Welcome to my first blog post of 2016! Winter is a slow period for many of us outdoor growers, especially with temperate plants like Venus flytraps and Sarracenia. But there’s plenty of winter-growing plants to enjoy, and I got a lot more into them this season!
#1: Tuberous Sundews!
Drosera macrantha is my first tuberous sundew, and I’m enjoying the crap out of it this winter! Tuberous sundews totally intimidated me at first, but I’m pleasantly surprised at how easy this one is! Other easy tuberous species include Drosera ramellosa, Drosera petalta, and Drosera stolonifera.
I’ve always loved vining plants, so their scrambling, climbing nature really appeals to me. I really want to give it something to climb, but the best lighted area doesn’t really allow for that. So I’m just seeing where it goes!
They’re also hardier than I expected! My pot came with two separate stems, one of which looked like it died. But a little branch grew from the dead stem! How cool is that?
What you have to keep in mind is these plants have a growing season that is opposite of plants you’re probably used to.
Keep their soil moist and give them plenty of sun in the winter. Winter is their growing season.
Keep them dry and shaded in the summer. They will look dead in the summer, but are actually dormant. Start watering them and exposing them to more direct sunlight as fall approaches into summer.
Remember that food is harder to come by in the winter, and almost all sundews LOVE to eat! Feed the individual carnivorous leaves with betta fish pellets or spray them every two weeks with Maxsea fertilizer.
Tuberous sundew flowers are lovely, but I’ve read stories about how hard it is to germinate them from seed! I’m not sure if I’ll ever attempt it. The easiest way to propagate is to search for their tubers (basically, bulbs) under the soil after they’ve gone dormant. You won’t find out until you dig if they made a separate tuber, called a daughter (isn’t that a sweet name?).
I’ve yet to do this, so check back with me this summer!
#2: Pygmy sundews
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the long, vining tuberous species are the tiny, precious pygmy sundew species! Everyone should have at least a few pygmy sundew varieties because they are just so freaking adorable and tiny!
Pygmy Drosera are technically winter-growing plants, but many species will stay happy throughout spring and summer if you keep their soil wet and don’t let them get too hot. It’s generally acceptable to skip their summer dormancy. You don’t have to let them dry out like with tuberous Drosera.
In autumn and winter, pygmy sundews will produce gemmae. These are tiny, modified leaves meant for reproduction. Sow them like seeds in a moist peat and sand mix with high humidity and they will germinate usually within two weeks!
I recommend topping your peat and sand mix with a thin layer of sand. This not only looks nicer, but will keep moss, algae and mold from overtaking your tiny plantlets as they grow. Devon over at Sundews Etc. does this really nicely with his pygmies!
Unlike seeds though, gemmae produce clones of the mother plant. Because they are living plant tissue, their shelf life is extremely short! You’ll want to sow them immediately after harvesting them from the mother plant.
If you can’t sow them right away, you can store them in a moist paper towel or small container of distilled water in the refrigerator for about 2-3 weeks.
#3: Basically, sundews
Seriously, ’tis the season for sundews! If you have any of the easy, commonly available South African sundews such as Drosera capensis, D. binata, D. venusta, and so on, they can look FANTASTIC in the winter!
Just make sure they’re getting enough light and keep them in an area where they won’t freeze. If you have a well-lit area that dips to about 50 F (10 C), they will love you for it!
Here are some of my subtropical ‘dews shot in recent months. They are probably the dewy-est and happiest looking they’ve been all year. Mine are kept outdoors under a greenhouse cover in Northern California, Zone 9b.
So what are your favorite types of sundews?
If you’ve fallen for pygmy Drosera as much as I have, I’m excited to share I’ll have my first batch of potted Drosera omissa x pulchella available in the next month or so. These will be potted in unique, ceramic containers hand-picked and drilled by me, and of course, in doll heads!
Planters will be available in limited quantities, so sign up for emails below to ensure you don’t miss out on these!
Thanks for reading! I hope this post has inspired you to check out some winter-growing carnivorous plants of your own! Catch you next time!