FAQ & Videos

Below is a link to our YouTube channel where I will add relevant videos on cultivation, and also practical demonstrations:

http://www.youtube.com/user/HCCarnivorousplants?feature=mhee

Here are a selection of questions we are often asked:

Q. Aren't carnivorous plants difficult to grow?
A. As far as the majority of commonly grown species are concerned, the answer to this is no. See the Growing Guides page for more information on the 3 golden rules. As with any group of plants, there are those species which require more specialist conditions, but these are unlikely to be encountered by the beginner.

Q. Aren't they all tropical?
A. No, very few carnivorous plants would thrive in what you would imagine as being tropical conditions ie. hot and humid with low to medium light levels. An example those that would, would be some of the lowland Nepenthes species, and one or two Drosera species. Most need high light levels, and of course the temperate plants such as the Venus Fly Trap and Sarracenia Pitcher Plants must have their cold dormacy respected.

Q. Do they eat, cheese, ham, biscuits, cats, neighbours etc.?
A. No, (and don't be silly!). As a rule of thumb, if it's not alive don't feed it to your plants. Items such as ham and cheese are just likely to rot the leaves of your plants.

Q. Are they poisonous?
A. Not so as to be a hazard to people or their pets. Many carnivorous plants have anthocyanin as their red pigmentation. This compound is completely harmless (look at the ingredients of certain foods and you'll see these used as colourants). The Venus Fly Trap has Plumbagin as it's red pigment which is poisonous, but is found in such small concentrations it presents no hazard.

Q. Why do my Venus Fly Traps always die?
A. Again, the 3 golden rules need to be adhered to-full sun, use only rain water, and allow them their cold winter dormacy. We have some plants which are well over twenty years old. A re-pot and divide every two to three years also helps to maintain vigour.

Q. I tried to grow them from seed, but they never germinate, why?
A. For a seed to germinate any number of variables must be considered. When virtually any seed is shed by the parent plant, it is in a dormant state (there are a very few exceptions), and certain conditions must be present for this dormacy to be broken and germination to take place. For some like mustard and cress, light and water are all thats needed, but for many plants other conditions must be present. A classic example of failure is with the Sarracenia pitcher plants. These as with many temperate plants, shed their seeds in the Autumn. If the seeds germinated immediately, they would be at high risk of being killed by the first frosts of winter because of their small size. They therefore require a period of cold, known as stratification, before they will grow. This mimics the winter period, and when over, germination can take place. Stratification can take place in a cold greenhouse (sow in the autumn, and you will see growth in the spring), or in a fridge where the seeds can be stored for 6-8 weeks before sowing. This is the same for all temperate species including the Venus Fly Trap, Cobra Lily, and some Sundew species. Storage of seed is another important factor. When a seed is shed it has a pre-determined viability period, after which the likelihood of germination decreases rapidly. In the case of one Nepenthes species (Tropical Pitcher Plant) this can be as little as one week, whilst in others such as the Portuguese dewy pine (Drosophyllum) it can be years. To maintain and preserve some of this viability seed should be stored in the fridge, in paper envelopes and labelled correctly. Don't freeze any seed or you will kill it so don't be tempted to store them in the freezer! The seed must be stored dry, so ensure they have no moisture on them which would encourage moulds to develop. The seed kits you see for carnivorous plants in garden centres and the like, have usually been stored for a long time on the shop floor at high temperatures, and are therefore unlikely to germinate even if you do allow them a period of stratification Other seeds require different conditions, so if you're not sure please ask.