The Carnivorous Sundew Terrarium

The Carnivorous Sundew Terrarium

What’s up SerpaSquad! Tanner here and I’m back with yet another terrarium build. About 18 months ago we made a Venus Flytrap terrarium, which was a highly requested project. Since then I’ve received countless suggestions to do projects focused on other carnivorous plants. In this one I’ll tackle the plant I’ve received the most requests for which a sundew. In case you’re not familiar with what a sundew is, I’ll give you a basic run down. Drosera or what we usually call Sundew are a really interesting carnivorous plant. One of the first thing you’ll notice is that they’re covered in tiny hair-like structures known as trichomes. These have little sticky drops of a substance called musilage which attracts and captures unsuspecting insects. This plant also responds to stimuli and will wrap around ensnared prey items. Drosera will also secrete enzymes to break down captured prey and absorb nutrients from them. There are a lot of sundew to choose from, but for this I’ll be using Drosera tokaiensis. These are well suited for long-term success in a terrarium. This plant will do best with bright lighting, high consistent humidity and an appropriate substrate. Like the venus flytraps, sundew receive their nutrients from eating insects. In addition to this, long-term exposure to mineral rich soil will be harmful to the plant. Therefore a substrate devoid of nutrients will be ideal for their longevity.
That in mind we’ll mix up the same substrate from the Venus Fly Trap terrarium. This mix drains well, resists compaction and stays moist without becoming soggy. It’s composed of three items, including Dried Sphagnum Moss, Peat Moss or Coco Fiber and Quartz Sand. When choosing these materials, it’s extremely important to find ones that aren’t enriched with nutrients. As stated, we want the substrate to be as absent of nutrients as possible. We’ll combine roughly 1 part of peat moss, 2 parts of dried sphagnum moss and 1 part of quartz sand. After everything is thoroughly mixed together, you should end up with something like this. It’s pretty dry, so distilled water was introduced. When adding water to the system, be sure to only use distilled, reverse osmosis or rain water. Anything else will add unwanted minerals. We’re also going to need a suitable container. I’ve had this one sitting around for awhile now and I knew it would be perfect for this build. It will retain the humidity well because the opening is small. Having on open top will also allow the plants to attract any pest insects that may end up in the house. That said, the downside to having an open container is that I’ll have to water it from time to time. Let’s set up the terrarium. Per usual we’ll start with the false bottom. For this one I’m using Black Gravel for the drainage element as to not draw the the eye away from the scape. I’m also using a piece of Geotextile Fabric for the barrier. It was cut out slightly larger than the diameter of the container. After that gravel was poured into the jar until it was about an inch deep. I evened it out with my trusty fan brush and topped it off with the fabric from earlier. If you want to learn more about this process and terrarium false bottoms, I’ll link a helpful video up in the card. Next up is the substrate layer. It too was pouted into the container. I used my fan brush to create a slope that’s higher in the back. This is one of easiest ways to create a good sense of depth. Just like the flytrap terrarium, I didn’t include a charcoal layer. As I explained in that video I suspect that charcoal will add unwanted nutrients to the system. Now it’s time for the hardscape. I’ll be using Black Lava Rock for this one because it’s inert. I have three different sizes for optimal variation among the stones. If you go with a single size, it’s a lot harder to create something that looks natural. To properly place them within the container I had to use my tweezers in doing so I moved them
around and redistributed the substrate until I got a look I was pleased with. Of course that’s easier said that done. I also added more substrate to improve the definition of the landscape. If yow know me, then you know a terrarium really isn’t complete without moss and this one is no exception. Here I have Sphagnum Moss and Liverwort. Both will help add great texture and ground coverage to this setup. I started by planting the sphagnum moss along the top of the slope. It will serve as the perfect background plant. That said I’ll make sure to keep it trimmed or else it will grow too tall. From there I planted the liverwort in the foreground. It won’t grow very tall and is well suited for this spot. Now we can finally add the sundew. I carefully removed them from the planters, dug a hole with a copper wire and planted them accordingly. I wanted them near the front of the terrarium so they would be the primary focal point. I also decided to add a few accent plants including Acorus gramineus ‘Minimus Aureus’, Saxifraga stolonifera and Selaginella kraussiana ‘Gold Tips’. All of these were removed from the planters and the existing substrate was removed. Afterward they were dipped in distilled water to remove any excess debris. I also got a few cuttings of Ficus pumila ‘Quercifolia’ for additional ground coverage. Before planting I split the acorus into smaller portions. I also moved the smaller sundew to a different location. From there I proceeded to plant a few segments of acourus in the background. Then the strawberry begonia was planted just to the right of the rock formation. The remaining acorus segments were added to the background. At this point I decided to add more ground coverage. So I got a pile Flame Moss and chopped it up into smaller pieces for better distribution. With this I filled in the remainder of the foreground. Crevices between the rocks were filled in with any excess. The ficus pumila were then added to the foreground. As always these will add some great texture with their tiny leaves. Last I added the selaginella. This is one that I’m really going to have to keep in check because it has the potential to grow out of control. Then on to the finishing touches, tiny pieces of lava rock. These were placed throughout to create additional textural contrast. To complete the process I sprayed everything down with distilled water. I also wiped the exterior of the container with a micro fiber cloth. There you have it, the completed sundew terrarium. All in all I think it turned out pretty well. I kept it simple so that it would be easy to maintain and to leave space for the sundew to grow. Most of the other plants I will keep well trimmed since the focus of this terrarium is intended to be the sundew. My only real complaint at this time is I wish I would have had more than two to start. I’m really excited to have finally made this though because I’ve had the plants for a few months now. In case you’re wondering, this one will most likely It’s also being kept under artificial lighting as I don’t think it would get enough in front of the window. Anyway I can’t wait to see how this one progresses and I really hope you enjoyed it. On that I’ll see you all in the next one SerpaSquad. Take care and peace!

