Drosera - Sundews

These beguiling little jewels use tentacles with an adhesive "dew" to ensnare small insects such as gnats, fruit flies, and sometimes mosquitos! Sundews glitter with often ruby-red hues and make it worth getting on your knees for a closer look. Some are winter hardy, others are tropical. Hundreds of species exist in many countries. Most are easy to grow and the tropical ones are fun terrarium subjects. The outdoor types can form enchanting, glistening carpets in the bog garden.

Hardy Sundews

D. filiformis is known as the thread leaf sundew for its tall, slender foliage (photo). Ours is a N.Carolina race with red tentacles and pinkish flowers. New leaves unfurl like fiddle heads. Forms dormant buds that are winter hardy from about zone 7 and warmer. North of Virginia, it may not survive unless protected. Plants can reach about 7 inches high, slightly more with the flower stalk. Needs a cold dormancy , do not grow as a tropical.

D. intermedia has spoon-shaped leaves up to two inches long (photo). This species is a native wildflower and is probably the best for colder climates. During the winter, small dormant buds replace the leaves, do not throw the plant away if it appears to vanish in the late fall or in winter! In late spring, mounded rosettes display small white flowers. D. intermedia has proven to be the best "red carpet" sundew in our bogs.

Hardy Sundew care sheet

Tropical Sundews 

D. adelae grows in partially shaded Australian wetlands, often under trees. Our best looking plants are in a terrarium with 50% Gro-Lux and 50% cool white fluorescent lights. This tank is in my office. The sundews are 5-8 inches below the lights, below a vented cover pane of glass. They are fantastic! (photo) Long, pointed tongue-shaped leaves can reach 6 inches or more making the entire plant capable of growing a foot or more across! Our strain gets very red under good light and likes cool temperatures near 55-80° F (care sheet). The flowers are inconspicuous stars in brown-pink and green. New plants often form along the roots. Though tropical, keep the plants away from full sun and hot conditions. Partly shaded windowsill terrariums or cool greenhouse locations also work well.

D. binata var. multifida 'Extrema' has branched, forked leaves that are reminiscent of stag horn ferns in the way the leaves almost "flow" downward. Each leaf can reach about a foot long and their weeping habit makes this a choice plant for hanging baskets in the greenhouse. Full-grown plants can be quite the small fly snare. A tropical Australian plant, it prefers temperatures between 55-80° F, and bright indirect sun. Once in a while, small white flowers can appear. Essentially evergreen, with no noticeable dormancy unless stress or heat induced (care sheet). This cultivar is too big for terrariums unless they are very large(10 or more gallons.)

D. capensis is a tropical from Africa. One of the larger sundews, it can reach 4-6 inches tall with strap-like leaves and pretty fuchsia-colored flowers (photo). This plant makes a fine terrarium addition and they can be grown under artificial light, provided it is cool, such as fluorescent lighting (care sheet).

Pygmy Sundews

There's always room for pygmy sundews! A whole colony can live in a brandy snifter. We offer two species which form gemmae, tiny disc-like structures that behave like seeds. Kept moist and on the surface of sand/peat, these gemmae will sprout into little plants. Pygmy sundews are tropical, from Australia, and make good terrarium plants, thriving at normal household temperatures. Like other sundews, humidity must be provided. We have been pleased with how easy these plants are to grow. We send plants complete with instructions. (Care Sheet).

D. dichrosepala forms small spoon shaped green leaves with red tentacles and small white flowers, occasionally with a thin green stripe on the petals. This species eventually forms a thin stalk with the leaves reflexed downwards. It is one of the larger pygmy sundews, reaching perhaps an inch or two tall, about 3/4-1 inch wide.

D. occidentalis var. australis, such a big name for so tiny a plant. One of the smallest sundews; most of the plants we have grown have been about 3/4 inch in diameter. The tentacles have a pretty purplish-red hue and form round balls at the leaf's end. Like many sundews, this one can form carpets of many tightly-packed plants. The flowers are salmon pink (photo).

D. palacea trichocaulis has tiny, silvery-green hairs in the crown, creating a fuzzy look. The plants are about 3/8-1/2 inch across and develop a short stem to about an inch (photo). Numerous, 1/8 inch, white flowers appear on a threadlike stem. When this species forms gemmae, it caps the crown with tightly-packed, pea-like gemmae. These make to plant the plant look almost like a miniature, flat-topped Broccoli! Remove the gemmae (to plant) and expose the tufts of silvery hairs on top.

D. pulchella one of the prettiest miniature sundews, with bright pink flowers. Plants reach about an inch in diameter. This one has wide, green leaf stems (petioles) leading to orange-red, circular leaves. Forms flat rosettes (photo).

D. pygmaea quite earns its name, the entire plant seldom exceeds one inch in diameter. Deep red tentacles nicely offset the green petioles, (photo). Small pale flowers are often produced on short 1-3 inch stems.

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