Carnivorous Plants/Watering Drosophyllum
QUESTION: Hi Jeff!
My Drosophyllum seeds have germinated successfully, the plant really seems to grow fast. I keep them in 10 inches wide terracotta pots that are also quite high. Mixture is sandy and dry with few peat.
However I am concerned about the watering once the plant will reach considerable size.
Should I spray the outside of the pot with water, or maybe damp the pot with a wet towel? Or spray the soil with water? Or just water it from top, but few? I can hardly imagine when to water a plant that is supposed to grow on a rather dry medium :-/
Thanks for any advices!
ANSWER: Hi JP,
With Drosophyllum you have to get into the habit of feeling the soil. If the surface is dry to the touch, time to water. Feels slightly damp? Leave it be. Top water until you get runoff, then stop. It's ok to have some water in the tray, but the pot shouldn't sit in water for long periods. Drosophyllum likes to be damp, just not soaking wet. You also have to adjust watering with the weather. In the summer when it's hot you may be watering every day. In winter, once a week may do it. They do tend to drink much more water than people tend to think.
You always read about the dangers of over-watering these, and true, if you treat them like a sundew, you'll loose them for sure. However, what you don't read as much is how often people kill them by under watering. Often when folks loose seedlings, that's the reason. That's how I killed my first few. If you let Dewy Pines get too dry they will start to wilt. You can revive them if you catch them early, especially older plants, but seedlings will usually die if too dry.
You just have to learn to keep Drosophyllum in the "Goldilocks Zone"; not too wet, not too dry, but just right.
Thank-you so much for the Belgian Chocolate. What a surprise, and so good!
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi Jeff,
over the weekend I have been scanning "the whole Web" after success stories, care sheets and tips on how to water and treat (maybe thread too...) Drosophyllum. I found a lot of contradictory information, but they did all sound confident about their lines... What I found is that:
- When young, seedlings should be kept more "wet" then big plants.
- Watering should not occur from the tray but from above
- Watering can occur from the tray if the tray is shallow and the pot tall and wide (like I have maybe, 8" wide, 10" tall)
- Plants should never be sprayed on with water
- Seeds should be sown on vermiculite (!?)
I have a 0.5 inch plant now, and I water it with a pipette (!) each evening, just a few drops at the base of the plant. I feel like a zookeeper giving the baby bottle to a new-born monkey...
My problem is that the media right now must be completely dry by 100%, pretty sure. Just on the spot where the plant did emerge I do water, I imagine that roots are getting water immediately, but any moist is absorbed from the soil in just a few minutes. Since the soil is so dry, I cannot get any touch feeling of too moist or too dry, I found it complicated and I am thinking if slack-potting would be an option now...
Thanks for your help Jeff, highly appreciate it. My Drosophyllum seedling is now like the king in my collection...
Let me begin by reiterating, I've killed far more plants from under watering than over watering. This has be my experience over the last ten years. Young plants tolerate being wetter just fine. It's older plants that start having root-rot issues if kept too wet. We keep our seedlings in their peat pots in about 1/2 inch of water. We wait until the tray goes dry, then add more. Once plants are potted up in their clay pots they are then top-watered until runoff, then we stop. You then treat them like a houseplant. Houseplants don't like to sit in water. Most like evenly moist soil. Dewy Pines are the same.
Slack potting works just fine. What that technique is designed to do is let you keep your Drosophyllum in water trays next to your sundews. Water levels can't be too high, however. If the water line comes up to the level of the inner pot, you're in for problems. Goldilocks will not be happy.
Seeds can be sown on vermiculite. I've stopped using the stuff since it breaks down over time into mush, and there's some risk of asbestos content in the stuff.
Avoiding spraying is probably good advice. In nature fog is very normal part of life for Dewy pines, but spraying them would probably cause problems. We never spray ours.