How to propagate Drosera cuttings in water (with photos)

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This guide is based on my experience with drosera leaf cuttings, I'm sure other growers have different methods. The information on how to propagate drosera by leaf cutting was gained from several threads on this forum and lots of experimentation; this FAQ is intended to pull this information into one place.

Step 1: Take the cuttings

For plants with longs leaves such as D. capensis or D. filiformis I cut the leaf into roughly 1 inch (2.5 cm) sections with a pair of scissors.

For plants with shorter leaves such as D. rotundifolia, D. intermedia and D. scorpiodes I tend to tug at the leaf until it comes away from the stem with its petiole.

You should select a mature leaf, but not one that is already dying. I also try to choose a leaf with as few insects on as possible.

Step 2: Place the cuttings in water

Simply place the cuttings in a clear container with at least 1 inch of water in the bottom. In my experience adding any sugar to the water just caused fungus to grow, I really can't recommend it.

The container for this part could be a jam jar, chinese takeaway tub or such like. The container I use is a clear food storage container bought from a supermarket. It is 8.5 cm wide and 6.5 cm tall and has an airtight lid:


A lid is not important but it does stop anything such as fungal spores getting into the container and sending the water off.

The water must be suitable for CPs and not tap water. At first I used rainwater that had been boiled and allowed to cool, although this worked okay, I found I had to change it often as it would turn green with algae after a week or three. I then switched to using Deionised Water from Halfords, this never seems to develop algae and so does not need to be changed.

If you do see any sign of algae, change the water.

Step 3: Leave the container in a bright place for the cuttings to develop plantlets

I store my containers on an east facing window that gets a few hours of sunshine in the morning. The bottom shelf of a greenhouse has also been suggested as a suitable place to store the containers.

It should be remembered that not all cuttings will work, and some will just rot. You should remove any leaves that are rotting so that the rot cannot spread to the good leaves.

When the plantlets start to develop they should look something like this:


These are some D. binata var. multifida cuttings after 3 weeks. There are not always so many plantlets, sometimes only one will develop.

The time it takes the plantlets to start developing can vary a lot, do not give up on a cutting unless the leaf shows signs of rotting.

Step 4: When the plantlets are large enough, transfer the cuttings to a pot.

When to transfer the cutting to a pot is not an exact science, the cuttings can survive for quite a while in the water. The longer the growth points are, the easier and less fiddly the process of transferring the cutting to a pot is.

This photo shows the cuttings at the point I decided to transfer them from the water into a pot.


I plant my cuttings is 100% sphagnum moss peat, though others use LFS or Supersphag.

My method is to fill a pot up with peat and then use a sieve to put a layer of very fine peat at the top of the pot. I then use my fingers to gently compress this fine peat so the surface is firm.

I then place the cuttings onto the surface, with the new growing points upwards. Next a layer of fine peat is sieved onto the surface until the cuttings are just covered. I then use a mister/sprayer to gently spray the surface of the pot with rainwater until the growing points of the cuttings are exposed. The aim of all this is to end up with the new growing points above the surface of the peat and the main leaf below the surface.

Once done the pot will look something like this pot with 3 cuttings in it:


Step 5: Keep the pot standing in water in a bright place

In the cooler months I put the pot into a terrarium for this stage, thus ensuring the plantlets get enough warmth and light. In the warmer months I just put the pot on a bright (south facing) windowsill. The plantlets seem to have no problem coping with full sunshine so long as they are kept very wet for the first 2 or 3 weeks while they establish roots.

After a few weeks the plantlets should become established. This photo shows the binata cutting after two weeks in the pot:


This photo shows the same plants after five weeks in the pot. They have been kept outside in full sun for the last two weeks:


At some point the plantlets need to be separated into individual pots, and then the job is complete. The photo below shows one of the plants after it had been separated and potted in its own pot for about 6 months.


I hope this is of some help.

Drosera this technique is known to work for:

D. aliciae

D. anglica

D. binata

D. capensis

D. cistiflora (only the bottom leaves)

D. coccipetala

D. collinsiae

D. falconeri (30% success rate)

D. filiformis (including red form and all hybrids)

D. graminifolia

D. hamiltonii

D. intermedia

D. madagascariensis

D. neocaledonica

D. prolifera

D. roraimae

D. rotundifolia

D. schizandra

D. scorpiodes (Very low success rate)

D. spatulata

D. whittakeri (tuberous!)

D. villosa

D. venusta

Drosera this technique does not work for:

D. dielsiana (Need confirmation)

D. ramentacea

D. stenopetala


Edited by cgarry
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Great job! I've always find the hardest part is transitioning from all water to the pot. D. binata have to be the easiest plant to start from water. I've also started them and filiformis from a trayof live, swampy, LFS.

