Beginners Guide to Carnivorous Plants

Do you want to grow carnivorous plants? Don’t worry! It doesn’t need to be hard.

The majority of carnivorous plants are quite adaptable. If you can provide the conditions described below, they will be happy in your care.

Table of Contents

light levels to grow carnivorous plants


Carnivorous plants grow on every continent except Antarctica. The first step to caring for a plant is understanding its native habitat.

Broadly, carnivorous plants grow in two types of environments:

  • In a tropical environment a plant grows year round. Tropical environments are close to the equator and generally hot and humid. An example of tropical environment is Hawaii.
  • In a temperate environment plants grow seasonally. Temperate environments are warm during the summer but cold during winter, which is when plants go dormant. An example of temperate environment is Upstate New York.
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Below is a table that summarizes the conditions required for each carnivorous plant genus.

Understanding Climate

Each species evolved to thrive in highly specific temperature ranges. Not getting the correct climate is one of the most common mistakes when starting to grow carnivorous plants.

how to grow carnivorous plants
Many spectacular highland Nepenthes are found here, on Mount Kinabalu in Borneo.
ClimateDay Temperature RangeNight Temperature Range
All temperatures listed in Farenheit.

Note: Lowland, intermediate, and highland refers to the elevation a plant is found in a tropical climate.

We recommend beginners start growing in the intermediate range.

Light Levels

Whether you’re a budding beginner or a skilled enthusiast, getting the right light levels are critical to growing happy, healthy carnivorous plants.

Light TypeRequired DurationCommon Ways to Achieve
Direct Light~8 HoursGrowing outdoors
Under grow lights
Indirect Light~8 HoursEast, west, or south-facing window
Direct light filtered through shade cloth
Shade~8 HoursNorth-facing window
Outdoors with no direct sun exposre

What to dive deeper into lighting? Head over to our facility page to check out our lighting setup.

Automated watering systems at Florae include misting and irrigation.

All About Water

Carnivorous plants tend to come from environments where water and moisture are abundant, but every genus has its own particular requirements.  Learn about the different aspects of watering carnivorous plants below!

Water Requirements

Plants that require high water should never have a dry pot. How often they need to be watered depends on the size of the plant relevant to the pot, but the media should always be damp.

Plants that require moderate water can have their media dry out occasionally, but should be damp most of the time.


The best way to ensure correct humidity levels is to get a humidistat. If your humidity level is too low or high, you may need to get a humidifier or dehumidifier, respectively.

Humidity RequirementAcceptable Humidity Level

Watering Techniques

Some carnivorous plants evolved in acidic ecosystems such as a bog, while others evolved in tropical rainforests. Regardless of the exact ecosystem, the one unifying factor is high moisture content. In cultivation, how plants get watered is a key component to their health.

Bottom WaterPlace the pot in a tray of standing water. This water should be replaced every 3-4 days.
Top WaterSpray water on the plant as if it were getting rained on.

Water Quality

As a general rule, carnivorous plants prefer rainwater, distilled, or reverse osmosis water. Water collected through other means, such as tap, generally has salts that will kill the plant.

If you’re just starting out, we recommend getting a Zerowater Filter.

Ensuring Airflow

One thing that all carnivorous plants need is good airflow. Proper circulation minimizes the risk of fungal and algal growth, which can negatively impact your plant’s health.

Unless you’re growing outdoors or in a well circulated house, we often recommend running a fan to ensure your plants stay happy and health.

media to grow carnivorous plants
Ultramafic media mix, ideal for Nepenthes from select regions of Borneo and the Philippines.

Choosing the Correct Media

Many carnivorous plants eat insects because they evolved in waterlogged soils with extremely limited nutrients. While many types of media can be used to grow carnivorous plants, here is what we use in our greenhouse.

Sphagnum Moss Mix

Potted Nepenthes most commonly use sphagnum moss mixes. This soil has a low ph (5.3-5.8) and high porosity, creating an optimal media for most carnivorous plants. The perlite content allows water to freely flow through the pot while the sphagnum moss retains enough moisture for plants to thrive.

Coconut Coir Mix

Coconut coir is a great medium for carnivorous and tropical plants. It also has a smaller ecological footprint than sphagnum moss mixes. It provides the right conditions for plant health with a lower risk of a waterlogged pot.

Terrestrial Mix

This media is very porous with a low PH (5.3-5.5). These conditions are achieved via a combination of sand, peat moss, and perlite. This is an optimal soil for most DroseraCephalotusHeliamphora, Dionea, and Darlingtonia.

Ultramafic Mix

Ultramafic media promotes healthy root development and growth for Nepenthes from select regions of Borneo and the Philippines (ex. villosaclipeatapeltataargentii etc.). The media contains low amounts of calcium and nitrogen, yet high amounts of magnesium, nickel, chromium, and other heavy metals.

Pinguicula Mix

We grow our Pinguicula in vermiculite only.

Interested in learning more?

Check out these additional resources!