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Fountains of Jewels: The Rainbow Plants

Updated: Aug 30, 2018

Byblis liniflora, the classic Rainbow Plant

When it comes to carnivorous plants, most newcomers think of a handful of classic groups: Venus Flytraps, Pitcher Plants (and among those usually Sarracenia and Nepenthes), and sundews. Sometimes the showy flowers of butterworts and bladderworts make their way in too, but other genera are glossed over until one becomes more immersed in the vast realm of carnivores. Among those missed gems are Byblis, the Rainbow plants.

Growing like lanky sundew stalks or even bushes, a young rainbow plant isn't much to behold, but an adult plant of species like B. guehoi, B. gigantea, or even a well-grown B. liniflora can be spectacular with towering spikes of slim, tentacle-filled leaves or branching shrubs topped with a profusion of spectacular flowers.

Byblis guehoi "Kimberleys"

Rainbow plants are a bit more advanced than some of the common sundew species as well, often being stubborn about vegetative propagation (stem cuttings may only work for some species, and leaf cuttings are not viable) and the seeds of all but B. liniflora require cross-pollination of genetically distinct clones to produce. They're also truly fire-adapted and require harsh treatments to germinate if one doesn't wish to wait a few years for them to sprout. Native to the seasonal monsoonal and Mediterranean climates of western Australia, they have to be specialized to survive in these locations, but once one gets the hang of bringing seeds around to germinating they can be rewarding to grow. The common liniflora stays relatively small and can even be weedy, being the only self-pollinating species and not requiring special treatment to germinate (B. aquatica may also self-pollinate, but sources conflict). Some other species can get truly large, and when grown in a large enough pot and in good lighting can reward the grower with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of bright pink to violet blooms all at once.

B. liniflora flowers; more delicate than those of B. guehoi.

Thus far I've managed to have success growing two species, B. liniflora and B. guehoi, and some experience with B. rorida though I could never produce seeds of the latter. Each has its own specific wants though they can be grown roughly in a similar manner, and unique growth patterns and flowers that make trying to grow each species worth it. I am working on restarting B. guehoi currently as well as taking another shot at growing B. rorida and a new attempt at B. aquatica, and should success be found new posts will be made to cover each eventually. For those who want something a little different and perhaps with a touch more challenge, this is a great genus to try growing.

If you're curious to know more about the individual species and how to grow them, make sure to check out the now completed Byblis section in the Database (

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