Outside vs. terrarium

olympus8mpApril 10, 2007


I have a few CPs that are in a terrarium now because I am a college student in Northern Ohio. It is far too cold in winter to keep them outside. In my terrarium right now I have:

1- VFT - Dionaea Muscipula

1- Cobra Lily - Darlingtonia California

2- Sundews - Drosera Adelae (these things grow like weeds!!)

Should these be moved outside when summer is finally here? I also plan on buying a bunch of VFT's for the summer to grow outside. My main question is: should the sundews and cobra lilies be outside? I've noticed that my sundews lose their dew for a day or so if I leave them in low humidity. I think our humidity here is high enough in the summer (70-80 %) during the summer. Is this correct?

Any tips regarding any of these species is greatly appreciated, along with any information on how to best grow them outside.

Thanks very much,

Sean Welton

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Hello olympus8mp,

The Drosera adelae are tropical shorter lived perrenials that can be grown indoors all year, or outdoors during the regular growing season in partial sun. They should be brought in during winter if you prefer outside as they will grow year round and might die in cold weather if it gets to low. They burn in full sun so keep them in shaded indirect or partial sun and can be hardened off in pots by slowly adapting them to lower humidity or kept in the terrarium, though it's actually easier to care for them in pots. Their dew replenishes with light, not humidity. It is just the quick change in humidity that messes them up for a couple of weeks. As you noticed, they propagate from root runs but probably will not produce seed as they are clones that require genetic variation to cross pollinate.

The Darlingtonia californica and Dionaea muscipula are North American temperate perennial plants that actually required a dormancy during winter for about 3-4 months of lower temperatures of about 40 degrees Fahrenheit and lower light conditions. Both are too far out of winter now to do this, however; they might survive if they are not allowed to flower. In any case, they might still weaken and die due to no dormancy, or they might not. It is all according to how healthy they are. For now, with spring, they should be hardened off from humidity by placing them in pots and putting a dome or plastic bag over them and slowly, every 3-4 days, opening the enclosure a bit to let in more air. keep that up for 2 weeks opening the enclosure until the plant is completely exposed and it should be hardened to normal humidity in your area. While you have them under cover, do not give them direct sun as it could overheat them and burn them. After the cover is off, give them some partial sun for a week in a partial sun window, then for the next week in a southern direct sun window, then you can place them outside. The thing is that you had them indoors in partial sun and they need to acclimate to ultraviolet light as well as low humidity. Terrariums are the best place to kill Venus Fly Traps and Cobra Plants. Fungus builds up and you can't really place a terrarium in direct sun that these plants need to thrive and flower properly. Don't worry, it is not your fault, you probably bought them at a hardware store and were given faulty info on them. Full sun is best for the Venus Flytrap and Cobra plant.

In any event, remember, acid soil of peat/perlite 50/50 mix, no fertilizer, distilled or rain water, and good light is what to give carnivorous plants. The Cobra plant also generally likes cool water flowing over it's roots and would enjoy a more open soil mix with 1 part peat moss and 2 parts perlite or alternatively, there are Cobra plant mixes you can buy premixed off the internet from reputable nurseries. Cobra plants can be finicky and difficult for most growers, myself included.

High humidity is a myth that pervades first time growers of carnivorous plants, and once they have a bunch of plants in high humidity, they can't take them out without acclimating them slowly, so think that they need to stay there in high humidity. There are very few carnivorous plants that actually have to be in high humidity contantly, none of yours do.

Good luck with your plants.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 7:41PM
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So let me get this right :D

Full sun for cobra plants and VFT's..
Partial sun for the sundew..

How do I best give the sundew partial sun? I can easily give the VFT and cobra full sun. Just put them in pots outside. I grew a purple pitcher plant rather successfully last summer; it obtained a very very deep red color that was amazing. I unfortunately forgot it at home when I moved back into the dorm and it froze solid come wintertime. :.( If I simply buy some sundews from a reputable CP nursery, they should be OK to just plant outside right?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 8:04PM
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Well, you grew a Sarracenia purpurea, that is a good start.

