The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 12

Q: About terrestrial Utricularia

A: Most Utricularia are terrestrial species, which means they live in moist, and usually waterlogged soil. They may be perennials or annuals. Many of the annual species are only annuals in the wild because their habitats dry up during some time of the year---in cultivation they can survive as perennials, although convincing them to flower after their first year may be extremely difficult. The bladders function underground where they are submerged in water.

The leaves of many terrestrial Utricularia species are so tiny that you may not notice the plants in your collection until they flower. And while you may need a hand lens to appreciate the tiny flowers, you will see that they really are lovely!

Two of the most commonly grown terrestrial Utricularia species are U. subulata and U. bisquamata. These are weeds by any metric!

I have several articles on the cultivation of terrestrial Utricularia on-line. These are old, very old, but the horticultural information is still sound, and provide good general prescriptions:
Utricularia sandersonii
Utricularia calycifida
Utricularia delicatula & Utricularia lateriflora
Utricularia uniflora
Utricularia prehensilis

For your ease, I include an extended quote from the article on U. uniflora:

"I use a method that works for almost all the tropical Utricularia except those that do better in live Sphagnum, and of course aquatics and semi-aquatics. When carnivorous plant growers refer to "standard Utricularia culture," the following procedure (or close to it) is usually what is meant. Use either pure dead milled Sphagnum or a 2:1 peat-sand mix in a 5 cm (2") pot. I use water purified by distillation or reverse osmosis and keep the water table at least a few cm beneath the soil surface. For established plants Slack suggests raising the water table above the soil surface but I don't....Keep them warm year round, around 20-30°C (68-86°F). If the plants are kept warmer they will survive but the flowers do not last as long. Since they are found in shady places in the wild I give them medium light. While this means some shade in the greenhouse, the light available in most 4-6 fluorescent bulb terrarium set-ups is fine. Even in the best conditions, U. uniflora does not grow quickly. It takes several months to fill the surface of a 5 cm pot with its little leaves. Its stolons do not explore too deeply into the pot, and I have never seen the plant grow out of the bottom as often happens with other species. Still, it is easy to propagate---carefully detach from the mother pot a hunk of leaves, stolons, and bladders, and plant it in a new pot. In time you will be rewarded with a display of lovely and long-lived flowers."

Follow those rules, and you will do just fine. Of course, there are exceptions to everything, and in this case it is U. menziesii, a tuberous species from Western Australia that enters a difficult dormancy each summer. If you are growing this, my hat is off to you. I have not managed to encourage this plant to live past one season, so I have no advice for you.

Page citations: Lloyd, F.E. 1942; Rice, B.A. 1994a, 2006a; Schlauer, J. 2002; Taylor, P. 1989; personal observations.

back forward


Revised: 2018
©Barry Rice, 2018