(Click on the thumbnails to get a bigger picture)
Sundews are found throughout the world and offer a wide
variety of size and shape. Many also have attractive flowers.
The sundews belong to the 'fly-paper' group of carnivorous
plants. This group have sticky leaves which catch and digest
insects which are unlucky enough to land on them.
The sundews are found in many damp places, peat bogs, swamps
or in grassland.
How it works
The leaves of sundews can be long and thin or rounded. Most
follow the semi-active rules in that the leaves can move
somewhat to fully capture the insect. Movement is usually
restricted to the curling up of the leaf to increase the
surface area of the leaf against the prey.
An insect landing on a leaf will become stuck on the glands
which stick outwards from the leaves. Once caught, the insect
will be digested by the digestion glands, situated mainly
along the centre of the leaf, over a period of a day or so.
Mainly the prey consists of small flying insects.
The Lifecycle of the Sundew
As with most other carnivorous plants, the sundew needs a time
of winter rest, where the soil is allowed to dampen slightly.
For the rest of the year, the plant needs to be kept standing
in soft water.
Leaf production is slow over the winter period and leaf length
is reasonable short.
However, as the temperature starts to rise and spring arrives,
the leaves start to grow faster and longer, perhaps reaching 4
inches for Drosera capensis.
The flowers are produced on long stems, like most carnivorous
plants, and the small but colourfull flower heads open for a
short time before drying out and dying. Not before the next
flower head has opened, however.
The outer leaves gradually dry out and can be removed by
cutting them off.
How and where to grow them
- Grow the plant in the normal type of carnivorous plant
soil, peat / sphagnum moss / sand.
- Keep the plant standing in soft water (rain water
normally) throughout the year, only letting the soil dry out
slightly during the winter.
- Remove any leaves which turn brown and dry up.
- Feeding can be achieved by dropping any small insect,
alive or dead, straight onto the leaves.
- Stand the plant in full sun, if possible, to promote
- For Drosera capensis which is one of the more
common type, the temperature should be kept above 2'C
- Reproduction can be achieved by simply picking out the
small off shoots from the main plant which appear from time
What I am growing
I have these types of sundew,
- D. aliciae. This is a rosette shaped sundew, quite
flat - only reaching an inch or so in height. Glands are all
over the leaves which unfurl from the centre as the onter
leaves die off around the edges. The glands have a slight red
tint to them. Flowers are a pink colour and are produced on
tall stems throughout the summer. I've had trouble with these
plants not surviving the winter dormancy period. Indeed my
current plant is the third pot that I've bought (let's hope
it will survive this winter).
- D. capensis 'Alba'. This plant is about 1 1/2
years old now and flowers freely throughout the summer and is
still flowering now (September). This version of capensis
has a white flower which grows along a tall stem - mine
regularly reach 7 or 8 inches in height. The stems are about
3 to 4 inches in length and stand half upright. Only at the
end of the stem, say the last inch, is there and sticky
glands. These glands are a clear / white colour. You can
almost see the tips of the leaves roll over on themselves
when an insect has been caught.
- D. adelae. This is a new plant to me, just a few
months old now. It's leaves are a lot thicker than capensis
and they are covered in reddish glands all the way down the
stem like aliciae but it is not a rousette type plant.
I'm unsure of the flower colour, since it has not flowered
for me yet.
- D. binata. Bought during 1999. This plant
originates from Australia. At the end of the long thin stems
are a set of sticky liaves which form a shape like a letter
'H'. It is quite quick to grow and has done well catching the
smaller insects. These were bought late in the summer, so
I've no idea about flowers yet.
I had a couple of plants flower this year. So I let the
flowers dry out and have collected what I think are seeds.
These seeds are tiny and liable to blow away at the
slightest breeze! I have a terrarium (an old fish tank
actually!) that's full of spaghnum moss compost from the
garden centre, so I've sprinkled the seeds onto the soil. I'll
keep it damp and covered and see what comes up.
This year I stumbled upon the Giant forked-leaved Sundew Drosera
binata and have had two so far. I find these very easy to
grow and grow they certainly do! The small pot of plants are
producing lits of leaves that flop over the side of the pot or
wave upright into the air. The ends or the stems have a single
cross of sticky leaves in the shape of a big letter 'H'.