Native to the bogs and swamplands of the Carolinas, Venus flytraps have become popular as novelty houseplants. These carnivorous plants attract flies and other small insects to their open tips and clamp shut when an insect lands. The plant digests the insect for nutrients to complement the energy it generates from photosynthesis of sunlight. Follow these tips for caring for a Venus flytrap.
Optimal Conditions for a Venus Flytrap
To flourish, Venus flytraps need about 12 hours of indirect sun or artificial light a day. The closer your plant is to the light source, the healthier it will be. Venus flytraps prefer high humidity and acidic soil. A good soil recipe for a Venus flytrap is an equal-parts mixture of peat moss and perlite. An insulated plant pot with ample vertical depth works best, as these plants develop long roots that are sensitive to temperature changes. Fertilizers and soils with additives can burn the plant roots, so avoid fertilizing Venus flytraps or putting them in potting soil.
Optimal Care for a Venus Flytrap
The plant medium for Venus flytraps should be kept moist with purified water, spring water or untreated well water. Because they get most of their nutrients directly from sunlight, feeding Venus flytraps is not required. They should do just fine with whatever insects land on them naturally. If you would like to occasionally feed your Venus flytrap, drop a live insect – such as a stunned housefly that has been swatted but is not dead – or a meal worm into the plant’s “mouth.” The plant will clamp shut as a response to the insect’s movement. When digestion is complete, the plant will open again at the top. Never feed your plant raw meat or dead insects. Raw meat has fats that the plant cannot easily break down, and, because a dead insect lacks movement, it will not trigger the plant’s clamp response to begin digestion.
Venus flytraps do have a period of winter dormancy, where they look as though they are dying or dead. When this begins to happen, move the plant to a cooler location for a few months before re-introducing it to the light again so the cycle can start over.
This post was first published in 2015 and has been updated.