Carnivorous plants are some of the most interesting plants to grow indoors. The fact that they eat bugs is just so strange to those of us who are used to growing more typically fertilizer eating plants. If you want to start growing carnivorous plants, then the sundew is one of the best to start with.
So, can you grow sundews indoors? Absolutely. Sundews are the best carnivorous plants for beginners due to how easily they can be kept indoors. Whether you plan to use a sunny window or artificial grow lights, sundews are considered practically unkillable by some who had concerns about learning how to grow them. For more indoor carnivorous plants, read here.
Sundews, unlike other varieties of carnivorous plants, the Venus Fly Trap, for example, use tentacles, not the traditional traps or pitchers used by Pitcher plants. They get their name from the little sticky traps at the end of their tentacles that look like dew glistening in the sun.
Caring for a Sundew
Sundew plants, like other carnivorous plants, grow in nitrogen light soil out in nature. Typically found in areas that are wet and humid, the Sundew plant gets most of its nitrogen nutrients from the insects it traps and consumes. This allows the sundew to flourish where other plants struggle, but it also means that the sundew will struggle where other plants flourish.
Because of this, caring for a sundew comes with a learning curve. Hopefully in this article I will be able to help you along that learning curve.
Consider the Species of Sundew You Have
There are over 90 different species of Sundew, so each one may have variances on things like temperature. Make sure to do some research on the specific species you have or plan to get so you can be sure to fine tune their environment to their individual needs. The cool thing about there being so many different varieties is they can look so different from each other as well.
One of the biggest things to take into consideration though, when looking into different varieties of Sundew plants are things like longevity and dormancy. Some Sundew plants only live for a season, drop their seeds and die, while others can live for a year or more and never even go dormant.
Soil Requirements for Sundews
The Sundew needs very little nitrogen in the soil, so there is little need for plant food to a Sundew. Using a mix of peat moss and sand gives your Sundew an environment closer to what they would experience in nature.
You can also purchase a prepared soil mixture from places like Amazon. This will help take the guesswork out of making sure that you have the right measurements of one type or the other. You can also purchase different kinds of mixtures to make sure you have what is required for your specific species of Sundew.
Water Requirements for Sundews
A Sundew lives in wetlands in nature, so will need this as well when potted indoors. Due to their natural habitat, there really isn’t such a thing as having too wet of soil.
There are two approaches to watering a sundew:
- Pour water into the top of the pot when watering. Make sure the soil never dries out and stays moist without becoming completely saturated.
- Set the pot into a saucer of water. Keep roughly an inch of water in the saucer to ensure the Sundew has enough.
Due to the nature of Sundew, they cannot be watered with either tap water or well water. Both sources contain chemicals that can burn the roots of a Sundew plant. You can either use rainwater (or melted, room temperature snow in the winter), or you can use distilled water to make sure that they get their water needs fulfilled.
Nutrient Requirements of Sundews
There are a couple of different ways to ensure that a Sundew gets the nutrients that it requires.
Bugs. Whether you decide to go with dead bugs around your home or buy wingless fruit flies from a pet store, you do not need to feed much. They only need to each a couple of bugs per month and small ones at that. Alternatively, you can leave your plant where you have fruit flies or gnats in your home, and the Sundew will make quick work of helping to eliminate them.
Dried bugs. You can use things like freeze dried mealworms or bloodworms to feed your Sundew as well. If you’re going to use freeze-dried mealworms, it’s best to powder them or crush them up before you sprinkle them on the leaves of the Sundew plant. Over the next few hours your Sundew will curl up the leaf to be able to digest the powder.
Fish Flakes. Sundew plants can live on high quality fish flakes as well. Just make sure to read the ingredients before use to make sure that it doesn’t contain a high amount of things like corn, soy, or wheat. As with the dried bugs, you just need to crush up the flakes and sprinkle their leaves with the resulting powder.
Fertilizer. Using fertilizer is not recommended, but it can be used as a last resort method to feed. Chances are you will never have to use this method, and we hope you don’t!
Using 1 part organic fertilizer to 3 parts water, assuming that what you buy is ready to use. If, for example, the directions call for mixing the fertilizer with 5 parts water, then you are going to want to triple that amount and go with 15 parts water to make sure it is sufficiently weakened. Do not use more than once a month.
Lighting for a Sundew
When keeping a sundew plant indoors, you are going to want to use either a sunny window that provides at least six hours of direct sunlight per day or grow lights. By using LED grow lights, you have the advantage of providing the necessary light spectrum needed if you don’t have a window that will provide direct sunlight or the required amount per day.
LED lights are recommended over other types of artificial lights for a couple of reasons. First, there is the cost, LEDs cost less on an ongoing basis than other types of lights. The other is heat, LEDs do not produce any, so you do not have to worry about your plants leaves getting burned by the heat.
You can use a timer if you are busy or know that you will likely forget to turn off the lights. This would ensure that your Sundew is getting the required amount of light it needs per day. While a day or two that is missed won’t do any major damage, it won’t help it either, and going too long in the dark can kill it. Even carnivorous plants use photosynthesis to produce energy, which they need to digest food.
A few other things to keep in mind when growing sundew plants indoors are things like temperature and humidity. Some sundew plants require a higher humidity than is normally found in the typical home, so you may want to use a terrarium type setup. Temperature is also something to keep in mind when considering how and where to keep your sundew plant.
Under no circumstances should you ever feed any type of carnivorous plant actual meat, raw or otherwise because it will kill the plant. Carnivorous plants should only be fed things like I have listed. You can feed bugs either dead or alive, though a sundew does need them smaller than more carnivorous types. You can also feed dried bugs that have been crushed into a powder.
Some types of sundew plants have a period of dormancy and need to go through it to stay healthy. If your type of sundew needs to go dormant for some time, you will need to try and replicate the conditions to enable it to successfully go dormant. This may mean temperature or or watering changes.
Do not attempt to feed a sick plant. If your plant is not at peak health, trying to feed it will cause it to retain the dead bug but not digest it. It will rot and mold and kill the leaf, if not the entire plant. Make sure your plant is healthy and thriving before attempting to try to feed it.
As you can see, growing sundews indoors isn’t so hard once you know the basics!