Why, When, and How to Harvest Cape Sundew Seeds

how to harvest cape sundew seeds

If you’re interested in growing cape sundew seeds, then you’ve probably already been researching this beautiful carnivorous plant. Sundews are gorgeous plants that resemble their famous carnivorous cousins, the Venus flytrap. Like a Venus flytrap, your sundew survives by catching and eating bugs.

So, how and when do you harvest cape sundew seeds? Sundews open a scape of flowers as they mature, with one flower opening each day as the sundews reach maturity. When you notice that happening, it’s time to harvest your sundew seeds. You can harvest early by cutting the stalk off. Then fold the stalk inside a piece of paper. Give the stem a couple of weeks to dry out and unwrap it from the paper to collect your seeds. 

Since there isn’t a lot of information available on the Internet today about harvesting cape sundew seeds, I’ve put together this guide to help you learn about sundews. I will cover some necessary information about sundews, including how and when to harvest them. 

Harvesting Sundew Seeds

People that enjoy growing sundews often find that the most intrinsically rewarding part of the growing process is sharing seeds with other growers who also want to take care of these beautiful plants. 

Sundews are amazingly beautiful plants, and their predatory attributes naturally attract many growers. 

If you are a newbie to harvesting your sundew seeds, you’ll probably find that it’s fascinating to collect your first set of sundew seeds. 

Sundew seeds are excellent to have on you when you want to make trades with other growers and obtain different types of carnivorous plants. You’ll find most other growers will be happy to trade for your sundew seeds because these plants are so fashionable and attractive.

Getting seeds from your sundew plant does have a bit of a learning curve. While it’ll take some time to get used to collecting the seeds from your sundew plant, the good news is that once you learn how to harvest seeds from your sundew, the entire process becomes effortless. 

So, if you’re wondering how to collect your sundew seeds and you also don’t know much about the right time to collect the seeds, don’t worry. We’ll be covering all of that material below so that you’ll know exactly when to harvest your sundew seeds, and how to collect them. 

Inspiring Your Sundew to Flower

The first thing you’ll need to work on when you want to collect seeds from your sundew plant is getting your plant to make those seeds. Your sundew must flower to create the seeds you want. So, the first step in this process is to encourage your sundew plant to flower.

It took me some time to learn how to control the flowering of my sundew plants. There is a general rule of thumb when it comes to getting your sundew plant to flower. 

Flowering on a sundew plant is mainly influenced by the amount of food your plant can catch and eat. So, to increase the number of flowers you see on your sundews, which also means more seeds, you’ll need to work on feeding your plant.

Also, if you are growing your sundews indoors, then you know the plant won’t be able to catch much food indoors. However, whether you are growing your sundew plant indoors or outdoors, you’ll need to figure out how to get your plant a decent amount of food if you want it to flower and produce ample amounts of seeds.

Feeding your sundew plant yourself will help speed up your plant’s growth and also make the flowering process more efficient. Even more impressive, by feeding the plant yourself, you’ll increase the number of seeds and the seed sizes if you feed the plant yourself.

Feeding Your Sundew to Promote Flowering and Seeds

So, how do you capitalize on collecting seeds from your sundew plant and boost your sundew’s ability to flower? We’ve got information on the type of food you can use and how to feed your sundew plant so that you increase the number of seeds your plant makes.

Some species of sundew plants need to catch and eat food to grow larger continually. Some species of sundews, like the D. Regia, actually get smaller if they aren’t regularly eating. However, some other species of sundews are very good at keeping their size after they’ve become mature. Still, many species of sundews need to be fed continually, or they will die.

So, if you are planning on feeding your sundew plant on your own, you’ll need to know the type of food you can use. We’ve got the kind of food you can feed your sundew plant listed below.

