Proper care for carnivorous plants, They look fascinating and are always a bit scary: carnivorous plants. Anyone who has tried their luck with these special plants has probably been disappointed. After a short time, the plants of most plant lovers start to get sick. They often go away completely. The care of carnivorous plants is quite easy if you follow a few rules. We’ll tell you what they are and which plants are suitable for beginners.
Your carnivorous plants will thrive in this way
Carnivorous plants are eerily beautiful. They look bizarre and eat insects like predators. You can now buy carnivorous plants at almost any garden center or the gardening section of a hardware store. You can even find them in the discounter around the corner when there is a special offer. If you want to buy carnivorous plants, you should pay attention to a few things when caring for them.
Peculiarities of carnivorous plants – Proper care for carnivorous plants
Carnivorous plants are also known as carnivores or insectivores. Compared to “normal” plants, they have a special property: they can catch insects. Depending on the species, they have very different trapping mechanisms:
- Hose or pitcher traps into which insects fall and cannot come out
- Sticky traps with catching tentacles to which insects stick
- Snap traps that snap shut when touched
Carnivorous plants have developed their trapping mechanisms because they grow on extremely nutrient-poor soils. Carnivores often grow on bogs or sandy soils. These soils provide practically no nutrients. The plants have adapted to this and, to a certain extent, obtain nutrients from the air. The caught insects literally digest them with the help of enzymes and thus get the nutrients.
Carnivores are found in many different climates in different parts of the world. Some species are even native to Germany. From the different regions of origin, the plants have very different demands on their living environment. However, there are commonalities that apply to all carnivorous plants. You need:
- Constantly wet soil
- High to very high humidity
- Lots of light
- Extremely nutrient-poor soils
- In some species overwintering at low temperatures
Typical rookie mistakes that will lead to the death of your carnivorous plant
Unfortunately, most people have bad experiences with their first carnivorous plant and the plant dies after a short time. There are various reasons for this. An unfavorable location and incorrect watering are the most common causes. Especially the popular “Venus Flytrap” is often played broken .
The right water decides the life and death of your plant
The natural habitat of many carnivorous plants are bogs or other constantly wet environments. You should therefore always keep your plant well moistened. It’s best to put them on a coaster. Some water pours into this coaster as soon as the water is used up. So the plant always has “wet feet”.
The right water is even more important than constant moisture. Never water your carnivorous plants with tap water! The plants cannot tolerate the lime and other minerals in the water. Therefore, water your carnivorous plant with rainwater . If you don’t have rainwater, you can also use distilled water .
While other plants need plant fertilizer on a regular basis, you should avoid it completely with carnivorous plants. Since tap water already contains too many minerals, the plants do not tolerate fertilizer at all.
Planting carnivorous plants – which soil should I use? – Proper care for carnivorous plants
Carnivores need acidic, nutrient-poor soil. If you want to plant carnivorous plants, you must never use conventional potting soil . Similar to tap water, it also simply contains too many nutrients for the plants. Therefore only use special carnivore soil . It consists largely of nutrient-poor peat and other substances that improve the soil structure.
The right humidity for your carnivores
Humidity naturally prevails over damp soil. Therefore, many carnivorous plants require an environment with increased humidity . How high the humidity should be and how sensitive a plant reacts to air that is too dry depends on the species.
You can achieve increased humidity by placing the plant in a large open jar . If you partially or even completely close the jar, the humidity will rise even further. However, you should be careful with this. In a completely closed jar, heat builds up quickly in summer.
If you have several carnivorous plants, you can set up a terrarium for your plants .
As much light as possible
In addition to a lot of water, carnivorous plants also need a lot of light. In a north window, few species stand a chance of survival. A location on the south window is much more suitable. Here, however, you should offer protection from the midday sun. Although carnivores need a lot of light, they do not need direct sunlight. Again, this depends on the species.
In addition to the humidity, the right lighting is another reason for many plant lovers to keep their plants in a terrarium. So you can artificial lighting create the optimal lighting conditions This is only really necessary for particularly fastidious species. A bright south-facing window is sufficient for most plants.
Feed carnivorous plants?
Insects represent, so to speak, an additional food for carnivorous plants . They are not necessarily dependent on it. That’s why you don’t have to feed your carnivorous plant. In addition, you should not have high expectations of the amount of insects caught. One or the other insect will continue to fly around in your apartment in the future.
If you would like to observe the catching mechanism of a carnivore , you can of course feed your plant. However, you should only use live insects for this purpose. Most traps and the subsequent decomposition of the trapped insects only work if there is sufficient stimulus to movement from the trapped insect. Dead insects are not digested. Then they often start to get moldy.
Overwinter carnivorous plants properly
Carnivorous plants can come from a wide variety of climate zones. For example from the tropics, where the temperature is the same all year round. Other species come from temperate climates with a clear temperature difference between summer and winter. It is not good for these species if they stand on the windowsill at the same temperature all year round. There they miss the natural winter break. For this reason, you should overwinter some species at lower temperatures.
Carnivorous plants for beginners
There are many different types of carnivorous plants. some are quite undemanding and suitable for beginners. Others have very high standards and are out of the question for beginners. Before you buy a plant, you should find out in advance what requirements a plant has . Consider whether you can meet these requirements. This will save you disappointment.
The following three types are good for beginners:
The sundew forms long leaves covered with small tentacles. Small droplets of a sticky liquid form on each of these tentacles, glittering enticingly in the sun. The attracted insects stick to it and the leaf slowly begins to wrap itself around the trapped insect.
Sundew species that you can find in garden centers or hardware stores are usually very robust. They need a bright location . If necessary, you should place the sundew in a large jar or small glass box to provide higher humidity. You can tell whether this is necessary by looking at the tentacles: If the plant does not form dewdrops despite a good water supply, the humidity is too low.
The sundew does not need hibernation .
The butterwort forms large leaves that are arranged in a rosette. There are tiny droplets of a sticky liquid all over the leaf surface, which mainly attracts small insects such as fruit flies.
In contrast to other carnivore species, butterwort can also cope with relatively little light on a west or even north window.
3. pitcher plant
Pitcher plants form upright trumpet-shaped leaves with a smooth interior. Inside the leaves is a liquid. Caught insects cannot find a hold on the smooth inside and slip into the liquid.
Pitcher plants are considered good beginner plants. Since the plants come from temperate climate zones, most species need a cool, bright location with temperatures of around five to 15 degrees Celsius in winter.
A word about the Venus Flytrap
In the list of beginner plants, you may be missing the most well-known carnivorous plant, the Venus flytrap. This is simply because these plants are not the best beginner – even though they are very commonly available. The Venus flytrap requires a lot of light and a pronounced hibernation .
Once you have gained some experience with the beginner plants mentioned, you can try the Venus flytrap. Don’t be tempted to irritate the traps too often. After about seven attempts to capture the leaves die off . It takes a lot of energy for the plant to form new leaves. This is the reason why many beginners, and especially children, often simply “play to death” a Venus flytrap.