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13 Types of Carnivorous Plants With Pictures

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Carnivorous plants you can grow in your greenhouse or backyard

There are many different types of carnivorous plants. All are fascinating, and all feed on insects and other animals by trapping them.

You probably know how the venus flytrap works, by shutting its leaves up quickly on unsuspecting insects. Other types of carnivorous plants use different traps.

Types of Carnivorous Plants


The pitcher plants grow vase-shaped leaves that fill up with digestive juices – victims slip on the edge, fall in and get devoured.

Sundews use tentacles covered in sticky glue to trap their prey. Butterworts use sticky leaves.

There are even types of carnivorous plants that use submerged ‘bladders’ to suck up tiny animals from the water around them.

As well as being fascinating to look at and study, many types of carnivorous plants make excellent houseplants. Some will live outdoors in cold conditions too.

We’ve picked 13 different types of carnivorous plants below to inspire you.

13 Types of Carnivorous Plants

Dionaea Muscipula

Common name: Venus flytrap

Types of Carnivorous Plants
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Probably the most famous insect-eater of them all. Venus flytraps are incredible carnivorous plants. Their leaves snap shut on their unlucky insect victims with a speed that is quite stunning the first time you see it.

Venus flytraps will happily grow on sunny windowsills. There are many varieties of this single species. A tried and trusted potting mix for flytraps is five parts sphagnum moss, three parts sand, two parts perlite.

Drosera Rotundifolia

Common name: Round-leaved sundew, common sundew

Types of Carnivorous Plants

There are around 200 different types of sundew. They live in all parts of the world apart from Antarctica. It’s not hard to see why they are so widespread.

Sundews have ‘tentacles’ with a sticky glue that entraps any passing insects. The prey is quickly disabled and dispatched. The round-leaved or common sundew is widespread in bogs, marshes and fens.

Pinguicula Cyclosecta

Common name: Butterwort, Mexican butterwort, flypaper trap

Types of Carnivorous Plants
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The butterworts grow, particularly in Central America and Mexico. There are around 100 different species. In a similar way to sundews, they trap insects with a sticky substance on their rosettes of low-growing leaves.

You can see why they are often known as flypapers! Pinguicula cyclosecta is an easy-to-grow Mexican butterwort with attractive purple flowers. It makes a great houseplant; hot, humid conditions in summer and a cold, dry climate in the winter suit it best.

Drosera Capensis

Common name: Cape sundew

Types of Carnivorous Plants
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Another of the sundew family, cape sundews have long pointy leaves with the characteristic red tentacles and globules of glue to trap unsuspecting insects. They are pretty easy to grow, so they make a perfect choice if you are just starting to try out different types of carnivorous plants.

Make sure your cape sundew gets plenty of sun — if you live in a cold climate, a greenhouse is a perfect spot.

Sarracenia Purpurea

Common name: Purple pitcher plant

Types of Carnivorous Plants
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The Sarracenia pitcher plants all originate from North America. Their leaves grow into extraordinary vase-shaped receptacles to trap insects in.

One of the most popular pitcher plants is the purple Sarracenia. It’s hardy and will happily grow outdoors in a bog garden. All Sarracenias love direct sun, so choose the sunniest spot you can. In a colder climate, they will do best indoors.

Sarracenia Flava

Common name: Yellow pitcher plant

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This yellow Sarracenia is easy to grow and will be perfectly happy outdoors in a bog garden. Before the pitchers develop you will get a show of fragrant yellow flowers, some of the best blooms of any of the North American pitcher plants.

They seem to attract wasps in particular. Sarracenia x catesbaei is also quite easy to grow and has red flowers.

Nepenthes ‘Bloody Mary’

Common name: Monkey cups, Asian pitcher, tropical pitcher, highland hanging pitcher

While there are just 8 different types of North American Sarracenias, tropical pitcher plants number more than 170 different species. Some of them grow to 50 feet in the wild, across an enormous geographical range spreading from tropical Africa to Asia and Northern Australia.

