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GROW LIKE A PRO ▶️ Carnivorous plants & winter dormancy - What to expect ...

  • Should you be new to carnivorous plants we highly recommend doing some research on what to expect during the colder months so there are no (or fewer😉) surprises

What is winter dormancy?

  • The carnivorous plant world comprises of a whole bunch of different carnivorous plant species and varieties and some will need a rest period during wintertime to store enough energy for the new growing season
  • In South Africa we are blessed with distinct seasons and besides being the most awesome plants in the universe, these plants are soooooo clever....they will know exactly when to go to sleep (and when to wake up again!) if grown in natural light

Ok got it, tell me more....

  • During autumn, temperatures will start dropping and the daylight period become shorter, which will trigger a winter rest period in temperate carnivorous plants.  In South Africa, this period usually starts during April and lasts until late September when the temperatures rise and the daylight period gets longer again

 Ok, my heart is beating faster...

  • Right now, even the mere thought of winter dormancy may be giving you sleepless nights, especially if this your first experience with the carnivores (Don't worry, I buried my first eight! venus flytraps alive before I even heard the word "dormancy"....)
  • Have no fear, we've got you! Here is a few guidelines on what to expect from your plants during the colder months of the year

What can I expect from my plants during winter dormancy?

Venus flytraps
  • As the daylight period gets shorter in autumn, trap formation will taper while energy is being stored in the underground stem (a bulb like structure called the rhizome)
  • During late autumn the tall leaves and large summer traps will start dying off and the plant will generally appear much smaller (around ⅓ of the actual size) for a couple of months when compared to their active growing season (summer)
  • This means that during wintertime, flytraps have very little growth above the soil level and are largely inactive during the colder months of the year (May to early October)

      Venus flytrap preparing for winter dormancy

      • Most flytrap varieties still produce tiny traps close to the soil level (called ground hugging traps) that are sluggish to close

        • Venus flytraps are mostly inactive from late autumn (around April-May), with new active growth (tall and/or longer leaves with larger traps) emerging during September and October
        • Venus flytraps come back bigger and stronger after their beauty sleep and should be back in full bug-munching action by November
            Winter vs summer - venus fly trap cv Whale  
              Trumpet pitchers, purple pitchers and parrot pitcher plants (Sarracenia)
              • Wintertime and trumpet pitcher plants 
                • As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop in autumn, the tall summer pitchers will die off from the lid either partially (halfway down) and in some cases entirely, this is also the case for winter dormancy in purple pitchers and parrot pitcher plants
                • many varieties of trumpet pitcher plants produce flat pitchers with small heads that will not open, these non-carnivorous leaves are used for phytosynthesis and is called phylloda
                • During wintertime trumpet pitcher plants are unpotted and trimmed back.  Phylloda leaves are left for phytosynthesis while rhizomes are cleaned and treated with fungicide, hereafter they are repotted into fresh soil, ready for the upcoming growing season
                • If grown outside in full sun, trumpet pitchers come back into play with bigger, stronger (and taller) pitchers popping up from the growth point during September and October and should be in full swing by November
                • Some species from the trumpet pitcher family like the Flava's enter dormancy first and also wake up first during spring.  Others like the leucophylla's (yes, those will the windows at the top) look their ultimate best in late fall and therefor tend to wake up a little later than other species.  Generally, growth on purple pitchers lasts well into autumn (even beginning winter) and therefor wake up a little later than trumpet pitchers
              Carnivorous sarracenia Trumpet pitcher plants winter dormancy
                Tropical pitchers
                • Pitchers only develop on new leaves (when your plant is growing actively).  The growth on Tropical pitcher plants will slow considerably during wintertime and
                  • Even though the foliage will remain, most of the pitchers (cups) produced during spring and summer will wither and die (a normal aging process)
                • If grown in natural conditions, tropical pitcher plants will start growing actively - producing new foliage with pitcher formation - around September to October
                • These are tropical plants and even a light freeze will damage (or even kill) your plant.  They do not handle frost well.  If you live in an area that experiences cold winters, bring them indoors when the night temperatures start dropping in late autumn
                • If grown in stable conditions under artificial lighting, your plant will likely continue growing actively and produce pitchers throughout the year
                Sundews
                • Subtropical sundews do not need a dormancy period and depending on their origin / natural habitat may grow even better during the cold months
                • Temperate sundews for eg Drosera Binata (the forkleaf sundews) and most form of Drosera Filiformis (thread-leaf sundews) will die back to a single winter bud (called a hibernicula), with
                  • no visible growth above the soil level
                  • If given enough light, new growth on temperate sundews will start popping up from (or around) the hibernicula when temperatures rise and the photoperiod gets longer in September to October
                  • Overwinter dormant plants in a very bright, frost free area.  Drosera filiformis in particular is very prone to crown rot, keep the soil only damp to the touch and avoid top watering during the hibernation phase

