Carnivorous Plants

Carnivorous plants are a curious group of species that conjure up images of an alien landscape, fantasy world fauna, or prehistoric jungle plants hunting for unsuspecting prey. In fact, these plants are relatively common and grow naturally in bog-like environments on every continent except Antarctica. These fascinating plants have adapted to capture and digest insects and other small animal species to supplement their diet with nutrients. While they generate their energy from photosynthesis just like typical plants, their prey acts as a fertilizer or sorts to replace missing nutrients like nitrogen not found in their natural soil environments. Carnivorous plants lure their victims with bright colors and a variety of scents before capturing them in various methods including tubes, snap traps, or tiny, sticky hairs. Once captured, they break down their meal with their digestive enzymes and extract the nutrients.

As houseplants, carnivorous plants need bright light and warm (above 40°) temperatures. Your best bet is a sunny windowsill or terrarium. To replicate their natural bog-like environment, pot them in a mixture of ½ peat moss and ½ sand or 2 parts peat moss to 1 part perlite. Set the container in a deep tray, and keep the tray filled with water (collected rain, distilled, reverse osmosis, or deionized).

Fort Collins Nursery has just received a new shipment of easy to grow, 2” carnivorous plant varieties for you to try including the following:  

Venus Flytraps

Dionaea muscipula

Venus flytraps epitomize the carnivorous plant species with their iconic snap traps formed by each of the plant’s leaves. The traps actively capture insects and are triggered by tiny hairs on their inner surfaces. Glands on the leaves surface then secrete a red sap that digests the insect’s body, giving the leaves their red flowerlike appearance.

Broad Leaf Sundew

Drosera capensis

The bright green leaves of the Broad Leaf Sundew are covered with red, dew-laden hairs which are actually The bright green leaves of the Broad Leaf Sundew are covered with red, dew-laden hairs which are actually digestive enzymes to attract and dissolve prey. Their leaves will coil around captured prey to increase surface area of leaf-to-insect, maximizing the nutrients extracted. The flowers are pink, and open sequentially along a one-to-two foot tall flowering stem.

Lovellae Sundew (Spoon-leaved Sundew)

Drosera spatulata var lovellae

Drosera spatulata, also known as Lovellae Sundew or Spoon-leaved Sundew, is characterized by its spatula or spoon-shaped leaves. Insects land on its sticky leaves and are trapped there as the sundew slowly rolls up its leaf and digests the nutrients from its prey. The plants are typically low growing, with small flowers ranging in color from white to pale pink. 

Originally published on January 6th, 2022.