Some are capable of eating small lizards and mice – even rats have been found in their pitchers! The Bloody Mary Nepenthes is a striking type of carnivorous plant with dark red cups.

Utricularia Subulata

Common name: Bladderwort, zigzag bladderwort

Types of Carnivorous Plants

The bladderwort types of carnivorous plants number more than 200 species. They often live with their roots underwater and suck up minuscule animals such as water fleas through submerged, bladder-like organs.

Like the sundews, they grow all over the world. Utricularia subulata is a version that lives on land. It prefers moist, sandy soil. Masses of tiny yellow flowers appear in spring.

Darlingtonia Californica


Common name: Cobra lily, cobra plant, California pitcher plant

Types of Carnivorous Plants

The hooded leaves of Darlingtonia really do look like the heads of cobras, and even have snake-like markings which confuse trapped bugs. To complete its serpent outfit, the plant grows a forked tongue!

The cobra lily is related to the Sarracenias but differs from its cousins in a few ways. It is the only type of carnivorous plant to have such a distinctive shape. Once insects are lured by the nectar on its ‘tongue’, it uses water to drown them.

Cephalotus Follicularis

Common name: West Australian pitcher plant

Types of Carnivorous Plants
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Like the Cobra lily above, there is just one species of the West Australian pitcher plant. Cephalotus plants like lots of light and will be more colorful the more sun they get.

South-facing windowsills are best, or a hot greenhouse. The plants are quite small, which makes them a perfect choice for terrariums.

Heliamphora Minor


Common name: Lesser sun pitcher


There are more than 20 different types of carnivorous plants known as sun pitchers. In their native South America, they grow in humid places with constant supplies of fresh rainwater.

The lesser sun pitcher is a compact plant with white and pink bell-shaped flowers. It will like living in a terrarium. This is a highland plant used to cool humid conditions, with plenty of bright light.

Pinguicula Primuliflora

Common name: Early butterwort, southern butterwort, primrose butterwort

Types of Carnivorous Plants


How could this pretty, primrose-like plant be such a raging carnivore? As we’ve already seen above, the butterworts have an ingenious feeding strategy, catching prey with their incredibly sticky leaves. Mosquitoes, gnats and fruit flies all fall victim to them.

The full-grown plants stay quite small, with rosettes about 8 inches across. Native to the southeastern US.

Nepenthes x ‘Miranda’


Common name: Monkey cups, Asian pitcher, tropical pitcher, highland hanging pitcher

Types of Carnivorous Plants


Tropical pitchers love sun and humidity. A sunny windowsill or greenhouse with daily misting from a spray bottle can imitate the conditions of a tropical rainforest pretty well. Most houses will be humid enough for Nepenthes, in fact. Nepenthes ‘Miranda’ is a sturdy pitcher plant with striking mottled red and green coloring; great for beginners. If you live somewhere subtropical, you can grow them outside.

3 Top Tips for Growing All Types of Carnivorous Plants

  • If you want to grow carnivorous plants, they usually need pure water. Purified water can be expensive – but rainwater is ideal, so it’s a good idea to invest in a water butt.
  • As many types of carnivorous plants grow in peaty, boggy areas in the wild, it’s often said they need peat to grow in gardens or greenhouses. But peat is a finite resource that should be conserved in the wild. Expert carnivorous plant growers in the UK have found a peat-free mix that works just as well. It’s a mixture of one part perlite, one part grit (lime-free) and two parts milled bark.
  • Avoid supporting practices like poaching and unsustainable wild seed collection by only purchasing from reputable sources. Be careful if you plan to buy carnivorous plant seeds online – there are lots of fakes. If in doubt, have a look at the International Carnivorous Plant Society website for more info.

Inspired to grow carnivores? Get more houseplant ideas:

Indoor Greenhouse Gardening
15 Different Types of Jade Plants With Pictures

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