Best carnivorous plants to grow

Frilly edged, magenta and white pitchers of a sarracenia cross

Most people are familiar with well-known carnivorous plants such as Venus flytraps, but there are lots of other beautiful types to grow, too.

The hardy species, which includes sarracenias and Venus flytraps, has a few care requirements, including: always watering with rainwater from a water butt or bucket left outside and continuing to keep the compost moist; ensuring they have lots of direct sunlight; and giving them a period of winter cold by keeping them in an unheated shed, conservatory or greenhouse.

Tropical species, such as nepenthes, have slightly different care requirements, for example, no period of winter rest is needed. They enjoy bright light with little direct sun, and they need plenty of warmth and humidity – a bright, steamy bathroom is ideal. Rainwater is still best when watering. Unlike the hardy species, tropical species aren’t bog plants, so don’t need to be standing in water all the time.

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Sarracenia ‘Juthatip Soper’, pitcher plant


Pitcher plant (Sarracenia 'Juthatip Soper')
Pitcher plant (Sarracenia ‘Juthatip Soper’). David Bagnall/Alamy

Sarracenias hybridise readily, so there are lots of beautiful hybrids to grow. Sarracenia ‘Juthatip Soper’ has glorious pink and red pitchers that can reach 30cm in height. Grow in full sun so they can produce the best pitcher colour. Frost hardy.


Sarracenia flava, yellow pitcher plant




A closeup of the yellow pitcher plant (Sarracenia flava).
Yellow pitcher plant (Sarracenia flava). Getty Images

Sarracenia flava is an eye-catching species that produces tall, lime-green pitchers with red veining on the throats and erect hoods. The dramatic yellow flowers reach 10cm across. Frost hardy.


Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa, purple pitcher plant

Southern Purple Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa/Sarracenia rosea). Getty Images
Purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa). Getty Images

With squat pitchers reaching only 30cm in height, Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa is a compact variety of this attractive carnivorous plant. The green traps have dramatic purple-red veining that continues onto the upright hoods. Frost hardy.


Drosera binata var. multifida, forked sundew

Forked sundew (Drosera binata var. multifida)
Pink-haired, forked sundew (Drosera binata var. multifida)

Droseras are commonly known as sundews. They trap their pray by luring them in with glistening, sweet secretions that stick to unfortunate insects. Most species are able to bend their leaves and tentacles around trapped prey, which allows more digestive enzymes to come into contact with it, speeding digestion. Drosera binata var. multifida is an especially attractive forked sundew. Frost hardy.


Nepenthes x ventrata, monkey cup

Monkey cup (Nepenthes x ventrata)
Hanging, red-bronze pitchers of the monkey cup (Nepenthes x ventrata)

This hybrid tropical pitcher plant is one of the easiest to grow. Grow Nepenthes x ventrata in a warm, bright room in a hanging container, ideally where it can receive a few hours of direct sun a day. Keep the soil moist at all times and give it a regular misting. Tender.


Sarracenia minor ‘Okefenokee Giant’, hooded pitcher plant

Sarracenia minor 'Okefenokee Giant'
Tall, hooded, green pitchers of ‘Okefenokee Giant’ (Sarracenia minor)

Hooded pitcher plants, Sarracenia minor, typically reach around 30cm in height, but the pitchers of ‘Okefenokee Giant’ can reach 80cm. The backs of the pitchers are covered in white spots and are thought to act as a a lure. Frost hardy.


Dionaea muscipula, Venus flytrap

Venus fly trap (Dionaea muscipula)
Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)

Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) are one of the most frequently grown carnivorous plants – people can’t get enough of their quickly snapping leaves. Grow it in full sun in a warm, bright room and keep well watered with rainwater. Mist regularly to boost humidity. Frost hardy.


Sarracenia flava var. cuprea, coppery yellow pitcher plant

Coppery yellow pitcher plant (Sarracenia flava var. cuprea)
Coppery yellow pitcher plant (Sarracenia flava var. cuprea). Paul Debois

Sarracenia flava var. cuprea is an elegant pitcher plant that grows to around 80cm in height. The slender, green traps have red veining that becomes more conspicuous on the underside of the coppery-brown hoods that gave rise to its common name: the copper top pitcher plant. Frost hardy.


Cephalotus follicularis, Australian pitcher plant

Pitcher chalice of Cephalotus follicularis. Getty Images
Pitcher chalice of Cephalotus follicularis. Getty Images

The Australian pitcher plant (Cephalotus follicularis) is a tiny species with a big appetite. The 10cm-tall traps resemble open mouths with 24 bands of red ‘teeth’ and a heavily veined pale upper lip formed by the overarching hood. Tender.


Sarracenia flava var. maxima, pitcher plant

Sarracenia flava pitcher plant
Sarracenia flava var. maxima

Sarracenia flava var. maxima is a vigorous plant with lime-green, veinless pitchers that reach 90cm in height. It makes a fantastic contrast to red sarracenias. Frost hardy.


Drosera capensis, Cape sundew

Cape Sundew carnivorous plant, Drosera capensis
Cape Sundew (Drosera Capensis). Getty Images

Like Drosera binata var. multifida, the Cape sundew (Drosera capensis) has many strap-like leaves covered in sticky hairs that trap insect prey. Plants reach 15cm in height and produce pink flowers on green stems during the growing season. Frost hardy.

Advice on buying carnivorous plants

  • Make sure you have the right conditions for your plants before purchasing
  • Many carnivorous plants are grown in peat-based compost, so it is worth trying to find a peat-free supplier and asking what the plants have been grown in before buying
  • Always buy plants from reputable suppliers or specialist nurseries

Where to buy carnivorous plants



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