The 5 most important points for growing Mexican Butterworts:
1) Most Mexican Butterworts are not bog plants. They grow in natural seeps and
similar habitats where they are kept constantly wet during the rainy season. They grow on the ground, on stream banks and cliff faces, and even on moss covered trees. They sometimes grow in moss, leaf debris or clinging precariously to wet rock faces or fissures. Use well draining mixes with horticultural sand, perlite and peat moss. Our mix is made of 1 part each of sand, perlite, vermiculite, pumice and peat moss.
2) During the period of active growth, water Mexican Butterworts by placing in a tray of pure water. Rain water, RO filtered or distilled are all good choices. As with any plants watered by the tray method, any impurities in the water are collected and concentrated in the water tray and in the soil over time. Be careful of water labeled ‘drinking water’, as this usually has minerals added for taste, and this can be harmful to your carnivorous plants. During winter most Mexican pings will enter their winter form, when they must not be kept as wet. This is the time to take Mexican pings out of the water tray, or at least let the tray go dry before refilling. Some forms of Mexican pings will rot if left in waterlogged conditions when in their winter form. The best thing is to keep them only slightly moist, but otherwise in the same growing conditions of temperature and light that they receive the rest of the year. When you see them start to grow carnivorous leaves again, place them back in the water tray. As an extreme example, P. gypsicola needs to be kept bone dry during this period. Take it out of the terrarium, if it’s in one, and allow it to completely dry out. Keep it dry until you see new growth.
3) Mexican Pings like some sun, usually morning sun which is not too hot, especially if you have your pings in a terrarium. A couple of hours a day is plenty, and is only needed to produce the best coloration. Most pings will grow just fine with good strong indirect light all day. This is exactly the same as growing tropical sundews, which share co mmon habitats with many Butterworts. They also do really well under artificial lighting, such as fluorescent.
4) You can feed pings, but that is not usually necessary as they will attract and eat a variety of small flying insects, like fruit flies and gnats. For forced feeding, try freeze-dried bloodworms, moistened first, available from tropical fish suppliers.
5) Never, ever feed any plant food or fertilizer to this or other carnivorous plants until you are an experienced grower, and know what you are doing and why, or you are following the instructions of an experienced grower. Fertilizers have the potential to do great harm to these plants. It may even kill them.
Ron West says
If your plant fades to just green, not to worry, I have some very healthy Pings which stay green and grow vigorously. Color is a sign of the light level they have been experiencing. If you want the rich color of the P agnata Red Leaf in the picture above, increase the light intensity. Not direct sun, as they won’t tolerate that very much, but stronger indirect light or artificial lighting, such as fluorescent tubes. I haven’t had very good success with Grow Lights or sun spectrum systems. They seem to stay smaller. Cool white tubes work best for me, placed close to the plants, but be careful of overheating them. I place the tubes as close to the plants as I can keeping the temperature in the upper 70s deg. F.
Of course, not all Pings get this red. Many only color up to a light red, or pink. Others stay a bright green. See the picture at the top of this post.
Ron West says
Just a quick update to the care sheet, originally published Oct 6 2007. We now use our all-mineral Pinguicula potting mix exclusively. We still have the original peat-based mix available. Our all-mineral mix is made from equal parts of the Aquatic Planting Media (Arcillite and Zeolite) and silica sand, with a trace amount of iron and non-urea plant food added.