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.
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Sarracenia 'Juthatip Soper', pitcher plant
Sarracenias hybridise readily, so there are lots of beautiful hybrids to grow. Sarracenia ‘Juthatip Soper’ has glorious pink and red pitchers that can reach 30cm in height. Grow in full sun, which will produce the best pitcher colour. Frost hardy.
Sarracenia flava, yellow pitcher plant
Sarracenia flava is an eye-catching species that produces tall lime-green pitchers with red veining on the throats and erect hoods. The dramatic yellow flowers reach 10cm across. Frost hardy.
Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa, purple pitcher plant
With squat pitchers reaching only 30cm in height, Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa is a compact variety of this attractive carnivorous plant. The green traps have dramatic purple-red veining which continues onto the upright hoods. Frost hardy.
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.
Nepenthes x ventrata, monkey cup
This hybrid tropical pitcher plant is one of the easiest to grow. Grow Nepenthes x ventrata 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.
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. Frost hardy.
Dionaea muscipula, Venus flytrap
Venus flytraps (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.
Sarracenia flava var. cuprea, copper top pitcher plant
Sarracenia flava var. cuprea is an elegant pitcher plant that grows to around 80cm in height. The slender green traps have red veining which becomes more conspicuous on the underside of the coppery-brown hoods that gave rise to its common name: the copper top pitcher plant. Frost hardy.
Cephalotus follicularis, Australian pitcher plant
The Australian pitcher plant (Cephalotus follicularis) is a tiny species with a big appetite. The 10cm tall traps resemble open mouths with 24 bands of red ‘teeth’ and a heavily veined pale upper lip formed by the overarching hood. Tender.
Sarracenia flava var. maxima, pitcher plant
Drosera capensis, Cape sundew
Like Drosera binata var. multifida, the Cape sundew (Drosera capensis) has many strap-like leaves covered in sticky hairs that trap their insect prey. Plants reach 15cm in height and produce pink flowers on green stems during the growing season. Frost hardy.
Advice on buying carnivorous plants
- Make sure you have the right conditions for your plants before purchasing
- Many carnivorous plants are grown in peat-based compost, so it is worth trying to find a peat-free supplier and asking what the plants have been grown in before buying
- Always buy plants from reputable suppliers or specialist nurseries