Carnivorous Plants (10 Plants That Eat More Than Plant Food!)


Carnivorous plants are unique in that they can get their energy from other creatures, rather than just from sunlight, water, and air.  Some carnivorous plants can thrive in dry or shady conditions.

So, what are some carnivorous plants?  Carnivorous plants include: Bladderwort, Bog Violet, Brocchinia, Common Pitcher Plant, Nepenthes, Philcoxia, Powdery Strap Airplant, Sundew, Venus Fly Trap, and Waterwheel Plant.  Some of these plants have attractive foliage or flowers to add style to your garden or home.

Of course, some of these plants like full sun, while others can tolerate at least some shade.

In this article, we’ll talk about 10 carnivorous plants.  We’ll also take a look at what to provide for each one as far as light, water, and other important growth factors.

Let’s get started.

10 Carnivorous Plants

There are plenty of carnivorous plants out there, but here is a list of 10 to start with:

  • Bladderwort
  • Bog Violet
  • Brocchinia
  • Common Pitcher Plant
  • Nepenthes
  • Philcoxia
  • Powdery Strap Airplant
  • Sundew
  • Venus Fly Trap
  • Waterwheel Plant

Let’s start off with Brocchinia.

Bladderwort

Bladderwort (Utricularia longifolia) is a carnivorous plant that appears on every continent except Antarctica.  There are over 200 species in the genus.

Bladderwort
Bladderwort is a carnivorous plant that appears on every continent except Antarctica. It produces yellow flowers, and has a bladder with a trapdoor to capture prey.

Utricularia vulgaris produces yellow flowers in summer.

The plant captures small prey by a trap that is like a bladder with a trap door.  These traps can be up to 1.2 centimeters (half an inch) in size.

Aquatic species can feed on tadpoles, fish eggs, or mosquito larvae.  It makes for a good member of a garden bog pool, and it will feed on mosquito populations.

Bladderwort has waxy leaves that crumble to help capture these insects.  It also produces an enzyme to help digest captured insects.

Bladderwort needs wet moisture levels (damp soil or water).

Bladderwort prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It can tolerate extreme cold, and is hardy to Zone 4a (-30 degrees Fahrenheit or -34 degrees Celsius).

This plant can grow to a height of 18 inches or taller.

You can learn more about Bladderwort from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Bladderwort from Carnivorous Plant Nursery.

Bog Violet

Bog Violet (Pinguicula pumila) is a carnivorous plant that is native to the Southeastern U.S. in areas with poor soil quality.

Bog Violet
Bog Violet is a carnivorous plant that grows in poor soil and produces white to pale purple flowers.
Image courtesy of user:
Gwen and James Anderson via: Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.
wikimedia.org/wiki/File:
Common_Butterwort_-_geograph.org.uk_-_283593.jpg

The plant is small, rarely more than 0.75 inches across.  It produces white to pale purple flowers on stalks that are 6 to 8 inches high.

Bog Violet has sticky leaves that trap insects on them.   The plant then secretes enzymes to digest the captured insects, and absorbs nitrogen and other nutrients from the remains.

Bog Violet needs wet moisture levels, and it prefers damp, sandy soil, making it ideal for bog gardening.

Bog Violet prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It can tolerate extreme cold, and is hardy to Zone 3a (-40 degrees Fahrenheit or -40 degrees Celsius).

This plant can grow to a height of 4 to 6 inches.

You can learn more about Bog Violet from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Bog Violet from Carnivorous Plant Nursery.

Brocchinia

Brocchinia (Brocchinia reducta) is a carnivorous plant that is native mostly to Venezuela.  It is a member of the bromeliad family.

Brocchinia
Brocchinia is a carnivorous plant in the Bromeliad family. Its leaves trap water in tanks to capture insects.
Image courtesy of user:
KENPEI via:
Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.
wikimedia.org/wiki/File:
Brocchinia_reducta1.jpg

The plant captures rainwater in a tank of overlapping leaves.  The water is acidic (with a pH of 3.0!) and smells sweet (like nectar) to attract ants, bees, and wasps.

Brocchinia has waxy leaves that crumble to help capture these insects.  It also produces an enzyme to help digest captured insects.

The trichomes (hair-like structures on a plant) at the bottom of the leaf tank absorb nutrients from this pool of digested insects.

Brocchinia needs moderate moisture levels and prefers damp, sandy soil.  You will need to feed it insects!

Brocchinia needs full sun.  It cannot tolerate extreme cold, and prefers temperatures of 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 29 degrees Celsius).

This plant can grow to a height of 12 to 14 inches.

You can learn more about Brocchinia from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Brocchinia from Curious Plant.

Common Pitcher Plant

Common Pitcher Plant or purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) is a carnivorous plant that is native to parts of Canada and northeastern U.S.

Common Pitcher Plant
Common Pitcher Plant is a carnivorous plant that has leaves like pitchers to trap water and capture insects to digest.

Common Pitcher Plant has leaves that are like pitchers.  They catch water and trap insects inside, which drown in the pool of water.

The plant then produces enzymes that digest the insects trapped in the leaves.  It can also produce red or bicolor green and magenta flowers in late spring or summer.

Common Pitcher Plant needs wet moisture levels, making it ideal for bog gardening.

Common Pitcher Plant prefers partial shade.  It can tolerate extreme cold, and is hardy to Zone 4a (-30 degrees Fahrenheit or -34 degrees Celsius).

This plant can grow to a height of 6 to 12 inches, with a width of 6 to 9 inches.

You can propagate Common Pitcher Plant by seeds.

You can learn more about Common Pitcher Plant from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Common Pitcher Plant from Carnivorous Plant Nursery.

