What's new
TerraForums Venus Flytrap, Nepenthes, Drosera and more talk

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Assembling a Mother's Day Gift--A Terrarium. Looking for Feedback, Suggestions, and Drosera aliciae (roots?)

My mom likes plants and is good at growing them. She has always liked carnivorous plants, and for years had a couple Nepenthes growing successfully and pitchering in her North facing kitchen window with no supplementary light: N. burkei x truncata and N. curtisii (N. maxima). However, she's 85 and her mobility is limited a bit now, and the last few CPs I've given her have not made it long term (Nepenthes, Pinguicula, Drosera adelae), mostly due to simply drying out. So I'd like to give her a few things in a terrarium that would require minimal care.

I realize some of these are not ideal terrarium candidates. They will also outgrow the space eventually. That can be dealt with. And if any are unhappy, can simply be removed and substituted. There's a great carnivorous plant nursery a 20 minute drive away (initials PP).

The terrarium would have to fit on her windowsill, with plenty of room to spare. Unfortunately, I'm not there to measure it. Does anyone not think this is at least 8 inches? Pictured is Pinguicula 'Tina', which did well for at least a year. These are Southeast facing windows, plenty of sun.


This is the container I'm thinking of getting. A reasonable amount of room, and $10. 1 gallon size.
Screen Shot 2023-04-28 at 3.17.47 AM.png

This is how big it would be. I'm thinking of the 1 gallon. The 1/2 gallon would be less tall, and have half the volume and a lot less growing area (101 sq. inches vs. 154 sq. inches).

Screen Shot 2023-04-28 at 2.43.53 AM.png

These are the plants I was thinking of putting in there:

A Heliamphora heterodoxa x minor division, which rooted and just put out a nice new pitcher. I need to remove the dead ones. This was started just under 2 months ago.

Heliamphora April 28.jpg

A Nepenthes Vivid Machine (Nepenthes (veitchii × platychila) "MT" × maxima "Tentena") basal, hopefully rooted by now:

Nepenthes Vivid Machine basal.jpg

And one of these rooted leaves of Cephalotus 'Brewers Giant' (again, thank you Werdna!). Photo was 11 days ago. Hopefully they will send up plantlets soon.

Cephalotus 'Brewers Giant' .jpg

Maybe other things (suggestions, donations?), although these three will likely soon take up a bit of the space.

The medium: I was thinking either of keeping things in separate pots, or planting everything in the same medium, perhaps just sphagnum. I'm worried that other mixes might look odd through the glass.

Final note: It would be really cool if I could find a source of Drosera aliciae. I read that root cuttings might be the most effective means of propagation. It would add an interesting twist, if they were "secretly" planted in the medium, only for plants to later pop up as if by "magic". My mom's name is Alice, and it would be fun. She has a bit of history with the plant. We used to visit California Carnivores years ago when they were adjacent to Mark West Winery in Sonoma County. We'd buy plants, go wine tasting...and then buy more (at least I did). One time she bought a Sarracenia, and a hitchhiker came along for free. It was Drosera aliciae. I can presumably trade something for D. aliciae. Maybe a couple small leaves of Pinguicula gigantea. I'm not sure what CPs I've have ready right now. I likely have other things (Begonias?), or possibly even cuttings of my mom's plants...
Last edited:
If the terrarium looks a little sparse with those three, and I don't get any other CP ideas, I may end up adding something else, temporarily. Perhaps Begonia amphioxus.

This species, although not this exact plant. This actual plant is going to the NASC auction.

Begonia amphioxus April 26.jpg
Last edited:
I realized I have these: these are cuttings generously sent by Blackfeather666 (thanks!), as described in the post "Strategies to send plant material for the price of a stamp". These were delayed for 10 days by USPS (!) I had these incubating in water in suboptimal light. The one with the many vigorous plantlets (9, I think) is Drosera 'Hercules' x 'Big Pink'. The other one is Drosera capensis Alba.

Drosera Big Pink. x Hercules and capensis Alba.jpg

So I need to pot these up. The interesting point is that 'Hercules' is D. aliciae x D. capensis alba. So the hybrid is 1/4 D. aliciae. So at a minimum, if I added this to the terrarium, there would be a 1/4 D. aliciae hybrid. It's a start, and I still am looking for pure D. aliciae. So I'm going to see if I can root these and get some red coloration (her favorite color) in the next couple weeks. Obviously, these would only be in there temporarily, as they would outgrow the space. And of course, I can likely add this hybrid to the list of things I can trade for D. aliciae.

It occured to me that adding a S. African Drosera (D. aliciae or the hybrid) would bring the total of 4 continents covered by the 4 plants:

Africa: D. aliciae or hybrid
South America: Heliamphora
Asia: Nepenthes
Australia: Cephalotus

Missing are Europe and North America. North America is easy--I could add Pinguicula gigantea (again, temporarily!) or something smaller if it comes around...

