|Drosera capensis - Grow cape sundew from seeds|
Drosera capensis, commonly known as the Cape sundew, is a small rosette-forming carnivorous species of perennial sundew native to the Cape in South Africa. The drosera capensis Because of its size, easy to grow nature, and the copious amounts of seed it produces, it has become one of the most common sundews in cultivation.
D. capensis produces strap-like leaves, up to 3.5 cm long (not including the petiole) and 0.5 cm wide, which, as in all sundews, are covered in brightly coloured tentacles which secrete a sticky mucilage that traps arthropods.
When insects are first trapped, the leaves roll lengthwise by thigmotropism toward the center. This aids digestion by bringing more digestive glands in contact with the prey. This movement is surprisingly fast, with completion in thirty minutes. Cape sundew has a tendency to retain the dead leaves of previous seasons, and the main stem of the plant can become quite long and woody with time.
Grow Drosera Capensis
Drosera capensis isn't very picky about soil. It grows well in pure sphagnum moss as well as the standard 1:1 peat:sand "CP mix". Growing plants in CP mix with live sphagnum on top is very effective as the sphagnum will grow up with the plants keeping the crown near a surface and providing a medium for the adventitious roots that will come out of the side of the stem. The red forms will tend to be redder in peat and under brighter light.
Sow seeds of Drosera capensis on the surface of your medium of choice. Finely chopped live sphagnum moss over long fibered sphagnum moss or CP mix works very well but the moss can overgrow the young plants. Finely chopped dead sphagnum or sand over CP mix also work well.
What you do next depends on what works best for you. Everyone has their own preferred routine. I put pots with seeds in plastic zip-lock bags under but not too close to fluorescent lights. You could also use an aquarium in a greenhouse. The purpose of the plastic bag is to maintain very high humidity and to keep out fungus gnats. Fungus gnat larvae will eat the seedlings. A temperature between 20°C to 25°C (70°F to 80°F) works best. The seeds should germinate in a few weeks. When the new plants have a few true leaves, remove the pots from the plastic bags and put them in a bright terrarium or greenhouse. The seedlings may be a little slow growing at first. Have patience.
Once the plants are large enough you can try feeding them small insects or get some dried blood worms at a pet shop. The dried blood worms can be dipped in water and placed on the dewy leaves--don't feed a plant that isn't dewy. If the food gets moldy, use less next time. A dab of 70% isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) from a small paint brush will kill the fungus.
Drosera capensis tends to live a few years. Plants can easily be propagated from root and stem cuttings. I usually rip them apart and start over with stem and root cuttings when they start to decline. When your plant blooms, save the seeds to grow more. If you have a lot of seed, send the extra in to the seed bank.
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