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Drosera root cuttings

Drosera root cuttings can yield mature plants within as little as one growing season. Root cuttings are the most effective way to propagate mature sundews quickly, followed by leaf cuttings, then traditionally sown seed. Both root cuttings and leaf cuttings are considered asexual reproduction versus the more common sexual reproduction that involves flower pollination and seed production.

Why would you want to take a cutting? All plants grown via cuttings will be clones, completely identical to the parent plant – so you’ll know precisely what to expect from them. The technique is easy, won’t harm your parent plant, and works with just about any sundew that has long, thick roots. Cuttings are super effective with most rosetted subtropical sundews, king sundews, cape sundews and fork-leaved sundews.

When & how to take Drosera root cuttings

It’s best to take root cuttings towards the end of a dormancy period, or early in the growing season – especially if you’re already going to be transplanting your sundews. Expose the plant’s roots and identify healthy roots that will look black with white tips. Choose the thickest roots. Separate out a few of these roots, leaving plenty behind for the parent plant, and use a knife or sharp pruning shears to cut five centimeter sections.

Place the root cuttings horizontally on the plant’s preferred media mix, and cover with a few centimeyters of moist media. It’s best to keep the po in a propagation tray with a humidity dome, or use another means of keeping conditions humid and warm. A really effective and affordable solution is to keep your pot in a large zip-lock bag. Until the cuttings start growing green leaves keep humidity as high as possible. In the case of a zip-lock bag, seal it up completely.

Even though the roots don’t have leaves to photosynthesize yet, it’s important to expose them to bright, indirect light, so place them under grow lights, in indirect bright outdoors. Make sure that the propagation tray stays out of direct sun, or you risk overheating and cooking your root cuttings.

If you can provide bottom heat you should do so. Bottom heat will reduce the time it takes for the cuttings to strike and begin to grow. Growing heat mats are available from hydroponic shops and some garden centers. Bottom heat is by no means mandatory, cuttings will strike in spring without  it.

Be patient, keep the soil moist, and within a few weeks, you’ll start to notice your cuttings sprouting. After a few leaves have emerged, slowly reduce the humidity over the course of a few days, and place the plants in direct light. Give the root systems a few months to establish themselves, and you can replant your Drosera into a more permanent home.

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South Australian endemic Drosera

Did you know the majority of Drosera are found here in Australia? Seeing these plants in their natural habitat is very rewarding and at times a stunning site. South Australia has many Drosera endemic to the Southern Mount Lofty Ranges and beyond.

Drosera aberrans
Drosera aff. stricticaulis
Drosera aphylla, nom.illeg.
Drosera auriculata
Drosera binata
Drosera bulbosa var. praefolia
Drosera finlaysoniana
Drosera foliosa, nom.illeg., non Elliott(1821)
Drosera glanduligera
Drosera gracilis
Drosera hookeri
Drosera macrantha ssp. planchonii
Drosera macrantha var. stricticaulis
Drosera menziesii var. albiflora
Drosera peltata
Drosera peltata ssp. auriculata
Drosera peltata ssp. peltata
Drosera peltata var. auriculata
Drosera peltata var. gracilis
Drosera peltata var. peltata
Drosera planchonii
Drosera praefolia
Drosera pygmaea
Drosera schmutzii
Drosera sp. Rigid (R.J.Bates 2268)
Drosera stricticaulis
Drosera whittakeri
Drosera whittakeri ssp. aberrans
Drosera whittakeri ssp. praefolia
Drosera whittakeri ssp. whittakeri
Drosera whittakeri var. praefolia

For more information on these species, including areas where these species occur, take a look at Seeds of South Australia.

A great pocket guide I recommend is Common Wildflowers of the Mount Lofty Ranges (ISBN: 759010390), it’s a great field guide to many endemic plants found in the Mount Lofty Ranges, including Drosera. You may also like to refer to the Census of South Australian Vascular Plants.

Remember, you need a permit to collect plant material, including seed. Collecting material without a permit is prohibited.