Sundew Care: How to Grow A Unique Carnivorous Plant

By Josh Koop •  Updated: 12/29/22 •  10 min read

Sundews, also known as Drosera, are a carnivorous plant species with about 200 different sub-species today, we will dive into general sundew care and how to treat these amazing plants.

All these types of sundews grow in and on nutrient-depleted, acidic soils but make up for it by catching their prey, like fruit flies and other insects.

The insect prey is drawn towards the nectar on the leaves of this plant. This nectar sticky traps the unsuspecting insect; the sundew then releases its digestive juices for easy digestion and assimilation of the nutrients from the insect.

Sundews are the only carnivorous plants found on all continents except Antarctica.

It can be a daunting task to grow these beautiful plants because they demand a lot of care before they grow up; this guide simplifies growing a sundew plant to its maximum potential.

We assume you need no further convincing as to why you need to plant some sundews!

Type of Sundews

Sundews are usually grouped based on how they grow and where they grow. This is due to differences in their growth and the assistance they will require to reach maturity.

The Temperate Sundews

These are sundews found in the regions of North America and Europe. They usually hibernate during the coldest months by forming a cluster of leaves known as the hibernaculum.

The shape the hibernaculum takes depends on the sundew species. The Drosera arcturi of Australia and New Zealand is also a temperate species.

The Subtropical Sundews

Found in the tropics, these sundews experience and maintain growth all year round because the weather conditions are almost uniform, with slight changes here and there.

The Pygmy Sundews

This group has dense hairs in the center to protect it from the harsh Australian sun. They have tiny hairs with a maximum of 20 millimeters in diameter.

They also produce gemmae to be able to reproduce asexually because they flower only when conditions are optimal. And even when they bloom, seeds are not produced efficiently.

They are found mainly in Australia.

The Tuberous Sundews

These are sunders with an advanced root system to help them survive the adverse conditions of little or no water in summer. They are a collection of approximately 50 Australian species.

The Petiolaris Sundew

They grow favorably in a warm environment and sometimes a wet climate.

Growth Conditions and Habitat

Sundews grow in a variety of habitats and under varying conditions. Conditions range from always wet/waterlogged soil, to soils that hold water in certain seasons, to soils with high acid content and high sum intensity.

Some sundews grow in arid regions. They survive by growing only when water is available, with the rain.

Several species of the sundew grow in areas where sphagnum moss is found. Sphagnum moss increases the acidity of the soil in which it grows and depletes the soil’s nutrients.

As a result, there are no plants to compete with Sundews which do not need the nutrients from the ground to survive.

Instead, they catch small crawling and flying organisms to fill the nutrient availability gap.

Generally, there are particular environmental conditions suitable for the growth of sundews, and it differs from one to another. Only a few of the species have enjoyed favorable growth across different environmental conditions.

For this reason, specific care to a particular species of sundew needs to be given. Or perhaps having the species grow in various conditions will lessen the burden.

If you’re looking to grow sundew at home, the soil mix that will give you the best possible results is a 1-to-1 mixture of peat moss and sand/perlite.

For the species used to hotter habitats, use a mix of sand and perlite.

Keeping Your Sundews

You can keep your sundews indoors or outdoors. Outdoor growing is advised only when the climate is suitable and optimum for growth. If not, grow it indoors and tune the growing conditions appropriately to suit the plant.

You can place the sundew by a sunny windowsill to get both natural and direct sunlight, or you can add fluorescent lights and provide food from insects you feed or that are naturally attracted to it.

Humidity is also a large factor to consider if the humidity levels are low (mostly indoors and in different parts of countries), you can increase it with a humidifier.

During dormancy, do not water the sundew as often as you used to. At most, keep the soil just damp.

It is important to note that the sundew’s natural habitat is crucial in where you keep them and how you care for them.

If the sundew comes from a predominantly cold and chilly climate, it is best to hold off watering during this rest period.

And if the sundew is from an environment that experiences hot and dry summers, remove them from wet conditions during this rest period.

Container/Pots to Use

Plastic containers are good enough to grow sundews as a potted plant. The carnivorous plant soil needs of the sundew determine how you will remodel the pot.

Sundews that grow in humid, wet, and soggy environments should be grown in plastic containers without holes to drain out excess water after you water them.

A container with a diameter of 4 inches is ideal for growing a tiny sundew. For larger sundews, a diameter of 8 inches is suited.

Pruning and Cleaning the Pot

Pruning a sundew is unnecessary because leaving dead leaves on the plant has no adverse effects. However, it may become essential if the dead leaves are diseased or plagued with pests.

Wash the pot once every 3 to 4 years. It is advisable to wash the pot or transplant it into a new pot when the sundew is dormant.

