Carnivorous plants are an evolutionary stroke of genius for your windowsill at home. Carnivores do not only inhabit tropical regions worldwide. In Greenland, New Zealand and even in the highest mountains of Brazil, these fascinating survivors can be found where other plants are at a loss. The ingenious trappers can also be found in European latitudes. This selection introduces you to the most popular species and their sophisticated trapping mechanisms.
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Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
One of the most popular carnivorous plants for windowsills comes from the sundew genus. Charles Darwin declared the Venus flytrap to be the most wonderful plant in the world. This carnivorous species delights with bright red snap traps that consist of two leaf halves. On the edges of the leaves are small bristles that trigger the folding mechanism when prey is within reach. An alluring scent of nectar emanates from the interior of the red leaves, attracting insects and other invertebrates. Within milliseconds, the trap snaps shut and the bristles interlock, making it impossible to escape. A single leaf can perform this snap up to five times.
In addition, the popularity of the Venus flytrap is based on a magnificent bloom. In early spring, white flowers rise high above the trap leaves on long stalks. These consist of small green sepals and five large petals that do not overlap.
Growth height: 10 cm (up to 50 cm during flowering).
Flowering time: April to June
Pitcher Plant (Nepenthes alata)
Representing the spectacular genus of pitcher plants, we would like to introduce Nepenthes alata 'Ventrata', one of the most popular species and its most beautiful hybrids. This tropical climbing plant forms jug-shaped, up to 50 cm long traps with a tight lid from a few leaves. It contains an acidic digestive secretion that gives off a sweet scent. The inner walls of a pot are very smooth. If a careless insect lands on the rim of the pot, it slips into the liquid and is digested within 2 days.
Euphoria for pitcher plants is primarily based on the aesthetics of their traps. Nevertheless, the carnivores provide floral moments of happiness when they present their decorative panicles. In the course of summer vegetation, shoots 15-50 cm long with reddish inflorescences sprout.
- Growth height: 100 to 250 cm depending on the climbing aid
- Flowering time: in summer
Tip: Carnivorous plants do not tolerate lime. So always water your carnivores with collected rainwater, well water, or tap water that's standing in a well.
The second largest genus of carnivorous plants gives us three hardy carnivores to cultivate in your garden. Drosera rotundifolia, Drosera intermedia and Drosera anglica are fully hardy. Although the plants differ in some details, they largely agree in striking characteristics. After a successful catch, their sticky traps gently sway and glitter in the sunlight. The spectacle is created by moving tentacles located on the leaves. At their peaks the carnivore
The carnivore secretes a sticky, sugary secretion that attracts prey. The movements gradually increase grip as digestive enzymes slowly break down the victim to extract the nutrients.
European frost hardy sundew species prefer to thrive in bog beds or in garden ponds. Subtropical and tropical Drosera look great on the windowsill or in terrariums, because their minimum temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius. In summer, they boast five-petaled, white or pink flowers that unfurl a safe distance from the sticky catching leaves.
- Growth height: 10 cm (up to 30 cm during flowering)
- Flowering time: between April and August, depending on the species and variety
- Red Pitcher Plant, Trumpet Leaf (Sarracenia purpurea)
The red pitcher plant Sarracenia purpurea
has become the star of this small carnivore species. Unlike its more exotic counterparts, the carnivorous Sarracenia purpurea is reliably hardy, so it thrives equally well indoors and outdoors. The red trumpet leaf shows its best side in acidic, wet soils. In addition, the carnivorous species makes itself useful as a natural and powerful insect trap on the windowsill.
Its beauty and potency stems from purple tubes that thrive horizontally so are always near the ground. The upper part of the tube is strongly curved and wide open with a collar of nectar. A digestive secretion is added to the collected rainwater to quickly decompose attracted prey.
The nodding, reddish to pink flowers are sufficiently distant from the hose traps not to endanger pollinating bees. A single flower stays open for about 14 days. As new buds continue to unfold on mature tubular plants throughout the summer, this carnivorous species provides decorative accents on swampy pond banks, in bog beds, on the balcony or windowsill for a long time.
Growth height: 10 to 20 cm
Flowering period: May/June to August/September
Zwergkanne (Cephalotus follicularis)
The dwarf jug is very popular among enthusiasts with a soft spot for rarities from the realm of carnivorous plants. This little beauty, which usually grows to a height of 10 cm, is only found in Southwest Australia. In the seasonal change, non-carnivorous leaves are formed in winter, the task of which is photosynthesis. From summer through fall, small jar traps with lids and distinctively serrated edges thrive to lure insects to their peril. The sunnier the location, the more intensely the pitcher-shaped traps turn an intense red to black.
