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Carnivorous Plants/Pinguicula Agnata dormancy?


pinguicula agnata
pinguicula agnata  
QUESTION: Sorry, first time posting!
I have lighting for the plant at work, it is still in the little pot it was sent in. I only got it two months ago. I top water it when the medium is dry. I have stopped watering it as often, but Im afraid Im doing this wrong? Im unsure if in its dormancy I shouldnt water it so much? Is it ok that top watering wets the leaves, or will this affect the stickiness?
Its indoors, we have a lot of light, but with the cloudy PNW season upon us, I have a light for all my plants for when Im in the office.

Previous question: I looked at the general care guide for tips on winter dormancy and also looked back on questions already submitted but cant really find anything. The leaves of my pinguicula agnata dont have those little sticky dew drops for about a week or two, and the lower leaves are drying up and turning yellow... Do I need to water it more? There was a gnat just walking on a leaf and it wasnt sticking at all ):

Ant on Butterwort
Ant on Butterwort  
Pinguicula x Titan
Pinguicula x Titan  
ANSWER: Hi Tyler,

Thanks for sending the photo and the extra information.  My original guess was wrong, so that's why this helps.

The short answer is that your plant needs more light.  Butterworts are more shade tolerant than most carnivorous plants, but all carnivorous plants are high light plants.  You didn't specifically mention what your light source is, natural or otherwise, or if it's in a window, etc...  Whenever I hear terms like "good light" or "lots of light" it's instantly a red flag for me.  If a plant is in a window, it need to be getting direct sun when the sun is out, or if under artificial light, it needs to be fairly close to the light source.  With both sundews and butterworts the mucilage production is a direct result of photosynthesis, so not enough light, no dew.

Here's what you should do.  If the plant is near a window, get it right next to the glass.  The window should face either South or West, with a South window being best.  Mexican butterworts don't mind it cool, so it's fine if it is cool there.  If you're using artificial light it needs to be closer.  I'm not sure how close, because I don't know what kind of light it is.  It will depend, so if you tell me more about that I can give you better specifics.  We also have a full chapter in the volume #2 DVD on using artificial light.

On the watering your plant could be a little damper.  When you water it, it's ok for a little water to be in the tray.  Just don't water-log it like a sundew.  Get in the habit of feeling the soil.  If it's dry to the touch, give it some water.

I've included a photo of a set-up in my house that works for a Mexican butterwort.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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

QUESTION: Hey Jeff, thanks for the detailed response!

I'm on the NE side of my building, the worst side! But, there hasn't been sun for weeks anyways. Do you have any good recommendations for artificial lighting? I have a tiny halogen light (full spectrum) and it was about 12 in away. The image I attached shows how close it is now. It barely throws off any heat being so small, so Im not too worried about that.

If you have any desktop recommendations, it would be greatly appreciated!


Hi Ty,

Artificial lighting is a really, really big topic, and not something I can do justice to in the Allexperts format.  We try to reserve this mostly for troubleshooting as opposed to a "How To" guide.  That's why we had produced our DVD series, which are professionally produced.  They are designed to be a hands-on guide to help new growers avoid the pitfalls that are so common to new carnivorous plant growers.  Volume #2 has a chapter on artificial lighting with examples of how to use them.

Here's some quick information on your lighting to get you headed the right direction.  Since the light your currently using is a halogen, you're not going to get good results.  All, and I mean all, incandescent lights are inadequate for plant growing.  I don't care how "full spectrum" they claim to be, any light that uses a tungsten filament to produce light does not produce enough blue light for photosynthesis in high-light plants.  This becomes painfully obvious in carnivorous plants since they are so dependent on photosynthesis for mucilage, nectar, colors etc... that they need to capture insects.  Their leaves often have inefficient shapes for photosynthesis since they are built to capture bugs.  That's why 98% of them are found growing in full sun.

For white light sources, standard fluorescent lights work very well.  You want ones that are in the 5,000 - 6,500K color temperature (cool-white or Daylight).  Whether you use a CFL or standard fluorescent tubes will just depend on you space and what you are willing to work with.  That's why recommending a light to someone is always a loaded question.  Here's why.  With light units that are currently out there it will work like this:

If you want efficient and cheap, it's going to be ugly.
If you want attractive for a home environment and efficient it's not going to be cheap.
You don't get cheap, efficient and attractive.

The most efficient and cost effective plants lights tend to be two-tube fluorescent "Shoplight" units with either 40 watt or 32 watt T-12 or T-8 lights.  You can also buy some T-5 shoplights now that are affordable, but will be about double the cost of the previous mentioned.  They are twice as bright, however.  You can keep a project more affordable by building a plant growing shelf of some type, or fork over the $$$ for a nice plant stand.  CFL bulbs in clip light fixtures work fine too, but coverage is much more limited, and we are back to ugly.

At this time I can't make good recommendations on LED lights because we are just starting to use them ourselves.  I can say if you use LED you need to be willing to deal with a harsh glaring purple light in a room.

In conclusion, you'll need to do some research on this to see what you will be happy with, and what will be in your price range.  

P.S. - Your cacti and succulents will be much happier with you if you give them much more light too! :)

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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