100 thoughts on “The Carnivorous Sundew Terrarium

  1. Your videos are the perfect mix of educational and entertaining! Thanks so much for these videos, they really make collecting plants and making terrariums seem so easy!

  2. Awesome! Great eye for design and balance. The sundew plants offer just that little zing of uniqueness the terrarium needs. 

    I do have a question, though, how do the other plants which need nutrients in the soil do with the low nutrient mix? Will they stay healthy?

  3. I really hope you enjoy this one! It was a highly requested project. I personally think it turned out great. Also I added proper CC subtitles to this video for those of you who need them. Let me know if they help and I'll think about adding them to the rest of my videos. Have a good weekend!

  4. Ive been really struggling to find places that sell tropical plants I can use for terrariums. I live in Canada anyone have any tips?

  5. I love Carnivorous plants.
    Venus fly traps are my favorite but they are not native to my area.
    I read articles that we do have picture plants but I've never seen them around.
    Loved the video.
    I hope someday I'll stumble upon a carnivorous plant 🙂

  6. Is there any reason you chose not to use the screen like the rest of your terrariums?? Does the Geotextile Fabric act differently???

  7. So is there any plant in a begonia rex size that is stronger my crested gecko has compleatly killed it by jumping in it

  8. Another Masterpiece! I've always had an interest in carnivorous plants. Thanks for showing your unique ways to present them.✌

  9. Thats awesome dude!!! Im just getting into carnivorous plants for real, had a couple throughout the years but now I am in a place I can build or remodel however I want, my Crested Gecko room is a perfect place for high humidity plants and it needs decorating so Nepenthes , sun dew, and a few other Carnivorous plants and ferns will be perfect. Love your videos man, Helps me allot, thank you.

  10. I love this awesome plant but could we maybe get a pet update? I love seeing your frogs and lizards- they're so cool! pwp

  11. You may have better luck keeping Sundews in your terrarium than the VFTs, which tend not to thrive in closed environments.

  12. I had a sundew plant once
    It fell on my carpet and even flowerd untill i went on holiday and it dried out and died I kept thinking it would regrow but no

  13. I never knew about carnivorous plants needing low nutrient soil, but that makes total sense. Now I know why mine always died!

  14. How much do you water this? They say in the plant store it needs to be in a “bog” so I’m curious how damp your soil is

  15. I found a big glass bowl at Goodwill for 5 bucks. It's a big one, big enough I can fit it on my head! it wiil make a great terrarium… I am going to put mexican butterworts mounted on lava rock in it!

  16. Love your videos Tanner! I have a question for you. Can reverse osmosis water be substituted for de-chlorinated/distilled water in any given situation, or are there instances where reverse osmosis water is not a viable option? I have an unlimited supply of RO water if needed so I'm hoping that it can be used in a standard terrarium build.

  17. I love this! To me, it really gives off a prehistoric feel with the use of volcanic rock, and the choice of plants.

  18. Awesome! I’ve lately really been into pitchers. I think that you could make something awesome with pitchers. By the way, the terrarium is beautiful

  19. I’ve been watching your channel a lot lately and it has really inspired me to make my own creations and connect back with nature. Thank you! Your work is amazing!

  20. I’m loving the hard scape on this one! Just wondering where you got your tweezers? I’ve been using small cosmetic ones but it’s harder for larger containers.

  21. Awesome I never knew of a “sun dew” now I want one. You do great work me and my daughter watch a lot of your videos together

  22. Really enjoyed this video 🙂 you should get a small rainwater tank so you can just take water out of there instead of having to distill it every time

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