How To Grow A Venus Fly Trap

The Venus fly trap is perhaps the most well know carnivorous plant species. It’s an interesting conversation plant and an amazing predator to watch.  These plants produce a sweet nectar that lures their prey into the jaws of their traps. The traps are lined with a series of fine hairs that when touched, trigger the jaws to close.

After the prey has been trapped, the Venus fly trap will secrete an enzyme that literally dissolves the insect into an easily digestible meal. It will take several days for the plant to complete the digestive process. But, as soon as it does, the traps will open once again and wait for it’s next meal to come along.

Venus Fly Trap

Venus Fly Trap

Given the proper care, Venus fly traps are fairly easy to grow. They need a very bright light, but can’t survive in hot, direct sunlight. Because they need a warm temperature, high humidity and constant moisture, they are an excellent choice for terrariums. The potting medium should consist of 30 percent coarse pumice or perlite and 70 percent sphagnum moss or peat moss.

Venus Fly Trap and Mealworm

Venus Fly Trap and MealwormVenus Fly Trap

Venus fly traps are very sensitive to any type of chemicals. For this reason, it’s crucial that you only use rain water, spring water or distilled water. If you absolutely have to use water from the tap, make sure you let it set in an open container for 24 to 48 hours so any chemicals and chlorine can dissipate.

These hungry predators do not need any fertilizer. They get all the nutrients they need from the insects they consume. They do have a “feeding season” that runs from May until October. During these months, the soil needs to be damp at all times. And, the plant should be kept in temperatures that range from 70 to 95 degrees.

During the winter months, Venus fly traps need a dormant period of approximately 3 months. During this period, most or all of the leaves will die. While dormant, you can move the plant to a cooler area where the temperatures will be from 45 to 50 degrees. You can also remove the plant bulb, clean it with fungicide and wrap it in live, damp sphagnum moss. Place the bulb in a plastic bag and keep it in a cool area.

If the plant is grown in a pot instead of a terrarium, you should place the pot in a container with about an inch of water. You can elevate the pot by setting it on a bed of gravel so that the bottom of the pot barely touches the water. You want the soil to stay moist, but you don’t want it to be soggy.

When Venus fly traps are grown in a terrarium, you will need to feed it. One plant will consume about 2 or 3 flies per month. You can feed the plant dead insects as long as they’ve not come in contact with any poisons. Small crickets make an ideal food source and you can usually purchase them at a local pet shop.

While some people recommend that you feed the plant meats such as hamburger, it’s not a good idea. Hamburger and other meats are high in fat content which is fatal to a Venus fly trap. It might be entertaining to spring the trap with your finger, but it drains a lot of energy from the plant. If you do that too often, the fine hairs inside the trap will lose much of their sensitivity and the plant could starve to death.

Written by Connie Corder, Copyright 2010

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