How To Open a Venus Flytrap

Venus flytraps can be exciting plants and a great way to keep pests out of your living spaces. They are fun houseplants to grow and are relatively easy to maintain—but it can be disconcerting when it closes up for days at a time. Is there a way to safely open a Venus flytrap?

Once shut, you should not attempt to open a Venus flytrap. Trying to open a closed trap will only damage the plant and is almost never helpful. If a trap remains shut for longer than normal, it likely means that it is too old to continue catching prey and will fall off soon.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused about how to tell if your Venus flytrap is okay or just needs a bit more time, you’re not alone. I will be covering more information about these fascinating plants and what makes them tick in this article, so keep reading.

Why Shouldn’t I Open My Venus Flytrap?

When digesting food, Venus flytraps can be susceptible to bacteria and will also want to utilize their digestive enzymes to the fullest. They have to stay firmly closed to keep the enzymes in and the bacteria out. 

If you force the Venus flytrap to open with your fingers or any other tool, you may harm the traps. When the traps close, they should stay shut until the plant itself decides to reopen them. Prying them open carries a very high risk of damaging the trap’s biological mechanisms badly enough to disable it.

The traps are actually just very specialized leaves, and are very delicate, despite their outward appearance or their carnivorous nature! Venus flytraps also grow in pairs, so there will be multiple traps per plant, so if one isn’t open, the chances are that another one may be. 

However, even a finger, a twig, or a raindrop can cause the traps to close. If it’s a false alarm, meaning it’s not a bug, it should reopen in 24 hours or so. There are many reasons your plant won’t open up immediately, but the quickest answer is that you will just have to give it time.  

Should I Close the Flytrap Myself?

You don’t want to purposefully trigger it though! There are very fine trigger hairs in the traps, and when the hairs are triggered, that is when it closes. In order to conserve energy, the Venus flytrap will close for 24 hours, and if there is no movement, it will open up. 

If it can sense movement, such as a live insect, it will start the digestion process, which can take between 5-12 days, depending on the size of the insect. 

A Venus flytrap only has 2-5 closes in it before it dies and falls off (don’t worry, a new trap will grow back!). Depending on the time of year, the Venus flytrap may just be more dormant and may seem dead until a livelier time of year comes back.

Why Did My Venus Flytrap Close?

The flytraps themselves can be quite sensitive and might have closed because:

  • An insect landed in there, as normal
  • A raindrop lands and triggers it
  • A human or other animal brushed against it
  • Sticks, falling leaves, or other debris touched it

Chances are unless it’s an insect and it’s digesting it, it will simply open back up in 24 hours. It needs to conserve its energy for it to derive nutrients. To reiterate, in order to not damage your plant, you cannot force it open. 

For a Venus flytrap to fully close, it needs to be triggered more than once. It takes a lot of energy for the plant to fully close, so its trigger hairs need to be prodded at least a few times, which is why raindrops will more easily cause false alarms. And why a human finger prodding it would cause it to close.

Be careful not to prod it for fun since its trap will die off if it closes more than a couple of times without a meal. However, another reason it may not open up fully is because it may not be in ideal living conditions.

What to Do If Your Venus Flytrap Won’t Open

It can be tough just to leave your Venus flytrap alone. But the truth is, it just needs to be left to its own devices. 

If you’re properly maintaining it, and if it’s not digesting, it may have been falsely triggered. 

Whatever you do, definitely do not:

  • Don’t force it open with your fingers, tools, or anything else. It’s a delicate trap and can easily be damaged.
  • Don’t feed it anything you’re not supposed to feed it. Not meat, just insects that it would naturally find in the wild.
  • Don’t trigger it for fun; it will drain its energy levels, deprive it of food (it can only be triggered a few times), and produce weaker traps in the future.

Ideal Conditions for Venus Flytraps

Speaking of ideal conditions, let’s talk about what those look like. I will only discuss them briefly here to help you identify whether your flytrap’s issue may be related to poor conditions or a deficiency of something.

If your Venus flytrap isn’t receiving all of these, the traps may not open or may delay opening:

  • Lots of water, more so than the average houseplant. But no tap or spring water! Its high mineral content will cause more harm than good, so it is best to use either rainwater you catch outside or distilled water.
  • A humid environment is good. This will help keep the plant moist. Otherwise, you’ll have to really keep an eye on the soil and make sure it’s moist.
  • It naturally grows in bogs, so acidic soil is best. You can mix sand with peat moss. The peat moss will maintain the acidity!
  • No fertilizer, it can really harm the plant.
  • Lots of sunlight. Ideally, 12 hours of sunlight in a day. If your flytrap is drooping in addition to not opening, this may be the culprit.
  • It has been allowed to flower. Flowering will lead to seeds, which will lead to its energy being put to seeding rather than digesting prey. It has pretty white blooms, but blooming will shorten the plant’s lifespan.
  • Live insects are its favorite food. Do not feed your trap meat. If you’re feeding it dead insects, make sure to trigger the hairs by hand once it’s in the mouth and the bugs are between one-third to one-half its size. 
  • During low-sunlight months, it’s dormant, not dead. Don’t throw it out! Just reduce the amount you water a bit and wait until it can get more sun.

The last one is often the culprit for beginners worried about their flytraps not opening. Because it loves sunlight so much, it will become more dormant as the sunlight levels go down, usually during Autumn. It will still be alive though it may appear dead and will grow back as sun levels go up again. 

As long as you’re correctly maintaining its environment, and you’re not over or underfeeding your Venus flytrap, the best solution is to just give it time. If you’ve been worried about your Venus flytrap, we hope we’ve assuaged some of your concerns, and best of luck in maintaining your exciting plant!