  • Betta fish food. We highly recommend getting some betta fish food pellets from your local pet store and crushing them up. We’ve had some of the best seed results from our sundew plants using beta fish food pellets that we’ve crushed up.
  • Bloodworms. You can get freeze-dried or frozen bloodworms at most pet stores.
  • Fruit flies can also be purchased at your local pet store. You should buy wingless fruit flies for the best results.
  • Fungus gnats. These are another type of food option for your sundew plant. However, they will be hard for your plant to catch, so they aren’t our favorite recommendation.
  • Orchid Fertilizer. You can also dilute orchid fertilizer, but do not use Miracle-Gro because it’s not useful for this type of carnivorous plant’s seed collecting process. While some sundew growers recommend using this process, we haven’t had a lot of luck with this process. However, growers that use this process say it takes some time and experimenting with different fertilizers to get this process right.
  • Small insects. Any small insects you can catch, like ants, crickets, or spiders, you can feed to your plant. However, make sure you kill the ants or the more significant bugs before you feed them to your plant. If you don’t kill the insects, they might escape from your plant’s trap.

Blending Food

While you can use any of these types of foods to feed your sundew plant or a combination of them, we do recommend mixing at least a few of these different food sources. One excellent method is to blend the foods before you feed them to your sundew.

For instance, you can blend some bloodworms, fish food, and fruit flies so that your sundew plant gets more diversity in its diet. It’s not necessarily required that you have a lot of variety when you feed your sundew plant. For instance, I’ve fed my sundews crushed beta fished food only effectively for years to help them flower and produce seeds, and I’ve never had a problem.

However, if you are worried about your sundews having a more diverse diet, then blend a few food options when you feed your plant. The choice is really up to you.

Food to Avoid Feeding Your Sundew

Now that we’ve given you recommendations about what types of food you should feed your sundew, we’ll cover what you should avoid feeding to your sundew. So, make sure you never feed your plant:

  • Meat and steak. Stay away from feeding your plant pieces of meat or steak. While it might sound beneficial to feed your predatory plant pieces of meat out of your fridge, the type of meat you eat doesn’t have the same nutrients in them as insects.
  • Large pieces of food. Don’t feed your plant oversized pieces of food. Oversized pieces of food can damage your plant’s leaf severely if it attempts to digest too large of a portion.
  • Miracle-Gro. Avoid Miracle-Gro or a fertilizer like it that features high concentrations because that can damage your sundew as well. You should also avoid fertilizing the soil in your sundew’s pot because sundews don’t do well with these types of fertilizer, even if you dilute it.

How Much to Feed Your Sundew

When you get ready to feed your sundew plant, you’ll also need to know how much to feed your plant. Most species of sundew plants can only digest smaller portions of food at a time. If you feed your sundew plant too much initially, the leaves of the plant can burn, which causes the plant to die.

Since you don’t want your plant to burn its leaves or die, you’ll need to crush the food you feed your plant up into a powder. That’s especially true if you are feeding your plant fish or blood worms. You can crush up your plant food by using a rolling pin or a grinder to make the food more comfortable for your sundew to digest.

Another thing to factor in when you feed your sundew is the size of your plant. If you have a larger sundew plant that’s mature, it can eat a lot more than a smaller, younger plant. However, the best way to figure out how much food to feed your sundew plant is to start small and work your way up.

Don’t Overfeed Your Sundew

You want to make sure your sundew is getting all the food it needs to make as many seeds as possible later on. However, you can overfeed your sundew. If you give your sundew too giant of food portions, your plant’s leaves will burn, or you’ll wind up with mould on your plant. If your plant gets mould on its blade, the mould can destroy the foliage and even eventually kill your plant.

You also need to be careful of where you place the food when you feed your sundew plant. If you wind up dropping food onto the plant’s soil, you’ll need to remove as much of that food as possible. Mould will likely form if you don’t remove the dropped food.

So, it’s a good idea to do all you can to avoid dropping food on the soil of your plant. Some growers even cover the lower areas of their plants and the soil with a towel or cloth before feeding so that any dropped food won’t lead to mold. You can also plan to flush your pots occasionally so that the mould won’t build up in your pots.

Feeding Techniques for Sundews in Humidity

You’ll also need to factor in the climate where you live when you are trying to figure out how much to feed your sundews. Climate can affect how sundews eat and also what they should eat. For example, if you’re feeding sundews in a high-humidity area, like in a terrarium, we have a few feeding techniques that will help you produce more seeds.

