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Growing Dionaea From Seeds

Growing Dionaea From Seeds

Buying Cheap Dionaea Seeds

First sprouts emerging!
First sprouts emerging!

I tried my luck by buying Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) seeds on eBay. As I’ve already found out, it’s not really the best idea to buy carnivorous plant seeds from eBay or Aliexpress. It’s almost impossible to receive the seeds you would like. I’ve learned my lession when I bought Carolina Reaper and Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Chili seeds. I received some seriously interesting hybrids and a nice collection of yellow, red and orange habaneros. Despite my better judgement, I decided to try getting Dionaea muscipula seeds from 3 different sellers. I have bought Dionaea ‘Dark Red’ (10 seeds) and a bag of mixed random seeds (15 seeds) that might be crosses of who knows what from German seller.

The seeds arrived quickly and I planted them on January 3rd. In a bit more than two weeks, first seeds started sprouting. In the pot with red form, the first sprouts actually arrived with a red tint. The sprouts of VFT seedlings from the Dionaea mix seed pack on the other hand all appeared green. Perhaps the seller was truthful after all!

Slightly red sprout of Dionaea muscipula
Slightly red sprout of Dionaea muscipula

Germination occurred in less than 3 weeks
Germination occurred in less than 3 weeks

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I also bought two packages from different Chinese vendors. 10 Dionaea Muscipula Giant Clip seeds from eBay and gigantic pack of 100 Red Dragon Flytrap seeds from Aliexpress. The first package did not arrive after more than a month and the seller kindly offered to send me another package. The large pack of seeds from Aliexpress arrived quickly and I have instantly noticed that the seeds looked different – I’ve been scamed. I opened a dispute and got my 40 cents back. 🙂 I might try to grow the fake seeds and write about what the seller actually sent.

The seedlings

2 weeks old Dionaea seedling
2 weeks old Dionaea seedling

The seedlings grew faster than I had expected. I was a bit worried they would not do well in pure peat, but they accepted it quite well.
I have decided to remove the plastic cover as soon as I’ve seen that most of the seeds have sprouted. Mold was already starting to grow as there were white threads growing all over the wet peat. Uncovering did not harm the seedlings. I was doing my best to keep the air moisture as high as possible. Air humidity was between 40% to 60% during most of the time.

Red trap colour was evident from the beginning
Red trap colour was evident from the beginning

Seeds from Dark red cultivar were showing sings of red coloration from the early start. Cotyledons seem to be a bit darker green, but as soon as the first carnivorous leaves appeared, the red color was evident. Strangely, the pot with mixed seeds should also have red variety, yet none of the 15 seedlings turned out to be red. Most of the seedlings pushed out one true leaf at once, but there were a few that managed to start with two. There was some diversity among the seedlings. Some had thick and others narrow cotyledons, there was one, with only one, conjoined cotyledon, some were more glossy and some had rough edges.

Young seedlings grow quite fast
Young seedlings grow quite fast

As the young seedlings grow and mature, it will be fun to see if any of them starts showing some kind of unique characteristic that would make it different from other Venus Flytraps. Seller took the seeds from cross-pollinated  plants, grown outside in the open, which means the resulting seedlings can be interesting. I hope to get some interesting and hardy Flytraps from these seeds.
I’m definitely going to grow more Dionaea seeds in the future, but before that, I want to go step further by growing Nepenthes seeds. I am trying my luck again by purchasing the seeds online. Wish me luck, I will need it! 😉

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Feeding Sundews Fish Food

Feeding Sundews Fish Food

Each winter, when I keep my sundews inside during the cold part of the year, I try to keep them as strong as possible for the following summer. They are more than capable of catching it’s own meal outside, but when I bring them inside, they don’t get much more than occasional fungus gnat.

Why do I even bother?
Feeding Drosera capensis
Feeding Drosera capensis

Carnivore plants usually require only small amount of nutrients and can easily withstand periods without captured food. They slow down their growth and refuse to start flowering until they get enough nutrients. My goal is, to make them grow as much as possible before the following season, possibly inducing flowering at the time when they come out in the spring. I keep them under grow light, which enables them to start flowering in late winter. They are in their full health when fungus gnats strike in the spring, when I start sowing my vegetables.

Healthy diet
Fish food I use
Fish food I use

In the past, I tried feeding them different kind of food, but I soon realised that giving them fish food is the easiest option by far. I have given my plants live springtails, while they were seedlings. They multiply vigorously and are excellent source of food for tiny Sundews, but they soon outgrow their tiny food. At one point, I have fed the carnivores aphids. In the spring time, they suck on tender cherry tree leaves. I have picked the infested leaves and placed them into a bag and thrown them into a freezer. I ended up with almost unlimited supply of dead aphids which lasted until the next spring. I could not feed them as much as I wanted to, because it was really time consuming. And as I later realized, giving them fish food really makes a difference. They just love it!
The food consists 50% of common water fleas (daphnia), a bit of vegetable proteins and fish derivatives. I was afraid the food would be too much for them to handle, but it seems to be perfect for the job. I usually mix it with some distilled water, to make it thinner.

