Best Ways to Care for Sundew

Sundew (Drosera spp.) is a small, dainty carnivorous plant that grows in tropical or temperate regions worldwide. The plant's stalks develop hair-like structures that secrete a sticky, dew-like substance that attract and capture insects, according to the University Of Illinois Department of Plant Biology's Carnivorous Plants page. The dew reflects sunlight. For this reason, the plant's botanical name means "glistening in the sun." The sundew plant grows indoors, but it requires more care than the average houseplant.

Growing Conditions

Sundew occurs naturally in bogs, so it tolerates poor soils, but requires high humidity. One of the best ways to ensure sundew plants thrive is to place them in an aquarium or terrarium, notes the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. If starting the plants from seed, sow the seed on the surface of a growing medium. A mix of equal parts sphagnum moss and sand works well. Alternatively, you can sow seed in pots and cover them with clear, plastic bags to retain humidity until the true leaves develop.


Carnivorous plants perform best with four to five hours of sunlight per day, according to the University of Florida-Hillsborough County Extension. The one to two hours of sunlight plants typically receive from east or west facing windows should suffice. Sundew plants can survive in poorly lit areas with the help of fluorescent light fixtures containing two 40-watt tubes, notes the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Do not to place plants too close to fluorescent lights to avoid burning the foliage.


Proper care for sundew plants includes plenty of water. Container-grown plants require holes at the bottom of their pots and need to set in a saucer filled with water to avoid drying out. Spray the plants growing in an aquarium to keep the growing medium consistently moist. Sundews respond best to rain water, but distilled water works fine, advises the University of Florida Extension. Tap water is too alkaline, and well-water contains too many minerals.


Sundews prefer the insect and dried bloodworm bits commonly found in pet stores, notes the International Carnivorous Plant Society. The plants "catch" all the nutrients necessary for life, so they do not need fertilizer. Apply an acidic plant food, such as fish emulsion, if necessary. Use one-fourth of the manufacturer's recommended strength, once a month.


Some tropical species grow year-round, while others go dormant during the winter. Tropical species thrive at 70 to 80 degrees F in summer and 55 to 60 degree F in winter. The cold-hardy species need to be stored at cooler temperatures from November to February. These plants often die back and secrete less of the dew-like substance. They require the same amount of light, but do not need as much water or food, notes the My Carnivore website.

Keywords: sundew plant care, sundew water, sundew fertilizer, carnivore sundew plants, sundew plant dormancy, Drosera care

About this Author

Renee Vians has been writing online since 2008. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism and language arts certification from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Her articles have appeared on eHow, Garden Guides and a variety of other websites.