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Beginners Guide to Carnivorous Plants January 23 2019

Anyone who knows my work will spot a recurring trend. Carnivorous plants often pop up on my wallpaper and homewares. These beautiful and savage plants can be tricky to look after. I have asked David Fefferman from CarnivorousPlantResource.com to give us some tips on how not to kill our darlings!
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Let me start by introducing myself - my name is David Fefferman and I started CarnivorousPlantResource.com a few years ago with the goal of making carnivorous plant information more accessible and less intimidating to more people. We have a growing database of carnivorous plants, a ton of grow guides to help folks along their growing journey, and we opened a marketplace for artists in the community to sell their awesome botanical artwork. It’s a great opportunity for folks in the community to support one-another, and because we donate a portion of proceeds to wild carnivorous plant conservation, everyone who participates is giving back.
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Sarracenia purpurea
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While fascinating and beautiful, I fully understand how getting started with carnivorous plants can seem intimidating. Many folks, maybe even you, have picked up a Venus flytrap, pitcher plant, or sundew from HomeDepot, only to have it promptly die. There’s a reason for that, and it’s likely not your the fault.
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Venus flytrap 
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The Basics 
Watering Carnivorous Plants: Carnivorous plants require very pure water - either distilled, or reverse osmosis water. For a super in-depth breakdown, check out this detailed post on watering carnivorous plants. At the core, carnivorous plants grow in very nutrient-poor soils and have evolved carnivory as a means to extract nitrogen and nutrients from their environment via insect prey. Their roots have become very sensitive to nutrients in soil, and so the minerals in tap water will actually burn them and eventually kill the plant. HomeDepot doesn’t discriminate when they pull out the garden hose to water everything, and so you often pick up an incorrectly-watered plant from them. Or the opposite happens, and the plants are shipped in such water-tight containers that they don’t receive any water, which dehydrates the plant.
Give the plant a water tray, and top it off with good quality water when you see it getting low.
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 Drosera capensis
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Feeding: Probably the most fun thing about owning carnivorous plants! Every time a flytrap trap closes, it uses energy from the plant, so while I know you’re tempted, try to only play with the traps if you’re actually feeding them. They don’t require to be fed much, and if you feed every trap, you may actually temporarily weaken the plant as it expends energy digesting food. Feed pitcher plants and sundews to your heart’s content!
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Sarracenia Judith Hindle
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Sunlight: Most common carnivorous plants like Venus flytraps, North American pitcher plants, and sundews enjoy very bright, even direct light. I grow all of these plants outdoors in sunny Southern California, and they love it! I recommend outdoor growing, but if you can’t, use the brightest windowsill you can find. Other plants like Tropical pitcher plants will prefer a windowsill to outside growing.
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 Dionaea muscipula
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Respect Dormancy: All flytraps and North American pitcher plants require a dormancy period during the darker, cooler winter months, generally between mid-November and March. During this time, leaves will die back, and growth will stop. Don’t worry! The plant is sending all of its energy into the root system and will pop back to life come spring time.
Tropical pitcher plants and most common sundews don’t require a dormancy period.
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 Nepenthes spathulata x robcantleyi
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Fertilization: Avoid fertilization of Venus flytraps and sundews unless you’re an advanced grower and know how to apply them correctly in diluted quantities. For pitcher plants, you can apply a little bit of diluted liquid fertilizer (Maxsea is a very good one for carnivorous plants) in the pitcher, and the plant will absorb it. Be careful, though! If the fertilize solution is too strong, it will burn the pitcher and turn it crispy. It’s always better to err on the side of a weaker, or more diluted fertilizer at 50% or less of the recommended strength.
 
I hope this quick beginner’s guide to growing carnivorous plants helps you along your journey, and if you need more information or just want to see pretty pictures of plants, check out the website, or our Instagram.
Happy growing!