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Carnivorous Plants/Sundew leaves aren't looking too good


QUESTION: I have a capensis and a spatulata.  For a while I was putting them outside during the day since it wasn't too hot or too cold and bringing them in at night since it has been getting a little colder here.  Now it's reaching freezing points so I've had them inside under a red LED growing light I bought online.  After I started leaving them under the light, I noticed my capensis was turning bright red; much redder than any pictures I had seen of it.  Also, one leaf is starting to curl a little bit and the balls on the glandular hairs appear to be turning black and not even growing on the upper part of the leaf.  I'm wondering if the light may be too bright or if growing them under red light just isn't the right thing to do.  As for my spatulata, it seems to be doing alright, although the new leaves that are growing seem to be a little but more yellow to red than the ones it already has.  Do you think you know what might be wrong, or is this normal? I barely got these a few weeks ago so I'm still learning about growing them. Please let me know what you think! I have links to the pictures below:


The pictures are in albums so there are several you can look through

Thank you!

A normal looking D. spatulata.
A normal looking D. sp  
Some of our Cape Sundews
Some of our Cape Sunde  
ANSWER: Hi Austin,

First, if your new to growing carnivorous plants, these are two very good ones to start with.  Here's some accurate growing information that can really help:  For detailed information that will pay you back many times in not making basic beginner mistakes consider our volume #2 DVD.  It can help you avoid the pitfalls so common to new growers including the abundance of misinformation on the internet about carnivorous plants.

Here some other information that should help.  First, you mentioned moving your plants inside and outside when you first got them.  Never do this to carnivorous plants or any plant.  Plant don't move around in nature, so doing that to them keeps them continually in a state of trying to re-adapt to the changing humidity and light.  It's always best to find a spot and park them.

From your photos it looks like the plants were not in the greatest shape when you got them, which is very common.  Both needed much more light.  The second photo you showed me on the Cape Sundew is a new leaf developing normally.  The older ones that you thought looked good, actually were not in good shape.  The plant seems to like your light.  I've attached a photo of a normal looking Cape Sundew.  Also, is your LED light specific for plant growing?  Most plant LED grow lights will have combinations of red, blue and white diodes.

It looks like you're on the right track.  Keep your plants on about a 14 hour day under your light.  If you can , combining it with a window can often be a great combination.  Our care sheet page will give you other basic information on care.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for the quick response! Yes, when I bought light online, it said it was specific for growing.  I thought it was weird that it was only red, so I'll go ahead and try leaving it on a window. None of my windows get more than about 2 hours of direct light in the winter, however.  Also, are you sure that the leaf is supposed to be that red? The hairs stopped growing halfway up the leaf and the balls at the ends are black and that's mainly what worried me.  And one last question: Is there a way to tell if the plant is getting too much light or if the light is too close?
Thank you!

ANSWER: Hi Austin,

Without knowing more about your light, I can't give you any solid advice on distance, etc...  Do you have a link to where you bought it that has some specs?  LED lights are very different than traditional plant lighting such as fluorescent.  Also, you want to combine the window with your plant light.  You'll get the best results by using both together.  Unless you're using HID lighting, or T-5 fluorescents, it's unlikely your plant is getting too much light from a smaller LED plant light.  Most problems from artificial light come from the heat from the light, which LED's have very little.  What you'll see from the hotter lights is browned, dried tips, almost like the flower stalk on you plant.  (That isn't from lights; it's from being in a container.)

One thing with lighting you have to keep in mind with both of your plants is that these are full sun plants in nature.  Think tomatoes, vegetable gardens, outdoor flowers, that kind of full sun.  A wild Cape Sundew would be even darker than the one you think looks odd.  The leaf in your photo #2, is a new leaf that is developing exactly as it should; good color, dewy.  The leaf in photo #5 is not very healthy.  It got barely enough light to be able to manufacture the mucilage.  That light green color is common in plants that are being shaded out by competing vegetation.  As your plant continues to grow it will have the darker colored leaves, and that is how it should look.  

Unfortunately, because of how carnivorous plants tend to be mass marketed, people are not used to seeing healthy carnivorous plants.  I can't tell you the number of times I've had people come up to one of our sales displays and say, "Why are your Flytraps so red?"  "Uhh, because that is how they are supposed to look." :)  Your plant is doing fine.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Haha, that's funny about people asking that! I'm aware that a lot of these carnivorous plants change color with intense light or the how often they are fed. I was just worried that it was too red towards the center of the leaf, but now I'm seeing that the hairs are unfolding and the leaf is actually greener. It's starting to look great now!  

Here is a link to the light I bought  Unfortunately the seller doesn't include many specs about the light other than the wattage.  No mention of lumens or anything produced by it.  It is pretty bright though so I'm confident the plants are getting enough light at least.  I'll try mixing the window light with the red light and hopefully get it going real nice looking.  Thank you for your help! I really appreciate it :)

Hi Austin,

Thanks for sending the link.  It doesn't say so, but red plant lighting is usually to induce blooming.  I saw on the Amazon page they did have some like yours that had the combinations of different spectrum units too.  In any case, do combine the light with a window.  That way your plants will get more balanced light.

What you're likely to see over time with just the red light is the plants are likely to elongate and bloom like crazy.  That's what we've had happen when we've used High Pressure Sodium lights in the greenhouse in the past which are very orange.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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If your carnivorous plant is showing poor growth, discoloration, abnormal leaves or possible infestation, the expert growers at Sarracenia Northwest can help! They have a great depth of experience dealing with diseases, pathogens, and abnormal growth in carnivorous plants.

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