Suggest Plants for a Newbie

m_taggart(7b)September 11, 2007

Hey gang. I'm interested in beginning a small carnivorous plant terrarium. The max size I can fit in my small crowded apartment would probably be 10-15 gal. max in a south or southwest facing window. I would prefer species that are at least somewhat easy to find and care for as I start out. Is starting from seeds an option or should I order online. I'd rather not go to Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc. as all the plants I've seen there are near death. Can anyone recommend a good online dealer? What are the weekly requirements? Do I need to catch flies to feed them and mist regularly? Can I put them in direct North Carolina sun in the summer? What type of substrate is best and can I mix my own? I'll stop there as that is plenty of fodder for the experts. Thanks for the help.

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If I recall correctly, Venus Fly Traps only grow natively in a very small area of North Carolina, but it might be S. Carolina. Regardless, Venus Fly Traps and Temperate Pitchers should go outside year-round, even in the winter, and they should get direct sun.

Some CP's that do well indoors are Nepenthes, Sundews, and Butterworts. For the most part, can be grown indoors under lights or in a bright window. I would lose the terrarium altogether. Aside from aesthetics, it does very little in the way of helping the plants, and usually is a death sentence. They can adapt to lower humidity with patience.

You won't need to feed them, especially if they are outside. As far as weekly requirements, you need to make sure the potting media never dries out and water only with distilled water.

I've had good results with a 50/50 mix of peat moss and perlite, with a top dress of sphagnum moss.

Others will be more knowledgeable about online sources, but I have gotten all of my CP's from Lowes in the cubes of death and 95% have pulled through.
Hope this helps

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 11:30PM
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Welcome to the wonderful world of carnivorous plant growing taggart. Bob is right about Venus FTs growing in NC and if at all possible, growing those outside will be a cinch. Here's a care sheet if you decide to go that route (there are also extensive care sheets for many other beginner plants on this website too):

If outside growing is definitely not an option, then tropical plants are for you. That URL i gave you has a link to tropical plants for sale near the top right of the page.

If you decide to grow a different kind, this is a great page with A LOT of info on everything having to do w/ CPs. Many of your questions are answered there. Including instructions on making terrariums, even one that's simply made from a soda bottle.

I would not reccomend growing from seed, i've never done it myself, but the experts agree that it's very tediuos and sometimes totally unrewarding.

All in all, carnivorous plants have similar needs usually, but you have to know your specific plant before you buy. I'd say a small (not pygmy though) sundew would be a good idea for starting out.

If you really do intend to make CPs a hobby of yours, then Peter D'Amato's "The Savage Garden" is a must have book that is a myriad of information on many many species and growing techniques.

Here's 2 more links to CP stores:

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 1:03AM
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And after following the knowledgeable advice of bob123how and drwurm, look for plants that would grow in the conditions you want to place them in. Venus Flytraps might grwo well in North Carolina, being a natural resident of the bogs there, but they make really horrible indoor plants in a terrarium.

It is not that growing from seeds is more difficult with carnivorous plants than any other plant, it just takes longer for most species to reach a good size. Growing from seeds is generally a more intermediate difficulty task one does after growing an adult plant, but is not really that hard and is hardly unrewarding. I feel rewarded every time I see how my 50+ seedling Sarracenias are thriving.

Some great plants for terrarium growing would be the tropical sundews and Nepenthes though most of those species do not require high humidity and can be raised as potted plants.

Drosera capensis

Drosera adelae

Drosera spatulata

Drosera capillaris

no pic but looks similar to D. spatulata.

Nepenthes sanguinea

Nepenthes ventrata
Nepenthes ventricosa
Nepenthes alata

Most Nepenthes look similar with the exception of size, shape and coloration of pitchers, general plant size, and some leaf differences.

And many other Nepenthes and sundews found in tropical climates would be good terrarium plants, but the ones I mentioned are the easiest growers for a beginner and really do not require terrariums at all.

The site that drwurm provided also sells carnivorous plants as does Basically, go for sites that provide good no nonsense information about the plants without all the gimmicks, like terrariums and 9 watt timed lights that are inadequate to grow even an ivy indoors. Very few plants actually need a terrarium. It can be fun to try a terrarium, but you will need to provide good air circulation and get plants that would do well in artificial florescent light, like tropical sundews and Nepenthes (get the highest lumen light you can... the most cost efficient would be twin 40 watt shop light fixtures, thats four tubes providing 12000 lumens, on a Christmas tree light timer on 16 hours a day). In addition, do not forget to provide very good drainage in a terrarium as root rot and fungus can become problems for virtually any plant in a closed, stagnant, waterlogged environment.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 1:58AM
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Well Mutant, you have to remember, not everyone has the god of oddity gardening on their side. Those Sarracenias are obviously being helped by otherworldly forces.

I suppose it all boils down to whether you want to have a kid or you want to adopt. I adopted all my plants and i still talk to them just as lovingly as i would if i had grown them myself. (BTW that's not a joke, i really do talk to my fly traps whilst pruning them)

Although, you could buy plants that do well propogated from leaf cuttings. Then if you found yourself with a little too much spare time, you could start that out. Leaf cuttings grow faster than seedlings but you have to research your plants to find out if it's even possible. From what i understand, both fly traps and cape sundews (D. Capensis) grow well from cuttings.

Well, it's 1 am in california, and i have to be at the bus stop at 6:40 in the morning, I'll be going now.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 3:56AM
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I just hope the "gods of oddity" are still on my side as I will need them to get the root cuttings I took of my Cape Sundew to take. I never seem to have much luck with root and leaf cuttings though I have read up on those techniques. Seeds and adult plants work for me, though, I am working to expand my skills. My Cape Sundew had to repotted and when I finally worked its 8 inch roots free from the 5 inch pot they were growing out of, I had a tangled mass that simply needed to be trimmed back and used as root cuttings. The roots had a few new white tips, so they should be viable.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 5:53AM
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