Drosera capensis care & info | Cape sundew

Drosera capensis, also known as Cape sundew, is a carnivorous plant named after the glistening droplets on its leaves. It’s appreciated for its relatively easy care and decorative looks, which make it a great choice for both beginners and more experienced carnivorous plant growers. It can also be an effective solution if you’re dealing with pest flies like fungus gnats!

Keep reading for everything you need to know about Drosera capensis care and growing Drosera capensis in your own home.

Name(s) (common, scientific) Cape sundew, Drosera capensis
Difficulty level Easy
Recommended lighting Bright indirect
Water Keep moist
Soil type Nutrient-poor

Drosera capensis care

The Cape sundew is naturally found in South-Africa, specifically the Cape area, which explains its common name. Here, the plant grows in subtropical climates. It’s also an invasive species in some other areas, such as New Zealand, where it’s prohibited.

This plant has evolved to be quite hardy and can withstand a wide range of temperatures, which makes it a good option for beginners just getting into carnivorous plant growing.

Closeup of leaf of Cape sundew carnivorous plant with sticky dew traps | Guide to Drosera capensis care

Drosera capensis light, location and temperature

Light

Like most popular carnivorous plants, Drosera capensis loves getting plenty of light. It doesn’t appreciate harsh direct sunlight, though.

You can grow this plant near any window that isn’t exposed to the Sun’s scorching afternoon rays or use artificial lights.

Location

Drosera capensis isn’t too picky about humidity, although you can try placing it in your bathroom or kitchen if you think the air in the rest of your home may be too dry.

Most sources recommend 50% humidity or higher.

Temperature

As mentioned above, the Cape sundew is a subtropical plant that can withstand a wide range of temperatures. It does just fine at room temperature and can also tolerate higher or lower, although being exposed to cold might cause it to go dormant.

A dormancy period is not necessary for this carnivore, so if you don’t fancy having to look at a seemingly dead plant all Winter long be sure to keep it away from cold or drafty windows.  Low temperatures can prompt it to shed its leaves until things warm up again around Springtime.

Drosera capensis soil and planting

  • Like other carnivorous plants, the Cape sundew naturally grows in nutrient-poor soil and will not do well in a normal potting mix.
  • Instead, you can create a “carnivore mix” using 50% Sphagnum moss and either perlite or sand. Be sure to rinse your moss before using it.
  • Because Drosera capensis likes to be kept moist, don’t use unglazed terracotta planters; these dry out too quickly.
  • Cheap plastic planters such as these should work well instead. The material holds water while the drainage hole at the bottom prevents the soil from being too wet for extended periods of time.
  • If you’re using the ‘tray method’, where multiple carnivorous plants are placed in a tray together so they can easily be watered, a square planter might be preferable.

Watering Drosera capensis

When it comes to watering, Drosera capensis is a little more forgiving than many other carnivorous plants. Although it likes its soil moist, it’s not a disaster if you let it dry out a little too much. 

The tray method discussed earlier makes it easy to water without damaging your Drosera’s delicate leaves: just pour water into the tray and your plant(s) will happily soak it up.

When watering, be sure to use rain water (which you can collect yourself) or distilled/demineralized water. Sundews like Drosera capensis don’t respond well to the dissolved minerals present in regular tap water.

Drosera capensis fertilizer

Carnivorous plants like Drosera capensis don’t need (or want) regular houseplant fertilizer. Using it can actually be fatal to your plant, as it has developed to survive in very poor soil and obtain the nutrients it needs by catching insects.

If you’re growing your Cape sundew outdoors, it probably doesn’t need to be fed as plenty of prey will be attracted to its glistening death traps without any help. Indoors, just keep a close eye on your Drosera capensis to see if it’s getting enough food.

If you’re not regularly seeing dead flies and other bugs stuck to the tentacles, you can try feeding the plant yourself using small flies or dried bloodworms.

Close-up of leaves of Drosera capensis or Cape sundew, a carnivorous houseplant.

Buying Drosera capensis

The Cape sundew is one of the more common types of sundew. If a store sells carnivorous plants, there’s a good chance they sell this one as well.

You can also buy Drosera capensis online!

Is Drosera capensis toxic to cats and dogs?

Drosera is actually used as a homeopathic medicine in humans.

It shouldn’t be toxic to pets, although as with all plants, over-ingestion can cause an upset tummy.


If you have any more questions about Drosera capensis or if you want to share your own experiences with this fascinating carnivorous plant, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!


Marijke Puts
About Marijke Puts
Marijke Puts has Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Science and is from The Netherlands. She has a certified master gardener and loves everything about houseplants and gardening.

8 thoughts on “Drosera capensis care & info | Cape sundew”

  1. Leaf cuttings are the best method of propagation.

    Sterilize your Exacto knife blade using fire.

    Quench the heat by placing the blade into water.

    Cut a leaf as close to the main stem as possible.

    Lay the leaf flat on top of a bed of wet Peat Moss and lightly cover the leaf with a fine layer of moss. (You should still see parts if the leaf under the peat.).

    Small plantletss will develop at the edges of the leaf and develop roots.

    Using a sterilized Exacto knife you can cut the plantlets off of the leaf. Have a pair of tweezers handy to gently grab the plants and move them The plantlets are tiny. Use magnifying glasses if you are as blind as I am.

    This is one of the easiest of the Carnivorous Plants to propagate.

    Reply
  2. Hello. Do cape sundews give seeds after a certain period of time of their life? Any additional information on this and how to replant seeds(if there are any) would be much appreciated. Thank you.

    Reply

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