Europe would be the tricky one. The only thing I'm thinking of is possibly Drosera rotundifolia of European origin. Does anyone have any thoughts? I may have to skip that one, although perhaps even fresh seeds from someone in Europe would do.

My mom has been to all those continents, so that would be a nice addition to the terrarium. She's never been to Antarctica, but there are no carnivorous plants there.

I'd highly recommend against the nepenthes and heliamphora. It's going to be challenging for someone who hasn't had good results keeping plants before maintaining an appropriate water level for those two in an undrained container. And I've found that helis really want a high level of air circulation and light, both which are going to achieve in this setup. I'd recommend some utricularia. The terrestrial species are well suited to this kind of culture and will add a nice layer of color when in bloom.
If things don't appear happy, I'll replace them with something else. These are the plants I have on hand right now. Obviously some will get far too big, and others are not ideal terrarium candidates. That can be dealt with when the time comes.

This is also an experiment.

There will be nothing for her to maintain. This will be a closed system, with almost zero evaporation, and any small additions of water can be done by me.

I've grown Nepenthes with no problems under terrarium conditions. My impression is that people have done the same with Heliamphora, particularly the easier hybrids. Both are under such conditions already. My main concern here is size, and crowding. But that can be dealt with when it becomes an issue. If they are doing poorly, they will be replaced.

The goal here is to assemble an inexpensive, and evolving gift, starting with the plants I have at hand.

One nice thing about this container is that the opening is wide, so it's easy to reach in, and adjust what's growing inside.

I once gave her Begonia bogneri, a plant that most people claim is difficult or "impossible". It was in a similar, very cramped, essentially airtight container. It thrived for years on a windowsill, with only rare addition of small amounts of water:

Begonia bogneri, terrarium.jpg
I would also point out that the two Nepenthes (N. burkei x truncata and N. x curtisii) she grew for years in a window facing exactly North (aligned with the direction of the streets) should have been impossible, especially with no supplemental lighting. Yet they grew and pitchered just fine. Sometimes it's just worth trying, especially if one already has the plants.

Her N. burkei x truncata, but after she moved. The lower pitchers were a lot bigger.

Nepenthes burkei x truncata.jpg

For those who are curious, this plant came from a tiny seedling I bought from Tom Kahl, I believe in the mid 1990s when I lived in Pasadena, CA. I grew seedlings from him in a terrarium made from a fish tank, I believe with compact fluorescent lights, no ventilation. Close to 100% humidity. At some point I gave my mom one. I don't remember if it was the original plant or a rooted cutting. She grew it for years, in her kitchen window, and moved in 2011, taking it with her. I think this photo was within a year or two of that.
Last edited:
Your biggest problem will be the light. A closed terr sitting in a SE will most likely get far too hot and cook the inhabitants. (I'm in MI and even my SE summer light would turn a closed terr into a pressure cooker in no time flat.)
Your biggest problem will be the light. A closed terr sitting in a SE will most likely get far too hot and cook the inhabitants. (I'm in MI and even my SE summer light would turn a closed terr into a pressure cooker in no time flat.)
Hopefully not. I guess the Heliamphora might be in the most danger. She likes it cool at night. Even in midsummer, lows are always in the 50s, and it should cool down a bit inside (60s). She does have air conditioning, and hates the heat, so it shouldn't be too hot ever during mid day (average summer high upper 70s). The brightest sun should be in the morning at that direction. In summer, mornings are usually (but not always) cloudy until about 10 A.M. That's our version of the SF marine layer/fog. We'll try to figure something out if there's a problem.

This shows the exact angle relative to North:Screen Shot 2023-04-30 at 7.54.31 AM.png
I should add: As midday approaches, and the sun starts shifting towards direct South, a redwood tree will start creating shade.

Redwood Tree.png


  • Screen Shot 2023-04-30 at 7.54.31 AM.png
    Screen Shot 2023-04-30 at 7.54.31 AM.png
    978.2 KB · Views: 0
The main concern will not be early morning sun, but rather noon - 4/5pm. How much direct sun shines in her window during those hours? If she gets a good deal of direct sun, even having the apt air-conditioned will not make much difference. (Think how quickly a car parked outside can be heated up even on a cool day.)
The main concern will not be early morning sun, but rather noon - 4/5pm. How much direct sun shines in her window during those hours? If she gets a good deal of direct sun, even having the apt air-conditioned will not make much difference. (Think how quickly a car parked outside can be heated up even on a cool day.)
I don't think much. There's a redwood tree in the way. Those are pretty dense and it was actually planted far too close to the building. It hangs over my mom's decks (the brick colored structures).

