It can be a challenge to care for Drosera Capensis, as it requires a very specific environment. The list below includes key considerations when growing Cape Sundews.
- Soil: Employ nutrient-free and fertilizer free soil—a mixture of peat moss or sphagnum moss with peat or silica sand is a suitable option.
- Lighting: These plants need lots of light. You can employ artificial or natural light. The minimum amount of light exposure is 6 hours. Optimally, provide 8-12 hours of light.
- Temperature needs: They need temperatures between 20 and 35 C (68 – 100 F) during the summer. During the winter, it is recommended that the temperature oscillates over 10 C (50 F).
- Watering needs: Cape Sundews must remain in humid soil at all times. Water often or employ the water tray method to keep the soil moist.
- Feeding: Only feed indoor plants; outdoor plants capture their own food. When feeding, employ bugs and only feed once or twice a month.
- Trimming: Use sharp scissors to trim dead leaves when necessary. Please do not cut off leaves until they have entirely withered.
- Humidity needs: Keep humidity levels between 40% and 70%. A humidifier is a practical solution to increase the humidity indoors.
- Use of Fertilizers: It is possible to fertilize Sundews, but it must be done with care. Avoid fertilizing to prevent damage.
- Dormancy: they do not require dormancy, but their growth can be stalled due to cold weather exposure.
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In this article, I will expand on every detail you need to know about caring for Drosera Capensis. I will give you key strategies to keep them alive and healthy.
Drosera Capensis, also known as Cape Sundew, is a species of carnivorous plant. It is one of the easiest of this genre to breed in captivity. Some of the most remarkable characteristics of this marvelous carnivorous plant are:
- It is a perennial carnivorous plant with rhizomatous roots and about 30 cm high.
- The leaves are linear 6.5 cm long. These leaves grow directly from the substrate, which is why the plant lacks a visible stem.
- Its leaves are covered with trichomes, hairs that secrete a sweet and sticky substance called mucilage, which serves to attract and trap its prey.
- It produces numerous pink flowers of about 1 cm, which open at dawn and close at sunset. These flowers have a one day life only.
- The flowers self-pollinate after closing and produce many small seeds, which fall from the bud once dry.
Some of the most common species that we can have in our garden are:
- Drosera Capensis’ Wide Leaf’: Similar to the type species, but produces broader leaves. Vivid pink flowers
- Drosera Capensis ‘Narrow Leaf’: it differs from the previous variety in the leaves, only 6 mm.
- Drosera Capensis’ Red’: as the name of the variety indicates, it is red, the only characteristic that differentiates it from the ‘Narrow Leaf’ shape. Dark pink flowers.
- Drosera Capensis ‘Albino’: It is also similar in shape to the variety ‘Narrow,’ but its flowers are white, and the trichomes of the leaves are transparent with pale pink glands.
Cape Sundews are native to the African continent, specifically South Africa, although we can find some varieties from Europe or Australia. In nature, they tend to live in humid places and soils low in nutrients, such as swamps, permanent water infiltrations, moist shrub formations at the edge of streams.
Drosera Capensis Care Guide
Now we will explain some of the most important cares that we must know to be successful with this plant in our wonderful hobby of gardening. First of all, we must understand that this plant is recommended to be kept outside, being more challenging to keep this species of carnivorous plant indoors.
Cape Sundews need good lighting to develop correctly. They need at least 6 hours and optimally 8 to 12 hours of sunlight. Like all sundews, it grows very well in the shade, as long as it has very good artificial lighting, although it is recommended that it receive some hours of direct sunlight. It acquires a slight reddish tone when in contact with direct sun. It is essential to avoid the day’s central hours only in summer since it is likely that it could burn our plant if it is not well acclimatized.
Our recommendation for a healthy Cape Sundew is to place it in direct sunlight during winter. However, when summer arrives, we will have to move it to a place where it receives sunlight, but not directly since if the temperatures are too high, our plant could die.
For this species, in particular, we must provide a substrate that maintains humidity well, has adequate drainage capacity, and last but not least, is low in nutrients and minerals. This is because, as we have said before, this carnivorous plant lives in places where the soils are relatively low in nutrients. Therefore, their roots are not prepared to absorb them.
An appropriate soil for Cape Sundews is a mixture of 50% pure peat moss and 50% perlite. Pure peat fulfills the function of retaining moisture without adding nutrients. On the other hand, the perlite will be in charge of granting good drainage to our substrate.
You can buy carnivorous plants, but making it is not complicated. This article teaches you many options of how to make carnivorous plant soil.
The Drosera capensis needs moisture at all times. For this reason, we must water it generally every two days. A good recommendation would be to water to employ the water tray method, put the pot on a tray with approximately 2.5 centimeters ( 1 inch) of water to absorb the water it needs.
One factor that we must consider when manually watering our Drosera Capensis is that we must avoid wetting our plant’s leaves since this is harmful to it.
We should note that this is where beginners make most mistakes with these carnivorous plants.
