I’ve seen this happening a lot recently, and it’s super disappointing. More like downright shitty.
New growers often want to try growing carnivorous plants from seed, which is great! They look online and buy some cheap seeds without a second thought. If the seeds grow at all, they are usually not the plant the seller claimed it to be.
I feel really sad when looking through the #venusflytrap hashtag on Instagram and see an excited post from a new grower captioned with “Look, my Venus flytrap seeds are growing!”,and more often than not, the plant is not a Venus flytrap at all.
It’s an intentional, age-old business model to sell cheap substitutes to people who don’t know any better. And it doesn’t just apply to handbags!
In this post, I’ll be showing you how to spot and avoid the scammy sellers, and where to buy legitimate carnivorous plant seeds! Here are the main clues you should look for when buying seeds.
Many listing use stock photos of plants. Beware of photos that contain orchids or other non-carnivorous plants, such as these.
Beware of listings that also show a “mix” of carnivorous plants, advertising a mix of seeds. No carnivorous plants from different genera should have their seeds mixed together, ie: sundews, Sarracenia, and Nepenthes. They all have different requirements and no seller worth their salt would mix the seeds. The seller is simply lying.
In this photo, the colors of the pinguicula (middle left) and sundew (lower right) have been photoshopped. They are not naturally those colors, and the sellers are intentionally being deceptive.
Seriously? It’s like they’re not even trying with this. (All these photos ARE pulled from actual Ebay auctions!)
You should also have an idea of what the seeds you’re looking for look like. This is an image from an Ebay listing claiming they are Venus flytrap seeds. I am 100% certain they’re not.
The images below are actual Venus flytrap seeds from Flytrapcare.com. You can see how they are shiny, black, rounded at one end and pointy at the other, not uniformly rounded like the photo above. They are also extremely tiny.
2. Price & amount of seeds
100 seeds for under $1.00 is usually BS and too good to be true. A pack of Venus flytrap seeds is usually between $10 and $15 for 15-30 seeds. Sarracenia seeds are usually sold in 15-30 seeds per pack as well. Most sundew seeds are extremely tiny and estimated in amounts of 50-100 (unless it’s a rare species). Sundew seeds will also be among the cheapest at $2 to $5 per pack. Drosophyllum and Roridula seeds are among the few often sold in small lots of 5 or 10. Nepenthes seeds are sold in pods, and prices will vary depending on the value of the species.
You can bet on seeds from China and Hong Kong being completely fake. Even for a cheap price, it’s simply not worth the risk. Some sellers in the US and UK will also scam you, so read the language carefully in the listing and look for certain red flags.
Here are a few headlines from eBay auctions that would make me steer clear from those listings:
- Carnivorous Plants Seeds Mega Mix 420+ seeds (Drosera, Nepenthes, Sarracenia) (this seller is advertising a mix of seeds, which is a huge no-no.)
- 100 pcs catching plant enchantress Carnivorous desk Pot Bonsai seeds (this doesn’t even make sense. Enchantress? Desk? Bonsai? None of those words belong in a carnivorous plant seed listing)
- 10 X Dionaea Muscipula Giant Clip Venus Flytrap Seeds Bonsai Plants Flower Seeds (Again, the word Bonsai doesn’t belong in there, and I don’t know what the word “Clip” is referring to)
If seeds are being advertised as “fresh”, look for a collection date. If there isn’t one, you should be highly suspicious. If you contact the seller, they should be able to tell you.
So where can legit carnivorous plant seeds be bought?
First, I recommend joining the International Carnivorous Plant Society. Though joining, you gain access to their seed bank and support carnivorous plant research and conservation. The North American Sarracenia Conservancy also has a seed bank available to members, though I’m unsure if it’s currently updated.
You can also check in with your local carnivorous plant society! See if they have a seed bank, or if any other members want to trade seeds at meetings. We at the BACPS just started holding informal meetups to swap propagation material! Encourage your local society to do the same!
There are also many online communities where members are happy to give, trade, or sell seeds. Some of the most active are listed below.
- Planet Carnivorous Plants (Facebook group)
- Carnivorous Plant Auctions and Sales (Facebook group)
- Carnivorous Plant Community (Facebook group)
- Flytrapcare Forums
- Sarracenia Forums
- Savage Garden subreddit
Finally, you can also purchase seeds from the many online carnivorous plant retailers. Here is a list organized by country.
Keep in mind that many temperate plant species are available seasonally. Venus flytrap seeds are just approaching harvest season in the northern hemisphere (June through August) and more will be available for sale in the late summer/early fall months. Sarracenia seeds will be available in the fall to early winter months. Tropical sundew seeds like Drosera capensis are more likely to be available year round. Nepenthes seeds are generally harder to come by, due to needing a male and female plant to cross-pollinate.
I hope this post helps you in your search for carnivorous plant seeds! I try to keep my cool but it’s honestly frustrating to see so many new growers get led astray by these scams. Please do your research and have a healthy amount of skepticism! When in doubt, ask people in the online communities if they have experience or opinions of a particular seller.
Have you ever accidentally bought fake seeds? Is there anything else people should look out for? Leave me a comment with your experience!
Also please share this post so more people are aware of the scams and learn to get their seeds from better sources. Thank you! 😀