Grow A Venus Fly Trap: How To Care For A Venus Fly Trap
By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Carnivorous plants are fun to grow and fascinating to watch and learn about. The Venus fly trap (Dionaea muscipula) is a moisture loving plant that grows near marshes and bogs. The plants have been overharvested in their native habitat and are becoming rare. Native to only a few areas in North and South Carolina, Venus fly traps grow in nitrogen depleted soils. This is why they trap insects, which provide them with the necessary nitrogen. Venus fly trap care is relatively easy and makes a great family project.
How to Care for a Venus Fly Trap
The Venus fly trap needs slightly acidic moist soils. Grow a Venus fly trap in a peat moss and sand mixture, which will provide mild acidity and help hold water without keeping soils too soggy. The plant needs at least 60 percent humidity and day time temperatures of 70 to 75 F. (22-24 C.). Nighttime temperatures should not go below 55 F. (13 C.). The Venus fly trap is sensitive to chemicals and heavy mineral contents, so a distilled or bottled water is best. Keep water off the foliage by soaking the plant for an hour in a dish of water to moisten the soil.
In order to make Venus fly trap care easier, make it a terrarium. An old aquarium makes a good housing for the plant if you cover it. This encourages humidity and moisture retention and you can allow insects to fly around inside for the plant to catch. Line the inside with TWO parts sphagnum moss and one part sand. The Venus fly trap can then be placed in an east- or west-facing window with high indirect lighting.
Venus fly trap is a rosette form with four to six leaves that are hinged and able to close. They are tinged a rosy pink on the edges and secrete an attractive nectar. The edges of the leaves have numerous fine sensitive cilia. When an insect touches the cilia the leaf closes and traps the insect. Special digestive juices disintegrate the insect and the plant feeds on the insects bodily fluid.
Caring for a venus fly trap must ensure that it is exposed to areas where it can capture insects. Learn how to care for a Venus fly trap to help this disappearing species continue.
What to Feed a Venus Fly Trap Plant
The fly trap lives up to its name by using its clasping leaves to trap insects. Its diet is not only confined to flies and it will eat creeping insects such as ants, too. When you are caring for a Venus fly trap indoors, you need to assist them by capturing insects. Use tweezers and place the insect on an open leaf pad and tickle the little hairs on the edge until it closes. Some people try to water with beef bouillon or another protein but this can cause mold to form and is not recommended.
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Guide to Venus Fly Trap: How to Grow & Care for “Dionaea Muscipula”
Are you already tired of summer flying insects and sticky traps? Oh, believe us, we know! Venus Fly Traps can be an excellent alternative to your problems. And they are so cute!
Dionaea Muscipula, commonly known as Venus Fly Trap, is a carnivorous plant in the monotypic Dionaea genus. Venus Fly Trap plants are originated in the subtropical wetlands of the East Coast of the United States, such as South and North Carolina.
Flies, arachnids, or other small insects are the main diet of Venus Fly Traps. If the insects captured by these plants are too big, the hungry trap often dies. Besides nutritional purposes, these plants consume their prey to extract more energy for photosynthesis.
5 Tips To Grow & Care For Indoor Venus Flytrap
Today, I want to talk about a special plant that I am sure you will love when you’ll know what it can do for your household. I am talking about an indoor Venus Flytrap. and yes, it is amazing just like its name because that’s what it does. It traps the flies and it eats them. No, it is not science fiction, keep reading and see 5 tips to grow and care for an indoor Venus Flytrap, you will not regret it.
First off, let me tell you the story of why I bought this plant and how it helped me in the long run. As always, every fall, a lot of fruit flies and fungus gnats show up due to my indoor orchids. After trying a lot of home remedies and natural solutions, I came across this plant and its beneficial properties. Thus, let me tell, a Venus flytrap is not only a gorgeous plant, it also takes care of these little invading pests.
I didn’t want to use any more pesticides on my plants, so this Venus flytrap was like a godsend to me. Let’s see how you should take care of this plant to get the most of it.
Tips to grow and care for an indoor Venus Flytrap:
1. The first tip is taking it easy.
As you will see, you should care for this plant slowly and easy. Let it sit on the shelf for a day and make sure you keep the lid off so it can adapt to the low humidity. After a day, you should take it out of its cube and you will see it already has mold on top of the soil. Here’s the best part, they love it like this, keep reading and see why.
