Most people are familiar with well-known carnivorous plants like Venus flytraps, but there are lots of other beautiful types to grow, too.
The hardy species, which include sarracenias and Venus flytraps, have a few care requirements. Firstly, always water with rainwater from a water butt or bucket left outside, and keep the compost moist. Secondly, they need lots of direct sunlight and lastly, a period of winter cold is required – an unheated shed, conservatory or greenhouse is ideal.
Tropical species, such as nepenthes, have slightly different care requirements – no period of winter rest is needed, they enjoy bright light with little direct sun and they need plenty of warmth and humidity. A bright, steamy bathroom is ideal. Rainwater is still best when watering. Unlike the hardy species, tropical species aren’t bog plants, so don’t need to be standing in water all the time.
Discover some of our favourite carnivorous plants to grow.
Sarracenia flava var. atropurpurea
Sarracenias hybridise readily, so there are lots of beautiful hybrids to grow. Sarracenia flava var. atropurpurea has attractive plum-coloured pitchers that can reach 90cm in height. Grow in full sun, which will produce the best pitcher colour. Hardy.
Plum-coloured sarracenia pitchers
Heliamphoras are native to the flat, tabletop mountains, called tepuis, of Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil. Heliamphora purpurescens is a Venezuelan species, enjoying low temperatures and bright light to grow well. Tender.
Pink-edged, green heliamphora pitchers
Sarracenia ‘Juthatip Soper x S. leucophylla‘
‘Juthatip Soper x S. leucophylla’ is a stunning variety that combines the green and purple pitchers of ‘Juthatip Soper’ with the white and green pitchers of Sarracenia leucophylla. Like other sarracenias it has lovely flowers – those of this variety are deep crimson. Hardy.
Frilly-edged, magenta and white pitchers of a sarracenia cross
Cephalotus follicularis, Albany pitcher plant
Albany pitcher plants, Cephalotus follicularis, are among the smallest carnivorous plants you can grow. The tiny pitchers are covered in tiny hairs, and have ridges running from top to bottom that serve to guide insects to their fate. Tender.
Miniature Albany pitcher plant
Sarracenia flava var. rugelii
Sarracenia flava var. rugelii is an attractive all green pitcher, with the exception of the blotchy purple throats, which serve to lure prey. This sarracenia grows to 80cm tall. Hardy.
Purple-blotched, green sarracenia pitchers
Drosera binata var. multifida, forked sundew
Droseras are commonly known as sundews. They trap their pray by luring them in with glistening, sweet secretions that stick to unfortunate insects. Most species are able to bend their leaves and tentacles around trapped prey, which allows more digestive enzymes to come into contact with it, speeding digestion. Drosera binata var. multifida is an especially attractive forked sundew. Frost hardy.
Pink-haired, forked sundew
Nepenthes x ventrata, monkey cup
This hybrid tropical pitcher plant is one of the easiest to grow. Grow it in a warm, bright room in a hanging container, ideally where it can receive a few hours of direct sun a day. Keep the soil moist at all times and give it a regular misting. Tender.
Hanging, red-bronze pitchers of the monkey cup
Sarracenia minor ‘Okefenokee Giant’, hooded pitcher plant
Hooded pitcher plants, Sarracenia minor, typically reach around 30cm in height, but the pitchers of ‘Okefenokee Giant’ can reach 80cm. The backs of the pitchers are covered in white spots and are thought to act as a a lure. Hardy.
Tall, hooded, green pitchers of ‘Okefenokee Giant’
Dionaea muscipula, Venus fly trap
Venus fly traps (Dionaea muscipula) are one of the most frequently grown carnivorous plants – people can’t get enough of their quickly snapping leaves. Grow it in full sun in a warm, bright room and keep well watered with rainwater. Mist them regularly to boost humidity. Frost hardy.
Venus fly trap
Sarracenia flava var. maxima
Sarracenia flava var. maxima is an elegant, all green pitcher plant that grows to around 90cm in height. The lime green foliage is perfect for providing contrast with purple- and white-coloured pitchers. Hardy.
Fluted, lime-green sarracenia pitchers
Carnivorous plants and peat
Carnivorous plants grow best in a medium that is low in nutrients, traditionally peat. However, given the environmental impact of peat harvesting, it’s good to use an alternative such as Moorland Gold, which is created without damage to peat bogs.