Cape Sundews dying?

mcantrellAugust 1, 2008

I have two sundews that are not doing so well all of a sudden.

Initially, my young, and newly obtained, Cape Sundew Alba started having ever so slight wilting on some of it's leaves -- just the tips, and only for it's newest few leaves. It created a flower stalk for the first time right before this happened -- and It also stopped making dew at about that time.

It has new leaves coming in, but, they are coming in very, very slowly. In fact, they might have stopped growing alltogether.

Initially I thought this was just a problem with that particular sundew. It is in a very small (3") pot with a 4" "deep" saucer, and I am watering it with the tray method, and an occasional bit of water directly into the pot.

It flowered before/during all this, but about halfway through the chain of flowers they stopped opening.

However, the same thing is now happening to my first CP, my year old Cape Sundew. It has lost all dew on every single leaf. It has no new leaves coming in, and I noticed a baby leaf that was dark black -- it had died before it had grown much more than 1/8th an inch. And a few of it's leaves have turned black and brown on their tips.

It has also flowered recently, in fact, it has a stalk still up with new flowers, however, they seem to be opening slower than before -- before I'd see 1 or 2 a day open, this one has had this same stalk sitting there for quite some time now.

I not-too-recently (about a month ago) switched it to a new 5.5" pot and gave it a deep dish saucer, which is how I've been watering it.

In short, it's the exact same symptoms and setup now as the other plant.

A few oddities -- the bigger sundew's saucer water turned yellow-brown, but I flushed the water through the soil in the pot instead of just filling up the saucer like normal. At the same time, I noticed a thin, oil-like film over about 1/4th of the water in the saucer -- I have since switched saucers and used a clean rag with a tiny amount of hydrogen peroxide to clean off the pot sides before refilling.

Other changes in their environment coincided with the repotting and switch to saucers -- I got a few more plants which required I move some things around -- so the big sundew was moved about 6" away from the main window. The smaller sundew was moved up 1 shelf level, but should be getting the same amount of sun.

Does this sound like a sunlight problem? Or perhaps contaminated water? Or maybe even some form of pest? Could it just not like the "wet feet" in it's current setup?

The temperatures lately here have been dropping into the 50-60 range and have been hovering around the 80-100 range during the day. In theory, I could put them outside but when I did that before, the Alba sundew hated it and lost all it's dew, rather quickly -- although that might have been a combination of the 30-40 degree nights and acclimation the last time I tried it.

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hiddenjungle(zone 6, NY)

Im not exactly sure, my capes i recently repotted into a 10 or 14 inch pot and there outside and temperatures are the same thing as what your saying. mine did loose all there dew but thats the plant acclimate to the new weather, right now my plants are still outside and the new growth has dew so i cut off all the dew less leaves to make the plant look better, doing so i accidentally cut the plant in half so i stuck the top portion in the dirt to see if it would root no treatment as to rooting powder whatsoever. hopefully it roots,

How much light do your plants get? Mine have aclimated to full sun, but they do great in partial sun too. What did you repot it in? Did you use peat:perlite mixture? As for watering are you using reverse osmosis, distilled, or rain water? Letting water sit for a day will just eliminate clorine but not the minerals in the water, Its normal for the water to turn brown/yellow, in my pool bog the water is dark brown. also the film is fine too i don't treat it with anything i think its just mineral build up or something, the hydrogen peroxide mite be the problem did you rinse it good i never have used peroxide or any chemicals except some type of fungiacid to prevent fugus/mold growth on my sarracenia during dormancy. Sundew actually prefer cool weather 70-80 id guess when its really hot, the dew dries up, mine have acclimated to the temp you describe and have dew on there leaves, i have no experience with pests, hope this helps. Heres a link that might help... This is my fav of all the cp nurseries ive ordered from so far, all my cps are currently from them

Here is a link that might be useful: SNW Care sheet

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 5:33PM
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It sounds like water or fertilizer or some soil additive. What soil and water are you using McCantrell? I notice that some of the water dispensers provide water that my CPs do not like. Many forms of peat and perlite sold in stores are fertilized or might have chemical additives that CP might not take to. I would also give them larger pots as Cape Sundews need a lot of room for their root systems. Cramped roots result in crinkled leaves and small, unhappy plants. Bad water or soil results in dying and deformed leaves and smaller growth altogether. Yellowish brown stain is normal in peat moss mixes when they drain into water due to the iodine in the peat. That is not harmful to your plants... the oily stuff might be.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 10:22PM
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That the water in the waterdish turns yellow is normal, peat does that but that you so an oily film on the surface of the water is a whole different thing. mutant_hybrid may be right, you may be using peat moos or perlite with additives added to it. Their are some brand of peat that the company has added a wetting agent that supposedly helps to moisten the peat, it is oily in nature and I bet that is what's killing your cape sundews.

Better go to a local nursery, not Home Depot or Lowes, and ask a clerk to sell you peat without additives, read the bag to make sure. Change the media quick!

