Carnivorous Plants

Course CodeVHT107
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Fascinating Carniverous Plants Course

  • Learn to grow carnivorous plants
  • Learn to identify carnivorous plants
  • Become an expert, follow a passion, build a collection, start a Nursery
  • 100 hour, self paced course

These fascinating plants provide inspiration and fascination for the enthusiast. This course covers a wide range of cultivated carnivorous plant genera and species. 

Carnivorous plants are unique.  They don’t appeal to everyone; but they often capture the imagination of people who are not necessarily interested in other types of plants.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Introduction to carnivorous plants
    • Recognising differences around the worls
    • Plant names
    • Monocotyledons and dicotyledons
    • Plant families
    • Classification of carnivorous plants
    • Review of plant families that carnivorous plants belong to
    • Types of trapping mechanisms
    • Resources and networking
    • Using a botanical key
    • Glossary
  2. Culture
    • Introduction
    • Planting
    • Soils
    • Plant nutrition
    • Watering
    • Plant health
    • Compost making
  3. Propagation and Container Growing.
    • Propagating carnivorous plants
    • Collecting from the wild
    • Methods of propagation
    • Tissue culture
  4. Pitchers (Nepenthes) and Sundews (Drosera)
  5. Other Important Groups - (e.g. Bladderworts).
  6. Lesser Grown Varieties of Carnivorous Plants
  7. Australian Droseras
  8. Growing and Using Carnivorous Plants
    • -in containers, in the ground, as indoor plants.
  9. Special Assignment

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Identify different carnivorous plants.
  • Describe the cultural requirements for a range of different carnivorous plants
  • Propagate a range of different carnivorous plants
  • Discuss the identifying characteristics and cultural requirements of several species of both Sundews and Pitcher plants.
  • Discuss the identifying characteristics and cultural requirements of several species of both Bladderworts and at least one other genus of Carnivorous plant.
  • Describe the identifying characteristics and cultural requirements of several species of less commonly cultivated carnivorous plants.
  • Describe the identification and culture of Australian Droseras in depth.
  • Determine and describe appropriate ways of cultivating and displaying cultured carnivorous plants.
  • Describe one group of carnivorous plants in depth.

Carniverous Plants

Carnivorous plants are plants that derive some or all of their nutrients by capturing and digesting small animals, such as insects.  Other terms used for carnivorous plants are a “carnivory” or a “carnivore”.   The mechanisms used to capture and digest animals are generally subtle; but not always.   Characteristics that are unique to carnivorous plants include:

  • Attraction Mechanisms eg. Lures, odours, directional guides
  • Trapping Mechanisms   eg. Sticky secretions that hold animals like fly paper, trap door like openings to digestive chambers.
  • Digestive Mechanisms  eg. Secreted enzymes and absorption of digested material.


     Dionaea musipula 
 Drosera capensis Red Form  Sarracenia psittacina x Red Veins

What Do You Know about Drosera?

Drosera is a common genus of carnivorous plants occurring naturally throughout a wide part of the world. Droseras are particularly common in the southern hemisphere, including Australia.

Commonly known as 'sundews' or 'daily dews', there are approximately 100 species known.
Leaves are alternately arranged up the stem, or occasionally whorled in basal rosettes. Red to green coloured hairs have glands on the tips which carry a sticky substance which holds insects on the plant. These hairs are able to very slowly change direction to strengthen the plant's grip on a struggling insect. Flowers are small and either white, pink or purple; normally with 5 petals but occasionally 4 or 6 to 8.

Droseras can be propagated by root cuttings, seed or division.

Droseras from outside Australia are mainly plants from swampy areas. In Australia, this is different. Australian species occur in a wide variety of areas including very dry parts of South Western Australia where they very often die back to an underground rootstock over the hot dry summer to re emerge in autumn.

There are four main types of Drosera:
1. ROSETTE FORMING - Leaves form as a flat rosette (arranged in a circle around the stem at ground level), usually hugging the ground.
2. CLIMBERS - These attach themselves to other plants for support.
3. ERECT PLANTS - Upright stems stand on their own, though they may also have the ability to attach themselves to other plants.
4. FAN LEAVED - The leaf margins are obovate, reniform or flabellate and can roll inwards to form a more or less conical shape. These may have erect or semi erect stems not relying on nearby foliage for support.


Who Will Benefit From This Course?

Anyone who chooses to undertake this course is obviously interested in carnivorous plants - probably either as an amateur collector, a commercial grower or a naturalist.

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