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Carnivorous Plants/cape sundews dying


QUESTION: I was very excited about my broad leaf and red leaf cape sundews when I ordered them.  I watched the DVD about caring for them, twice, and read the instructions that came with them.  They arrived looking beautiful and I have followed all of the instructions but they are still dying.  I have 3 in windows...rotating between south and west to get the most light possible and 3 are under a fluorescent light.  The ones under the light have been doing better than the others but they are still fading.  The tips of the leaves turn black, they lose their dew, and then they completely dry up.  I've been keeping them sitting in water as instructed and there are no bad drafts.  What could possibly be going wrong.  You say they are suppose to be easy to grow but I have lost 3 already and the other 3 do not look very good.  What else can I do??  Thanks for any advice you can give.

ANSWER: Hi Brenda,

I need just a little more information.  First, what is your water source?  If it's tap water, is your water hard?  Have they been transplanted since you got them from us?

Also, if you could send me a photo or two that will really help.  Sometimes we notice stuff from seeing the plant that a grower doesn't think is important.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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

QUESTION: I am using distilled water because we have hard water in the tap.  No, I have not transplanted any of the sundews.  Unfortunately my camera broke a couple weeks ago and I have not been able to replace it yet.  I can try to see if I can borrow my mom's but I am not sure if she knows where her software is in order for me to be able to load the pics on the computer.  If that becomes available I can certainly send a pic but unfortunately I am unable to at the moment.  Thanks for any help you can give.

Also, my fly traps and butterworts are all doing well in the same conditions as the sundews are in, which I expected to be more temperamental than the sundews.


Hi Brenda,

At this point I'm going to have to wait until I see photos of the plants.  Everything sounds good as far as the growing conditions you describe, but often there's just some little thing that is amiss.  Cape Sundews are often weeds in people's cp collections.  

Here's a few things to consider.  First, plants hate being moved around.  With the plants in the windows pick the sunniest window, and leave them.  This might be part of the issue.  Also, what are temperatures like in the vicinity of your plants?  Cape Sundews tend to like it a bit on the cooler side.  You mentioned the Flytraps doing well, but Venus Flytraps love it hot during the summer.  This may be a clue here.  How tall are the plants?  Sometimes when Cape Sundews age they get long and tree-like, and they will decline some until they are transplanted.  Browning leaf tips are common with hard water damage, so that's why I wonder about water or soil.  Have you taken a hand lens and inspected for any pests?  Cape's are subject to aphids and cutworms, so if any of the foliage is crinkly that's often a sign of aphids.  Cutworms tend to eat the stem, so the whole plants collapses.

Even if you can only get a picture with a phone, that will be something.  You're also welcome to send the photos to the cp-info e-mail on our website if that's easier.  I'm just speculating at this point until I can see the plants.

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.

Before submitting your question, please read their care guides on their main website. Many issues can be addressed by simply adjusting your growing conditions as recommended in the care guides. Click here to read the care guides.

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Jeff and Jacob are owners and growers of Sarracenia Northwest. They've been in business since 1995. Watch their professionally produced DVDs, Grow Carnivorous Plants. It is a three-volume set that covers all aspects of carnivorous plant care. They literally show you how to be a successful grower!


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