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Drosera sp. Pretty Rosette from seeds

Drosera sp. Pretty Rosette from seeds

Drosera dielsiana

Drosera sp. Pretty Rosette seeds
Drosera sp. Pretty Rosette seeds

I have been growing Drosera capensis sundews for quite some time and decided to add a few more to my list. The first one is Drosera sp. Pretty Rosette. According to carnivorous plants communities around the internet, Pretty Rosette is supposed to be an unique form of Drosera dielsiana. Like many sundews, it originates from South Africa. It’s rosette forming Drosera and it grows up to 4 cm in diameter. It’s one of the sundews that are fairly easy to handle.

Germination

Seeds are very small, just as all Drosera seeds. First sprouts appeared in 14 days, which was a bit faster than other Drosera seeds I’ve grown, except for the fresh D. capensis seeds I have collected myself. It is almost impossible to distribute the seeds evenly over the surface, so the majority of seeds started growing on a small patch of peat. In time, I’ll transplant the plantlets and give them more space to grow, Drosera  Pretty Rosette is supposed to be small, which means I have some time before they grow that much.

Early growth

In the beginning, the seedlings were growing quite fast. It took less than a week for them to start growing their first true leaves with their sticky traps. The first leaf actually managed to catch a small springtail as soon as the tentacles got dewy.

Seedlings 5 days after germination
Seedlings 5 days after germination
6 days old seedlings opening first traps
6 days old seedlings opening first traps
7 days old seedlings
One of 7 days old seedlings already caught a springtail
3 weeks old seedlings
3 weeks old seedlings

Seedlings responded well to strong grow light and showed red tentacle coloration from the very beginning. The ones that managed to catch a springtail speeded up growth and remained green, seedlings that were not so lucky, turned red and developed much slower. So far it seems that Drosera Pretty Rosette seedlings are even more effective when it comes to capturing small springtails. At one point, almost all the seedlings have caught something, some of them used two or more traps at the same time.

Carnage in the dense forest of sundews
Carnage in the dense forest of sundews

It will be fun to see how fast I can get them to adult size. They don’t cross pollinate with any of my current sundews, so I’ll have to wait for my other seeds to finally germinate. I want to successfully cross pollinate Drosera capensis with a rosette forming sundew, Drosera spatulata. First seeds have just started sprouting so perhaps by mid summer I will be able to get at least some of them to flower. As soon as the traps get large enough, I’ll start feeding them fish food. I think they should all be ready to find their own food by the end of spring. Insects, beware!

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Drosera capensis and Spiders

Drosera capensis and Spiders

Aphid infestation

Aphids roaming around the flower stalk
Aphids roaming around the flower stalk

Drosera capensis is a carnivorous plant that can effectively fight fungus gnat flies, but can have a lot of problems, when infested with aphids. Aphids are usually moving over the parts of plant without traps, which makes them safe from Drosera’s sticky mucilage. Drosera can tolerate some aphids, but will start declining as the aphid population grows. At first, leaves can get stunted, wilted and show signs of damage. When there are too many aphids, D. capensis can no longer support sucking pest and all it’s leaves, which makes it start loosing leaves. First, old leaves dry out, then it spreads towards the newer parts of the plant. Eventually, if not treated with insecticide, the plant dies.

Aphids and Overwintering

Each year when I bring my plants in for the winter, there are all kinds of insects I bring inside with my plants. As soon as I accommodate my plants, I see an ‘explosion’ of  fungus gnats population. It can easily be suppressed with careful watering and  an army of carnivorous plants. Then comes aphid outbreak. My carnivores can’t help much about that issue and are usually the source of aphids in the first place. Aphids are more resilient to insecticides, because they live in various life cycles. Aphid eggs often stay hidden and protected, hatching when the insecticide fades out.

Spiders!

Competing for food with carnivorous plant
Competing for food with carnivorous plant

Together with all the plant eating insects, overwintered plants often bring in less annoying creatures like small spiders, worms, centipedes or springtails.
This year, I’ve ‘imported’ several spiders in my large Drosera capensis container. Most of the time, they remain hidden among Drosera leaves. It’s interesting, how they can place their spiderweb around the sticky Drosera traps without being caught. They compete for food with Drosera capensis, but can’t really compete when it comes to efficiency. The thing I have noticed, however, is that the spiders seem to be hunting for aphids. I have been bottom watering for a while, and I noticed a bunch of aphid corpses under their web.

Aphid graveyard under the spider web
Aphid graveyard under the spider web

They bring all their prey to the same spot in the center of the spiderweb. When the spider eats them, tiny carcasses are dumped down onto the soil. Watering removes these piles of dead insects and it took bottom watering to observe them piling up.

I am overwintering a lot of Drosera capensis plants this winter and I have almost lost a few because of aphids. Strangely, the large pot remained quite healthy, despite the fact that there were aphids on them, as well as in all the other pots. Seems to me, that the spiders are doing quite a nice job, keeping aphid population in check. I hope that these little spiders spawn at least a couple (hundred) more. I intend to leave them on my carnivores and probably introduce them to my other plants as well. The nicest thing about them is – they stay at the same spot as long as they have food. None of them left their pot.

Drosera capensis can't catch small spider
Drosera capensis can’t catch small spider
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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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