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Never really paid attention, but it seems as though I had a string of new plants for quite awhile. That which was grown in swampy live LFS came to an abrupt end when a hanging basket collapsed and crashed into it. The ones in tubes were given away. You could probably sever the individual plants with no ill effects.

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I tend not to separate the plants into their own pots for at least 6 months, by this time the original leaf has long gone. However the new plants are all tangled together by their roots so care has to be taken when separating them. Leaving the plants in one pot for so long is not a deliberate action, it just takes me a long time to get round to separating them.

If you do try to separate the new plants while the original leaf is still connecting them, there should be no problem cutting through the original leaf so long as each new plant has its own roots.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Chris and all,

This method also works for drosera falconeri (30% success): remove the whole leaf as far back to the "stem" as you can, and dip the entire leaf into water. Then follow the method mentioned above.

When setting the cutting onto the compost, just use the pot of the mother plant or use the same compost (50% quartzsand 50% peat).

Planting the cutting has always happened without any loss. The problem is that some leaves die in the water. I guess the purest water works better (so far I have not tried desionised water) and so I hope I wil reach better results in the future!



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Great stuff, Chris, thanks. These pictorial guides are a godsend. (Thinking of the air-layering Neps thread, too).

I took fifteen D. binata cuttings yesterday and followed your methods. Will let you know how I get on.

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I have only just got around to reading this one!

Chris, Have you put this in to Jon Cooke, I feel it would make a fine addition to the journal :D

And as a recipient of one of your experiments I think I may have to try your technique out on that too!! :lol:

Exellent post :D

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Great stuff, Chris, thanks. These pictorial guides are a godsend. (Thinking of the air-layering Neps thread, too).

I took fifteen D. binata cuttings yesterday and followed your methods. Will let you know how I get on.

Thanks Stevie. This thread was obviously inspired by the excellent air-layering Neps thread - I haven't tried air-layering Neps yet, but I think I could do it after reading that guide. Fifteen D. binata cuttings - that will be a lot of plants if all those cuttings survive!

Hey Stephen, I think the plants I sent you came from the cuttings in the photos above. I guess they are famous now!

I have added a list of Drosera that work with this technique to the original post. I'll update this list if people let me know which Drosera they have managed to propagate in this way.


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Fifteen D. binata cuttings - that will be a lot of plants if all those cuttings survive!

Yar, better a surplus than a shortfall, I thought. ;) Dare say I'll flog/CPUK auction any binatas that grow above and beyond the call of duty. Or give them away to try to lure a few friends into this obsess... I mean, hobby, of ours. :wink:

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Hmm... I bought my first D. regia today. Anyone want to warn me from sacrificing a leaf from it, to see if I can get cuttings this way?

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What the hell - it's got plenty of leaves; it can afford to lose one for the cause. ;)

I found this here thread, in the CP Propagation forum:

You have discovered the usual response I have seen for this technique. Many Drosera respond very well, others sporadically at best. I wouldn't give up entirely on any -- I have had some success even with Drosera regia and I know of at least one other person who has also succeeded at propagating it by floating leaf cuttings in water.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. :)

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  • 1 month later...

I can certainly vouch that this technique works wonders when propagating D. binata! Here's a snap I took ten minutes ago:


Not one piece lost - I had to chuck away three perfectly good bits that had sprouted, since I only needed twelve!

No joy with D. regia, D. spatulata, D. filiformis, though. I'll have another crack at them, though, sometime.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Hmm... I bought my first D. regia today. Anyone want to warn me from sacrificing a leaf from it, to see if I can get cuttings this way?

I've propagated Drosera regia several times using the floating leaf in water technique, though I rarely use it for Drosera regia because they strike so much more quickly and easily from root cuttings.

It works well with Drosera graminifolia.

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  • 9 months later...

I think this would be an ideal time of year to give it a go, the new plants should then be a decent size before it is time for their winter dormancy.


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What a great post! :shock:

I think there should be a section in this forum where such kind of manuals should be collected, either that, or sticky in the drosera section? (ha, pun not intended!)

oh...that's what the faq section is meant for...? duhh..

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