2. Their natural habitat is swamps and bogs.
Thus, a Venus flytrap will grow best in a soil that has very poor nutrients. Hence, you can figure by now that this kind of soil is perfect for this plant because it creates proper conditions for eating bugs. Thus, you need to make sure to repot your Venus Flytrap in an unenriched soil.
Hence, you should be mixing a ratio of 1:1 of peat moss and perlite. You should also make sure you repot in a tall pot because this plant will have deep roots and it will require a good drainage system. Despite their natural habitat being swamps and bogs, you should not drown this plant in a wet environment because its roots will start to rot.
That’s right, you should never use tap water for a Venus Flytrap. The dissolved minerals and chlorine from the tap water might burn its roots.
4. The sun is their best friend
Your Venus flytrap loves the sun so you should make sure it gets a lot of sun for as long as they can. Thus, begin by placing it in a good location with filtered light for a couple of days. Then, gradually, you should bring it out to full sun. This gradual process is necessary because after living under fluorescent lights, a bright and full sun could cause the leaves to burn, killing the plant. So my tip for is just taking it easy and your plant will adapt immediately. Thus, give it time by placing it for an hour in a direct sun one day, then two hours the next day, and so on.
5. The feeding tip is my favorite
You should not feed it with anything else then insects. How crazy is that? Thus, try feeding a Venus flytrap with spiders, flies, ants or beetles, these are the most nutritious than any other insects. However, you should not kill the bugs before.
There is another thing you should know about your Venus flytrap. It will go dormant for around 4 months in winter so don’t be scared that it is dying. Thus, make sure you trim the black stems off so they can’t rot and allow the fungus to grow. You could also skip this period however, your plant won’t grow as strong or live as long if you don’t allow it to follow its natural cycle.
You can leave it in its pot for the winter but make sure to treat with a fungicide before you store it away on a basement, garage, or a cold room. You could also keep in the fridge, which is a great alternative if you don’t have other options.
As a conclusion, do not think for a second that growing and taking care of an indoor Venus Flytraps is impossible. If you are taking it easy, it is actually very easy to grow once you understand its basic needs. Once you met these needs, you will not only have a beautiful plant but also a great plant eating off your flying pests.
The most popular carnivorous plant, Venus flytraps grow to 5-6 inches in diameter with traps typically measuring up to 1.5 inches.
In late spring, Venus flytraps produce small white flowers that readily self-pollinate. In mid to late summer, you can collect seeds once the entire stalk turns completely black and dries up. Native to a 90-mile radius
around Wilmington, NC. USDA Zone of Native Habitat: Zone 8
The flytrap grows best outdoors as a container or potted plant. It makes an excellent addition to any sunny deck or patio. You may also grow it in a pond or fountain, but keep the crown of the plant above water. Because of its specific soil requirements, avoid planting it directly into the ground, unless you have created a specific type of bog garden.
During the growing season, grow your flytrap outside in full sun. Provide 6 or more hours of direct sunlight for vigorous growth.
If full sun is not possible, provide a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight with bright indirect light during the rest of the day. Your plant won’t be as vibrant or sturdy as one grown in full sun, but you will be able to maintain its overall health.
The flytrap tolerates the summer heat well. It originates from an area where temperatures above 90°F commonly occur in summer. However, in its native habitat, the soil temperature is moderated by a slow seepage of cool spring water.
When growing your flytrap in containers, you will need to pay attention to soil temperature. While it may not be necessary to shade your plant during the hottest parts of summer, you may need to top water your plants daily to prevent the roots from over-heating. Plants will over heat when the soil temperature approaches 110°F. Monitor soil temperature whenever the daytime temperature rises above 100°F.
Keep the pot in standing water at all times. Never allow the soil to dry out completely. The flytrap requires mineral-free water. So bottled distilled water, water passed through a reverse-osmosis unit or collected rain water are best.
If you grow your plant in a pond or fountain, keep the water level no higher than halfway up the pot. Avoid drowning the crown of the plant.
As winter approaches, your plant will slow down in growth and eventually stop growing. It’ll retain some of its leaves throughout the winter months, but the leaves will turn brown around the edges and the traps will stop working. This is perfectly normal. Flytraps require 3-4 months of winter dormancy triggered by cold temperatures (below 50°F) and shorter daylight hours. Even while dormant, your plant will still need to sit in a small amount of standing water to prevent its soil from drying out.
However, plants are very susceptible to freeze damage when grown in containers. You will need to protect your plant when the temperature falls below 20°F or whenever there is a combination of freezing temperatures and wind. Both types of winter conditions can certainly cause serious frost burn. To prevent frost burn, cover it with black plastic or a tarp, or move it into an unheated garage or shed.
