Frequently Asked Questions
Growing Carnivorous Plants
What are carnivorous plants?
Carnivorous plants are a small subset of plants that have developed various mechanisms to trap and digest animal prey for their nutrients. They are found across the world on every continent except for Antarctica, South Africa has nearly 50 species of carnivorous plant! They typically live in nutrient-poor soils and use carnivory to gather some essential nutrients needed for growth.
Are carnivorous plants difficult to grow?
Not at all! Carnivorous plants are painted as “exotic tricky” plants, but for the most part they are straightforward and easy to grow. All you need is bright light, clean water, and the right soils. Once those basic needs are met they often grow out of control! Most of them do not need to be grown in terrariums or with lots of humidity, in fact the beginner-friendly species enjoy being stuck right in the sun outside with lots of airflow.
Which carnivorous plants are beginner friendly?
Out of all the carnivorous plants, a few stand out as exceptionally easy beginner plants:
- Cape sundews – A local sundew species, the Cape Sundew is hardy, grows fast, and can recover from almost any problem. Keep it sunny and wet and it’ll grow wonderfully.
- Tropical pitchers – Nepenthes are gorgeous vining pitcher plants found through a variety of tropical forests and mountains, but many of them are easy to grow! Selected hybrids like those produced by Pan’s Carnivores are hardy, vigorous, and a great option for beginners.
- Venus flytraps – All flytraps are the same species Dionaea muscipula and bred into the different cultivars you see today. They are happy to grow in the sun while kept moist, and kept a little drier during winter dormancy.
- Trumpet pitchers – Sarracenia are hardy North American pitcher plants known for their beauty and ferocious appetite. They are hardy and grow well outdoors. Like flytraps, they have a winter dormancy
For more information about these wonderful plants check out our care sheets. A collection of strong beginner plants is available in the shop.
What soil do I need for carnivorous plants?
Wild carnivorous plants grow in nutrient poor soils, which we must replicate to grow them at home. Potting soil and compost is too rich and will burn their roots, killing the plant. For best success sphagnum peat moss or long fibre sphagnum moss must be used. Make sure to buy plain peat or moss without any added fertilisers or pH balancing, as those can burn and kill the plants. Peat moss or sphagnum moss can be mixed with sand, perlite, or Japanese clays (akadama, pumice, kanuma) for grit, aeration, and drainage.
Coco-peat must be avoided, unlike acidic sphagnum peat which is a naturally decomposed sphagnum moss, coco peat is milled or chipped coconut tree husk and is often full of salts that are harmful to carnivorous plants. It is not recommended for use as it is difficult to safely prepare for carnivorous plants and can lead to death of your plants.
For more information on plant-specific mixes please read our care sheets. Our Carnivorous plant mix can be purchased here and is free of any harmful components
What water do I need for carnivorous plants?
Most carnivorous plants can be grown in shallow trays of water to keep the soil wet, while Tropical pitchers prefer top watering when the soil starts drying.
How much light do carnivorous plants need?
Carnivorous plants can be grown under artificial lighting but it is not as easy as growing under natural lighting.
For more specific information please read our care sheets
How does dormancy work? (Flytraps and Trumpet pitchers)
When a plant is dormant it must be given less water, just enough to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged otherwise they can rot.
For more advanced information please visit our dormancy guide
How do I feed carnivorous plants?
Feeding is not essential for carnivorous plants to survive and they can often catch their own fill. Please read the fertilizing guide for more in-depth information.