Nepenthes

Nepenthes or fanged pitcher plant (Nepenthes bicalcarata) is a carnivorous plant from northwestern Borneo (in Indonesia).

Nepenthes
Nepenthes is a carnivorous plant with leaves like pitchers that hang down from stalks. They capture insects in the water inside the leaf.

Nepenthes has leaves that are like pitchers, which hang down from stalks.  They catch water and trap ants, stink bugs, wasps, and yellow jackets inside, which drown in the pool of water.

The plant then produces enzymes that digest the insects trapped in the leaves.

Nepenthes needs wet moisture levels, making it ideal for bog gardening.

Nepenthes prefers partial shade.  It cannot tolerate cold, and is hardy to Zone 12a (50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius).

This plant can grow to a height of 18 inches or more.

You can propagate Nepenthes by leaf cuttings or tip cuttings.

You can learn more about Nepenthes from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Nepenthes from Carnivorous Plant Nursery.

Philcoxia

Philcoxia (Philcoxia minensis) is a carnivorous plant native to Brazil.  It was discovered relatively recently (in 1981).

Philcoxia has leaves with small glands that can trap and digest nematodes.

Philcoxia needs wet moisture levels.

This plant can grow to a height of 10 inches.

You can learn more about Philcoxia from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

Powdery Strap Airplant

Powdery Strap Airplant (Catopsis berteroniana) is a carnivorous plant native to warm areas from Southern Florida to Southern Brazil.  It produces tiny (less than 1 inch) green, white, or yellow-green flowers, possibly year round.

Powdery Strap Airplant
Powdery Strap Airplant is a carnivorous plant that produces tiny flowers. It is an epiphytic bromeliad.
Image courtesy of user:
BotBln via:
Wikimedia Commons:
https://commons.
wikimedia.org/wiki/File:
CatopsisBerteroniana_
AtSierraDeLema4836.jpg

Powdery Strap Airplant is an epiphytic bromeliad (it climbs up and lives on trees).  Its leaves form tanks that trap water inside, which lures and captures insects.

Powdery Strap Airplant needs moderate moisture levels, and it tolerates humidity.

Powdery Strap Airplant prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It cannot tolerate cold, and is hardy to Zone 10a (30 degrees Fahrenheit or -1 degree Celsius).

This plant can grow to a height of 12 to 18 inches, with a width of 6 to 12 inches.

You can propagate Powdery Strap Airplant by offsets.

You can learn more about Powdery Strap Airplant from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Powdery Strap Airplant from Tropiflora.

Sundew

Sundew (Drosera spatulata) is a carnivorous plant native to Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.  It produces tiny (less than 1 inch) showy pink flowers in late spring or summer.

Sundew
Sundew is a carnivorous plant with tiny pink flowers and spatula shaped leaves.

Sundew has spoon or spatula shaped leaves.  It needs wet moderate moisture levels, making it suitable for bog gardening.

Sundew prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It can tolerate extreme cold, and it is hardy to Zone 3a (-40 degrees Fahrenheit or -40 degrees Celsius).

This plant can grow to a height of up to 6 inches, with a width of 3 to 6 inches.

You can propagate Sundew by division, leaf cuttings, or seeds.

You can learn more about Sundew from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Sundew from Sarracenia Northwest.

Venus Fly Trap

Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula) is a carnivorous plant native to wetlands on the eastern coast of the U.S (the Carolinas).  It produces tiny (less than 1 inch) white flowers in spring or early summer.

Venus Fly Trap
Venus Fly Trap is a carnivorous plant that produces tiny white flowers and clamps down on insects after detecting contact with sensitive hairs on its leaf ends.

Each leaf on a Venus Fly Trap has a two-pronged structure (each prong has spikes) with sensitive hairs (trigger hairs) on the inner surface.

When a spider or insect crawls onto the leaf’s sensitive hairs, the trap snaps shut if a 2nd contact occurs.  (This prevents wasted energy).

Venus Fly Trap prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It can tolerate some cold, and it is hardy to Zone 6b (-5 degrees Fahrenheit or -21 degrees Celsius).

This plant can grow to a height of 4 to 6 inches.

You can propagate Venus Fly Trap by division or leaf cuttings.

You can learn more about Venus Fly Trap from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Venus Fly Trap from California Carnivores.

Waterwheel Plant

Waterwheel Plant (Aldrovanda vesiculosa) is a carnivorous plant that captures small aquatic invertebrates with a device similar to that used by the Venus Fly Trap.  It produces white flowers above water, but they are only open for a few hours.

Waterwheel Plant
Waterwheel plant is an aquatic carnivorous plant that traps insects with a device similar to that used by the Venus Fly Trap.
Image courtesy of user:
Denis Barthel via:
Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.
wikimedia.org/wiki/File:
AldrovandaVesiculosaHabit.jpg

The traps used by Waterwheel Plant are arranged around a central stem that floats in the water.

Waterwheel Plant prefers full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.  It can tolerate some cold, and it is hardy to Zone 5a (-20 degrees Fahrenheit or -29 degrees Celsius).

This plant can grow to a height of 1 inch, with a width of 2 to 10 inches.

You can propagate Waterwheel Plant by cuttings.

You can learn more about Waterwheel Plant from the National Gardening Association’s Plant Database.

You can find Waterwheel Plant from Carnivorous Plant Nursery.

Conclusion

Now you know about 10 carnivorous plants and how to take care of them.  They might also provide inspiration to help you to fill in the landscape for your indoor or outdoor garden.

For more interesting plants, check out my article on 10 epiphytic plants (these ones climb on top of other plants or trees as the grow!)

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

If you want to read some of my most popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here.  Enjoy!

~Jonathon

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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