As soon as the freeze is over and the temperature climbs above 35°F, uncover your plant and allow it to continue its dormancy outdoors.
When the temperature slowly creeps up and daylight hours become longer, your plants will gradually emerge from dormancy. Clip off all leaves from the previous year to make way for flower buds and new leaf growth. Look for flowers in late spring.
Although some growers like to feed their flytrap, it is not necessary. Carnivorous plants have adapted to capturing insects on their own, and insects will naturally be attracted to your plant.
If you choose to feed your plant, use recently killed insects. Do not feed your plant meat. Feeding is not at all required during the winter months when the plant is dormant. Because there is already an abundance of insects outdoors, it’s not necessary to supplement with foliar sprays.
The flytrap requires nutrient-free soil that provides good drainage and aeration. Use a standard soil mixture of 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite. Never use potting soil, compost or fertilizer. These ingredients will kill your plant.
For a robust plant, repot it every year. Change the soil, and if necessary, put your plant in a larger pot. Changing the soil restores soil acidity, improves root aeration and strengthens the health of your plants.
Repot during late winter and early spring, especially if you want really robust plants in time for summer. In general, however, you can repot your plants at any time of the year. If you choose to repot at a time other than early spring, make sure you keep the roots intact.
When changing pots, use a tall one that will easily accommodate its long root system. Flytraps tend to grow faster and larger when their roots have room to grow. Large pots will also give your plants added protection during the winter.
Because of sun requirements and winter dormancy, we do not recommend growing flytraps indoors, including terrariums. They grow best outdoors as container plants or in bog gardens.
How To Grow Venus Flytrap
by Matt Gibson
Every wanted to grow a venus flytrap? Venus flytraps are the most widely known and widely grown carnivorous plant. Flytraps and all other carnivorous plants are native to bogs and are the result of natural adaptations caused by a humid environment with poor soil conditions. Carnivorous plants couldn’t depend on the soil to provide nutrients for them to thrive, so the bog plants developed other ways of getting the food and fertilization that they require to live.
Some carnivorous plants developed pitfall traps, where the leaves formed deep pools that were coated and partially filled with digestive enzymes that encouraged insects to slip down into the liquid-filled pitchers, where the enzymes would work to break down and consume the trapped insects in the same way that your stomach breaks down a meal.
Other bog plants developed super-sticky leaves that will trap any insect that lands upon them, some made suction cup leaves, or long, inescapable chambers with entrances that close up behind the prey that crawls or flies inside.
The Venus flytrap, however, became equipped with what is known as snap traps. These hinged, sharp-toothed leaves feature tiny hairs that are triggered when prey lands inside the trap, When the hairs are touched, the doors snap shut around the prey, trapping the insect inside its airtight chamber and feeding on it while it is still alive inside. Aside from being incredibly odd, these swamp-dwelling, insect-devouring plants are surprisingly easy to grow, if given the right environment.
Growing Conditions for Venus Flytraps
Despite their otherworldly namesake, Venus flytraps do not come from Venus, but rather, from the bogs that habitat a few small humid areas in North and South Carolina. It requires a moist, even slightly soggy acidic based soil, preferably a mix of equal parts peat moss and sand. The peat moss will help with water retention and the sand will encourage drainage, so they will make the perfect pair to suit your needs.
The water that you use is also a key factor to your success when growing flytraps and other carnivorous plants. Using tap water will not work in this case, as carnivorous plants are very sensitive to minerals and other chemicals that tap water usually contains. Rainwater will work perfectly, otherwise use distilled water or reverse osmosis water to keep the unwanted nutrients out.
Instead of watering from the top like you do with most garden plants, it’s better to submerge the dish of your flytraps in standing water. This is necessary because carnivorous plants rely on their sensory tissue to be able to notice and attract living prey, which can be tough to do when covered in drops of water, as water moves and shifts as it trickles down the plant, which can confuse the tiny hairs to mistake the rain for potential prey.
The environment in which you are growing Venus flytraps needs to be very humid. If you have a humidifier setup, your growing room should be set at 60% humidity, with daytime temperature ranging between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Flytraps will not survive cold temperatures, and at nighttime, they need temperatures of at least 55 F to survive.
If you don’t happen to live in an area that is hot, humid and perfectly suited to carnivorous plants, there is still an alternative option available. This option is to create your own terrarium. Repurpose an old aquarium, or find another large glass container that can be sealed air tight and make your own mini bog-like environment.
