Native to the swampland of North and South Carolina, the Venus fly trap isn’t your average houseplant, but this infamous insectivore can indeed thrive indoors provided we give it the TLC it needs, and a big part of that is repotting.
These living fly swatters are used to having a lot of space out in their boggy habitat to stretch out their roots and thrive, and as their adopted parents, we need to emulate this as best we can by providing incrementally larger pots.
But before you go repotting your Venus fly trap willy-nilly, there are a few things you need to know to make the transition as seamless as possible, and I’m here to guide you along the way. Read on to learn how to repot your Venus fly trap safely!
Start With The Right Potting Medium
Have you ever wondered why Venus fly traps chomp flies out of the air? Well, it’s because in their native environment, there aren’t many nutrients in the earth, so they have to source them elsewhere.
As such, one of the most common mistakes people make when potting these plants is to use overly fertile, nutrient-dense, near-neutral soil or potting mediums. It comes from a good place, I know… you just want to do right by your leafy child.
But, they simply can’t handle it. Planting a Venus fly trap in what you’d consider nice soil is kind of like the equivalent of feeding your dog a lovely beef bourguignon.
It’s just unnecessary and will make the poor pooch sick. The question then becomes, where do you get “bad soil” from?
The easiest solution is to pick up some pre-mixed carnivorous plant soil, but if you want to DIY your soil mix, you’ll need to combine perlite (for swampy moisture retention) and unenriched peat moss (for boosted acidity) in a 1:1 ratio.
Find The Right Pot
While Venus fly traps never grow all that big, as mentioned earlier, their root systems like to stretch out, which is why you should treat 4” as the absolute minimum when it comes to pot depth.
Six inches is better, especially for large specimens. But don’t just think vertically; consider horizontal space too.
While temperatures are fairly regulated indoors, it’s still a good idea to have at least a 2” soil/planting medium buffer on all sides of the rhizomes to protect the plant from extreme thermal fluctuations.
As for materials, botanists suggest using simple plastic pots with at least one hole in the base, although a glazed ceramic pot will suffice in a pinch.
Repotting A Venus Fly Trap: A Step-By-Step Guide
Right, with the basics out of the way, we can finally get down to business and move your Venus fly trap into its new home — Woo! Here’s what you’ll need to complete the transition:
- A hand trowel
- Your potting soil (either pre-mixed or mixed manually with perlite and peat moss in a 1:1 ratio)
- Your Venus fly trap’s new pot
- Rainwater or purified water from your faucet
- A cloth or tray
Step 1 — Lay Down Your Cloth Or Tray
Venus fly traps may need a peat moss-perlite mix to thrive, but you certainly don’t, so to keep your space tidy, prepare your work surface with either a cloth or tray you don’t mind getting a bit dirty.
Step 2 — Pot Preparations
You can think of this step as moving some furniture into a new home before moving in yourself. You’ve got to set the scene a little in order to make it comfy for your fly trap. To do so, fill the new pot to the rim line with your soil/medium mixture.
Step 3 — Make It Rain
Next up, you need to hydrate the potting mixture, otherwise, your green baby isn’t going to have anything to wash down the flies they plan to munch on — I jest, of course; that’s not how these plants work.
Still, your Venus fly trap will be expecting a moist environment much like the waterlogged landscapes of its native Carolinas. So, fetch some purified water or rainwater in a receptacle, and moisten the soil.
It’s best to use a watering can designed for indoor use, as they tend to have thinner spouts, allowing for more gentle and precise pouring. You don’t want to saturate the earth, but dampness throughout is essential.
Step 4 — Dig A Hole
Excavate a central hole with your thumb or finger, not too deep. You want at least 2.5” free for root expansion down below. The earth should come to exactly the point on the stem that the earth in the old pot does.
Step 5 — Free Your Venus Fly Trap
Now comes the trickiest part of the transition. To remove your Venus fly trap from its old container, it’s important that you grip the root ball rather than the traps, as triggering them will waste valuable energy they need, especially during repotting.
When you’re ready, give the root ball a gentle wiggle to shift the surrounding earth and pull the plant from the pot.
Step 6 — Expose The Roots
Ever so gently tap and crumble as much of the old potting medium from the roots of your plant as possible.
Step 7 — Repot Your Fly Trap
Position the plant in the depression you made in the potting medium of the new pot, then, with care, pat soil in around the base of the plant to secure it in its new home.
Step 8 — Water Test
Grab your can again and do another gentle watering to check that it’s draining correctly through the hole in the base of the pot, and voilà; job done!
If you’re noticing a problem with the drainage, then there’s a good chance that the potting medium ratio is off. To fix this, you’ll have to remix the potting medium and try again.
Don’t be alarmed if your Venus fly trap seems to stop growing for a week or two after the transplantation, as it’s just getting acclimated to its new environment. A trap may fall off here and there due to the shock of the move, but this is perfectly normal.
If you followed the steps above to the word, the operation will have been a success, and you’ll start to see your plant thrive again in no time!