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Carnivorous Plant Growing Tips
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Terrestrial Bladderworts - Utricularia spp.

Bladderwort flowers
Soil
1:1 peat:sand
Bladderwort flowers
Container
3" plastic pot
Watering
moist to very wet
Light
full to part sun
Temperature
tropical to cold alpine, depending upon species
Humidity
medium to high
Location
windowsill, terrarium, greenhouse
Dormancy
required of some bladderworts
Habitat
Bladderworts are the most common group of CPs and grow in a variety of biomes worldwide.  Most terrestrial bladderworts grow in typical CP conditions of sunny, very wet, peaty soil.  They are common CPs in bogs, pocosins, and fens.  They frequently grow in association with sphagnum moss.
Culture
Most terrestrial bladderworts thrive in a standard CP soil mix of 1 part sand and 1 part peat.  Though the sand-peat ratio is not critical, most prefer a more peaty mix, and some prefer live sphagnum moss.  Use mineral-free water and for most bladderworts, keep the soil very wet.  The tray method works very well.  Stand the pot in a tray or saucer and keep about 1/2 - 1” (1.2-2.5cm) of water in it at all times during the growing season.  Most terrestrial bladderworts prefer full sun, but can tolerate shade.  Some prefer indirect, low level light.  Most terrestrial bladderworts do quite well at room temperature, but a few prefer very warm or cool conditions.
Dormancy
Species native to temperate zones require dormancy.  They will die back in the late fall.  Dormant plants should be kept somewhat drier, but the soil should remain evenly moist.  Tropical terrestrial bladderworts do not go dormant and will grow year round.
Feeding
Terrestrial bladderwort traps are underground and quite small.  Their common “foods” are soil nematodes and protozoa.  They do a marvelous job of attracting and catching prey all on their own.  It is troublesome, difficult and unnecessary to feed them. 

Other Considerations
  • Bladderworts are generally grown for their flowers.  They spread rapidly and provide a lovely display.  Several different species can be grown together.
  • Many terrestrial bladderworts will flower and go to seed readily.  Some can even become “weeds” in a collection.  The seeds are some of the smallest in the world and can be readily collected by shaking the flower stalk over a small dish.
  • Most terrestrial bladderworts will readily propagate from “root division.”  Simply dig out a small portion of the plant and repot it in fresh, wet, bladderwort-free soil.
  • Repot every few years in a fresh CP soil mix, since the peat breaks down and can create poor drainage.  This is a good time to divide the plant.  This is best done in the spring, before active growth begins.
  • Terrestrial bladderworts are excellent terrarium plants.  Consider placing them in a vented terrarium under fluorescent lights with a timer set for 16 hours/day.  The lights should be about 6” from the plants.

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Copyright © 2006-8, Michael Szesze.
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