Line the inside of your terrarium with a mixture of two parts sphagnum moss and one part sand. Encourage humidity and moisture retention and be sure to supply some living and preferably flying food once your plants are established by releasing some insects inside the container. Place your terrarium in an east-facing window with high indirect lighting and adjust moisture levels as needed, never letting the soil become completely dry.
Planting Venus Flytraps
If you are new to growing carnivorous plants, we recommend that you do not attempt to grow them from seed, but order small, already established plants online or purchase them from your local nursery (if they have an oddities section). Growing flytraps from seed is not an impossible task, but can be tedious and does require a tremendous amount of care for a very low success rate.
If you decide to try your hand at growing Venus flytraps from seed, this guide should get you pointed in the right direction. Once you get your hands on some flytraps, plant them at least three inches apart to allow a little bit of space and room to expand.
How to Care for Venus Flytraps
No fertilizers are needed for Venus flytraps, due to their sensitivity to nutrients and their ability to thrive in nutrient-poor soils. Water with distilled water, rainwater, or tap water only, and maintain a consistent environment of humidity and dampness. Instead of fertilizer, flytraps require live insects in order to get the nutrients that they need to thrive, so ensure that they are in an area where they are exposed to insects, or provide them with insects yourself by releasing insects in their terrariums.
If you cannot use living insects to feed your flytraps, you will need to trick the plant into consuming dead ones. Place the dead insect inside the traps and gently tickle the inside of the traps with a toothpick to get them to snap shut and begin breaking down your offerings.
Though somewhat difficult to start, seeds can be produced and harvested directly from the flowers of the plant. When your flytrap starts to bloom, you must make a choice. To cut or not to cut? We suggest cutting the blooms down more often than not to promote healthy plant growth and keep your flytraps strong, but the blooms can be an especially enjoyable part of growing flytraps.
The flowers that flytraps produce are quite odd and stunning, but they put too much strain on the plants themselves, as making them requires a lot of energy that could otherwise be focused on capturing and consuming insects. If you are satisfied with the amount of flytraps that you have and your plants are not yet overgrowing their containers, it is probably best to remove the bloom as soon as it starts to form. However, if you are ready to propagate and want to try your hand growing from seed, allowing the blooms to unfold is the only way to do it.
When the flowers pollinate, they create seeds. If you are harvesting the seeds, allow them four to six weeks to mature and become black and pear-shaped before harvesting. Refrigerate them inside of a paper towel in a plastic container to begin the germination process.
The easiest way to reproduce more Venus flytraps, however, is through division. Flytraps will reproduce asexually if they are not allowed to flower and pollinate. They do this by extending their roots and growing a bulb root, from which a new plant will grow.
To divide your flytraps when they reproduce, gently remove the plant from the soil, loosely and patiently brushing away the soil until the roots are fully exposed. Then, with a clean pair of garden shears, carefully separate the new plants by cutting the connecting roots and separating the new, smaller plants, from the parent plant. Now you are ready to replant.
Garden Pests and Diseases of Venus Flytraps
Venus flytraps and other carnivorous plants may eat insects, but they still have to deal with certain garden pests that they don’t consider food. Aphids, mealybugs, snails, slugs and caterpillars can sometimes impair carnivorous plants. However, sprays that are recommended for plant use won’t hurt your flytraps any more than other plants, and are probably the best solution to pest problems.
Because of the humidity level needed to grow carnivorous plants, you will also need to keep a close eye out for any signs of fungus growing in your terrariums or in your flytrap habitats.
Botrytis, a fluffy grey mold which can sometimes infect Sarracenias and Venus flytraps around the spring or autumn seasons. Try fungicide if you think you may have caught it early enough, but most likely, you will have to cut away and discard all infected plant materials to save the plants if Botrytis occurs. As a preventative measure, keep a close eye on the drainage and ensure that the humidity does not cause a buildup of stagnant water, which can lead to unwanted fungus and mold growth.
Videos About Venus Flytraps
One of the coolest things about Venus flytraps is watching them devour their prey. This nearly 30-minute long compilation shows flytraps devouring everything that dares to fly or crawl into it’s traps, including flies, snails, and mealworms:
Feeding Your Venus Flytrap
I think we can all agree that feeding a Venus flytrap is the coolest thing about owning one. What’s the best way to feed a flytrap?
What can you feed a Venus flytrap?