Freeze-dried or frozen bloodworms are excellent sources of food for sundew plants growing in terrariums or more humid climates. That’s because you are likely to experience far fewer problems with mould if you use bloodworms in moist conditions.

  1. Crush the bloodworms and mix them with a small amount of water until it looks like you’ve created a soup.
  2. Place the soup in an eyedropper and then apply that soup to the leaves every two weeks. Drop on two drops per leaf on each leaf of the plant.
  3. By putting the soup in an eyedropper and placing it right onto the leaves, the plant directly absorbs the food quickly and easily.
  4. Also, you are reducing your risk for mould because you’ll be dropping the food directly onto the leaves.

Feeding Techniques for Mature Sundews

If you’re feeding medium-sized sundews or fully mature sundews, you can also use the fish food Betta Bites as long as your sundews are growing outside. You can supply more substantial amounts of food to your plant if you use this method and are building your sundews outdoors in high humidity.

You’ll need to apply the food to the tentacles of the plant rather than the surface of the leaf if you use this method. That’s because sundews can’t curl over their food. Since sundews can’t bend over their food, if you make the mistake of putting too much food on the leaf, the feed will cake on the blade and mold. The plant may never digest the food.

To feed your sundews Betta Bites if you are growing your plants outdoors in high humidity, follow these steps.

  1. Grind up the food pellets until they make a finely ground powder. You can grind the food pellets up with a grinder, a rolling pin, a meat tenderizer, or whatever you have lying around the kitchen.
  2. Grab a cup. Add a one to one ration of powder and water. We recommend using distilled water and not tap water since distilled water is purified and safer for your sundew.
  3. Now, stir up that mixture until it looks like a soupy blend.
  4. Place the mixture into a clean eyedropper.
  5. Drop a bit of that mixture on your sundew. You can place this mixture on the leaf, but only in small amounts. Try to aim for the tentacles.
  6. If you notice the food clumping up when you put it on a leaf, suck the extra food back up into the eyedropper. Or, grab a tweezer and remove the clumps of the food from the plant.

As you are feeding your plant, you’ll need to keep stirring this mixture. Powdered Betta Bites tend to sink to the bottom of the eyedropper after a while, so you’ll need to shake up your eyedropper continuously.

Keep checking the consistency of the mixture inside of your eyedropper. You may need to add more water or powder as you go along.

Sometimes you’ll find you’ve used more water than powder when you feed the plant simply because the dust is too thick. If that happens, you’ll need to grind the powder up better and water it down more.

It might take some time and experimentation to get used to this process. However, once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll find ways to make this quick and efficient. Also, you’ll be delighted once your sundew starts to create seeds because all of this extra work and effort will be repaid when you start collecting those seeds.

The Sundew Flowering Process

Now that we’ve covered why you should feed your sundew consistently and how you should feed your plant to produce more seeds, we’ll cover the flowering process. Once you notice that your sundew plant is flowering, you’ll be approaching the time for the harvest season.

Sundew plants are considered to be “complete” and “perfect” plants in biology because these plants have both genders of reproductive organs. That means the same flower can produce seeds and self-pollinate itself. Sundew flowers have all four kinds of “whorls,” or flower structures:

  • Sepals
  • Petals
  • Carpels
  • Stamens

Once your sundews start to blossom, you’ll see the flowers begin to open. If your sundew only seems to be opening its flowers for short amounts of time, don’t worry. Sundews can open their flowers for a few minutes a day, and sometimes they’ll keep their flowers open all day long.

You shouldn’t be shocked if you missed seeing your sundew with open flowers. People often miss seeing their sundews flower. However, since you need to know that your sundew is blooming before collecting your seeds, how do you tell if your sundew is flowering if you can’t see any open flowers?

Checking on the Flowering Process

Luckily, you can check to see if your sundew is flowering when you’re not around, which is extremely likely. To check on your sundew and see if the flower has opened at all is to check the petals sticking out from the sepals. If you add some sunlight into the mix, you’ll get a good idea of what’s going on with your plant.

First, remember that the flowers on your sundew may never fully open. However, that’s not something you need to be concerned about because it’s quite common. Even if your sundew never fully opens its flowers, it will produce seeds. However, if the sundew doesn’t fully open its flowers, you might wind up getting fewer seeds than you could have. So, what do you do?

