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If you own a Venus flytrap or know someone who does, one of the first things you probably learned is you should not let it flower because this weakens the plant. But does this rule apply to sundews as well? Should you stop the plant from flowering? While they are both carnivorous plannts, the flowering mechanisms differ.
You can let sundews flower because it will not harm the plant. Unlike Venus flytraps, sundews can flower and produce dew at the same time without weakening.
Flowering Sundews Pros and Cons
While sundews are best known for trapping and eating insects, they do flower like most other plants. As to whether you should let sundews flower, it depends on what you want from the plant.
- Let sundews flower if you want to propagate. You can gather their seeds and grow more sundews.
- Do not let sundew flower if you are only interested in their traps.
Sundews use energy to flower, but unlike Venus flytraps the process does not drain them. Healthy sundews are capable of blooming and producing dew for their traps at the same time.
For this to happen, sundews must get plenty of light as well as nutrients from flies,, mosquitoes and other prey. If there are not enough insects for your sundew, you can give them fish food or freeze dried mealworms. You can give your plant Blue Ridge Fish Food Pellets for instance, as it provides the nutrients these plants need.
If you cut the flower stalks, sundews will be able to conserve some energy for production of mucilage, the dew-like substance found on the tips of its tentacles. You can cut the flower stalks if the sundew blooms several times.
The best solution? Allow your sundew to bloom but limit it to one flower talk. A single stalk yields a lot of seeds so you can propagate the plant. Cut off any other flower stalks that appear as it will use a lot of resources.
Flowering does not weaken sundews, but too many flower stalks will drain its resources. And there is no point in growing multiple flower stalks as each one generates lots of seeds.
Another reason to cut flower stalks is space. Sundews with several blooming flowers can take up a lot of room. So if you are only interested in their traps and not in propagation, just cut off the stalks. And as pointed out earlier, you can also collect seeds and then remove the flower stalks.
How to Cut Sundew Flower Stalks
So you have decided to get rid of the flower stalks. Maybe you just want the traps or have gathered the seeds already. But how do you safely cut off the stalks without harming your sundew?
To safely cut sundew flower stalks, do the following.
- Get a sharp pair of scissors. Never use dull scissors because it would need multiple cuts that could damage the plant. We suggest Gonicc Pruning Shears as it allows you to cut stalks, stems and vines with one snip.
- Cut the flower stalk, careful not to include any leaves. The sooner you cut the stalks the better. So before you buy sundews, decide if you will let it flower or not.
- If you want to grow more sundews, collect the seeds before disposing of the stalk.
Repeat these steps for all flowering stalks on the sundews. Depending on the variant there might be one or several stalks growing,
Cutting flower stalks does not hurt the plant. However it does not bring much benefit either when it comes to boosting dew production.
Flowering weakens Venus flytraps, which is why you should always cut the stalk before they bloom. Cutting the stalk allows Venus flytraps to save their energy to produce more traps.
Venus flytraps use a lot of resources to lure, trap and digest insects. They cannot photosynthesize while digesting so their resources are limited. Flowering just strains them even more and could even kill the plant.
With sundews it is different. They do use energy to generate their traps. However flowering does not affect them negatively. With enough light, water and proper soil, sundews can flower and generate traps at the same time.
As long as your sundews are healthy and receive enough nutrients and sunlight, flowering will not cause any problems. If the plant is not producing dew, then it is suffering from an infection or other condition.
Of course too many flowering stalks will deplete the plant resources at some point, which is why you should limit to one flowering stalk per sundew.
How Often Do Sundews Flower?
Sundews take 1-4 weeks to flower. Most do not go into dormancy (but some do) so they can bloom for the entire 12 months. Each stalk can yield several flowers and seeds, great if you want to propagate and grow more of them.
These plants have pollinators and can also self pollinate. You can do your part by gathering the seeds and planting them. Flower production depends on several factors such as the drosera variant, environment, nutrients and other factors.
Sundews are easy to grow but flowering depends mainly on its condition. The more optimized the growth environment, the greater the chance for more flowers and traps. The most important factors are the soil, light, water and nutrients.
Soil. Whether you want more flowers or traps, it will require the proper soil. The standard used for carnivorous plants is 1 part perlite and 1 part peat moss. That is going to work with sundews and Venus flytraps. You may also try sphagnum moss and other materials as long as they are not fertilized.
Light. Sundews need at least 6 hours of light, though 8-12 hours is better. Natural light is ideal though artificial lighting will also work. If your sundews are outdoors they will receive all the light they need to flower. If indoors, just place the pot on a window where light is available.
Water. The easiest way is the tray method. Get a plastic tray large enough for your sundews and fill it with water. For a 10 inch container you can pour 2-3 inches of water. Sundews love water and will thrive in this type of environment.
The container will absorb the water. Replenish the water when the level drops. You can water sundews from the top, but the tray method is easier.
Tips on Growing Seeds From Sundew Flowers
Keep in mind you do not need a lot of flower stalks to collect seeds. A single flower stalk should generate enough seeds for propagation.
Wait for the flower stalk to be filled with seeds. Eventually the flower will wither and you can harvest the seeds. This takes time and you cannot hurry the process.
Once you have gathered the seeds, it is time to cultivate them. The process is the same as with any sundews. Plant the seeds in 1:1: peat moss and perlite. Use the water tray method and make sure it gets 8-12 hours of sunlight.
The most important thing right now is to be patient. It might seem like nothing is happening, but give the seeds time and they will grow.
Some other reminders.
- Use sphagnum moss and silica sand sand if perlite and peat moss are unavailable. The ratio should be 1:1. You can try other ratios later, but for beginners 1:1 is the best.
- Natural light is best for seeds, but artificial lighting is acceptable. They must be on for 16 hours a day.
- Use only distilled, reverse osmosis or rainwater for sundews. Spring water is fine too.
- Do not poke the soil or dig it up to see if there is something wrong with the seeds. Just give it time.
- Do not feed the sundews until they are ready. You can tell by the emergence of dew on the tips of their tentacles.
- Once the seeds have started to grow, they should attract insects. No need to feed them if they are getting plenty of nutrients on their own. If not, you can give them live, dead or freeze dried bugs or mealworms.
Flowering requires energy but sundews have enough, and they do not have to sacrifice dew production in the process. The key is to ensure your sundews are healthy enough for flowering.
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.