[Guide] Growing Drosophyllum lusitanicum from seeds

WillyCKH

CPSC Moderator
Staff member
Introduction
In this guide, I hope to share my limited knowledge and experiences regarding growing Drosophyllum lusitanicum. I am not an experienced grower and has no background in botany, but my hope is that the information will be helpful as a starting point for others.

Drosophyllum lusitanicum, commonly known as the dewy pine, is one of the most unique carnivorous plants in cultivation. It is different than most other carnivorous plants because it inhabits a much drier climate. Drosophyllum attracts insects of all sizes with the sparkling sticky glads, and a scent of honey. It is endemic to the herriza or Mediterranean heathland from the southwestern Iberian Peninsula and northwestern tip of Africa, with the Strait of Gibraltar region harboring the highest density of populations. It is a rare species from the geographic, ecological, and taxonomic points of view, being the herriza’s plant uniqueness paradigm.

Drosophyllum lusitanicum in natural habitat, notice where they grow are often rocky, dry, nutrient-poor grounds.
9573

9574


Plant expert, Petar Kostov describes this species as "the uncompromising giants" because Drosophyllum lusitanicum are very strict and stubborn in their requirements.

There are main three reasons Drosophyllum are not commonly seen in trades and collections:
1. seeds are difficult/ very slow to germinate
2. root disturbance is often deadly
3. while Drosophyllum is drought tolerant, the plants are prone to root rot when the soil is too moist

Germination Method - Seed Scarification
First, we have to understand the reason why Drosophyllum seeds are difficult to germinate using the conventional sow-and-wait method. Drosophyllum seeds are usually scattered near the mother plant and can stay dormant for years. Seeds would germinate after fire occurred, usually killing the mother plant, and when there's consistent moisture from rain.
The seed coat of Drosophyllum is thick and black, it is water and fire resistant. It keeps the seed core fresh and alive for a long time, waiting patiently for the right conditions to germinate.
9575

Scarification in botany involves weakening, opening, or otherwise altering the coat of a seed to encourage germination. It is a method used to create a gentle opening in the seed coat to allow the seeds germinating easier. From my experiences, it is easier and safer than the fire/ smoke treatment, and this method works consistently well for Drosophyllum seeds.

First, prepare a clean working space. It is possible that the seeds may run away from you in the following steps so it's important to have a tidy surface.
9576


Next, use a pair of tweezers or other tool that you are comfortable using to handle the seeds, to pick up a seed. It is important to use a tool that is not too aggressive that may break the seed.
9577


And then, dip the seed in water, and rub the seed gently against a nail file or sand paper (200 grits or higher should work fine) for a few times.
Dip the seed in water and check if you see the seed coat scratched away yet. Repeat until you see something similar to the next picture.
9578


Once you have gently scratched away a part of the seed coat (black), you will see the dark-grey part, that's when you want to stop. If you keep going you will damage the seed core (in white color) and will likely kill the seed.


Section view of the seed:
9579


After that, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. Don't leave the seeds in water for too long, otherwise they could drown.
9580


Finally, move the seeds to place on top of planting medium and wait.
If the scarification is successful, you should see germination, usually in one week.
I like to use sphagnum moss to germinate the seeds, and then transfer the whole moss plug to the final pot.
9581


If the conditions are right, it will grow quite quickly.
9582


References
Our carnivorous plant Drosophyllum lusitanicum - one of the rarest plants on Earth
Drosophyllum lusitanicum - the uncompromising giants
ICPS - Growing Drosophyllum lusitanicum
 
Last edited:

WillyCKH

CPSC Moderator
Staff member
Growing Drosophyllum lusitanicum
Drosophyllum lusitanicum is not difficult to cultivate if you understand what it needs.
It grows best under very bright lighting. As Petar mentioned in his article, these plants will suffer and die if the lighting is not bright enough.
You can tell if your adult Drosophyllum is getting enough light by observing the sticky glands. If you see the dew red and full, it means the plant is happy. If you see the dew small and pale, it requires more light!
9588


For food, it is very self-efficient and usually do not require your help because it can attract bugs from gnats, to houseflies. You can feed it pellet food for carnivorous plants, bugs (dried or live), and as always, avoid over-feeding.
9583

9584


For soil mix, you will want to use a very well-drained mix. I have good results with a mix of one peat and 4 perlite.
As they hate root disruption, it is critical to plant them in a large sized pot. I find that net pots are very good for planting them because it reduces the chance of root rot. In the picture below, my Drosophyllum lusitanicum has been growing happily in this 7in net pot. I keep it in a standard 1020 tray with 1cm water at all time. Sometimes I'd top-water it to flush and refresh the soil mix.
9585


The blooming occurs when the plant is established and happy. The flower is fluorescent yellow and open for about one to few days.
Manual pollination will increase the seed production.
9586

9587


Conclusion
After cultivating carnivorous plants for about 6 years now, I find that understanding and respect are keys to grow happy plants.
If we take the time to learn about a plant and respect its needs, it will appreciate us and reward us with a beautiful companionship.
Happy growing!
- Willy Chung
 
Last edited:

Lloyd Gordon

Parasitic Plant Aficionado
Staff member
I germinate mine on filter paper in petri dishes. Also I plant them in coir pots. That way you can start with a small pot. If it thrives just stick the whole pot in a bigger coir pot and even a bigger final pot if needed.
 

WillyCKH

CPSC Moderator
Staff member
Thanks a lot, Willy, I have heard that it is the hardest to let the seeding survive the first couple of months.
Yes, it could be challenging to keep the medium moist but not too moist. Once the seedlings have past the first few months, they will likely be fine and grow quickly, if the conditions are correct.
 

Lloyd Gordon

Parasitic Plant Aficionado
Staff member
Just when I was trying to make some space under the lights, WIllyck gave me 3 Drosophyllum seeds. I abraded a bit of the top and put them on some filter paper in a petri dish with my odds and ends seeds. Even managed to drop it and scatter them on the carpet. I noticed one produced a root and now a little bit of green in a 4.5" clay pot. Honest it's not my fault. Willyck made me do it.
 
Top