Drosera binata, also known as the forked sundew or fork-leaved sundew is a relatively easy plant to grow as long as you give it proper growing conditions – bright light, low nutrient potting mix and low TDS water (distilled/RO/rainwater). The multifida form has leaves with a multiple forks and the leaves can develop red coloration if grown in bright light.
This form can get quite large and catch many insects and larger ones. Here’s my Drosera Binata var dichotoma “Giant” with a dragonfly it caught.
Growing and care instructions for drosera binata var multifida
If you have never grown carnivorous plants and particularly sundews before, please google them up as well as growing instructions from a variety of sources so that you have a good idea of what to expect.
Growing media for Drosera Binata var multifida
Peat, cocopeat, live or dead sphagnum moss mixed with sand or perlite. The important thing here is that the growing mix must be nutrient free, hold moisture but drain freely and allow the roots to get air (in other words, no fertlilizer, compost or clay soil – for example). Unless you are used to growing carnivorous plants, it may be useful to research the growing medium and have it ready for when your plants arrive. If you use cocopeat in particular, you should soak and rinse it well in RO water several times to ensure that it doesn’t contain too much salt.
Growing conditions for Drosera Binata var multifida
Give it as much light as you can. Drosera Binata enjoys bright light. A moist but not soggy soil is preferred. Don’t let it go dry at any cost. In dry weather, you may stand pots in a tray of water, though this is not strictly necessary as long as you don’t let them go dry. If you use trays of water, add only half an inch or so of water and let the tray dry out completely before refilling with water. An occasional top watering helps flush any buildup of salts from the soil. A 4-6 inch pot should be adequate. but It may be worth experimenting with a deeper pot. Drosera Binata have thick, fleshy roots and the root system can be quite extensive. With time, the plant will create offshoots to fill the container it is growing in. They take a while to get to flowering maturity, but can live for several years and get quite large with time. If growing them indoors, you should grow them near a window getting a lot of light or use artificial lights. This plant will not do well in constant shade. It needs at least several hours of sunlight every day.
Drosera binata slows growth in the winter, particularly for the giant form and can form a resting bud if your growing conditions are cold enough. Here, in Mumbai, it simply grows somewhat slower than usual and can lose some leaves in low humidity. It can also die back if weather gets too hot. When conditions normalize, it will start to grow again. Even if the plant dies completely, leave it in the pot and continue to give it growing conditions – it will soon start throwing up plantlets from the roots under the soil.
Once established, this plant is hard to kill.
Feeding Drosera Binata
Drosera Binata are very efficient at trapping insects. However, if you are growing them indoors and there aren’t enough insects for the plant to catch, you should feed it on occasion. Any insects that you catch and will fit on the leaves should be fine. You can touch them to the dew and they will stick there. Several insects can be fed to one large forked leaf. Nothing much happens if the insects are small, but if the prey is large, the leaves will curl around it to maximize contact with dewy tentacles, covering it with muciliage to enable digestion. You can also sprinkle crushed fish food on the leaves. Never ever feed a plant that does not have dew on its leaves. If you do so, the plant will not be able to digest the food without the dew, and it will go mouldy and likely create problems for the health of your plant..
After receiving the plant:
- The plants will be shipped bare root. Take it out of its packing immediatelyand plant it. You should keep potting mix ready and waiting for the plant.
- If there is potting mix on the leaves of a bare root plant, you can simply drop the plant in distilled or reverse osmosis water to rinse it.
- It is better to water the soil into place to remove gaps than press and risk damaging the roots.
- Place the potted plant in a bright and shady place for a few days before increasing its exposure to direct sunlight gradually. A good guide for this is when it starts growing new leaves again.
- If the humidity is very low, you could cover the pot with a plastic bag with some holes for ventilation to provide more humidity around the plant while it recovers. This should not be necessary for more than a few days. Never ever put a covered plant in direct sunlight – it will cook. You will regret. Any covering for increasing humidity must be removed gradually before introducing the plant to direct sunlight.
- It is normal for the leaves of the plant to lose dew in shipping or for them to be stuck to each other because of the muciliage or even die and turn crisp and black. You can dunk the plant in some pure (RO/distilled) water to rinse off the muciliage if leaves are badly stuck, or you need to gently free the plant from another plant or tissue paper it is stuck to, but it is usually fine to leave it alone in most cases. It is okay to cut away any blackened leaves. This plant grows fast and will rapidly recover and grow dewy leaves if you give it good growing conditions. Even if there are no leaves on the plant when you pot it up (during shipping, the fragile dewy portion of drosera binata leaves can get wilted/damaged/die – this is normal and nothing to worry about). It will soon (within a couple of days) start pushing up fiddlehead- like leaves that unfurl into the typical Drosera binata leaf over a few days.
- DO NOT feed the plant to hasten its growth unless you clearly see drops of muciliate formed on the tentacles of its leaves and there are no insects around the plant for it to trap – IT WILL BE COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. The drops of muciliage are very obvious and there will be no guesswork involved. It will not be useful to start feeding the plant at unless you see these drops on the tentacles – you will simply add the risk of mold to a stressed plant. If there are insects around, you probably should not feed the plant at all – it will attract and trap them on its own when it is ready.
- If your plant is not dewing up well even after two weeks of arrival, try increasing the light it is receiving. Brighter shade will work, as will an added artificial light (cool only). You could also increase its exposure to direct sunlight if the plant seems to be doing well other than the missing dew. The more light the plant gets, the more dew it produces.
These plants are easy to grow. Most of the time, you won’t need to do more than the first five points mentioned above. The rest is only to give you a larger game plan for “what if” situations.
Please note that due to the specific growing conditions required to grow these plants right, I cannot guarantee the survival of your plant. If you are a new grower, your best friend is information and patience. These plants are very easy to grow.