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

Distance Education Plant Course

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.


1.  Introduction - Review of the system of plant identification, general characteristics of the group, information contacts (ie: nurseries, seed, clubs, etc.)

2.  Culture.  Planting, soils, watering, pest & disease, feeding, etc.

3.  Propagation and Container Growing.  Methods of propagating carnivorous plants. Propagation of selected varieties.

4.  Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes) and Sundews (Drosera)

5.  Other important Groups.

6.  The Lesser Grown Varieties

7.  Australian Droseras

8.  Making the Best Use of these Plants.  In containers, in the ground, as indoor plants, etc.

9.  Special Assignment.  On one selected plant or group.

Duration: 100 hours 


  • To identify different carnivorous plants.
  • To describe the cultural requirements for a range of different carnivorous plants
  • To 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.

Meet some of our academics

Gavin Cole 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. In the mid 90's he worked as a manager and garden designer with the well respected UK company -The Chelsea Gardener. A few years later he formed his own garden design business, at first in the UK, and later operating in Queensland Australia. He has since moved to, and works from Adelaide. Apart from his work in landscaping, Gavin has been a prolific garden writer and a tutor with ACS Distance Education since 2001. He is currently part of the team of garden experts that produce Home Grown magazine.
John Mason 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 editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Rosemary Davies Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences. Initially she worked with the Department of Agriculture in Victoria providing advice to the public. Over the years she has taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer. She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe. In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others. Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing
Yvonne SharpeRHS 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 worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

Check out our eBooks

Carnivorous Plants83 pages, 93 images
Growing FernsA complete guide to growing Ferns in Australia, New Zealand and beyond. A great reference for professional and amateur gardeners, and fern enthusiasts from anywhere around the world.
Landscaping & Gardening in the ShadeThe ‘Landscaping and Gardening in the Shade’ ebook will guide you through everything that you need to know about designing your own shaded garden.
Succulentshis ebook covers propagating, how to give your succulents the most ideal growing conditions and is also a wonderful guide to the different genera and species of succulents.



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