Cape Sundew, Drosera capensis, is a perennial carnivorous plant that is native to the Cape area of South Africa. The leaves curl around insects to trap them. The plant absorbs insects by secreting digestive enzymes. The sundew is easy to grow when placed in a warm, humid environment with adequate soil moisture.
A carnivorous plant that grows best in a greenhouse environment, the sundew has linear leaves that are two to three inches in length and that become broad at the tip. Each leaf is tipped with sticky hairs or strands, referred to as trichomes; it is this feature that attract insects. Sundew plants produce small, self-pollinating, pink-colored flowers in the fall.
The sundew grows best when planted in a container with bottom drainage holes and placed in a greenhouse or in a warm location. The potting soil should be high in quality and drain well, such as is found in an African violet potting medium. Sundew plants require high humidity, full sunlight from the south or the west and a temperature of 65 degrees F or warmer. Humidity can be increased around the plant by placing the container on a tray filled with stones and water.
Sundew plants grow best when the soil remains wet during the summer months. Always use warm distilled water or rainwater as the plants will not tolerate water with chemicals or a heavy mineral content. Do not use rainwater if it is acidic as this can damage the plant. Alternate between a dry and wet soil during the winter months by watering the sundew once the soil is dry to the touch. Sundew plants do not require fertilizer, as they obtain their nutrients through insects.
Propagate the sundew plant by dividing the root mass in early spring. Remove the plant from the container and gently pull apart root sections attached to green stems. Plant the divisions in separate containers with bottom holes filled with African violet or similar type soil. Sundew plants produce seeds that can be collected and sowed in a medium that is an even mixture of peat moss and perlite moistened with water. Cover the planting containers with a clear plastic bag and set them in a warm location with indirect light until the seeds have sprouted. The seedlings are slow-growing during the first several weeks of growth.
Sundew plants are not prone to insect or disease problems. Small insects can be placed on the dewy plant leaves, however if the insect is too large or the leaf is not dewy, the food may turn moldy. Remove the food from the leaf and gently clean the mold off with a small paintbrush dipped in 70 percent isopropyl alcohol.