Cape sundews are quite resilient and will rebound quickly once they are planted in suitable soil.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 11:12PM
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It's the same peat moss that I've been using forever, Whitney Farms Sphagnum Peat Moss. All my plants are in it, usually with a eyeballed 50/50 mix of Whitney Farms Perlite, with no problems.

I also have a bale of pure Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss in the shed I could switch to. I've been loathe to use it on a "real" plant -- I wanted to buy some test plants from CPN/CaliCarnivores to test it first but I just don't feel right doing that to a poor plant, heh. It looks the same although it's a slight shade browner than the Whitney Farms stuff.

Water is Distilled water from WinCo. They recently changed brand names but the smaller Sundew had started having problems before they switched.

I did discover a 2 year old dipping a spoon I was using to repot my Spider Plant into the water, that might be where the water got contaminated, if he had poured a bit of his apple juice or something in there -- but again, the other Sundew is about 4" off the ground, he couldn't have gotten to it to do that.

Should I be leaving standing water in the tray, or should I be letting the tray dry out before watering? The former is how I've been doing it, the latter would be more akin to a standard pot/saucer setup, which seems counterproductive. I've honestly just been eyeballing it, maybe they're getting too much water? Is that even possible?

I did find a little more room by moving my Pygmy Sundews and 2 Butterworts (one of the Butterworts is Temperate (Pinguicula grandiflora), the other is Tropical (Pinguicula moranensis)) into one big 8" saucer, that freed up a lot of space, as they used to each be in a different 6" saucer. Only worry now is if they're getting enough sun and if the tray watering style will harm them.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 1:36AM
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It sounds like something pisoned the water and/or soil. I would remove the water it has been in and flush the pot with fresh, distilled water. Give it a week. If that doesn't get a response I would change out the soil as well.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 6:33PM
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Just discovered the neighbor's sprinklers going through my window into my pots. Not sure how much got in them (the entire area is slightly damp) but it looks like I get to go buy some more water tomorrow.

I did notice that some of the half-shriveled up leaves on my Cape Sundew have goo on them, so... hopefully it's already on it's way to recovery.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 11:29PM
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Ok, repotted.

Albino Cape Sundew: Discovered it really doesn't have any small roots, but quite a few small root buds. However, this is one that grew about 2 inches tall then had another root come down from 2 inches off the ground, so... I do not think it's nothing to worry about.

Cape Sundew: This one was MUCH more worrying. I dug it out of the soil, it has quite a few roots, but they are mostly dark dark brown and black. However, it had one "squishy" translucent root at the bottom, the largest it had. In addition, it had a very BAD smell coming from the bottom of the pot and near that root. I cannot describe it, it smelled like a combination of rotting vegetables and smoke. I had a grape growing in a planter that had root rot, it was the same smell.

I have repotted the Albino in a 4" pot (bigger than the previous 2" pot) with a standard 1-1 Peat-Perlite mix.

I repotted the Standard Cape Sundew in it's old 5.5" pot, but I washed it out first, and instead of using a deep dish saucer, I am temporarily using a standard saucer.

I am concerned. I was not aware that CPs could get root rot. I obviously need to re-evaluate my tray watering system. I have been filling them almost to the brim of the saucers and keeping them that high, perhaps I need to keep it lower?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 10:49PM
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Generally speaking, with few exceptions, it is best to add water when the "tray" is empty or nearly so. Light and air circulation are also part of the whole picture.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 2:19PM
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Well, I was just trying to avoid the idea of underwatering them, and had somehow got it in my head that they would be fine with extra water.

Ah well, hopefully my little ones will be fine. It'll take some adjustments to my watering schedule, but I think they'll recover, they both look still very healthy -- little patches of brown and dots of black notwithstanding. The root rot smell was mostly in the soil at the bottom of the pot, not the roots.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 10:18PM
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Having your neighbor's sprinklers watering your plants is not good at all. Adding mineral salts in time to the growing medium of your pots.

Waht alos worries me is that you saw an oily film in the water dish. The soil got contaminated with something all right. Having several plants die of something at the same time is a good sign of soil contamination. If you going to add less water to your cape sundews, just be carefull you don't allow the soil to dry or the roots will die.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 11:17PM
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That seemed to have done it -- the 'alba' has a whopping 10 new branches coming off it's center in a huge cluster, the big typical one has 2 or 3 that I can see so far, but is recovering slower on the whole, so...

But then again, the Alba was rootbound and the roots were a bit too water-logged, while the Typical had that weird stinky root problem (root rot?), so I guess they would each take different time to heal.

The perlite is kinda... percolating it's way up to the top of both their pots, due to it floating and the peat not, but I suppose that's ok. I frequently flood water, by just popping the top off of my gallon jugs of distilled water and pouring until it feels "right", so the dirt gets disturbed quite a bit, I guess. :)

Happens with quite a few of my pots, to be honest, just this time it seemed to happen a lot more than normal.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 8:18AM
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