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How to Care for Butterworts Pinguicula

How do you care for butterworts?

Butterworts, or Pinguicula, are one of the easiest carnivorous plants to grow. They are known for their sticky succulent-like leaves that trap insects like gnats and mosquitoes. By providing proper light, water, and soil, these carnivorous plants make the perfect houseplant.

What kind of butterworts are there?

There are a few types of butterworts. Mexican Pinguicula, commonly known as  Mexican butterworts, are native to Mexico and surrounding areas. Temperate Pinguicula, commonly known as temperate butterworts or bog butterworts are native to the less equatorial areas in South America, the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Where to Buy Butterworts

All types of butterworts are available in select nurseries, including on our website at Carnivero!

Unpacking Your Butterwort

Your Mexican Pinguicula will arrive cushioned with sphagnum moss or damp paper towels. Carefully remove and pot it in your preferred soil. The short, threadlike roots are normal. It may look a little droopy from shipping but will quickly recover with light.

For temperate butterworts, like P. primuliflora, place the plug in a 50/50 peat/perlite mix in a pot kept in a shallow tray of water.

If new growth is browned or blackened, contact us at service@carnivero.com for assistance.

How much light do Pinguiculas need?

Mexican Pinguicula thrive in bright windows or under grow lights. Outdoors, they do best on a shaded patio with morning or afternoon sun. Use grow lights with 30-200 PPFD for 14-16 hours daily to enhance their colors (this translates to about 20 watts per square foot of growing area).  In winter, reduce the photoperiod to 12 hours. Avoid full-day sun, especially in intense summer climates. Temperate butterworts can tolerate brighter light.

What kind of water do butterworts need?

Carnivorous plants thrive in nutrient-poor environments and are sensitive to excess minerals in water and soil. Use only rainwater, distilled water, or reverse osmosis water for Pinguicula, as they require very pure water (<100 ppm total dissolved salts). Tap water may contain too many minerals and could harm the plant over time.

How to Water Pinguicula

Mexican pings are drought-tolerant and can be left to dry out for a few days. Use the tray method for watering, whether in a standard pot or on lava rock. Place the pot in a shallow tray with 1 to 2 inches of water. After it’s been dry for a few days, the tray can be refilled. Avoid top watering to prevent rot, except for bog butterworts.

Bog butterworts should be kept in a tray of water and never allowed to dry out. Intermittent flooding encourages the plant to produce offsets for easy propagation.

Butterwort Temperature

Pinguicula thrive in temperatures between 55°F and 85°F. They can tolerate temperatures in the high 90s if their soil is kept moist and they are out of direct sunlight.

Butterwort Humidity

Pinguicula thrive in drier climates and don't require additional humidity. However, good air circulation is essential to prevent rot and fungal issues, especially in more humid environments.

Butterwort Soil

Mexican Pinguicula, from central Mexico's mountains, thrive in well-drained, inorganic calciferous soil mixes, primarily composed of perlite, vermiculite, lava rock/pumice, or sand, with a bit of peat or sphagnum moss. They can also grow in crevices of lava rock, pumice stone or limestone with sphagnum moss stuffed around them.

Bog Pinguicula, found in the southern US waterways, prefer moisture-retaining soil like a 50:50 mix of peat/perlite or peat/sand.

See our Soil Mixing Guide for more information.

When to Repot Butterworts

Butterwort plants rarely need repotting due to their shallow roots. If desired, you can propagate them by taking leaf pullings, similar to succulents, while leaving the main plant undisturbed in its original pot.

How to Feed Butterwort

The sticky leaves of Pinguicula are adept at catching their own food, both indoors and outdoors. However, if you notice they're not catching as much as desired, you may place insects on their leaves or fertilize with a dilute fertilizer such as Maxsea.

Can I feed my butterwort fish food?

A small pinch of fish food can be sprinkled onto butterworts for a nutrient boost.

Butterwort Dormancy

Mexican Pinguicula undergo dormancy during periods of low light or drought in winter, forming compact, non-carnivorous leaves for photosynthesis. As spring brings more light, they flower and resume producing carnivorous leaves.

Most temperate Pinguicula from North America don't experience dormancy but may exhibit slower growth in winter.

Holiday season buyers: If your Pinguicula arrives during winter and it's actively growing, it's best to let it continue. If dormant, expect flowering soon, followed by new leaf growth as spring brings more light.


Need more information? See our growing tips and care guides.

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