The D. adelae can just be put in a window that is not south facing, put under a compact flourescent that is 100 watt equivalent.. 5-6 inches from leaves would be great for nice red color and dew production, or placed in a pot outside under a tree or on a patio with some shading.

The sundews from the nursery idea sounds good, just make sure they are in pots of acid soil mix and of the sort that like direct sun. Good companions for Venus flytraps and Cobra plants outside would be Drosera rotundifolia and Drosera filiformis, both sundews that are North American temperates that like full sun.

I have all of mine indoors in pots under flourescents right now, but I raise mostly tropicals. I do have a Venus Flytrap, but I really need to get it outside so it will prosper even though I do have sufficient light for now. They tend to slowly weaken indoors no matter how much light you put over them, unless you go for one of those 400 watt halogens (too hot, too bright to look at, and too expensive)... Full sun is best for them.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 8:18PM
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Oh, one other thing. that Sarracenia purpurea you had might have survived if the weather did not drop it's pot below negative 20 degrees. Thye range across North America and Canada, so are used to dormancy in very cold weather. They actually seem to spring back livelier when it gets colder on them during winter. Of course, if the pot froze too far below its limit, it would suffer freezer burn and die. Many North American plants overwinter outside in pots in 30 degree weather that freezes their pots solid for days at a time. They are winter hardy.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 8:27PM
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Wow, thats good news. The S. Purpurea is in my dorm right now, it is shrivel-y, but it can still be a live, right? Everyone thinks I'm crazy for watering a "dead" plant... If they only knew.. :)

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 8:49PM
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Cool, you might repot it in fresh peat and perlite 50/50 mix and see if the roots are still alive. They will be thick rhizomes, like starchy potato and carrot type plants. The rhizome will be thick and creamy white inside if it is still alive. You can just scrape a bit of the brown material off the side of the root to see if it is still kicking. The repotting also helps kick start the plant if it is slow in regrowing. If it is still alive, it should start coming back any time now... If the root looks rotten, mouldy, or shriveled, it kicked the bucket. That happens when the overwinter sometimes.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 10:54PM
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Thanks for the help! I will dig up my Sarracenia Purpurea tonight.

Thanks much!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 3:56PM
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the insides of the rhizome are brown, is that bad? The rhizome itself looks healthy, but upon scratching it, it is brown, not at all moldy or rotting, but not white either. Is it dead?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 8:37PM
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Oh and it doesn't have any bad smell to the roots or rhizome. It just smells like sphagnum...


    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 8:40PM
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Well, part of the rhizome can dry out or die off with the rest living on. Best bet, replant it in nice moist peat and perlite 50/50 mix and snip off all the dead leaves. Sarracenia grow slowly and are just now coming out of dormancy, so just replant it and wait a couple months looking for new green growth in the plant growth crown. It might have experienced enough freezer burn to kill it off, or some of it might still be hiding out in there ready to come back to life. Patience is key with plants of all types.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 8:52PM
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I replanted it in my terrarium for now. It is still bad weather out, so I won't be able to give it outside weather until a week or so... Just terrarium fluorescent light :(

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 9:09PM
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Well, currently, I grow all my stuff indoors under lights. (I live in an appartment, whatcha gonna do) It does take alot of shop lights to simulate anything close to full sun. My plants however are in good spirits. Sooner or later my goal is to get the flytraps outdoors but I don't see that happening this summer.

I must admit, I don't use terrariums as often as I used to. You get much better air circulation without the glass. There are other ways to boost humidity.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aracknight's Deadly Delights

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 11:21PM
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Same thing here jonocross. My flytrap looks like it going to produce seeds soon. The only other plant that needs more light is the Drosera graminifolia, a sundew that can reach about a foot tall. It grows straight up, so I can only put it so far from the lights. The upper third of the leaves develop red tentacles and the color gradually decreases to nothing near the lower third. I need a good window or staggered lights for tall plants.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 12:41AM
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