How to Grow a Forest of Cape Sundews (Drosera capensis)

Discussion in 'Flower Gardening' started by Frank, May 20, 2005.

  1. Frank

    Frank GardenStew Founder Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 25, 2005
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    Galway, Ireland
    How to Grow a Forest of Cape Sundews by Jacob Farin

    Cape Sundews (Drosera capensis) are native to South Africa, and it is one of the most common carnivorous plants grown in cultivation. It is very easy to grow, and an adult plant will get up to 6 inches tall.

    As with all sundews, Cape Sundews produce a thick sticky substance, technically called 'goo' here at our nursery. We also call it 'stuff' or 'glue' or 'thick
    sticky substance.' I'm also sure botanists have their own term, but it is usually something I can't pronounce, like hydromethylcellulose.

    Whatever it is, it is the goo that makes Cape Sundews sparkle in sunlight. When you grow a bunch of them together, you will have a dazzling display that will mesmerize any insect.

    These sundews are very easy to propagate. One very quick method is to grow them from seeds. Cape Sundew seeds germinate very quickly, usually within 3 weeks.

    Once germinated, each seedling will reach adulthood within 2 years, at which time they will flower. Each flower stalk is capable of producing thousands of seeds. So from one adult plant, you can have enough seeds to produce a forest of sundews!

    Another method for multiplying your sundews is to take leaf cuttings. This could be done with either young or mature plants because all you need are a few leaves.

    Cut off a leaf near the stalk or growing point. Lay the leaf flat onto a pot of moistened soil of 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite. Gently press the leaf into the soil so that the leaf is making good contact with the soil.

    Once the leaf is set into the soil, spray it with a sulfur-based fungicide. This will prevent fungal infections and mold. You can find fungicides at your local hardware store or nursery. Make sure you follow the directions on the bottle.

    Next, place a clear plastic cup over the leaf to keep the humidity very high, and place the pot in small amounts of standing water. Give your leaf lots of bright indirect light or grow it under 40W fluorescent tubes. You could also use compact fluorescent bulbs that are equivalent to 100W. Just avoid using incandescent bulbs. Keep the light source approximately 6-8 inches above the leaf.

    Within 3 weeks, you will see tiny plantlets emerging from the leaf. After a couple of months, these plantlets will develop enough of a root system so that you could transplant them into their own pots. To do this, carefully cut out the plantlet from the main leaf and transplant it into a small pot of soil.

    Each Cape Sundew leaf can develop up to 10 additional sundews. Because you do not have to wait until the plant flowers to propagate it, you can use this method any time of the year.

    Leaf cuttings work well on nearly all types of sundews, including North American varieties. But, we have seen it work the best with Cape Sundews.

    So, if you want to grow your own forest of sundews, try either of these two easy methods of propagation.

    To learn more about growing Cape Sundews, visit ''

    About the Author

    Jacob is co-owner of Sarracenia Northwest, an online nursery specializing in the cultivation of beautiful carnivorous plants. For myth-free information about carnivorous plants, visit ''
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