How to Care for Tropical Carnivorous Plants in Winter

Hey friends! A few of you asked me about keeping your tropical carnivores happy in winter, so in this post, I’m going over some tips to help that happen. There are just three simple ideas I want you to keep in mind, all of which I’ll go into detail below. They are:

  1. Don’t fear cool temperatures! 
  2. Keep the humidity up!
  3. Keep the light bright! 

Keep these three points in mind, and you will have happy tropical carnivorous plants that didn’t know winter existed. Let’s dig into them!

Heliamphora. Sun pitcher carnivorous plant.

#1: Don’t fear cool temperatures!

Many tropical and subtropical carnivorous plants remain perfectly happy if temperatures dip into the high 40s and 50s F (around 10 C). Highland Nepenthes, tropical and subtropical sundews, Heliamphora, and Cephalotus all appreciate cool night time temperatures.

Growers who live in Zone 8 or above (check this link to find your zone!) can possibly keep their tropical plants outside in an unheated greenhouse. Your plants still should not freeze, so keep an eye on the weather report and watch your temperatures!

Most of my sundews are subtropical, and have been SUPER dewy and honestly looking their best all year this winter! Under the protection of their greenhouse cover, of course.

Drosera venusta, an easy carnivorous sundew.

I love this thermometer for reading temperature and humidity (see point #2!). It will also display the highs and lows of the last 24 hours.

If you live in Zone 7 or below, yo’ll want to move your plants to a cool, inside location for the winter. A garage, basement, or the coolest room in your home will work best. Windows are often the coolest spots in a house and also provide the most natural light (see point #3!)

Make sure to keep the plants away from heaters and furnaces, which brings us to point number #2!

#2: Keep the Humidity Up!

Tropical carnivorous plants tend to suffer in the winter because of low humidity. Pretty much any heat source will sap any moisture out the air and make a dry, arid environment. So if your heaters are on, please keep your plants far away from them. Sensitive plants can also get burned from hot, dry air.

To keep humidity levels elevated, keep the plants sitting in about an inch of water (except for Nepenthes, do not keep them sitting in water). Spray Nepenthes leaves at least twice per day.

Nepenthes, Asian pitcher plant.

For small plants, you can keep them in a glass tank for a terrarium type set up. Read this post to learn more about terrariums!

Very small plants and seedlings can be covered with plastic sandwich bags, especially if they’re new plants or adjusting to a new lower-humidity location. The only thing is, they don’t look very nice, so this is more of a temporary solution!

If the humidity stays low, consider getting a humidifier to keep in the same room as your plants. This one allows you to control the vapor flow and changes colors if you’re into that!

If you’re keeping tropical plants outside over winter, just keep the trays filled with about an inch of water and the greenhouse cover will do a fine job of keeping that moisture in and that humidity up! Still, don’t waterlog the Nepenthes and spray their leaves once or twice a day!

#3: Keep the Light Bright! 

Temperate plants like Venus flytraps and Sarracenia take the shorter daylight hours of winter as a sign that it’s time to go dormant. For tropical plants that don’t know dormancy, less light just means more stress.

Give your tropical plants as much light as possible! If keeping them outside, put them where they will receive the most direct sun.

If keeping them indoors, the easiest way is to put them in a south or east facing window. They’ll also get nice, cool temperatures by the windows (see point #1!).

If none of your windows get enough direct sunlight, consider adding some artificial light to supplement. Aim for a bulb that is daylight balanced (color temperature 4000 to 6500 K).

A single compact florescent bulb will do just fine if you only have a few plants. T8 florescent shop lights are a popular choice if you have a bigger plant collection.

You can glue aluminum foil or mylar blankets to some cardboard and set them up around your plants to reflect light back onto the plants. This is great technique if your light source isn’t as bright as you’d like, or you just want to maximize the amount of light your plants get!

Starting seeds in a five-gallon bucket
Mylar blankets lining my space bucket, lit with LED string lights.

Curious about my indoor growing bucket? Check out this post! 

So, to recap:

1). Don’t worry if temperatures go down to the mid-low 50s F, or even high 40s. Your plants will actually appreciate it!

2). Keep the humidity up by mimicking greenhouse conditions. Keep the plants moist and away from heat sources.

3). Give them as much light as you can! Supplement artificial light if necessary.

Keeping these three points in mind should put you in good shape for tropical carnivorous plant winter care!

If you found this post helpful, I would super appreciate it if you shared it via the buttons below!

Thanks for reading! Catch you next time!

4 comments

  1. Dennis says:

    I have a VFT seedling that is about the size of a drosera seed or 2
    but under a magnifying glass I see a leaf starting with a tiny trap on it

    Do you recommend this tin foil thing to reflect light on it at this point or leave it be for now?
    Its December now and I have been keeping it under a LED light and in a tray that gets less than 2 cms of water every second day once the tray dries

  2. Dennis says:

    I want to do this foil thing to magnify the light from my LED
    But rather than kill the seedling I was wondering if doing this will increase the temperature and hurt the tiny seedling?

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