Venus, Sundew, and Pitcher plant appear to be dieing

trio123June 11, 2008

I bought a three in one pot with a sundew, pitcher plant, and a venus fly trap at a flower and garden fair. I have had them for two months but now they appear to be dieing. The leaves on the fly trap are turning black, the edges of the top of the pitcher are drying out (browning around the edges) and it has lots of little white insects on it that I cant seem to get rid of (I've just tried removing them by hand), and the sundew lost it's little bit of purple color. I havent changed the soil, I know they need sphagnum if I do. I've been using distilled water and rain water to fill up the saucer on the bottom. And I've been spraying the sundew regularly with distilled water. What I'm lacking on is sunlight. I didnt realize that my appartment on the third floor had no sunlight coming in through windows. So I used two florescent 17 watt fish tank lights (that's what I had lieing around). I couldnt find any plant lights at home depot... didnt really know where else to look. Thank you for any help figuring out what I need to do.

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Hello Trio123,

Well, I think the first problem is light. 17 watt tubes are woefully inadequate to grow any carnivorous plant, much less the Venus Flytrap and Purple Pitcher Plant. Both of those plants need full sun outside to thrive. If you have no other options, use the best lit window you have and add as many 40 watt tube shop lights (cool white) as you can over the plants. 12000 lumens would be a bare minimum and the Purple Pitcher would need twice that to even grow properly, even then the light would have to be an inch over the leaves and left on for 16 hours a day. Each tube provides 3000 lumens, so your going to need to get ahold of two of those twin tube 4 foot shop light units at the least. I would also invest in a light timer so you wont have to get up at 4 in the morning to turn it on and remember to turn it off at 8 in the evening.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 6:38PM
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Hi Trio,

Welcome to the forum.

Mutant gives excellent information, helped me a lot a year ago when I was first getting started.

The little white insects you mentioned, that might be whitefly. I had a problem with a whitefly infestation last fall. I used Ortho Systemic Insecticide which was suggested for cps. It worked great. Here is a website about whitefly and information on the spray. I've not heard about or tried the Malathion on this website, only the Systemic Insecticide. It can be purchased at most home and garden stores.

You say you are spraying/misting your sundew. I am new to cps but the way I understood it was that it's best not to mist sundews or pings. I have never tried misting them and I'm sure it rains wherever they are growing in the wild. Would someone please jump in here with a definite yes or no.

Do you know what kind of sundew you have?

Best of luck,

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 1:06AM
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That sounds like a typical "Lowes Cube OF Death" thing. This is only a guess, but aside from the VFT, you likely have an N. ventrata and a D. adelae. The plants have been neglected and any change in environment, even being needed, has sent them into shock. What I would recommend doing in the short run is keep them all in seperate pots, with the dried LFS you can buy for $4, under the artificial lighting, in about an inch of water. Then wait it out. Hopefully, they won't be too weak to live. Should any recover, I would keep the pitcher plant (assuming Asian) under the light, ~12 hours a day. The sundew will do well at a window sill. The VFT needs to be outside, but in "bright shade" at first.

Does your pitcher plant look like this?

or more like these?

Does the sundew look similar to this?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 2:08PM
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The pitcher plant kinda looks like that last one but the sundew is much much shorter and more bushy like... if I can figure out how I will post a pic. I put the plant outside in partial shade on my porch and was going to move it to my mom's house where it could get full sun this weekend... a little worried about squirrels though, they are eyeing it. What does LFS mean... to me it means local fish store, but I dont think that's what you mean ;p

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 2:19PM
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Oh ya, the plant was getting two 17 watt florescent fish lights (24 inch for planted aquariums). So 34 watts, but I assume that still isnt enough. If I dont just put it outside at my mom's house, where could I get a plant light? What am I looking for blue and red spectrum? What about a reptile light, PetMart has one of those. Thanks for all your help!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 2:28PM
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You have an American pitcher plant and that belongs outside, along with the VFT. LFS stands for Long fibered Sphagnum, sold at Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart,... in bags for ~$3 a bag. Look for fluorescent lights designed for plants, which can be found at your LFS - local fish shop.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 11:17AM
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That is what I have two 24 inch florescent lights designed for freshwater plant growth... is there something else I should get or are you saying that that should be fine?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 11:44AM
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Misting really does not harm them, nor will it actually benefit them greatly. They do get rained on all the time, so what I use it for is just a means of cleaning them off. It does remove spores, dust, and dead bugs.


The 24 inch lights are too low wattage. You do not need to worry about spectrum if you go with cool white or true daylight as they simulate the natural spectrum of light that plants need anyways. I use the 48 inch shop lights with twin tube mounts. They are long and unwieldy, but they work great if they are set up on a shelf system and can provide good lighting for a number of plants along a 4 foot shelf. I would suggest placing the shelf in a window for added light. In any case, the tubes will come with a information list on the box that states the lumens... 40 watt tubes are about 3000 lumens according to who made them and what they were made for. You do not need anything specifically made for plants, like plant lights, as they usually are just more expensive types of florescent lights that are only slightly different from the cool white ones in shop lights. My lighting system covers a 4 foot shelf with four tubes side by side providing 12000 lumens to a number of plants. Total cost is about 24 dollars and the tubes usually take years to burn out.. though you should replace them once a year as they dim a lot after that.

The pesticide might help as well if you have a bad sap sucking pest problem as Nycti indicated.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 2:18PM
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I really apprieciate the information! Unfortunately I dont have to worry about the pitcher plant anymore as my cat decided after several months of deliberation, apparently, that it was tasty. I really hope it's not toxic to mammals :( I looked it up when I first got it and couldnt find any info on toxicity to cats, but it wasnt on any lists of toxic ones so I thought it was probably ok... I really really hope Im right...

I will do like you guys said for the other two plants though. Or get rid of the plant if my cat tries to eat the other two...

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 11:18PM
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I hope you didn't throw it out -- I've seen 2 pitcher plants (out of the 3 or 4 that I've owned) come back after losing all their pitchers. If the rhizome (the base of the plant) is still ok, it should send up new traps if it has enough energy left...

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 2:23AM
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My cat recently chewed up my Neps because I put the planter on the ground to get more light. So now I have the planter outside, shaded, for recovery.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 10:41AM
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