Sundews are beautiful, carnivorous plants that eat insects. Carnivorous plants are usually found in one or two regions, but the approximately 130 species of sundew plants grow all over the world.
The name "sundew" is derived from a gel on the plant's tentacles that glistens in the sunlight. The flowers of sundews range from white, to pink, to brilliant red, purple, or orange. The long sundew stem holds the flowers above the leaves so they will attract pollinators.
Perennial sundews usually dwell in tropical areas. They grow leaves year-round and live for more than two years. Another type of sundew is considered an annual plant, because its seeds develop into new plants for the following year.
Sundews ooze a sticky gel on the ends of fine hairs that hold down an insect, making escape impossible. Sundews eat flies, midges and fruit flies; the larger sundews also eat butterflies, moths, mosquitoes and spiders. The gel acts like an acid to dissolve the internal organs of the insects, turning them into a liquid that the plant can use to feed itself.
When sundews don't capture insects, the flowers self-pollinate. Sundews produce large amounts of tiny black seeds that germinate with moisture and light. Seeds of the tuberous species of sundew require a hot, dry summer followed by a cool, most winter to germinate.
Most sundews are perennials, but to stay healthy they need a winter rest of 4 to 5 months at temperatures of 38 to 45 degrees F. Portions of the sundew will die back to a rootball, and revive in the spring.