Growing CP Under Artificial Lighting
Dean Cook of Cook's Carnivorous Plants
For several years we have been working with Carnivorous plants. We have been using artificial lights for many, natural for most. Most all of the carnivorous plants can be grown successfully under artificial lighting.
Before getting your first plants you will need to determine amount of space you will allow these plants to take up, you can’t grow most nepenthes in a 10 gallon tank for long. What type of lighting you are planning to give them, we use florescent lighting with cool white bulbs. Are you going to want to pull the plants out of this tank for dormancy, the sarracenia, venus flytraps and several sundews require dormancy during the winter months, a 3 month rest period similar to a tulip bulb. Most terrariums aren’t set up to accommodate dormancy during the winters, so you will either need to dig the plants up or set the terrarium up to house prepotted plants so you can easily remove the plants when dormancy time arrives. We use either 80 watt fixtures or 160 watt fixtures for our artificial lighting. Their costs seem to be less than other methods. We use the 80 watt fixtures over our bladderworts, butterworts, low light tropical sundews, heliamphora and a few nepenthes. These lights are placed about an inch from the top of the tank. We use the 160 watt fixtures for nepenthes, most sundews, and sarracenia.
If you are wanting a full range of plants in your terrarium you can increase the distance the lights are away from the tank. A nice display tank size would be a 55 gallon. These are 4ft long, which is also the length of most light fixtures. You will want to space the fixture away from the lids about 3-4 inches to allow easy access to the inside of the tank or make it easily removable. You will also want to get a good heavy duty timer to hook your lights into, use a 14-16 hour lights on period to keep the plants looking good.
The better media to use is a base of peat moss/perlite/ and silica sand with a top dressing of Live Sphagnum. Determine what your tank temperatures will be before getting the sphagnum. If it will be cooler then the west coast sphagnum will grow well for you, however it if is going to be real warm like most then use New Zealand sphagnum or even some from the Florida or south eastern US would work since it likes it warm and humid.
You can get the lighting fixtures at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Make sure they will hold a 40 watt bulb, with new energy regulations some are only accepting 25 watt bulbs which messes the wattage requirements up.