The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 11.5
- courtesy of -
The International Carnivorous Plant Society

Q: About light.

Sarracenia alata
Sarracenia alata
in full sun

Drosera paradoxa
Drosera paradoxa
A: I truly believe that the single underlying cause for most carnivorous plant deaths at the hands of beginning growers is inadequate lighting.

Indeed, I will go so far as to say that with the exceptions due to gross mistakes like fertilizings or planting in garden soils, almost all the deaths of carnivorous plants in the hands of beginning growers can be traced to inadequate lighting.

Perhaps because of the costs in specializing in carnivory, carnivorous plants require a great deal of light---most need full sun. Certainly Venus flytraps like full sun. If you do not give the plants the light that they need, you are denying them their basic energy source. And without enough energy, they cannot function. They cannot build roots or leaves, they cannot resist minor stresses such as from fungi, and they certainly cannot digest bugs.

So give them light!

Providing enough light is challenging. If you do not have a greenhouse, you will probably need to use some kind of artificial light---the windowsill will probably not be bright enough.

For illuminating terraria, you should have at least 4 fluorescent bulbs approximately 30 cm (12") from the plants. Use cool white or warm white fluorescent bulbs.

This is such an important topic that I have two more FAQ pages on light in which I discuss light intensity and light quality. You should certainly review those.

Page citations: Rice, B.A. 2006a; personal observation.

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Revised: January 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005