Care Tips

Here is where you can find the secrets to be successful growing your unusual plants from Xtreem Plants(R)





Venus Flytraps (Dionaea muscipula)

Venus Flytraps are the stars of the Carnivorous Plant world.  Early European botanists refused to believe that a plant was capable of trapping, killing, and devouring an insect or animal!  We all take this information for granted today.  But still we are learning more and more about how these plants have become adept at trapping food, and digesting the protein to get at the nitrogen.

Venus Flytraps can live 10-20 years!  Just follow these simple tips:

  1.  Always use distilled water or rain water.  Most tap water in the US has too much sodium or other minerals that will turn the leaves and traps black with repeated use.
  2. Never let the plant dry out.  Place the pots in 1/4″ of water at all times.
  3. Use a tall pot, 3″ or more in height, so that the crown of the plant stays out of the soggy soil, but so that roots can stay wet.
  4. Give your plant a rest.  Venus Flytraps literally need to sleep in the winter, or they will not wake up and grow normally in the Spring.  This brief dormancy, only 30 days of chilling are needed, will “reset” the plant.  Your reward will be a flush of vigorous leaves, which have much bigger traps than the prior season.  Sometimes traps can double in size after a winter rest.  They wake up hungry!!

Easy dormancy instructions:  Place your plant, pot and all, into a plastic bread bag or Zip-lock  bag, and throw it intlo your refrigerator in a spot that you know will never freeze.  36F to 40F is ideal.  Open the bag once a week and peak at the plant to be sure it looks okay.  You should see the leaves stay green, but not see any new leaves growing, if it is cold enough.  This will also let a little fresh air into the bag.  Roots need oxygen, even when dormant. After 30 to 60 days, take the pot out of the bag and place it in a bright window, where it won’t freeze.  We take ours out in mid to late February.  The plants will sprout and grow within 2-3 weeks.



Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia species and hybrids)

There are two types of Pitcher Plants in the world.  Tropical (Nepenthes and Heliamphora) and Temperate (Sarracenia and Darlingtonia).  Both are long lived plants in the wild.  You can be successful too and enjoy these plants for years. The secret is knowing where the plant you have came from, and by providing conditions which are similar to where they grew naturally.

The American Pitcher Plants are temperate, and are the most successful hunters in the Carnivorous Plant group.  By both number and weight, they catch more insects than Venus Flytraps, Sundews, or Pinguicula.  The Sarracenia are native to the SE United States, up the East Coast to the Lawrence River, and along that river into Canada.   Darlingtonia have an extremely restricted distribution near Southern coastal Oregon, and in the Siskiyou Mountains of Northern California.

There are many species of Sarracenia, the North American Pitcher Plant.  Plus, there are many selections, hybrids, and clones available to collectors.

Sadly, ALL the Sarracenia in North America are critically endangered in the wild places where they grow naturally.  What is the biggest threat?  Us!  Humans are draining their swamplands in order to plant pine forest for lumber and paper use, and to building housing developments.

In order to protect those wild plants, we propagate and grow all our plants here in California in greenhouses.  We make our own seeds, our own divisions, and propagate our clones in tissue culture laboratories.  We have obtained CITES registration for our Sarracenia, which means that we have government verification that our plants are artificially propagated so we are able to ship throughout the US and Canada without restriction.


Care for Temperate American Pitcher Plants:  Sarracenia purpurea, S. ‘Cobra Nest'(pat), S. ‘White Wizard’ (pat), S. ‘Meerkat Mob’ (pat).

  1. Keep roots wet all year long by placing the pot in a saucer of distilled, rain water, or snow melt water, 1/4″ deep.
  2. Mature plants do well in pots that are 7-8″ tall, so that the crown of the plant stays drier than the root tips.
  3. Place in full sun in humid climates.  If you live in a desert climate, place the plant in partial shade, in a humid greenhouse, or in a sunny unheated window.
  4. In Fall, the leaves will begin to turn brown at the tips.  This is completely normal, and means that your plant is preparing for winter dormancy.  If you look at the growing tip, you will see that no new leaves are emerging.  It will be a rosette of green or red points.  This is where the new leaves and flowers will emerge in the Spring, after their winter dormancy is complete.
  5. Winter dormancy.  If you live in any place where the low temperatures in winter are never lower than 32F, you can leave you plants outside.  If you live where the outdoor winter temperatures are warmer than that, OR colder than that, you need to provide an artificial dormancy period so that your plant will grow normally again.  Just follow the same 30 to 60 day instructions listed above in the section for Venus Flytraps.


Octopus Plants (Drosera capensis)

The entire leaf tip of Drosera capensis has curled tightly around its prey. Proteins will be liquefied and digested

One of the most fascinating group of Carnivorous Plants are the Drosera species.  The leaf forms are incredible.  Every species is slightly different. But what they all have in common are tentacles which move and trap the prey with viscous drops of glue.

What to watch for:

When an insect, a small fruit fly or Crane Fly, lands on the leaf, their wings and feet become stuck to the glue drops.  As they struggle to get away, they only end up touching more tentacles, and more glue.  Like Venus Flytraps, Octopus Plants are capable of leaf motion!  One by one, nearby tentacles begin to bend toward the prey!  On long leaf species, such as Drosera capensis, the entire leaf surface begins to roll around the prey (see photo).  Within 24 hours, digestive enzymes are released which begin to eat away the protein rich body of the insect. After 1 or 2 weeks, the leaves unfurl, and the lifeless insect skeleton falls free or is washed away by rain.

Care for Drosera capensis, the “Octopus Plant:”

  1.  Keep soil moist at all times.  Place the pot in 1/4″ deep pool of water in a plate, saucer, or terrarium.
  2. Place in bright light.  A window sill is good. So is a terrarium.  If you want, you can grow them easily under a desk lamp, placed just a few inches above the plant.  LED and low wattage halogen lights are the best. If you place your hand under the light at plant level, your hand should not feel hot. If it gets warm, move the lamp another inch or two higher, away from the plant.
  3. Keep humidity high.  If you live in an area where the air relative humidity is low, say below 50%, you will need to increase the humidity, or you will find that the leaf tentacles will dry up and turn brown.  Once brown, they will no longer move, secrete glue, nor digest insects.  Simple solutions:  grow the plants in a terrarium with the lid 25% open.  You can make a terrarium out of a canning jar, a 1 liter soda pop bottle cut in half, or an old used fish aquarium.
  4. Octopus Plants tolerate most types of tap water.  Use rain water or snow melt if you have access to them, as these are salt free types of water, and are more similar to the water they grow with in the wild.