Byblis liniflora

Range: northern Australia from Port Hedland to Brisbane and southern New Guinea

This species is perhaps the best known of the rainbow plants, highly common in cultivations and also holding the largest range of all the species, found across all of northern Australia and extending into Papua New Guinea in any location that holds seasonal or permanent moisture and open sandy or peat soils. Though more commonly reaching 10-20 cm tall, this species can occasionally reach 35 cm in height with a slender, unbranched stem bearing leaves up to 6 cm long. Color is pale lime green, flushing red with age or strong light. Flowers are borne singularly on stalks rising from the leaf axils, 1-1.5 cm across with delicate slender ovate to moderately obovate petals bearing distinct serrations along the outer edges. Color is variable, typically some shade of lavender or mauve but also known to occur in violet, pink, pale indigo and even white. As the only species occurring in regions where there is little seasonality, despite still remaining as an annual plant it has lost the chemical inhibitors in its seeds that require the chemicals of fire to break down and permit germination.

Cultivation: Grow in a soil mix of sand and peat (or sphagnum), kept moist but not wet and moderately humid, with warm to hot temperatures year round. Sow seeds on soil surface (does not require chemical treatment to germinate, but can benefit from a soak in water before sowing) and grow in strong artificial light to full sun.

Lifespan and reproduction: Annual. Reproduces through seeds only and does not require cross-pollination; cuttings generally not successful.

When one thinks of Rainbow Plants (or for the nerdy enthusiasts like me, just Byblis), B. liniflora is usually the species that comes to mind. Self-pollinating and happy to grow in just about any carnivorous plant soil, it's also apparently the least affected by inbreeding depression and the most likely species to end up as a hitchhiker or weed in other pots. This is the best species for beginners to this genus and even for experienced growers a great plant to raise up in profusion; there are few things more impressive than a large pot or bog full of rainbow plants all blooming at once. Plus, once you get it going it doesn't take much to keep it in your collection; the seed pods open without assistance and seeds will germinate on their own when they fall out. Some people report greater germination success or faster germination when treated with smoke water, GA3, bleach etc., however in my experience all that's needed to ensure good germination is a soaking in pure water for a few minutes to a couple of hours before laying on whatever soil is available.

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