Byblis, also known as rainbow plants is a small genus of carnivorous plants, native to Australia. Glittering drops of mucilage on the leaves attract insects which stick to the plant and get digested. There are several species of byblis, one of the most attractive of which is byblis guehoi. It is an attractive plant which branches readily and sets a profusion of flowers within a couple of months from germination when grown right. It can be staked up or caged or you can simply let it scramble over other plants and pots.
The seeds provided here are from my own plants and always fresh (I sow any seeds that get over a month old and keep only fresh ones for sale).
If you have not grown carnivorous plants before, please, please PLEASE read up before buying the seeds to avoid disappointment. While not excessively difficult, the process can be quite different from regular plants and using the normal growing methods will almost definitely kill the plants if at all you can get them to germinate. Always remember, a substrate that is lacking in nutrients and pure water with very few dissolved solids – if any. Use distilled water, reverse osmosis water, rainwater and such. Do NOT use regular tap water unless it is really low TDS – you will regret. That said, any water is better than letting pots dry, so in an emergency if you have to use tap water, go ahead and use it, but when you have access to pure water, be sure to top water and let water flow through for the next couple of waterings. Never ever fertilize. Insects is all the nutrition they want. They will attract and trap insects on their own. You don’t have to do anything for it.
The plants can be grown under lights indoors, I hear, but I have not done it. It will likely need very bright lights and will probably grow right into them. If you’re growing the plant indoors and run an unusually clean home without any insects for the plant to attract, you may need to feed the plant an occasional ant or mosquito or small speck of fish food. In such a situation, start putting the occasional insect every week or alternate week on a dewy leaf. Dead or alive doesn’t matter.
Growing byblis guehoi:
Note: seeds of Byblis, like most carnivorous plants are very tiny and please open the packet with extreme caution (and ideally switch off the fan and use a white paper under your hands and the packet to quickly see any seeds you may drop). I repeat, extreme caution. THE SEEDS ARE VERY VERY SMALL.
Sow the seeds on the surface of the growing medium and keep moist. Many people prefer to cover the pots, but I usually sow the seeds on damp sphagnum and leave it uncovered in the location in which they will grow – my east facing balcony where they get at least 5-6 hours of bright sunlight every morning. If the conditions you provide are right, fresh byblis guehoi seeds germinate within days and pretty much grow themselves as long as the potting mix is kept moist. So far, they have grown well on dead as well as live sphagnum, well rinsed cocopeat, with or without perlite added. They seem fairly easygoing and will likely grow similarly on any medium suitable for carnivorous plants. I would recommend larger and deeper pots for these, as their roots can get quite long and the plants will get bigger the more space the roots have to grow. an 8 inch pot isn’t too much to expect (though the ones shown in the photos are smaller) and I suspect the plants will appreciate something bigger too.
Fresh seeds germinate in less than a week usually, but can take another few days to emerge completely out of the seedcoat. I have not had much trouble with growth inhibitors using the fresh byblis guehoi seeds, however for even germination, you may use 100ppm giberellic acid (soak for 24 hours or so) or dilute bleach (soak for a few minutes till the seed turns lighter in color) – I am deliberately not providing detailed instructions here, as if you do this, you should really research several sources and arm yourself with knowledge before risking your seeds. If you would like me to send you gibberellic acid along with your seeds, please choose the appropriate option. You will need to dissolve it in a very small quantity (least needed to dissolve) of rubbing alcohol before mixing with water for soaking the seeds. Other treatments like lighting a fire or using smoke water also work well, apparently, but I have no tried them. I have not needed to. I have volunteer plants popping up even where I didn’t sow them – they really do germinate fairly easily.
I know this is contrary to the reports many have of byblis seeds being tricky to germinate, but at least in the warm weather near Mumbai, they seem eager to grow. Or perhaps it is really fresh seeds that is the trick.
If you use a large eough pot, you will probably not need to sit the plants in a tray of water, though I’ve done it without any harm. The larger the pot, feel free to add some perlite or sand (rinse, rinse, rinse) for drainage.
Byblis guehoi loves sunlight. The more, the better and so far hasn’t been bothered by temperatures up to 37 degrees celcius at all.
What else… that is about it. When the plants flower, if you want them to produce seeds, you will need to pollinate the flowers (unless you have loads of bees and other pollinators) on two different plants to get a good seed set. Once they start flowering, they don’t seem to stop, so finding flowers on two plants is not going to be a problem. There are youtube videos for this. Some more complex than others. I just use a small paintbrush to transfer pollen and it works easily enough – I’m selling seeds, right?
If you have any questions, ask away.
Disclaimer: Due to the culture of carnivorous plants being a matter of skill and providing right conditions, the germination of seeds cannot be guaranteed, in the event you fail to grow them. However, I get a near 100% germination rate in the conditions I provide here.