How to grow the Queensland Sundews

Robert Allen (Robert.Allen@Eng.Sun.COM)
Tue, 15 Feb 1994 14:52:53 +0800

The Queensland Sundews consist of three species:
Drosera adelae, Drosera prolifera, and Drosera
schizandra. Each of these species are characterized
by broad leaves. Flowers on all species (well,
I haven't seen those of D. schizandra) are

The leaves of D. adelae are
lance shaped, between 3" and 7" long. There is
a central midrib the length of the leaf, and the
leaf is heavily glandular. The leaf petiole
is nearly nonexistant.

The leaves of D. prolifera are kidney shaped,
and are mounted atop a long thing petiole,
something like a parasol, or mushroom. Leaves
are heavily glandular. This plant is known
for developing smaller planetlets on the flower
stalk, which falls to the ground and sprouts
a new plant in a way that superficially appears
similar to that of strawberry plant "runners".

The leaves of D. schizandra are very large and
wide, upto several inches long and 2" wide. The
leaves are reasonably glandular, and there is
no noticeable petiole. The leaves of this plant
look very much like that of the common milkweed
in terms of consistency, but not as much so in
shape. On a mature plant the colorless glands
and the large leaves reminds one of a (very) small
lettuce leaf.

All three plants seem to thrive on high humidity,
cooler temps, and very low light. Of the three,
D. adelae is the easiest to grow, and D. schizandra
the most difficult. None of the plants are slow
growing if you give them the environment that they
want, but I suspect most people give them too much
light and not enough humidity.

Because the leaves are almost tissue paper thin,
it's difficult to get leaf cuttings to sprout
before the leaf rots away. Tom Johnson and Rick
Walker however gave me the secret to growing the
Queensland sundews successfully. I grow mine in
large clear glass spherical bowls. The medium is
a very lite mix of perlite and peat, perhaps
75% perlite, topped with straight peat. I've also
grown D. schizandra in straight peat topped with
live spaghnum. The roots of these plants are
reasonably thick, though not as thick as the
that of D. binata or D. natalensis. Growing in
a clear bowl, or a clear plastic cup, the roots will
sprout into new growth points where they hit the
edge of the glass and are exposed to light. This
is how I propagate these beautiful plants. I keep
the soil damp, or just barely moist, but these plants
seem to do better in well drained soils than the
soggy soils which I've seen many drosera do well in.

In terms of light, don't grow these plants in
direct sun if you want the largest leaves and
healthiest plants. I tried growing D. schizandra
under lights that were within a few inches of
the plants, and the leaves got less glandular, while
the plant cut back on growth. It wasn't happy.
D. adelae on the other hand does well in slightly
more light. I grow D. prolifera and D. schizandra
in the glass bowls I mentioned, in a northwest
facing window, in my office. The plants get a very
small number of foot candles each day, and what they
do get is from indirect light, except for maybe an hour
in the afternoon where they get some filtered direct
sun. I keep the tops of the bowls sealed to keep the
humidity up, and under this treatment my D. schizandra
is doing very well, and all of my D. prolifera plants
have dewey leaves for a change.