In contrast to the conspicuous pitfalls, the tiny flowers appear rather inconspicuous. At the time of the beginning of summer in Australia, flower stalks sprout with numerous star-shaped flowers in a panicle arrangement. What is striking is the large safety distance of up to 60 cm that a dwarf pitcher develops between the pitcher traps and the flowers.
- Growth height: 5 to 10 cm (up to 60 cm during flowering)
- Flowering period: January to February
Tip: Carnivorous plants have little chance of surviving in normal, nutrient-rich potting soil. Special carnivore soil is the best choice as a substrate, as its composition is adapted to the special needs of the plants, such as an extra acidic pH value of 3 to 4.
Together with the dwarf jug, a swamp jug forms the dream team among the carnivores for the windowsill. In contrast to dwarf cans, sump cans do without a large lid in order to create a rainwater reservoir in their catch pipe. Captured insects drown in the liquid before bacteria are released to digest the prey. The funnel-shaped pitfalls reach species-typical heights of between 10 and 50 cm, so that a suitable type of sump jug can be discovered for every design requirement. The greenish-reddish marbled coloring of the leaves is beautiful to look at. A zipper-shaped lid rudiment at the top of the trap design is bright red in color and exudes a special attractant.
In comparison to the extravagant growth form of its funnel-shaped leaves, the flowers of the Sumpfkanne thrive inconspicuously. The white to reddish flowers only form when the plant finds a location with 80 to 85 percent humidity and experiences a drop in temperature to 8 to 15 degrees Celsius overnight.
Growth height: 10 to 50 cm depending on the species
Flowering period: June to September
Wasserfall (Aldrovanda vesiculosa)
Are you looking for an aquatic plant that also catches insects? Then the sundew family offers you just the right type of carnivore in the form of a water trap. The herbaceous freshwater plant is equipped with miniature snap traps, as we know them from Venus fly traps. With these traps, the water trap prefers to snatch water fleas to cover its food requirements. Fine hairs and bristles inside and on the edges ensure that the prey cannot escape. The 2 to 3 mm small catching leaves are arranged in small whorls along the up to 30 cm long shoot axes. Air-filled cavities provide the necessary buoyancy.
A waterfall only presents its white flowers on short stalks for a few hours. However, as experience shows, this predatory species is rarely motivated to flower outside of its habitat.
- Growth length: 10 to 30 cm
- Flowering time: mostly left out
Of the 85 species within the butterwort genus, there are 4 species that you may encounter in the wild in European-speaking countries. The aquatic algae usually thrive in the warm regions of Central America, which is why they are often cultivated as decorative houseplants. Extremely tropical butterwort species are highly regarded for their beautiful blooms that tower high above the evergreen, sticky rosettes of leaves. The leaves release the fragrant attractant secretion via glands. The carnivorous plants mainly target mosquitoes, flies and other insects. Once the prey has attached itself to the leaf, there is no escape.
Since all carnivores are strictly careful not to harm their pollinators, the distance between the petals and the inflorescences of the trap is up to 60 cm. The spectrum of decorative flower colors ranges from white to light pink and dark red to violet and yellow.
- Height of growth: 15 to 20 cm (significantly higher during the flowering period)
- Flowering period: May to September
water hose (Utricularia)
A carnivore of superlatives hides behind its inconspicuous exterior. The more than 200 water hose species are represented worldwide. Utricularia species thrive both aquatic and terrestrial on land. Their trap bubbles are among the most sophisticated traps carnivorous plants have developed. The tiny bubbles are 0.2 to 6 mm in size and are under tension. When potential prey comes into contact with the sensor bristles, it is sucked in in a split second by creating a negative pressure in the bladder. This reflex is considered to be the fastest movement in the entire plant kingdom. Under water, the process is accompanied by a soft popping sound.
A water hose always blooms above the water or above the substrate. Its spurred flowers form racemeous clusters in a variety of hues. Small species produce flowers a few millimeters in size, while majestic carnivores develop magnificent flowers up to 7 cm across, reminiscent of orchids.
Growth height: 30 to 130 cm
Flowering time: in summer or almost all year round
I have 30 years of experience and started this website to see if I can try and share my knowledge to help you.
With a degree aHorticulture BSc (Hons)
I have worked as a horticultural specialist, garden designer and of course as a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
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