Information of how to help keep your plants alive.
Carnivorous plants are easy to grow if you follow a few, simple rules
1. Wet all of the time.
2. Mineral-free water.
3. Mineral-free soil.
4. Lots of light.
What kind of soil should I plant my succulents in?
Succulents love well draining soil. I've been buying a Palm & Cactus mix from Lowes for sometime now and it has been great. In the dryer summer months, I've found that my soil drys a little too quickly. If you feel like your soil is just not retaining water long enough, you can mix your cactus soil with a bit of regular potting soil to increase the water retention to your liking. Sometimes, I like to keep my plants in containers without drainage holes, such as tea cups, mason jars and baby food jars. In this case, I will either layer the bottom of the container with pebbles or add sand to the soil to help with drainage issues.
Wet all of the time.
Keep the soil wet or at least damp all of the time. The easiest way to do this is use the tray method. Set the pots in a tray or saucer, and keep water in it at all times. Pitcher plants can grow in soggy soil with the water level in the saucer as deep as 1/2 the pot, but most carnivorous plants prefer damp to wet soil, so keep the water at about 1/4 inch and refill as soon as it is nearly gone. Add water to the tray, rather than watering the plant. This will avoid washing away the sticky muscilage of the sundews and butterworts and keep from closing the flytraps with a false alarm.
Always use mineral-free water with your carnivorous plants, such as rainwater or distilled water. Try keeping a bucket near the downspout to collect rainwater. Distilled water can be purchased at the grocery store, but avoid bottled drinking water. There are simply too many minerals in it. The condensation line from an air conditioner or heat pump is another source of mineral-free water. Reverse-osmosis water is fine to use. Carnivorous plants grow in nutrient poor soils. The minerals from tap water can "over-fertilize" and "burn out" the plants.
The nutrient poor soils to which the carnivorous plants have adapted are often rich in peat and sand. You can duplicate this with a soil mixture of sphagnum peat moss and horticultural sand. Be sure to check the peat label for sphagnum moss. Other types will not work well. The sand should be clean and washed. Play box sand is great or you can buy horticultural sand. Avoid "contractor’s sand" which will contain fine dust, silt, clay and other minerals. Never use beach sand or limestone-based sand. The salt content will harm the plants. The ratio of the mix is not critical, 1 part peat with 1 part sand works well for most carnivorous plants. Flytraps prefer a bit more sand, and nepenthes prefer much more peat, but again the mix is not critical, as long as it is sphagnum peat and clean, washed sand.
Lots of light.
Carnivorous plants, as a general rule, grow best in sunny conditions. Many do well in partial sun. The nutrient-poor and soggy bogs provide bad conditions for most plants. Those that do grow in the bog are usually stunted or short in height. As a consequence, the carnivorous plant habitat tends to be open and sunny. Full sun brings out the red pigmentation of most carnivorous plants. Many carnivorous plants grow quite well out-of-doors or indoors in a bright, sunny spot. Any windowsill, but north, will work fine. The plants also do well under artificial light with a timer set at 12-14 hours. Fluorescent tubes designed for plant growth work better than plain bulbs.
How much and when should I water my succulents?
There is a common misconception that succulents don't need much water. While it's true that they can go longer periods of time without it, they will not "thrive" in a drought-like situation. I learned this the hard way when I first started my collection. I would go weeks without watering and my plants were not growing. They weren't dying either. My mom on the other hand, would water her plants frequently and her plants were flourishing! I decided she was on to something and began watering my plants more often. Now, my general rule of thumb is water when the soil is dry. For me, that is about once a week during hotter months and a little less when the weather cools. When I water, I water the soil not the plant. (I've heard that letting water settle on the leaves can cause rot, in addition to leaving unsightly markings.) I give it a good soak so that the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. (For plants without drainage holes, I don't soak. I give more of a "sip.") I see a lot of people killing their succulents by overwatering. You can avoid this by making sure the soil is totally dry between waterings.
How much sunlight do succulents need?
In general, succulents do best in bright but indirect sunlight. I've found that different species can tolerate different amounts of light, but most of my plants tend to suffer in extended periods of direct sunlight. To avoid burning and scorching your plants, keep them in a place where they get a lot of shade but still receive adequate light. My healthiest plants are outside on window sills where they are protected from direct sunlight by small over hangs. Like I said, some plants can tolerate direct sunlight better than others. You just need to experiment with your plants to see what works best where you live. If your plants are not getting enough light they may become leggy and stretch toward the light. If your plants are stretching out or bending toward the light, you can slowly move them to a brighter spot or rotate the pot from time to time to keep them growing straight up. You might also like to propagate your leggy succulents.