prepackaged soil mix like Birch Seed Soils. It makes preparation easier and you do not have to figure out the mix ratio. If you have experience growing butterworts, you can buy the materials separately and fine tune the soil.
Buy only potting media labeled safe for carnivorous plants. Never use rich soil and do not fertilize it. Doing so could cause irreparable damage.
When feeding butterworts, be careful not to let any food spill over to the soil. Wash with water immediately if it that happens. Too many spillover food could enrich the soil, which is bad for p. moranensis.
Small and medium sized p. moranensis range from 1-2 inches so a 3-4 inch pot is enough. Mature pinguicula moranensis however, produce large rosettes in the summer, up to 8 inches in diameter or more. It is all right to start with small containers, but you may need to repot as the plant grows.
You can use any type of pot as long as it is large enough. Drainage holes are important to keep the roots healthy.
Get a tall container if you are going to use the tray method. A short pot makes the plant vulnerable to excessive moisture. If you water from the top, a container with average height will do.
As your pinguicula grows, its roots will slightly lengthen too. However, butterworts generally have small, flimsy roots so repotting may not be necessary.
Pinguicula moranensis requires 6-8 hours of sunlight. Full light is ideal but only if the temperature is at 85 F (29.4 C) or lower.
Some butterworts prefer full light but others do better under partial. In their natural habitat, p. moranensis are exposed to full light. You should try to replicate this but again, make sure the temperature is not too high.
P. moranensis is a sun loving and prefers a warm environment. Under ideal conditions you can leave the plant outdoors – or indoors by a window – all day. But if it gets too hot you have to keep the plant under partial shade.
Note that we say partial, not full shade. All butterworts need partial to full light to keep growing. Without sunlight, these plants will not be able to create their own food. Nutrition from insects is not enough as light is required for their survival.
Artificial lighting. P. moranensis responds well to artificial light, making it ideal for indoor cultivation. GE Grow LED Light Bulbs are perfect for this. Place the light at least 12 inches from the plant and leave it on for several hours.
A high intensity light set up is ideal to simulate the sun. Keep the light on for as many hours as the plant would get from natural sunlight. When using artificial lights, you have to maintain the natural rhythm and of the plant. Leaving the light on for too long or too short could disrupt its patterns and affect growth.
Water pinguicula moranensis until the soil is moistened. Repeat when the soil shows signs of dryness. During winter the soil only needs very little water.
There are two ways to water Mexican butterworts: from the top or the bottom.
Water from the top. Watering from the top is the traditional way. Use a spray bottle and sprinkle just enough to get the potting media moist.
During winter, p. moranensis replaces its carnivorous leaves with non-carnivorous succulents. Here you should let the soil go dry before watering again. Do this only once the rosette starts building up in winter.
Do not water directly over the rosette, but rather around it. This will allow the water to seep into the soil instead of gathering in the leaves.
Water from the bottom. What you do here is place a potted p. moranensis on a tray filled with water. The water makes its way into the roots via the drainage hole. When the water dries up, you refill it.
This is quite convenient, but the risk is you could end up pouring too much water in the tray. It could overwhelm the plant and cause the roots to decay. If you want to use the tray method, use only a small amount of water. As long as the soil gets moist that is enough.
This is an another bone of contention among growers. Some insist the plant grows best in low humidity – around 20%-30%- but others say it has to be around 50%-80%.
Pinguicula moranensis will thrive in 50%-80% humidity if there is adequate air circulation. However it can also grow in low to medium humidity levels. With enough light and water the plant can and will grow under different conditions.
Humidity is important but not as much as light, temperature and water. If you are not sure, follow the humidity level instructions that came with your plant.
If it recommends 70%, that is what you should aim for. If the plant does not respond well, reduce the humidity or increase air circulation. Relocate the plant and see what happens. You can install a humidifier and set the humidity to precise levels.
Most p. moranensis flourish in 55-85 F (12.7-29.4 C). A few degrees higher or lower will not harm the plant especially if it eats regularly and receives sufficient amounts of light.
Just like pinguicula sethos, p. moranensis need little maintenance under optimum temperature. If you typically get 55-85 F in your area then the plant will do great. Leave it by a sunny window and it will get all the light and nutrients it needs.
The only thing you have to do is water it. Healthy Mexican butterworts can handle 90 F temperature for brief periods. But you should shade the plant in case of intense heat.
Too much heat will burn its leaves and dry the mucus. To balance the need for sunlight and heat protection, you can leave the plant under full sun in the morning then place it under partial cover during the hottest part of the day.
Nutrition and Feeding
Butterworts are very easy to feed. In fact you probably do not have to as they can take care of this by themselves.
Young p. moranensis may not be strong enough to catch bugs, so feed bugs and mealworms every 2-3 weeks. As the plant grows, it will secrete mucus on its leaves and attract prey. At this point you do not have to feed it anymore. Insects like gnats will come to the plant and provide the nourishment it needs.
The only exception is if your butterworts cannot find prey. If the plant is always indoors for instance you have to provide its food.
P. moranensis does not actually go dormant, at least not like other plants. While other plants form a hibernacula or bud, these butterworts drop their carnivorous leaves and grow succulents.
These succulent leaves are not carnivorous so the plant does not eat during winter. As the cold season ends, it will slowly discard the succulents and grow carnivorous leaves again.
If you are looking for a carnivorous plant that also blooms lovely flowers, p. moranensis is a good choice. When you learn its basic requirements – and they are not much- you will understand why it is the most popular pinguicula.
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.