Growing Carnivorous Plants

Sarracenia carnivorous plant

Carnivorous plants come in unique textures and forms making them fun to grow for kids, and eccentric gardeners. Surprising to some, there are a great variety of carnivorous plants hardy enough to survive a Willamette Valley winter.

At Shonnard’s you’ll find carnivorous plants for outdoor growing, and varieties that will grow inside on a sunny windowsill.


Referenced from the care guide created by Matt Blakeley-Smith, the instructor of the Carnivorous Plant Workshop we’ve held in past years, here are some helpful tips for growing carnivorous plants:

    • Pitcher plants are a popular group of carnivorous plants, many of which are native to the Southeastern United States. When growing these structural plants, set them in a location where they’ll receive as much direct sunlight as possible. Growing in a mix of 50% peat moss : 50% perlite or silica, the soil should stay saturated through the growing season (spring through summer). Never fertilize these plants.

When cool temperatures arrive in winter (from about Thanksgiving until April Fool’s Day), allow the plants to go dormant, but protect them from deep freezes. They can tolerate temperatures down to about 25 degrees (in containers, they can tolerate colder conditions in pond, bog, or stream plantings).

    • Use a saucer to keep plants permanently wet (about 1-inch of standing water). It is helpful to let the water level drop between refills so that oxygen can aerate the soil. 

In the winter the plants can rot if you leave them in standing water. In Corvallis we get enough rain in the winter that you can just leave your plants out in the rain and they shouldn’t dry out. It’s a balancing act. If in doubt, give them more water. Pitcher plants don’t like hard well water. Corvallis City water seems okay. Rain water is best.

    • Again, NEVER fertilize your carnivorous plants. The fertilizer can easily burn their roots.

Popular Outdoor Plants

These outdoor selections usually do not adapt well to indoor growing, but may be briefly brought inside to a bright windowsill during severe cold weather.

Venus Flytrap – The notorious carnivorous plant and oftentimes the beginners first choice. This small plant, typically reaching no further than 4 inches wide, grows best in full sun.

Drosera filiformis – Also known as a sundew plant given it’s display of dew-like threads for leaves. The dew drops of nectar glisten in the sunlight, enticing insects to come taste. Leaves can stretch out to 8 inches long. Grow in full sun.

Sarracenia ‘Judith Hindle’ – A hybrid pitcher plant, deep red in color with hints of white on the lid. This is a reliable plant producing strong pitchers through the summer, growing up to 12-16 inches tall. Grow in full sun.

Popular Indoor Plants

These selections do not tolerate cold weather, and should be grown indoors.

Nepenthes ventricosa – A neat tropical pitcher plant with tubby red pitchers and scalloped red-pink collars. Often available as a hanging plant, grow in a windowsill that receives bright filtered sunlight.

Drosera ‘Tropical Sundews’ – Found in a variety of forms, some varieties such as Drosera spatulata, grow very well on a sunny windowsill, preferring partial sun exposure. 

Pinguicula ‘Aphrodite’ – This is a great pick for the flower lover as the ‘Aphrodite’ blooms long-lasting lavender colored flowers. A great pick for the first-time grower. Performs well grown in a sunny window with direct sunlight.

Carnivorous Plant Spring Clean-up Video

Does your plant need a little TLC? Right now is a good time to clean-up your plants! Watch this short video to learn from Simone about why and how to clean-up your sarracenia plants.