Why won’t my carnivorous plant grow? Causes and solutions

Carnivorous plants are quite different from the rest. They have evolved developing increasingly sophisticated traps, since their own survival depends on it. But when they are grown, sometimes problems arise, because their needs are not the same as those of a rose bush, for example.

Therefore, it may be the case that we end up wondering why my carnivorous plant does not grow. Thus, once we know the causes, we can take the appropriate measures and prevent it from happening again.

Carnivorous plants are generally slow-growing plants. But that does not mean that you do not notice any change with the passing of the months; in fact, the normal thing is that as soon as a trap is in disuse, another one is sprouting to replace it. But when there is something we are doing wrong in the crop, the production of new traps just stops. Why? There are several possible causes:

  • Poor aeration of the roots
  • Sun exposure without prior acclimatization
  • Inadequate substrate
  • Lack or excess watering
  • The pot has become too small
  • Plant fertilizer

As you can see, there are several reasons why a carnivore no longer grows as much as it used to. Therefore, we are going to see in detail why this happens and what to do.

Poor aeration of the roots

Our plants need their roots to grow in substrates that drain water very well. If they are only kept with blond peat, this can cause a lot of damage to carnivores, especially those more delicate, such as Drosophyllum or the Heliamphora. For this reason, it is recommended to mix it with perlite, quartz sand and / or vermiculite; plus, we have to plant them in plastic pots with holes (no plate underneath, except if they are Sarracenia), since this way we keep the roots properly aerated.

Sun exposure without prior acclimatization

Sarracenia are carnivores that want sun

Not all species of carnivores have to be in full sun. What’s more, only the Sarracenia, the Drosophyllum and the Dionaea have to be used. But the rest, that is, Drosera, Cephalotus, Heliamphora, etc., are plants that are better in shade, or at most semi-shade. Anyway, even if you have one, for example Sarracenia, If you have just bought it or if you have had it protected from the star for a long time, you will have to get used to it little by little so that it does not stop growing, and also so that it does not burn.

How to acclimatize it? Always little by little, without haste, and gradually. You have to put it in the sun first thing in the morning, or last thing in the afternoon, an hour or two at most for a week. From the second, increase the exposure time by one hour. If you see that it is turning brown or black, reduce the time a bit. As the months go by, you will see that it gets used to it.

Inadequate substrate

If nutrient-rich substrates are used, like most of those sold in nurseries, we will not get the carnivores to grow. These plants cannot absorb all these nutrients through their roots.as they have not evolved for that. They live in environments where the land has little nutritional richness, so they should only be cultivated on poor substrates.

So that you know which substrate to choose according to gender, you have to know the following:

  • Cephalotus: 60% blond peat * with 40% perlite.
  • Darlingtonia: use live sphagnum moss.
  • Dionaea: 70% blond peat with 30% perlite.
  • Drosera: ditto.
  • Nepenthes: ditto, or live sphagnum moss.
  • Pinguicuila: 70% blond peat with 30% perlite.
  • Sarracenia: blond peat with equal parts perlite.
  • Utricularia: 70% blond peat with 30% perlite.

* The blonde peat has to be unpaid, in all cases in which it is used.

Another option is to buy ready-made substrate, like this one they sell here!.

Lack or excess watering

Carnivores, in general, they need frequent waterings. Therefore, when the substrate is allowed to dry completely, these plants die quickly. But be careful, they also do it when we water them too much. How to know that they have little or a lot of water ?:

  • Symptoms of lack of irrigation:
    • Newer leaves and / or traps turn yellow
    • The plant looks ‘sad’, due to the loss of strength of the stems
  • Symptoms of overwatering:
    • The leaves, usually starting with the oldest, turn yellow and / or brown quickly
    • The roots rot

To do? Well, if it is a lack of watering, the solution is easy: put a plate under the pot and fill it with water as many times as necessary until you see that the substrate is completely wet again.

However if it is excess watering, it will be more difficult to recover it because the roots will be very damaged. You can remove it from the pot, remove all the substrate you can -without manipulating the roots much-, and then plant it in another pot with new substrate, without watering. If you put it in the shade, and rehydrate it after a few days, it may recover.

Important: when watering, use distilled or rain water as pure as possible.

The pot has become too small

The sundew is a carnivore that produces suckers

This is one of the most common reasons. It is true, many carnivores are small in themselves and can be grown in the same pot throughout their lives, but those that take suckers, such as Sarracenia or Drosera, will need a larger container from time to timeespecially the first ones. So if you see that the roots are coming out of the holes, or if they have already occupied the entire pot to the point that it is impossible for them to continue growing, it will be a good idea to transplant them.

How are carnivores transplanted? With care and patience, in spring. First you have to prepare the substrate and moisten it thoroughly, so that it is easier for you to carry out the transplant. Then, fill the pot, introduce the plant making sure it is not high, and finally fill the container completely.

Plant fertilizer

If you have fertilized your carnivorous plant, it will stop growing. These are plants that they do not have to be paidsince doing so its roots are ‘burned’. The fact that they are carnivorous is because they have traps that allow them to hunt their food, like insects, so that they never have to be fertilized. But once it is done, you have to remove the substrate and wash its roots with distilled water, and then plant it in another pot with new substrate.

What you can do is leave it outside so it can feed. If it is kept in a terrarium indoors, it is also a good idea to give them a fly very occasionally (about twice a month or so), but only if insecticide has not been applied.

Heliamphora is a slow growing carnivore

And with this we have finished the article. We hope that you have been able to identify the problem so that your carnivore continues to grow.

Why won’t my carnivorous plant grow? Causes and solutions

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