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How to Propagate Drosera from Leaf Cuttings


Propagating your sundews from leaf cutting is an interesting and rewarding method that provides you with exact clones of the plants your propagate. Leaf cuttings are also a quicker method to get established and mature plants quicker than growing from seed.

Most Drosera species can be used for leaf cuttings with a few exceptions. For example Drosera regia, Pygmy Drosera and Tuberous Drosera do not do well from leaf cuttings, there are other methods that are quicker and better for these plants such as root cuttings, gemmae and division.

The best time to take leaf cuttings is when your plants are actively growing and have a range of healthy leaves on the plant, therefore summer is often the best time to take them.

Some Drosera species take quicker than others and some have a better success rate therefore it can take some patience when using this method. Nevertheless, this is still one of my favourite methods of propagating carnivorous plants as once you get strikes, the plantlets grow quickly and you can get several new plants from this method.

You can propagate your leaf cuttings either on top of a damp media or alternatively you can also do it in RO, distilled or rain water. Each grower is different and has a preferred method, so it is always nice to experiment a few times to see what you personally prefer.

Equipment:

Pot/ Container:


Firstly you want to select a pot or container you are going to use for your cuttings. Personally I like to use take away plastic containers which have lids, these are a decent size for multiple cuttings plus are easy to get hold of.

You can also use smaller plastic dipping pots, plastic lids (such as cotton earbud lids) or even a plastic plant pot to raise your cuttings in. For the water method you can use test tubes, jars or similar to place cuttings in - These especially work with longer leaves such as Drosera filiformis.

(Left) Takeaway container of various Drosera cuttings (Right) Several small sauce containers with smaller sundew leaves


Media:


You can use Sphagnum moss (live or dried), peat or a peat/sand/perlite mix as a media to lay cuttings onto.

For water you want to use preferably clean water such as Reverse osmosis (RO) water, distilled water or rain water (Preferably that is free from debris and dirt). Do not use tap water. I personally like to use sphagnum moss for most of my cuttings, although I will tend to use water for the cuttings that take a little longer.

Method:


Fill your container with your chosen mix, either water or media. For me, I like to use sphagnum moss and chop it up so that is finer and easier to place cutting onto, although this is not necessary. In shallow containers I only place about 1-2cm of media, just to get them started.

If using media, use a watering can with a rose to evenly water the media, you do not want it waterlogged, just damp to touch. Be careful if using a container without drainage holes as it is easy to overwater it, make sure to drain excess water before laying cuttings onto it.

Next you want to select the plants you are taking cuttings from. Ideally you want to take a couple of leaves from each plant to ensure you have a better chance of getting results. When taking the cuttings you want to select a healthy plant and take the best leaves which are fully open.

Using a pair of pruning snips, scissors or a knife cut off the leaves from the petiole (The non dewy part of the leaf). If taking leaves from Drosera filiformis you can cut the leaf into 3-5cm pieces as well as large Drosera binata type leaves which can be cut up into various segments.

Above - (Left) Taking a Drosera adelae leaf (Right) Taking a Drosera venusta leaf

Drosera binata cuttings in a container of sphagnum moss
A tray of Drosera binata var. dichotoma leaf cuttings. Note the different sections
This job can be rather messy and fiddly as you will be touching the slimy dew on the leaves so if you don't want to touch the dew with your bare hands you can wear some disposable gloves for this.

Lay the leaves flat onto the media, dewy side up. If placing long cutting onto water filled test tubes lay these vertically in the tubes. You will often find that the leaves will get stuck to you at this point so can take a few attempt to lay them correctly. The leaves may bend or want to curl, therefore you can use a tiny bit of media at each end of the cutting to help them lay flat.

(Left) Laying cut Drosera venusta leaf onto sphagnum moss (Right) The tray of cut Drosera leaves


Make sure to date your container or pot when you have finished taking your cuttings to see how long they take. This can be a very lengthy process so you may want to keep tabs them.

Caring for your cuttings:


After you have taken the cuttings you want to keep them damp and relatively humid throughout so not to let the leaves shrivel. Use the lid for the container, cling film to cover your pots or even place cuttings in a unheated/heated propagator to keep the moisture in.

Monitor the watering to make sure the media stays damp and never let it dry out. If propagating in water then make sure to top up the water and to change the water if it starts to change colour.

You do not want to exclude light during this process but do not place them in full sun as this can cook and burn the leaves. Place them either under grow lights, on or near a indirectly lit windowsill or even keep on a lower greenhouse bench away from the hot sun.

Cuttings can take anywhere between 2-5 months before you see plantlets depending on the species, easier species such as Drosera adelae and Drosera binata are often the first to strike whereas species such as Drosera slakii can take a lot longer. On smaller leaves it is likely to get one plant form, however it is possible to get several strikes on one leaf.

You may get some browning in the leaves but do not worry as plants can still strike providing the leaf hasn't gone completely brown. If the leaves go completely brown then they should be removed as this means the leaf has died and will likely form fungus.

What strikes and the little plantlets look like:


You will firstly notice little green/red ball shapes on the corners or middle of the leaves, plantlets will often form on what would of been the dewy part of the leaf.

(Above) Strikes firstly appearing on Drosera leaves


Eventually they will start to form into little versions of the adult plants, bare in mind some species develop quicker than others so you may notice a variation between the different plants you have taken cutting from.

(Above) Plantlets forming and developing in both water and media prop


A full tray of cuttings from different Drosera species. Note how they have developed at different stages. Overall a very good strike rate.

Potting on after striking:


Your Drosera cuttings have now formed plantlets, what's next?

When they plants get to a decent size you want to transfer them into a pot. If you have started your cuttings in a pot of media then they can often be kept in the pot for a while before transplanting but for water propagation and shallow containers you want to transfer them once they look like a good plant.

The Drosera binata cuttings forming several plantlets. (Left) Is around the size you can pot them up

Drosera binata cuttings transplanted into a pot. (Right) Smaller cuttings transplanted, you can see the original leaf which they formed from - This leaf will die off and the plants will continue to grow

The same cuttings from above a couple of months on, see how the plants have now formed their own crowns and will now have their own root systems.


Best plants to start off with in either media or water method:
  • Drosera binata

  • Drosera adelae

  • Drosera filiformis

  • Drosera capensis

  • Drosera aliciae

Above is the list of plants I have always had good success with and would recommend for anyone trying this propagation method out for the first time. Yet whatever Drosera you have at the time is worth trying.

Want to see this method in action?

Why not check out my YouTube video describing and demonstrating this method here

A couple more pictures of leaf cuttings striking in both media and water










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