Stick to bugs. Don’t feed your flytrap meat, or anything other than what it would naturally catch in the wild. Anything else will cause the traps to rot before the plant can extract sufficient nutrients from the food. Make sure the bugs are 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the trap itself, so that the trap can completely seal around the insect without it poking out between the teeth or causing the trap to bulge. Anything bigger, and the trap will have a hard time sealing and may rot. Anything smaller, and the prey may escape between the teeth.
If live prey like crickets or mealworms isn’t your thing, try dead insects that you can rehydrate by soaking in water before feeding to your plant.
How do you feed a Venus flytrap?
Small trigger hairs within a flytrap need to be touched twice within a span of 20 seconds for the trap to snap closed. Once it is closed, a live insect will continue to wiggle around, touching the hairs more, causing the trap to seal and digest. If you’re feeding the plant dead insects, you’ll need to slide a toothpick between the teeth and gently rub the inside surface of the trap to stimulate the trigger hairs manually.
Can you overfeed a Venus flytrap?
If grown outdoors, your flytrap will almost certainly catch enough food to keep it happy. If you’re growing indoors, a simple rule of thumb is to feed one trap per week. It takes a lot of energy to close a trap and digest prey. Triggering too many traps with food within a short span of time will temporarily weaken the plant as it works to extract nutrients. If you overfeed, your plant may produce smaller traps until it has a chance to recover. I just try to imagine how sleepy and lazy I feel after a big meal – it’s kind-of like that.
By the way, each individual trap is good for 1-3 meals before it dies. Traps take about ten days to digest prey and stay closed the entire time.
Can I play with the flytrap?
Remember, triggering traps takes energy, and if you trigger too many without actually feeding the plant, you will weaken it, and it will start to produce smaller traps.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
- Should I do stratification? — No, not for Venus Flytrap seed. Stratification is the process of keeping seeds cold and damp for several weeks or months, and for Fall-blooming plants, stratification can simulate a winter for the seeds, which are used to germinating the following Spring. But Venus Flytraps bloom in the Spring, not the Fall, and their seeds do not need to be stratified. Instead, Venus Flytrap seeds germinate within days (usually 13-25 days) after they fall to the ground during the summer, the rate and speed of germination increasing with warm temperatures. Therefore, Venus Flytrap seeds should not be stratified, although if they are not sowed immediately they can be stored in the cool refrigerator to help them remain fresh longer and increase germination when sowed at a later date.
- How do I store seeds? — To store excess seed for later germination, place them in a small plastic bag in the refrigerator. Squeeze out the excess air from the plastic bag, to keep the seeds drying out. Keeping them cold helps prevent them from trying to germinate prematurely (warmth stimulates germination) and helps keep them fresh, and keeping them from drying out too much keeps them fresh longer and keeps their germination rate higher. If harvesting your own seed, allow the newly harvested seeds to dry in a small open container for 2-3 days before storage in the refrigerator, to keep them from developing mold (freshly harvested seeds are moister).
- When can I buy Venus flytrap seed? In the northern hemisphere, the Venus Flytrap flowering and seed-producing season is generally about April to June. By late June or early July fresh new seed should be available. If stored appropriately in a refrigerator, Venus flytrap seeds will germinate great for at least a year after harvest. Here is a link to buying Venus flytrap seeds from FlytrapStore.com: Venus flytrap seed at FlytrapStore.com
- How do I pollinate and harvest my own seeds? Unless you plan on harvesting seed, we never recommend letting the flower stalk grow on your Venus flytrap plant, as it will sap a great deal of energy, and the plant will not do very well that year. If you do decide to let the flower stalk grow and bloom, this will typically occur in the Northern Hemisphere anytime between February and May. Flowers are receptive to pollen only 1 to 1.5 days after the flower opens. Pollinate flowers that are receptive with the fresh pollen from a younger flower, preferably one that has just opened.
Seed production in Venus flytraps
To pollinate the flowers, you can use a small artist’s brush. Brush the “anthers” (the antennae radiating around the fuzzy yellow “stigma” at the center of the flower) of a young flower to acquire some pollen. Then, transfer that pollen to the stigma at the center of a slightly older flower (1-1.5 days older) by brushing it lightly onto the stigma.
You can do this a few times if you wish, as long as the stigma is receptive, which is still receptive if it is still fuzzy and the flower is open. Once the flower is pollinated, the petals will begin to die off. For more detailed information on pollinating and harvesting seed, click the following link, which will open in a new browser window (click on the photo to magnify it to full size): Venus flytrap seed production
That’s all you need to know about growing Venus flytraps from seed! Still have questions? Head on over to the FlytrapCare forum to get them answered!