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How to Care for Pygmy Drosera - The beauty of the smallest sundews!

Learn what it takes to build a little gem collection of your own!

As the name implies, pygmy sundews are very small and typically they can be anything from 1.5cm -2cm wide. These are mostly rosette forming plants and are often ground hugging, with the exception of a couple of the larger species which can grow upright and these can be around 5cm tall and wide.

Most pygmy sundews originate from southwestern, Western Australia from which they have hot summers and cooler winters. Pygmy sundews are very easy to care for and also a brilliant plant to have in a collection. During the growing season these plants become the shining gems of the carnivorous plant world, especially if multiple plants are growing in the same pot. In spring to early summer these plants will flower, they have wonderfully striking coloured blooms which can be as small as or even larger than the plant itself.

In winter these plants produce a cellular bud from their centre, known as gemmae, this bud can be sown on the surface of the media and grow new plants as a form of asexual reproduction, this is the easiest and quickest method to propagate pygmy sundews.

Lighting and Positioning:

Pygmy sundew require a sunny position, full sun is best to produce the best colour. They can be grown in a frost free greenhouse, unheated greenhouse, indoors on a south facing windowsill, under grow lights or even in a terrarium with lights above. However if grown under lights, it is important to adapt the lighting to a more natural photoperiod later in the year as this will aid in the production of gemmae as if mimicking the photoperiod during autumn/winter.

Pygmy sundews can be grown within an unheated greenhouse year round and I have experienced frosts each year with mine which has caused them to freeze solid and never lost any, even in this years -7C temperatures. However, I have also spoken to a lot of people who have lost theirs due to the cold weather so it is important to be cautious with your pygmys if you are unsure. Different locations will vary. You can always grow them outside or in a greenhouse during the summer and bring them in during the winter.

If you want to experiment with your conditions you could always grow a pot of spare pygmy sundews that you may have multiple of in a greenhouse during your winter just to test their hardiness. If you do keep yours outside in a greenhouse during winter them it is important to reduce watering during this time and only keep them damp as they will rot if kept too wet in the cooler weather.


In their natural environments within Western Australia, these plants are adapted to long periods of dry weather during the summer and will often put out the most growth during the cooler winter season. However, in cultivation pygmy sundews are happy to be kept moist and so can be kept in a tray or saucer of water and then replace the water only when the tray has dried out.


Pygmy sundews typically live in sandy media in the wild, yet in cultivation they are not too fussed about having a less sandy mix. They are happy in a mix of 1:1 peat and sand or 1:1 peat and sand. I have also grown these plants in finely chopped sphagnum and had good results, although it doesn't show off the beautiful colours of the more orange tinted species.

Pot Size:

Pygmy Drosera have a long thin root system which is extremely fragile, therefore it is not advisable to ever repot these plants when growing. It is best to grow new pots of your pygmys each year from the gemmae your original plants make in the winter.

It is best to sow and grow your sundews in taller pots so their roots have room to grow. I typically use 9cm tall pots from my pygmys but I have also used 7cm and 6cm pots with success but this is not recommended for long term growing of these plants and is best to grow your main plants in taller pots.


These sundews do not require dormancy but depending on the growing conditions of where you live some may enter a summer dormancy. If the temperatures rise to 32C then the plants may enter a summer dormancy where they will remain as a stipule bud for a couple of months in the hottest temperatures before the weather cools. Yet if the temperatures do not reach extreme highs then the plants will actively grow year round.


The flowers of the pygmy sundews are absolutely stunning and I always look forward to these tiny plants flowering during the late spring - early summer. The flowers can come in striking colours and you can also get a mass of flowers at a time. The flowers open at the top of a long thin stalk which both the stalk and bud are capped in dew just like the plants and can also capture small insects. In the sun, the flower shimmer and have a beautiful shine to their petals and although some of the flowers are tiny they are definitely underappreciated for what they are.


Despite their size, these small sundew are actually super effective in capturing prey. They often catch small flies and gnats which are broken down by digestive enzymes once the plant has curled it's tentacles around the insect. Within a greenhouse or outside they can catch their own prey quite happily and do not need additional feeding.

If you keep your plants inside and would like to give them some additional feeding then small mashed insects work well, although they can respond okay to diluted foliar fertilisers they prefer actual insects.


The easiest and quickest method to propagate these sundews is through sowing the gemmae they produce in the winter. Plants grow quickly and will often flower and produce their own gemmae within the same year of being sown. Check out my guide of how to grow your own pygmy sundews from gemmae here.

The slowest way to propagate pygmy sundews is from seed and if you are not planning on making your own crosses then it is isn't really worth doing as seed can take up to a year to germinate if viable. It can also be difficult to get seed from the plants, with often only 1 or 2 tiny seeds being produced at a time. When sown the seeds need to be kept in conditions that are similar to growing the plant in the wild with alternating hot dry and cool wet periods.

Finally, the most uncommon way to propagate these sundews is through leaf cuttings which can often be difficult due to how small the leaves are on these sundews. If a leaf can be detached with the petiole undamaged then it is possible to do leaf cuttings from these plants.

The best plants to start with:

Drosera pulchella - My favourite pygmy which has lovely orange tentacles on flat petioles, there is a few different coloured flowering variations which range from orange, to pink and even to white.

Drosera scorpioides - The 'largest' pygmy sundew which grows upright, very easy to grow, very beautiful and one of the most popular to collect. As the leaves grow atop of eachother the plant creates a tall shaggy stem of older growth, hence it's common name being the shaggy sundew. These have pink to white flowers

Drosera roseana - A small brightly coloured pygmy sundew with red tentacles and produces a carpet of little shining gems if grown in a pot together. They are easy to grow from gemmae and to care for, they produce small white flowers.

More pygmy sundews - Want to see more of my pygmy sundews and their flowers?
Here you go!

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