By David Tan
First Published: 13 September 2008
Revision: 28 January 2014
Drosera burmanii is found in tropical climates including Malaysia and it is considered an annual plant, meaning it grows for only a couple of months in the year during the rainy season and dies off after it flowers and when the soil dries up. When the next rainy season comes, the seeds from the previous season will germinate and the cycle repeats itself.
Reports have maintained that the D. burmanii go through its annual cycle in cultivation as well. However, I have experimented and found that D. burmanii can be kept alive and thriving for many years. Here’s the trick:
Never let the plant flower. Allowing it to flower weakens the plant and triggers their annual cycle, causing them to die after flowering. Cut off its flower stalk when it first appears. If you would like to collect seeds, allow the flower stalk to grow only when it has matured to about 1 inch in diameter across the entire plant. You risk losing the plant if you allow it to flower at a juvenile stage.
When the flower stalk starts to grow I feed the plant regularly, about once every two to three days. This replenishes its energy and gives it a growth spurt. At the same time make sure it gets a lot of sunlight and clean water. Once the flower blooms I increase its feeding routine. Basically I feed it as much as I could without causing the leaves to rot from over feeding.
Small ants fed to them constantly and daily works well. The ants are small and they get digested within 24 hours. This allows me to feed again after within a short time frame between meals. Dried cubifex worms or frozen blood worms also works well if you cannot find ants. You can get these from fish shops. I noticed my plants seem to love frozen blood worms. Remember to give small quantities. You can feed a few leaves at any one time so that more nutrients can be given without the risk of burning the leaves with over feeding on one leaf. Once the leaf is damaged, it rots and is unable to digest anymore food.
D. burmanii will continuously give out flower stalks, sometimes as much as 2-3 flower stalks at a time. Cut off new flower stalks that grow and allow only one flower stalk to bloom and set seed. This allows the plant to conserve energy. Usually I cut off the next 2 consecutive flower stalk after I collected seeds and only allowing the third flower stalk to grow if I want more seeds. Then I repeat the whole process again.
I have found that they can cheat death when treated this way and can be kept for many years. Remember, the trick is to feed them during and after they set seeds. Continue until you are satisfied they have fully recovered. If the seeds do not germinate for me, I am not worried as I still have the mother plant with me and I can always wait for the next batch of seeds and try again.
After a couple of years the plant will tower above the ground as new leaves grow on top of old dead leaves. D. burmanii aka “coconut tree” if I may! You can add more media to fill up the pot until it covers the old leaves or repot deeper into the media… and… Walla! It looks like a D. burmanii again.