A home study course designed for beginners through to those wanting to start a business selling these plants. Understand how to propagate and cultivate carnivorous plants.

Course Code: VHT107
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Identify and grow a range of carnivorous plants.

Explore the nature and scope of carnivorous plants, develop networking and resources, study the botany, expand your horticultural knowledge -or just indulge a passion.


Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Introduction to carnivorous plants
    • Recognising differences around the world
    • Plant names
    • Monocotyledons and dicotyledons
    • Plant families
    • Classification of carnivorous plants
    • Review of plant families that carnivorous plants belong to
    • Animal catching mechanisms
    • Active traps - suction, steel type
    • Passive Traps - flypaper, lobster, pitfall
    • Resources and networking
  2. Culture
    • General hints
    • Light requirements
    • Humidity
    • Plant health
    • Problems and control
    • Avoiding frost, wet, wind
    • Soils
    • Improving soils
    • Soil and potting mixes
    • Plant nutrition
    • Feeding carnivorous plants with animal tissues
    • Case study - Sarracenia - growing, planting, feeding, mulching, etc
    • Where to grow carnivorous plants
    • Marinating plants in pots
    • Types of pots
    • Common problems with containers
    • Where to place containers
    • Composting
    • Watering plants
  3. Propagation and Container Growing
    • Collecting from the wild
    • Case study - propagating Sarracenia
    • Propagating methods - sexual and asexual
    • Disinfecting propagating material
    • The best propagating environment
    • Equipment and materials for propagation
    • Seed propagation
    • Tissue culture
  4. Pitchers and Sundews
    • Cephalotus -Albany pitcher plant
    • Nepenthes - tropical pitcher plant
    • Drosera - sundews
    • Rosette forming, erect, climbing and fan leaved sundews
    • Heliamphora - sun pitcher
  5. Other Important Groups
    • Dionaea - venus fly trap
    • Pinguicula - butterwort
    • Utricularia - bladderwort
    • Key to selected bladderworts
  6. Lesser Grown Varieties of Carnivorous Plants
    • Darlingtonia - Cobra lily
    • Aldrovanda - water wheel plant
    • Growing tips for water wheel plant
  7. Australian Droseras
    • Guidelines for growing Drosera
    • Easier to cultivate Drosera species
    • Fork leaved sundews
    • Glossary
    • North Australian sundew species
  8. Growing and Using Carnivorous Plants
    • Terrariums
    • Pots and tubs
    • Bog garden growing
    • Greenhouse growing
    • Types of greenhouse
    • Shade houses
  9. Special Assignment


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

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.

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.

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. 

Tips for Growing Carnivorous Plants

Carnivorous plants come from a wide range of climates. As such their requirements will vary from variety to variety. Many do of course come from moist environments and grow in soils which have a high organic content, and in places which, if not warm, are at least protected from frost & wind.

People who cultivate carnivorous plants commonly grow them in high organic soils (perhaps topped with pure peat) in a terrarium (eg: a glass fish tank). Not all carnivorous plants are suited to this type of cultivation though. You need to study the plant's natural situation before deciding on how you might go about growing it.

Carnivorous plants may be grown inside a house, out of doors (in an appropriate climate), or in a greenhouse.

Conditions in each of these locations can vary; not only in terms of temperature, but also in terms of gas (eg. In an enclosed space with lots of people breathing out Carbon Dioxide, or gas heaters leaking gas fumes, the make up of gasses in the air can be very different to in the open air.

Plants that have done well in sunny windows, in houses, in temperate climates include: some species of Sarracenia, Pinguicula, Drosera, Urtcularia.
There are species within these genera that will respond well to lower night time temperatures.

Some species can become weak and spindly in growth if light levels drop (eg. Sarracenia. Others may in fact do better in lower light than in direct sunlight (eg. Drosera adelae).

General Hints:
-Do not use hard water (containing too much Calcium)
-If uncertain of soil requirements; always keep roots moist, but not soggy. Never allow them to become dry. One part sand to one part quality peat moss is a good media. Make sure media is at least 12cm deep.
-If uncertain, for most being grown in temperate areas, you are better to provide more rather than less light
-Temperature needs can vary a lot, according to the variety being grown. In general though, minimum night temperature in winter, for most, should be around 5 degrees celsius. Summer minimums should be around 7 degrees celsius for most. Higher minimums are better for most species.

Our principal John Mason is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

ACS Distance Education is a member of the Australian Garden Council, Our Principal John Mason is a board member of the Australian Garden Council

ACS is a silver sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow. ACS certificate students are offered a free membership for this leading professional body.Provider.

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Yvonne Sharpe

RHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has

Gavin Cole (Horticulturist)

Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. I

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and edito

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