Drosera capensis, or Cape Sundew, is a very easy sundew to grow. It is native to the Cape region of South Africa. They are perennial, with linear leaves up to 2 ½ inches (6.5 cm) long, tapered toward the base. The leaves are densely covered with trichomes (plant hairs) that secrete a sticky sap that attracts insects. The hairs cover the top surface of the leaves and provide a moist appearance that is irresistable to insects. Once an insect is trapped on a leaf, the leaf curls around the insect, bringing numerous sticky trichomes into contact with the insect. Drosera secretes digestive enzymes into this mix when it detects an insect and this continues until the insect is liquified and its soluble contents digested. It is one of the easiest of the Droseras to grow.
Blooming Time: In the greenhouse, plants bloom in the fall with scapes that have numerous small pinkish flowers up to 3/8 of an inch (1 cm) long. The flowers are self-pollinating, and when seedpods dry they produce hundreds of viable seed.
Culture: Drosera capensis need full sun to light shade, with an acidic, moist soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part sand. In a terrarium, you will need to add at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of horticultural charcoal before adding the soil mix. If grown in containers, the container should be placed in trays with at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water at all times. They must be watered with distilled water or rainwater because they will not tolerate city water or hard water. Do not fertilize! During the winter months, water should be alternated between wet and dry periods. Insectivorous plants are adapted to low nutrient conditions (they obtain nitrogen, phosphorous and other needed minerals from trapped insects) and are damaged by high pH and water-borne nutrients.
Propagation: Drosera capensis are propagated by division, root cutting or by seeds, which are typically quite fertile.
Drosera capensis was featured as Plant of the Week April 9-15, 2004.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.