The most popular carnivorous plant, the Venus flytrap, is a true marvel to look at. While beautiful, that beauty hides a terrible secret, if you’re a bug that is. While sometimes labeled as difficult to grow, the Venus flytrap can be a breeze to grow with the proper knowledge. Today, we’ll look at all you to grow a Venus flytrap of your very own.
Venus Flytrap Overview
- Grows only in the bogs of the Carolinas. Try to mimic this environment for best results.
- Venus Flytraps grow best in poor, slightly acidic soil. Either make your own mix, or purchase a specific blend for carnivorous plants.
- Like lots of bright lights but cooler temperatures. Above 90°F can be too warm and burn out the plant.
- Keep the soil moist by watering frequently. Avoid using tap water due to mineral content.
- Great plant for growing in terrarium or other enclosed, high-humidity space.
The Bogs Of Carolina
Before we begin, it’s important to keep in mind the natural environment of the Venus flytrap. The plant is only native to the coastal bogs of the Carolina’s here in the United States. This is important to know, and you’ll see below much of the care for the plant goes into replicating this environment. Keep this in mind when growing your plant, and look to provide an environment that mimics it as closely as possible.
This idea is not unique to the flytrap, and you’ll see this time and time again across a wide variety of plants. Trying to provide the same natural environment that these plants grow in is crucial to success, even more so for highly localized ones like the flytrap.
Preparing your Soil
The first thing to do is to prepare your soil. Venus fly traps are a bit odd in that they actually like poor, acidic soil. Generally, you want to avoid potting soil mixes sold at the store.
One option is to create your own growing medium that consists of sphagnum peat moss and perlite in a ratio of 2:1. It’s easiest just to buy suitable peat-based mixes as these will give you the correct ratio. There are also a number of peat-less mixtures available, and many gardeners are moving to this. This has less of an environmental impact so is good for those looking to reduce their footprint.
There are also pre-made soil mixes available perfect for Venus flytraps. The key is that a Venus flytrap’s soil needs is slightly different than most houseplants and you’ll need to plan accordingly.
In general, almost any type of container can be used to grow a Venus fly trap. The only thing to keep in mind is to make sure it has proper drainage holes, but this is the same for nearly every plant.
Our usually recommendation of using clay pots is still applicable here. They are cheap, readily available, and work great for flytraps. You can also use a wide variety of other containers assuming they meet the drainage requirement.
In terms of size, go with a container of about 6” in diameter. These plants don’t grow too large, and do perfectly well in smaller containers.
Venus Fly Trap Lighting
A Venus flytrap needs lots of bright sunlight for proper growth. This usually means giving them the sunniest window in your home or an equally bright spot outside. One word of caution, if temperatures are above 90°F outside the sunlight may be a bit too intense for the plant and potentially fry the leaves. In these high temperatures look to give the plant lots of indirect light.
The two major signs of too little light are droopy leaves and inside of the plant loosing its characteristic red color. If you notice these problems try giving your plant more light.
You can also take advantage of grow lights to supplement natural light. Place the plant about 8-10” away from your lights, and make sure they run for at least 8 hours a day.
Watering Your Venus Flytrap
Venus flytraps grow best in swampy areas, and therefore do enjoy damp soil. That’s not soaked, but the soil should always have a bit of moisture in it. Water every few days to keep the soil in this range.
One important note when watering is to use distilled or rainwater. You don’t usually want to use water directly from the tap as the build up of minerals from this water can kill your plant. It’s okay on occasion, but don’t make it a habit and look to repot each year to prevent mineral buildup.
Feeding Your Venus Flytrap
For feeding both live and dead insects can be used. If using dead insects keep in mind that the hairs on the plant need to be triggered after it has closed. You’ll need to do this manually for dead bugs, but alive ones will naturally do this. You also only want to feed once all the plant’s other needs are taken care of otherwise it won’t be able to properly digest its food.
Ideally, you’ll be feeding your plant about once every week. Each feeding should consist of about 2-3 small bugs such as flies. Your plant can go up to 1-2 months without a feeding, but this isn’t advised and your plant will grow more slowly during this time.
This really only applies to plants grown inside, if the plant lives outside it will generally catch enough on its own.
Humidity and Temperature
As the Venus fly trap is native to swampy areas it generally likes it a bit more humid than most plants. While not necessary, many growers choose to place them in terrariums to encourage high humidity levels.
Outside of that, many standard humidity raising techniques work to keep the plant happy. We have an article that details humidity raising techniques here.
In terms of temperature, you want to keep your plant above freezing and never expose it to frost. You can grow it outside in the summer, but should bring it indoors in fall if you experience cooler temperatures. It naturally grows in outdoors zones 8-10, but anything outside of this will likely need shelter in the cooler months.
Venus flytraps naturally grow in an area the experience cooler winters and therefore grow best when given this cycle. They don’t want it freezing cold, but around the low 40-50’s is a good temperature for the winter. This can be achieved by leaving them outdoors (depending on where your live), or in a garage.
You can also simply move them away from their normal growing window and stick them in a cooler room. Your plant will not need as much sun or water during this time. During this time you should also stop feeding your plant picking up again in the spring.
During this time parts the plant will die and turn black. This is normal, and it’s okay to trim off these dead parts. When spring comes, move the plant back to its normal growing location.
Growing Venus Flytraps Indoors
Hopefully you’ve been inspired by this exotic plant. It’s deceptively easy to grow, so go forward with confidence!
For those looking for an easy option you can get a fully grown one here on Amazon. These pre-grown plants come in a nice container, and give you all the beauty of owning one of these plants without the work to grow one from a seed. You can follow the above care tips regardless of which route you go with.
1. My Venus Flytrap Is Turning Black, is This Bad?
In the winter the plant will naturally stop growing and begin to die. This is normal, and the plant will spring back up come the growing season. If it’s doing so outside of this time though, that may mean some aspect of your care is lacking.
2. What Should I do If I See Flowers On My Venus Flytrap?
Generally, you can look to cut off the flower stalks once they reach a few inches. Flowering takes a lot of energy from the plant, and stopping it will help fuel faster growth. That said, you can just ignore them and should do so if you’re looking to harvest seeds. It’s a perfectly natural part of the plant’s growth cycle.
3. What Can I Feed a Venus Flytrap ?
You should only feed your plant living or freshly dead bugs. Anything else can harm it. If in doubt, visit a local nursery to ask for advice. Generally, most meals consist of a few small flies or similarly sized bugs. If you have a fully enclosed terrarium, you can release the flies directly into it and they’ll be attracted to the plant.