"My seeds have arrived in the mail! Now what?"

The first step in being successful with your carnivorous plant seeds is to determine if they are a variety that require a form of pretreatment. Many warm temperate North American species require cold stratification for several weeks in order to germinate. This signals to these species that winter is over and it's time to sprout. Some exotic varieties such as some Byblis, Drosophyllum or Roridula species may need to be treated with the plant hormone GA3 to induce germination. Chances are that if you have purchased a tropical Drosera species, Byblis liniflora, Venus flytrap or Nepenthes seeds, they can be sown without any special treatment.

"I've determined whether or not my seeds require cold stratification or GA3 and have treated them accordingly, what now?"

Time to select your soil. The most commonly used soil components in carnivorous plant cultivation are long fibered sphagnum moss (abbreviated as LFS), sphagnum peat moss and perlite.

From left to right; Long fibered sphagnum moss, sphagnum peat moss, and perlite.

For beginners, the easiest way to get started is to buy a bag of LFS which is commonly sold in garden centers. The convenient thing about this soil component is that many species of carnivorous plants can be grown in 100% LFS. Peat moss and perlite are a cheaper alternative if you are dealing with a lot of plants however some caution must be taken when purchasing these soil components. Brands such as miracle grow peat moss and perlite include fertilizer in their product. While this can be a good thing for garden plants, most carnivores are sensitive to chemical fertilizer in the soil and can be negatively impacted by its addition.

"I've selected my soil. Lets get started!"

Before you can sow your seeds you need to re hydrate the soil. If you went with pure LFS soak it in a container of distilled or RO purified water in order to re hydrate it. Peat moss is a bit more difficult to work with because dry peat is extremely hydrophobic. In order to re hydrate peat you will have hold it under water and repeatedly squeeze and mix it until it is a muddy consistency.

Peat mix; still dry and unusable.

Fully hydrated!

Once it is ready go ahead and mix in some of your perlite to help keep the soil airy and light. Grab a handful of your soil and give it a very light squeeze; if your soil is fully re hydrated you should notice a small amount of water drain from it. Now take your pot and break your handful of soil up into it. Remember, you don't want to compress the soil; it is important that it remains loose and airy, but you can firm down the surface so that your seeds don't get lost in the crevices.

Surface firmed down and ready to use.

My preferred sowing mix; peat and perlite with a thin layer of finely chopped LFS on top.

"All done! How deep should I bury the seeds?"

Never, ever bury carnivorous plant seeds. Most species' seeds are very tiny and will never be able to sprout if you cover them up. Just sprinkle your seeds on top of the soil.

Once you've sown them you can mist the pot a couple times to ensure good surface contact. Now you just need to keep them damp and in bright light and you should start seeing seedlings in two to six weeks!

Sown, tagged and ready to grow!

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