When and how to plant seeds of carnivorous plants?

Carnivorous plants are most curious. Both children and adults are amazed to see that their leaves are not the typical ones that other plants have, but that they have become more sophisticated traps.

Although I’m not going to fool you, it is common that when you buy one … you end up with a few more. Therefore, one way to save a little money, and incidentally expand the collection, is to get seeds of carnivorous plants and plant them. But, how?

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When are the seeds of carnivorous plants sown?

Sundew germinates well from seeds

Image – Wikimedia / incidencematrix

There are many types of carnivorous plants, and not all of them flower and therefore bear fruit at the same time. But overall, sowing time is from mid / late spring to summer. These plants need heat to germinate, so in those seasons they will have many possibilities to grow and become those plants that amaze us so much.

The viability period is short, so we do not recommend sowing seeds from previous years, since they will have many difficulties to germinate.

How are they sown step by step?

The seedbeds of carnivores must have blond peat or moss

Image – Flickr / David Eickhoff

The step by step to follow is as follows:

Buy seeds from specialized sellers

Nowadays they sell seeds of carnivorous plants everywhere, at very different prices. But after reading the comments of many people, both in forums and in electronic stores where they sell everything, I recommend that you get seeds in specialized sites, either online stores in which they only sell this type of plants, or in forums of associations and / or collectors.

Believe me, that will be the guarantee that these seeds are, in truth, of the species that interest you, and that, in addition, they are viable, so by following the advice that we will tell you now, they will have many possibilities to germinate.

Prepare the material you will need

You really won’t need much to sow your seeds, just the following:

  • Plastic container with holes in the base: it can be a flowerpot, a tray, a glass of yogurt, … whatever. But if you use a food or drink container, clean it first with distilled water and a little dish soap.
  • Plate / tray: it is interesting to put it under the pot or tray that is used as a seedbed. In this way, the substrate will remain wet for a longer time since, when watering, the water will remain stagnant in the dish, and this will be absorbed by the substrate.
  • Substratum*: will vary depending on the type of carnivore. The base will be (almost) always unfertilized blond peat.
    • Cephalotus: 60% blond peat must be mixed with 40% perlite or quartz sand. 
    • Darlingtonia: 100% live sphagnum moss.
    • Dionaea: you can mix either peat moss with 50% quartz sand, or 70% peat moss with 30% perlite. 
    • Sundew: mix 70% blond peat with 30% perlite. 
    • Nepenthes: Mix 70% peat moss with 30% perlite, or 100% live sphagnum moss. 
    • Pinguicula: you have to mix blond peat with 30% perlite. 
    • Sarracenia: mixture of blond peat with sand in equal parts, or with blond peat mixed with 30% perlite or vermiculite. 
    • Utricularia: mix 70% blond peat with 30% perlite. 
  • Water: it has to be as pure and clean rain as possible. If you don’t get it, a good alternative is distilled or osmosis water, or one with a very weak mineralization whose dry residue is less than 200ppm (like that of the Bezoya brand).
  • Gibberellic acid (GA3) *: this is optional, but highly recommended for beginners and for tricky seeds like Darlingtonia and Nepenthes. It is a hormone that stimulates germination, and is used in the following way:
    1. First you have to introduce 100mg of this acid in a glass, and then pour a little pure or 96º alcohol until it dissolves.
    2. Then, you have to add 100ml of distilled or rain water, and mix.
    3. Finally, you have to keep it in the fridge (not in the freezer, but in the part where you put the fruit, dairy, etc.) for a maximum of 14 days.

* You can get it by clicking on the links: blond peat, vermiculite, perlite, live sphagnum moss y quartz sand, as well as gibberellic acid.

Sow the seeds

Sarracenia is sown in spring-summer

Image – Wikimedia / Aaron Carlson from Menomonie, WI, USA

When you have everything ready, it will be time to sow the seeds. For it, it is important that you prepare the substrate, and water it well, until it is completely wet. The ideal is that it is not flooded, so you have to pour water little by little; If you prefer, another option is to fill a container -without holes- with water, pour in the substrate, and when you are going to use it squeeze it as if it were a sponge to remove the excess water.

Then you have to fill the seedbed (Remember that it must be a plastic container with holes in the base) with the substrate, and place the seeds on the surface. Make sure they are as far apart as possible, avoiding making piles. Then, bury them a little bit (no more than a centimeter), and add if you want a little gibberellic acid.

Finally, place the plate or tray under the seedbed, and place it in a bright area but without direct sun (unless you have planted Sarracenia or Dionaea, in which case they must be in full sun).

Have a happy planting!

When and how to plant seeds of carnivorous plants?

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