                Drosera filiformis emerging from winter dormancy _ temperate plant _ hibernicula

                Butterworts
                • Temperate butterworts such as Pinguicula Grandiflora will die back to a single winter bud (called a hibernicula), with
                  • no visible growth above the soil level
                  • If given enough light, new growth will start popping up from (or around) the hibernicula when temperatures rise and the photoperiod gets longer in September to October

                Temperate butterwort winter bud * Temperate pinguicula hibernicula

                  • Many plants in the Mexican butterwort family will lose their large carnivorous leaves as the daylight period gets shorter in winter
                    • With the exception of Pinguicula Gigantea and it's hybrids which only dies back slightly, most mexican butterworts will produce tight rosettes with tiny non-carnivorous leaves - making them appear VERY small, around ¼ of the actual size during the colder months of the year

                  Mexican butterworts: The cool transition into winter dormancy

                    • Most mexican butterworts flower in late winter to early spring, even while in the dormant (succulent) phase with the bigger (carnivorous) leaves returning around October to November.  Some species takes a little longer and will only start producing carnivorous leaves during December
                    • If you grow your plant outside, overwinter it on a north-facing windowsill until well after the last frost date.  While in the dormant, succulent state, reduce watering to only a couple of times a week: keep the soil only damp - without letting it stand in water or letting the soil dry completely. Increase watering again when the larger carnivorous leaves start emerging from the growthpoint towards the end of the year

                  Comparison Winter dormancy vs summer growth in mexican pinguicula * carnivorous butterworts

                    Albany pitchers
                    • Albany pitcher plants tend to die back slightly producing tiny pitchers with
                      • new growth in the form of non-carnivorous leaves appearing first during springtime, followed by
                      • the larger thumb-like carnivorous pitchers during summertime
                    Terrestrial bladderworts
                    • Most terrestrial bladderworts we have for sale will flower during the warmer months, thus
                      • during wintertime only the green leaves are visible 
                    Buying plants from Cultivo during the winter months and general winter care tips
                    • Buying plants from Cultivo during wintertime
                      • Plant images shown are always from our own plants unless otherwise mentioned.  To best display individual characteristics on each species and/or variety, images represent our plants in full summer growth under optimal conditions
                      • From May to October, temperate plants will be sold as dormant rhizomes (underground bulbs or roots) with cut traps and pitchers.  Naturally, this will cause the plant to appear smaller overall
                      • All cold-hardy perennials (trumpet pitchers, purple pitchers, venus flytraps, temperate sundews and parrot pitchers) are grown outdoors in harsh conditions.  Their appearance will change with the seasons and will be indicated in the 'currently available' section of each listing so you know exactly what to expect when placing the order
                        September-November: Emerging from dormancy. Traps and pitchers from the previous season will be cut off
                        December-March: Plants are in active growth. Best growth occurs in late summer
                        April-May: Plants stop growing and will have fewer traps and pitchers
                        June-August: Plants are still dormant. Traps and pitchers from the previous season will be cut off

                    • Winter care tips & tasks
                      • As many species and varieties are inactive in the colder months, we repot our plants into fresh carnivorous plant soil during winter dormancy.  Plants and dormant rhizomes are available either bareroot or already potted - ready for the upcoming growing season
                      • Keep the soil only moist during wintertime and still provide as much direct sunlight as possible.  Protect your plants from below freezing temperatures.  Temperate plants settle in better if repotted into fresh carnivorous plant soil at the end of winter dormancy - around August to mid-September. If given optimal conditions, plants will start growing actively with new growth emerging from the growth point as the days get longer during September to October
                      • Shipping during winter dormancy is ideal as it reduces stress on the plant and help them to settle in quicker into their new environment without too much disturbance
                      • For the most part, the carnivorous plant species we grow, display best during the active growing season.  For those carni-fans who wish to drop by to view before purchase, the Strawberry pot nursery stocks a selection of our plants and winter bulbs (potted only) year round - they are located at 202 Hendrik Verwoerd drive in Wierdapark, Centurion and are open 7 days a week
                      • As always, our online store is open 24/7, with even more variety, sizes, a bareroot or potted option and a range of payment- and shipping methods if you are not collecting from the nursery
                      • If at any time you are in doubt, drop us an e-mail or Send us a Whatsapp message prior to ordering for further assistance
                    ⏪ . . .⏪ . . . ⏪ BACK TO Growing Carnivorous Plants in South Africa: Care sheets & Instructions
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