Plus, after noon, the angle of the sunlight relative to the window becomes pretty big, even if the tree wasn't there. The solid red arrow should be roughly the angle of the sun at about noon. After that, imagine that arrow rotating more and more (dashed arrows). Once the sun is Southwest relative to the window, there's no more sun. That's probably sometime mid afternoon. I'm sure I could find out an approximate time. However, it doesn't matter because of the tree...

Redwood Tree.png

To simplify, in the absence of trees and other buildings:

East window: Early morning sun
Southeast window: Morning sun
South window: Sun much of the day.
Southwest window: Afternoon sun
West window: Late afternoon sun
North window: No sun
Last edited:
If there is little direct sun in that case, you may be best off going with terrestrial utrics like U. sandersonii or U. livida. The plants themselves are so tiny as to go unnoticed which makes their flowers all the more surprising when they bloom. Drosera-wise, D. adelae might be your best option. IME, it loves terrarium life and does not need or even want as much light as most dews. Some of the smaller pings might do well -- you could even place them on a "hill" or rough rock/"boulder". If you can find Sinningia pusilla, it might provide some bloom interest.
As I say, I want to limit this to plants I already have, at least at first. That will include one or more Mexican Pinguiculas. I actually showed her a couple pictures yesterday of a unbelievable Pinguicula rock that someone posted on a Facebook group--she was really impressed. I'll give the link, even though one has to be a member of Pinguicula Plantation on Facebook to view it. I think that's an additional possibility at some point, although perhaps in a protected and winter dry spot outside. She really doesn't get frost. That one would require discussion in advance, not as a surprise.

The Pinguicula Rock, for those who can view it:

She saw U. sandersonii in bloom at Predatory Plants a month ago. I don't think she was impressed. I don't think she'd go for anything whose carnivory isn't visible. I gave her D. adelae a couple years ago (from Predatory Plants, Josh's recommendation). She does like red, and that was part of the reason. It didn't live long, and I've since heard that terrarium culture may be preferable. But again, since I don't have it, and she already tried it, it doesn't seem obvious. Plus, I assume it would choke out anything else in a terrarium? I used to have both Sinningia pusilla as well as hybrid of that (ID'd as 'Maryjane's Pixie' by Dale Martens). However, I no longer have them and a recent attempt to get S. pusilla ended in frustration. It's a long story, but I really am not looking for that plant right now.
I realized I have a couple photos of plants on those windowsills, from December 22, 2018, ~9:30 A.M. :

Left to right: Phalaenopsis, Kohleria 'Jester', Dendrochilum sp., Begonia fuscomaculata, Pinguicula 'Tina', Begonia 'Red Fred', Philodendron 'Pink Princess'

Mom's windowsill plants 2, 2018.JPG

Left to Right: Nepenthes spectabilis x ventricosa, Streptocarpus, Streptocarpus 'Blue Frills', Streptocarpella

Mom's windowsill plants 1, 2018.jpg
Looks like the right hand side of the windowsill gets a little more bright shade as opposed to direct sun. I'd suggest starting out in that corner if that is the case.
This is all assembled. I'm seeing my mom tomorrow, and bringing it to her.

I'm still looking for Drosera aliciae. What I may do is gather some cuttings from her place, including Agapetes serpens, and split them. Half would go to an NASC auction, the other half to a trade looking for D. aliciae. A lot will depend on whether the Agapetes is still in bloom...

The terrarium:

Terrarium for mom initial, flash May 11, 2023.jpg

ID's of the plants:

In the middle: Nepenthes x Briggsiana (lowii x ventricosa 'Red')
2 o'clock Pink NOID Pinguicula (added after picture)
5 o'clock: Cephalotus 'UC Davis' with at least 2 plantlets (can't see)
8 o'clock: Drosera capensis 'Red' and Drosera capensis 'Big Pink' x 'Hercules' (tiny plantlets).
10 o'clock: NOID Pinguicula
11 o'clock: Heliamphora heterodoxa x minor

And if I can manage it, cuttings of the following Agapetes serpens will be both part of an NASC auction, and separately, a trade for Drosera aliciae, which would replace the Droseras above:

Mom's Agapetes serpens .jpg
I'm also going to see if she'll take this. It's Nepenthes Valiant Vortex (N. veitchii 'Bario' from Predatory Plants). On Saturday, they sent two plants growing together, as they sometimes do.

A post in another forum reported that an extra small plant (this size) turned into a gorgeous sizeable plant in about a year.
In a makeshift cloche/terrarium. An $11 jar from Target.

It will soon outgrow this space! Until then, she won't have to worry much about watering. Then we'll figure out a strategy.

N. Valiant Vortex (veitchii) for mom .jpg