Mexican Pinguiculas (Butterworts)
Known affectionately as “Pings” in the hobby, Mexican butterworts are some of the most ideal carnivores to grow as house plants. They catch mostly fungus gnats, which are common in homes with lots of house plants. They are not bog plants; instead, they grow on mossy rock faces and even the sides of trees, so their requirements are slightly different from those of typical North American carnivores.
Growing Mexican Butterwort
Soil: Unlike most carnivorous plants, Mexican Butterworts are not sensitive to lime in the soil or water; in fact they sometimes even appreciate it! The best soil mix is a mostly mineral mix of 1 part each pumice, perlite, sand and peat. Some growers like to add a bit of dolomite and iron oxide, which helps some species achieve better color. Others base their mix on arcillite, often used for water plants.
Watering: Portland tap water is fine. Many Mexican Butterworts have two different growth phases: Flat, sticky carnivorous leaves during the summer, and succulent leaves during the winter. Different species and hybrids may enter and exit winter phase at different times. When the plant is producing carnivorous leaves, you can leave the pot sitting in a bit of water, though it’s best to let extra water dry up for a day or two before watering again. In the winter succulent stage they can survive with just moist soil; take care not to overwater. The timing of the winter/summer phases can be unpredictable!
Light: Mexican butterworts appreciate bright light. A bright east window is usually enough, though they will color up better in a south window. Decreasing light levels, and daily minimum temperatures, are the main factors that trigger dormancy. Many also bloom during the winter phase. Mexican pinguiculas are also very easy to grow under lights, and often respond with brilliant color in their leaves.
Fertilizing Mexican Butterworts: Fertilizing is not necessary, and better avoided till you get some experience in growing them.