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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Distance Learning Carnivorous Plants Study

"Grow your own carnivorous plants.  An introduction to carnivorous plants and how they can be used"

These fascinating plants provide entertainment and stimulation to the enthusiast. Nine lessons cover a range of cultivated carnivorous plants, paying particular attention to the Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes) and Sundews (Drosera).

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Grow Carnivorous Plants

Learn about the uses of carnivorous plants, culture, propagation and more with this distance learning course.

This course provides a great overview of carnivorous plants and how they can be used.


Carnivorous plants are unique.

They don’t appeal to everyone; but they often capture the imagination of people who are not necessarily interested in other types of plants.

Anyone who chooses to undertake this course is obviously interested in carnivorous plants; probably either as an amateur collector, a commercial grower or a naturalist.

Carnivorous plants are plants that derive some or all of their nutrients by capturing and digesting small animals, such as insects.

Other terms used for carnivorous plants are a “carnivory” or a “carnivore”.

The mechanisms used to capture and digest animals are generally subtle; but not always.

Characteristics that are unique to carnivorous plants include:

  • Attraction Mechanisms   eg. Lures, odours, directional guides
  • Trapping Mechanisms   eg. Sticky secretions that hold animals like fly paper, trap door like openings to digestive chambers.
  • Digestive Mechanisms  eg. Secreted enzymes and absorption of digested material.


Course Contents

  1. Introduction -characteristics and classification, resources, etc.
  2. Culture -soils, watering, pests, diseases.
  3. Propagation And Container Growing
  4. Pitchers (Nepenthes) and Sundews (Drosera)
  5. Other Important Groups - (e.g. Bladderworts).
  6. Lesser Grown Varieties of Carnivorous Plants
  7. Australian Droseras
  8. Growing and Using Carnivorous Plants-in containers, in the ground, as indoor plants.
  9. Special Assignment


Duration:   100 hours


Course Aims

  • Learn to identify the different carnivorous plant families and genera
  • Describe how to grow different carnivorous plants in different ways
  • Know how to propagate different carnivorous plants both by seed or vegetatively
  • Identify distinguishing characteristics and cultural needs for different species of both Sundews and Pitcher plants.
  • Identify distinguishing characteristics and cultural needs for different species of both Bladderworts and at least one other genus of Carnivorous plant.
  • Identify distinguishing characteristics and cultural needs for different species of of less commonly cultivated carnivorous plants.
  • Determine and describe appropriate ways to grow and display cultured carnivorous plants.
  • Describe one group of carnivorous plants in detail.


Where can You Grow them?

Many carnivorous plants occur naturally in wet situations; but there are exceptions. The way you grow and treat them must reflect where they come from. Collectors often grow many types in pots, troughs, beds or even hanging baskets in a greenhouse or conservatory. Some may be grown outside in a bog garden; and others might be raised in a terrarium inside a house.

The range of conditions carnivorous plants grow in varies considerably. Most have adapted to grow in environments where there is a poor supply of nutrients in the soil and so being able to trap and digest animals is a distinct advantage. Although, there is great interest in growing carnivorous plants, they will not last long if the conditions they are grown in are too far removed from their natural habitat.

Temperature Needs
Many species grow well at normal room temperatures. They can also withstand variations in temperature so long as the variations are not extreme. If the temperature is comfortable for you; it is probably adequate for most carnivorous plants. Most species of Nepenthes, for instance, grow best in an average temperature range from 15 to 30°C.

Most carnivorous plants grow in swamps or bogs where humidity can be higher than elsewhere, even in temperate climates. You should know where the plants occur naturally, and attempt to reproduce a similar level of humidity.

Growing plants in a tray or saucer of water may increase humidity a little; and having a surface of moist sphagnum moss or peat will create greater humidity, than having a surface covered by sand. Some growers use a humidifier, particularly when plants are growing strongly, which enables greater control over humidity levels. Others grow carnivores in a terrarium. Humidity will be higher than elsewhere in an open terrarium, such as a fish tank, with nothing covering the top. When the top is covered or partly covered (e.g. a large glass bottle or fish tank with a glass cover) humidity levels will increase even further.

Light Requirements
Many species of carnivorous plants are exposed to full sunlight in the wild. This natural light may have a light intensity of around 100,000 lux in the middle of the day. In comparison, lightly shaded conditions found inside a house, for instance near a window but out of any direct sunlight, may be perhaps 15,000 lux and typical lighting inside an office may be only around 1,000 lux. You can see from this that an indoor collection of carnivorous plants is most likely to need light levels to be supplemented with artificial lighting to perform at their best, or even to just survive.





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Meet some of our academics

John Mason (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Nurseryman, Landscaper, Garden Writer, Parks Manager and Consultant. Over 45 years experience; working in Australia and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 100 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Diana Cole (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Landscaper, Environmentalist. Holds a Diploma in Horticulture, degree in geography, permaculture certificate and various other qualifications. Between 1985 and 94, Diana was a task leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Since 2001 she has been chairperson of the Friends of Mellor Park (with Stockport MDC). From 2005 she has worked exclusively in horticulture as proprietor of her own garden design and consultancy business in and around Derbyshire; and at the same time as part time manager of a small garden centre. Diana has been an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable tutor with ACS since 2008.
Yvonne Sharpe (Horticulturist)Started gardening in 1966, studied a series of horticulture qualifications throughout the 1980's and 90's, culminating in an RHS Master of Horticulture. Between 89 and 1994, she worked teaching in horticultural therapy. Founded the West Herts Garden Association in 1990 and exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show in 1991. In 1994, Yvonne joined the staff at Oaklands College, and between 1996 and 2000 was coordinator for all Amenity Horticulture courses at that college. Since leaving Oakland she has been active as a horticultural consultant, retail garden centre proprietor and sessional lecturer (across many colleges in southern England). In 2000, she also completed a Diploma in Management.

Check out our eBooks

Growing and Using Perennial PlantsWhen designed and grown well, a perennial garden produces a blaze of colour for many months – starting in spring, flourishing through summer, and beyond into autumn.
Water GardeningThis book is designed to inspire and educate presenting you with a wide range of possibilities and at the same time, raising your awareness and understanding of how water can be used in any size garden to add interest, coolness and life.
Carnivorous PlantsCarnivorous plants are plants that have unique adaptations that enable them to catch and feed off animals such as insects and other small invertebrates.
Tropical LandscapingTropical Landscaping is a style that may be used more in tropical places, but can still be created in cooler climates. This book provides practical advice and inspiration over 8 chapters: “Garden Design”, “Components of a Tropical Garden”, “Building the Garden”, “Outdoor Living Areas”, “Pools, Ponds and Water Features”, “Lawns”. “Plants (to use), and “Caring for Plants”. 103 pages 69 colour photos