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Carnivorous Plants/Cephalotus Water requirements



Cephalotus in pot
Cephalotus in pot  
Hi Jeff,

JP again! I have one topic which I am having doubts about for quite a while, itīs regarding the water requirements of Cephalotus...

I use a big terracotta pot with a small plastic saucer. The soil mix is peat-sand (fine sand like at the beach), as a top dressing I have some life sphagnum, also for decorative purpose. I water the plant from above until the water runs down and I discard it from the tray. I will re-water as soon as the soil/moss is dry to the touch and not wet, like it is the case fro flytraps, Sarracenia, etc. I am very aware that Cephalotus is prone to root rot, and kind of freaked about it...

However, I got the feeling I might be too cautious, the plant kept too dry and therefore not growing as fully as it could. Is it a plausible scenario? That the plant puts growing on hold or slows down growth when it is kept drier?

I grow Drosophyllum, Drosera Regia and Darlingtonia succesfully, however, Cephalotus is still a kind of mistery to me!

Should I water from top and let the water in the saucer, re-water as soon as the saucer is empty, OR should I maybe stop watering from top and only fill the tray and refill as soon as it is empty? (the way is water Drosophyllum)

Thanks Jeff, highly appreciate!!!



Hi JP,

You're quite right in that Cephalotus don't like being too wet.  I've lost plenty to root rot, usually Pythium.  Every photo I've ever seen of them in the wild they seem to be in spring seeps, often on hillsides, and usually in sandy or rocky soil.  What the habitat reminds me of is the way I see many butterworts growing, particularly ones like P. vallisnerifolia, P. longifolia, and many Mexican varieties.  

I think your potting for the plant is good.  Since you're using a terracotta pot that can loose water from the sides, I would top-water the plant until you get run-off, but leave the water in the tray.  Just don't allow it to be a large amount of water the way you would for something like Sarracenia.  Let the pot use the water up in the tray completely before watering again.  Overall they like their soil damp, but not wet.  With a terracotta pot it will probably use the water quickly during the summer.

In winter, keep the residual water in the tray minimal.  Get in the habit of feeling the soil.  If it's a little dry, then water.  If you're only top-watering you're usually going to be ok with this plant.  Folks get into trouble when they tray water it like bog species.

We moved to treating them more like Nepenthes.  We pot ours now in New Zealand long fiber sphagnum with some perlite mixed in, and only top-water them with no water trays.  In our greenhouse this was a game changer for our Cephalotus, and they seem to do great that way.  The moss holds plenty of moisture, but drains freely.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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