Sundews, of the genus Drosera, are carnivorous plants that can be found throughout the world in temperate and tropical climates. Sundews operate using a "flypaper" trap mechanism that attracts and catches insects using sticky glands. As of 2010 there were 152 known species of sundews, and many species are collected and cultivated as novelty houseplants.
Like most carnivorous plants, sundews tend to grow in tropical or temperate climates. Sundews require full sun and generally thrive in wet habitats such as bogs, swamps and marshes. Species of sundews can be found all over the world, primarily throughout coastal Australia and South Africa, as well as North America. Temperate species go through a period of dormancy in the winter when night temperatures begin to drop.
Sundews need to be watered frequently--once a week if in a terranium, and the leaves should be misted on occasion as well. Avoid over-watering, as the roots will rot if too much water accumulates. Sundews require mineral poor water, so a little extra care is needed when watering there picky plants. Collected rainwater or distilled water is ideal.
Like all plants, sundew plants need sunlight to grow. Even though many species of sundews are tropical, sunlight is still best if indirect; after all, plants in the wild get sunlight that has been filtered by grass and other plants. A cultivated sundew will do better if it receives sunlight for half the day, preferably in the morning when the sun is less intense.
Sundews use two different kinds of glands in their trapping mechanism: one that attracts, traps and dissolves insects with its enticing mucus, and one that absorbs the melted nutrients of the insect. Cultivated sundews can be fed several times a week: fruit flies, gnats and ants all make great snacks for the sundew. If insects don't seem to be sticking to the plant, try carefully misting the plant--it may be too dry.
Sundews produce a flower that grows high above the plant's deadly mucus glands. Many believe that the flowers of carnivorous plants grow above the plant to protect pollinating insects from the plant's trapping mechanism. Sundrew flowers are typically white or pink, although species like the Drosera callistos are fiery orange. Gardeners cultivating sundews may clip the flowers to keep the rest of the plant looking healthy; producing flowers takes a lot of energy and can weaken the plant.