If the sundews are transplanted or the plant is cleaned when the plant is not fixed, the plant may become stressed and die off.

Watering the Sundew

Water to a maximum of 1 inch above soil level as it is obtainable with other carnivorous plants. Keep the soil slightly damp or dry when the plant is experiencing dormancy.

Be careful not to use water containing minerals or water from the tap. Using any of the above will cause the minerals to kill the plant.

Instead, use rainwater, purified and distilled water, demineralized water, and water from reverse osmosis.

Feeding Your Sundew

Sundews do not typically need to be fed. Still, if you keep yours in a terrarium or greenhouse, you could provide it crawling and flying insects you can get, or you can provide freeze-dried or frozen insects for your sundew.

In your search for insects to feed them, please do not provide them with insects with a hard exoskeleton, like crickets, cockroaches, and grasshoppers.

Feed them once a week, and that is all. Be careful not to overfeed them.

Use of Fertilizers

Using fertilizers in the growth and care of sundews is a very tricky concept as potting soils are not useable without possibly killing your plants.

Using fertilizers depends on several factors that are not the same as standard plants; you want to get a carnivorous plant soil mix instead.

Fertilizer usage is only advised when the sundew is grown indoors and does not get to catch insects; because sundews are generally produced on nutrient-deficient soil, and catching insects is the only way to compensate for this.

The fertilizer to be used should be suited for acid-loving plants.

A few species of sundews do not require fertilization because they grow in humid conditions. Examples of such species are Drosera schizandra, D. prolifera, and D. adelae.

Pests and How to Guard Against Them

Sundews take care of most aspects of their lives, not pests or diseases. The type of pest attacks or disease depends on several factors; the number of dead leaves present, humidity, or fertilizers.

For proper treatment, you must know the type of pest plaguing the plant. Put a white paper under the plant, shake the plant’s leaves, and study the bugs that fall off.


Among pests, aphids cause the most damage to carnivorous plants. They are not easily seen, so you have to look carefully. Aphids usually come in green, white, and black colors. They cause damage by sucking the juices off the leaves.

If you still cannot clearly say if it is an aphid, look at the affected and dying leaves. The leaves usually appear twisted and weak. A potent insecticide will get rid of them for you.


Mealybugs usually attack sundews en masse and make the leaves of sundews appear to have a white mass when seen from afar.

Mealybugs do not look like they would be mass damage-inducing pests, but they cause massive damage. Who would see a fluffy white bug as a potential death cause to a carnivorous plant?

Treat with systemic insecticides for better results.


Gnats affect the soil in their larva form. They are little flies that swarm the leaves of sundews. You can treat them with insecticides or by washing the plates under running water.

Snails and Slugs

These everyday mollusks feed off plants’ vegetative parts, and sundews are not excused. Snails and slugs usually target fresh leaves; they chew holes into them.

No particular procedure is needed to handle the situation here. Simple hand-picking of snails and slugs solves the problem.

Spider Mites

Spider mites cause severe problems for sundews. They can be red, black or white. Treat affected plants with miticides. Insecticides do not help in any way when it involves mites.


Dormancy is a way to survive a particular environmental by becoming less active. Less active here means stunted or no growth, no feeding, minimal metabolism, and the formation of specialized parts.

Sundews go dormant for different reasons. Sundews in Australia go dormant because of the heat, while North America and Europe’s sundews undergo dormancy because of the cold.

The other sundews can survive any environmental condition thrown at it, not to the extreme but to a certain degree.


There are two significant ways of propagating sundews. They are:

The Use of Seeds

The year’s colder season is chosen because it is the best time to grow sundews.

Get the seeds for the sundew, and pour the mixed soil of 1 to 1 peat moss and sand/perlite into a plastic container with a lid.

The soil should be damp, and place the seeds on the earth. Cover the top of the box as this increases humidity and enables a favorable growth condition.

The container is covered for 2 to 3 weeks, after which you take the lid off for an average of 5 weeks. It should not be more than six weeks. When the cover is off, place the container under the sun’s direct rays or lights.

When the seedlings are ready to be transplanted, transfer them into a pot of about 4 inches. Place the remaining seeds in the fridge for future use.

Leaf Propagation

Leaf propagation of sundews is generally regarded as the best form of propagation.

Cut a few leaves and place them in a bowl of water (rainwater, demineralized water, or any other earlier mentioned) for two months. After two months have elapsed, reduce the water level of the bowl.

Get a soil mix of perlite and sphagnum moss, put it in a 4-inch plastic container, and place just one of the leaves. One leaf per box.

Josh Koop

I have been fascinated with carnivorous plants since I was a little kid and my dad had me watch Little Shop of Horrors and ever since these plants have just absorbed my attention as they are amazing. I hope to share this love with everyone now and help grow you all into carnivorous plant lovers also!