Feeding plants
Time to rock and roll
Time to rock and roll

To apply the fish food paste onto the carnivorous leaf, I use a toothpick or a screwdriver. I dip it into the paste and apply it onto the trap. In a couple of hours, leaves usually start folding and start the digestion. When the process of digestion is finished, traps usually die off. Tentacles that were used are damaged and cease mucilage production. Dew appears only on unused tentacles. That’s the reason, why I usually apply the food all over the leaf and I leave some leaves intact. I feed those later. 🙂

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Carnivorous forest

Carnivorous forest

Anyone who owned Drosera capensis knows how much seeds they can produce. In autumn, all my plants went into full bloom and managed to produce large amounts of seeds. As winter came, I decided to sow the seeds into an empty ice cream container and check for germination. I expected a lot of small plants, a mixture of regular Drosera capensis and Drosera capensis ‘Alba’.

Germination of fresh seedlings
First drosera seedlings appeared
First drosera seedlings appeared

I’ve kept the ice cream container outside during the rainy autumn, filled with cheap peat moss. I hoped for the peat to get thoroughly washed for the new seedlings to grow. When I bought my first Drosera seeds, I needed to wait around a month, before the first tiny seedlings emerged. I expected the same thing with my seeds. How wrong I was!
I used the seeds that somehow ended up on my desk where I kept the flower stalks I’ve cut off during after the flowering. Most of the flowers were completely ripe and the seeds just loved to ‘jump’ out of the seed pods. That is one of the reasons why D. capensis easily seeds into surrounding pots when you leave flower stalks to ripen.

Sundew volunteers after flowering
Sundew volunteers after flowering

I’ve been growing my Droseras outside during the summer, both regular D. capensis and Alba variety in the same spot. The seeds I used were from both, white and pink flowering carnivore plants.
As I mentioned before, I expected the seeds to germinate really slowly. I was extremely surprised when I saw first tiny green plantlets emerging in less than a week. After a couple of weeks, there was a whole forest of small seedlings, baking under my grow light.

The carnivorous forest
Numerous seedlings ready to hunt
Numerous seedlings ready to hunt

I’ve sown Cape Sundew seeds tightly together in the past already and never managed to separate them. At first they didn’t look too happy and needed to fight for their position in the pot. After a while, weak plants died off and the strong Sundews remained healthy. In the end, the pot got completely covered with healthy sticky leaves and the plants set numerous flower stalks. I actually liked the crowded pot much better than my large but lonely growing plants. There is another thing I loved about that pot – these tightly grown carnivores were hungry! When I placed the pot near to the source of light during the night, or close to the pond during the drought, they caught all kinds of flies, mosquitoes and other flying, bloodsucking vermin. I intend to do the same thing this year, but on a much larger scale.

Taking care of the seedlings

Same as before, I placed some springtails into the container to keep the small seedlings well fed and to remove any possible source of mold infection. Springtails feed on decaying organic matter which can quickly lead to mold growth. When I feed my adult carnivores with beta fish food, I usually use the same food to feed the tiny seedlings as well. Well, at least some of them. I dilute the fish food with distilled water a bit more than the food I make for my large plants. I dip a toothpick into the prepared fish food and tap the tiny carnivore leaves with the toothpick. I make sure there are no large chunks that could harm the plants. I don’t feed them that way very often, because it’s much easier to just watch the springtails get caught.

🙂

Feeding the Sundew forest
Feeding the Sundew forest
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Drosera capensis color

Drosera capensis color

D. capensis 'Alba' under grow light
D. capensis ‘Alba’ under grow light

As mentioned numerous times, I’ve used two LED chips as growing light for quite a while. To induce coloring on Drosera seedlings, I decided to use cool and warm white LED chip, and they worked good enough. The regular Drosera capensis seedlings were getting red tentacles, Drosera capensis ‘Alba’, on the other hand, remained white, despite showing some pink coloring while positioned outdoors for the summer. All the plants have been growing OK, but Drosera seedlings did suffer a bit when I got them inside for the winter and started to get pale, lost some of their vigor and had hard time flowering.

Drosera capensis before
Regular Drosera capensis before changing its grow light with 380 – 840nm LED chip
d-capensis-regular-red
Drosera capensis under new light
d-capensis-regular-red1
D. capensis under new grow light

 

Drosera capensis 'alba' before
Drosera capensis ‘alba’ before
Alba under grow light
Alba under grow light
Drosera capensis 'Alba' under new LED
Drosera capensis ‘Alba’ under new LED

When I found extremely good offer from Chinese vendor on-line for a full spectrum 380-840nm grow light, I decided it’s worth a try. I placed two weaker, 50W LED chips, instead of two 100W white LEDs. The light intensity was seemingly lower, but after a minute spent around the plants, and leaving the room, I could see that normally lit room suddenly appeared dark. Well, beside that, colors were completely screwed for a couple of minutes due to brains correcting algorithms :).
After 14 days under new grow lights, Drosera seedlings got noticeably more colored. Regular Drosera capensis was dark red, looking almost like the red variety and Alba finally got the pink color. Both varieties also began to start growing flower stalks, which might indicate they like their new grow light.

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