The best thing to do is to add some bright light intensity into the mix. You can also change the temperature and humidity factors around your plant to see if it has flowered.

By using bright lights, a warmer temperature, and a bit of humidity (even adding a humidifier around your plant if you don’t have other options), you’ll start seeing those flowers opening. They’ll also stay open for several hours and look beautiful.

The Sundew Pollination Process

Sundews are unique plants because they can self-pollinate. When this happens, the anthers on the plant rub over the stigmas. Then, the petals fold inside, and the flower closes. The pollen then moves through the style into the ovary. That process fertilizes many eggs that eventually create seeds.

Ripening Sundew Seeds

Your sundew seeds will start opening its flowers over one to three weeks once the plant begins flowering and producing seeds. The sundew will self-pollinate itself, or insects will pollinate the plant. After pollination takes place, the sundew will develop its seeds in its ovaries.

While the seeds are developing in the sundew’s ovaries, it takes time for the seeds to become ripe. If you live in an area that has a lot of humidity, it can bring about one to three months for the seeds to ripen. You can tell if your seeds are becoming ripe because the pods will become desiccated and start looking browner.

If you notice that the pods on your plant are starting to become brown, then you should be trying to determine if the seeds are ready to be harvested. As the plant dries, the protective barrier at the top of the bud will wither, and the seeds will start falling out.

Those seeds will start dispersing feely when the stalk is blown by the wind or hit with something else. However, you want to avoid your seeds getting blown around before you collect them or you’ll wind up losing a lot of seeds you would have desired to obtain otherwise.

Some growers wait for their sundew pods to turn utterly brown before collecting them. However, you can lose seeds that way. However, you can receive the seeds earlier if you’d like by cutting the stalks, keeping them wrapped in paper, and then letting the seeds dry out. 

How to Collect Sundew Seeds

Many sundews open several of their flowers at once. Sometimes, you’ll notice one flower opening each day or every few days. 

When you start seeing the flowers open on your sundew plant, you’ll need to remember that the flowers that open the earliest will be near maturity by the time the last flower opens. So, by knowing that the flowers that opened first are nearer maturity, you’ll know where to start when you want to harvest.

Now that you know which flowers to start with, how do you collect sundew seeds? We’ve got a few options for you below.

Option 1: Early Harvest

If you are worried about how many seeds you might lose if you wait too long to harvest your plant, then consider collecting the seeds early. Here are the steps:

  1. Once your flowers start to open, make sure you pay attention to the flowers that opened first. Then, wait until the plant has opened all of its flowers. By the time the plant has opened the last of its flowers, you know those flowers that were first opened are now mature.
  2. Cut the stalk only on the mature flowers of the plant.
  3. Wrap the stalk in a large piece of paper
  4. Let the stem dry out and leave it in the paper for several weeks.
  5. Once the stalk completely dries out, unwrap the piece of paper and collect your seeds.
  6. Repeat this process with each stalk as it matures.

Option 2: Harvest Dried Flower Buds

You can also harvest the dried flower buds to get the seeds. Here’s how you complete that process:

  1. Gently remove the dried flower buds that have ripe seeds in them from the plant. Remember, the dried flower buds will have a browner appearance.
  2. Leave the younger buds that aren’t brown and dried on the plant to open and ripen.
  3. After you remove the dried flower buds, you can store them as you see fit and remove their seeds.
  4. Be careful with this method because you can harm the flower stalks if you pull too hard on the plant.

Option 3: Flicking the Stalk to Harvest

Our favorite way to collect seeds from these plants is by flicking the stalk. Here’s what you do:

  1. Get a “hot dog” folded piece of standard-sized paper.
  2.  Put the flower stalk in the center of the paper and flick the stalk carefully. Make sure the paper is underneath the stem, so you catch the seeds.
  3. You may need to adjust your paper to catch the seeds more effectively.

We prefer this method for collecting seeds because you won’t be harming the flower stalk at all. Also, you’ll be able to obtain nearly all the seeds this way, and your plant will stay healthy and happy.