Sundews feed in the following way:
First, it attracts and traps its prey, usually insects with the mucilage that it secretes. Later, when the slimy tentacles immobilize the insect, the leaves fold and surround the prey, while the mobile tentacles prevent the target from escaping. The plant acts as an external stomach, which secretes digestive enzymes that break down the prey’s proteins and form a nutritious slurry that is absorbed at the cellular level.
If our Sundew Cape is located outside, it is not necessary to feed it manually. It will search for the food it needs, attracting its prey with the mucilage it secretes. However, if our plant is inside our house and insects have no possibility of reaching the plant by themselves, we can try to feed it manually ourselves. If this is our case, we must bear in mind that this species of carnivorous plant feeds only twice a month, at most three.
When it comes to feeding it, we must add that we only have to provide it with small insects, such as flies or spiders. Likewise, we must avoid giving food such as meat, fish, or anything else that is not insects.
This type of carnivorous plant is of subtropical order. Cape Sundews do not have a hibernation time, but that doesn’t mean they won’t exhibit change. Depending on which area you grow them, and you have them outside, they also get a bit ugly if it is freezing, it is normal, and they can even lose all the leaves/traps until early spring, which is when they reappear from the roots. So if they become inconspicuous, don’t worry or think they’re dead, not at all. Just a little patience, and as soon as there are more hours of light, they will start to sprout again.
If the area where we live is too cold (freezing temperatures) and this happens, our recommendation is to store the plant in a covered place where the light will shine on it and wait for the winter to end, and place it outside again. It is essential that at this time of year, we do not stop watering it. Another critical factor is that it is not advisable to use heating where we place our plant.
As the summer goes on, the plants begin to slow down their growth, withering more leaves than they create. It is an excellent time to clean the plants and thus prevent the fungus from appearing or rotting withered leaves and being an aesthetic issue.
First of all, we will need small and sharp scissors to have previously disinfected to avoid infections in the cuts. It would also be advisable to have a pair of tweezers to reach difficult places. Once this is done, we do not need anything else; take our plant and start pruning.
Prune all the leaves with a withered appearance or that the part of the trap has already dried. If there is still part of the trap without withering, we will leave it, especially if it has prey since it will always be feeding on it.
Once we have finished pruning, it may happen that much of the central trunk of the plant has been exposed, but there is no problem since we can bury it up to the part where the healthy leaves begin.
Cape Sundews will need temperatures between 20 and 35 C (68 – 100 F) during the summer. During the winter, it is recommended that the temperature oscillates over 10 degrees Celsius.
This carnivorous plant can resist high temperatures at 37 degrees ( and temperatures as low as freezing. However, it is not advisable to expose them to these extreme temperatures since they will not withstand them for a long time.
Optimal Humidity Levels
As we have already mentioned in this article, the substrate on which our plant sits must have constant humidity. Concerning environmental humidity, it must be between 40% and 70%.
To increase the humidity of our Cape Sundew, we must avoid spraying it with sprays directly. This is because it is not recommended to wet its leaves. We should not wet its leaves because it can affect the mucilage that it secretes to attract its prey.
The Use of Fertilizers
As we have already said before, this type of carnivorous plant lives in areas where the soil is poor in nutrients, and therefore, its roots are not adapted to absorb them. Due to this, these types of plants have been adapted to be able to hunt insects and thus supply their needs and obtain the necessary nutrients for their growth.
It is not recommended to add any type of fertilizers to the substrate of our Sundew. In the case of doing it, this can be more harmful than beneficial for our plant.
Cape Sundew Propagation
Drosera Capensis is a species of easy propagation, both by seeds and cuttings of leaves or rhizomes’ division. The simplest and most effective way is using seeds, characterizing that these have a high percentage of germination.
The leaf cuttings are obtained from healthy plants, and the method consists of cutting pieces of leaves and sowing in fertile substrate. Propagation by the rhizomes division is carried out by the “water float” method, where the rhizomes are placed in demineralized water until new seedlings start to form.
Dos and Don’t for Growing Cape Sundews
- One of the mistakes that we often make is watering with inappropriate water for these types of plants. Although there is a type of water that is ideal for all plant beings, which is rain, it is very scarce in many places, and we will be forced to use other types. But we should never water with tap water if it is very hard. To check its hardness, we can do it with a TDS meter and introduce the sensor in the water; if it comes out a value lower than 100 (ideally between 0 and 50), we can water with it. Instead, employ distilled water, reverse osmosis water, or rainwater.
- Fertilizers are beneficial for optimal plant growth; however, the roots of carnivores cannot absorb the nutrients directly. For this reason, we must avoid them.
- We must try to touch the traps of our plant as little as possible, not to say that we should not touch them. In the event that hand feeding is necessary, we must try to ensure that only the insect comes into contact with the plant. If possible, we can place it on a single trap without touching the others, in the fastest and cleanest way possible.
- We have a Cape Sundew that neither grows nor wanes, and we wonder why. Perhaps we have also noticed that the leaves get smaller, or even the roots come out through the drainage holes. It is highly likely that the main reason is that it does not have room to grow. Transplantation is a task that we will have to do every two years or so.
For information on carnivorous plant care, read this full guide: Carnivorous Plant Care Guide (From Beginners to Advanced)