Charles Darwin referred to the Venus flytrap, as “one of the most wonderful in the world,” in regard to how amazing this strange carnivorous plant is. If you have recently purchased one of these wonders of the plant world and want to ensure you are caring for it properly, you probably have a few key questions.
Should Venus Flytraps be in direct sunlight? Venus Flytraps should be given as much sunlight as possible and are considered sun-loving plants. they are green because most of the energy produced in the plant is generated through photosynthesis. Basic biology states that photosynthesis requires light to take place.
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Many Venus Flytraps live in lower nutrient soil and require photosynthesis to receive energy. What energy is not absorbed through light can be absorbed through their roots and the insects that they trap. However, even with fewer insects or even very nutrient-poor soil, the flytrap can continue to grow and thrive with proper levels of sunlight.
How Much Sunlight Do Venus Flytraps Need?
The amount of direct sunlight that is needed for a Venus flytrap to survive varies depending on your location and your home’s ability. If you are able, you should give your plant as much direct sunlight as possible by placing it in a bright sunny windowsill. Having an insufficient amount of sunlight can cause your plant’s leaves to become weak and inside of the trap can get a red coloration.
If you want your Venus flytrap to thrive, about twelve hours of direct, bright sunlight is key. However, they can survive easily in partial shade with a minimum of four hours of sunlight, but you may have to take special care to provide them with other nutrients.
During summer months, take special care not to burn the leaves with too much sunlight. To protect the Venus flytrap from getting burned, while still providing adequate sunlight, place mesh fabric or cheesecloth over the plant during the hottest parts of the day, allowing the sun to shine through without harming the leaves.
Another option during very hot days is to put them under taller plants or indoor trees. This allows the Venus flytrap to take advantage of a little shade, while still benefitting from the sun. Overall, you should provide as much direct sunlight as possible only adding extra protection on very hot days.
What if It’s Not Possible to Give a Venus Flytrap Direct Sunlight?
While many have at least one window that provides sunlight during the day, you may not have a window that provides ideal sunlight for long periods of time. If you don’t have a sunny space that provides enough direct light, Venus flytraps can benefit from artificial lighting.
If you do need to use artificial light:
- Use either a high-powered fluorescent light, such as a T5, or LED lights
- Keep the lights close to the plants, between a couple of inches to half a foot away.
- Provide the plants with around twelve hours a day.
- Remember to turn the lights off so that you do not overdo it or cause any damage.
Account for Winter Dormancy with Your Plants
Something unique about Venus flytraps that many do not know when they purchase the plants is that they should have a winter dormancy period. This is something that happens naturally in the habitats where the plants are usually grown and harvested. In order to have proper growth, you will want to recreate the experience of this dormant period that the plant would naturally undergo.
The winter dormancy period for Venus Flytraps is like their idea of sleep and helps them rest during the cooler months. If you have your plant on the windowsill, you will want to move it somewhere colder during this period. You should consider moving the plant to the garage, a shed or outbuilding, or simply a cooler darker location.
As for this dormancy period itself, it usually lasts between three and five months. They will bloom in the spring, grow through summer and fall, then rest during the winter months. Though it may look like they have died in the winter, they are actually conserving energy and will spring back to life once the dormant period is over.
How to Care for Your Plant During Winter Dormancy
You have two main choices when it comes to your Venus Flytrap during this dormant period, either continue to care for it or let it die. If you are like most plant owners, you have probably come pretty attached to the plant and want to keep it alive for as long as possible. This means that you should follow a few key steps to guarantee that your plant is ready for growth after this period.
- You will know that winter dormancy is starting when the weather begins to change naturally at your location. Your plant’s leaves will start to turn black, and you should trim them away. the plant will begin to die back to the rhizome.
- Though the plant will still need sunlight and water to survive and perform photosynthesis, it does require much less. The best location to move them is outdoors, but this should only be done if freezing or frosting is not an issue. Otherwise, move them to a cool location that does not allow them to freeze with an ideal temperature of 32 degrees to 55 degrees F.
- One option during this time is to place them in a plastic bag inside your freezer during the winter. You will want to remove any dead leaves and mist them with a fungicide to prevent mold. They should still be checked regularly and watered if needed.
- You will still want to provide some sunlight, but far less than before to help your plant identify that it is the dormant months. During this time, you will want to provide less than twelve-hour of sunlight, and indirect sunlight is ok.
- You can also provide less water during these months, but you do need to water them regularly to keep them alive. You can monitor the moisture levels for the first week or so to identify the pattern of how often to water. Usually, plants use much less water during these few months.
- When it is time for your plant to come out of dormancy, you do not want to shock it with a sudden increase in sunlight and water. Instead, work your way out of dormancy by slowly increasing these needs as it would happen naturally. This is also a good time to repot your plants if needed.
Ensuring Proper Venus Flytrap Growth
While the amount of sunlight provided for your plant is extremely critical, there are several other factors that go into providing your Venus flytrap an ideal environment. Following a few key steps, in addition to quality sunlight, can guarantee that your plant lives a long and happy life. Some things to keep in mind when it comes to growing your plant are:
1 – Plant Them in a Pot with Good Drainage
Along with a lot of sunlight, a flytrap also needs a lot of moisture, but too much water in their soil can lead to mildew growth or root rot. You want to ensure that any pot you use has proper drainage holes to keep the water level under control. Also, you wan to pay attention to how often you water the plant and how much you water it.
When choosing which pot to use, you will want to opt for a plastic option and not a clay or cement one. Of course, over time, your plant can outgrow the pot and should be moved to a larger option that works better for its size. A great time to repot your plant, as mentioned, is when they are in their dormant period or before this period ends.
Another planting option for Venus Flytraps is to place them in a terrarium. While this never a necessity, they can benefit from the added humidity of a closed environment. However, often in this style of planting, artificial light is required while this works, natural light is always an easier choice.
2 – Choose the Right Type of Soil
Venus flytraps are used to growing in acidic, undernourished, and sandy soil which is what they actually thrive in. You should never use regular potting soil, compost, or enriched soil when planting these plants. They get their nutrients naturally and do not need added fertilizer as they can overload the plant with nutrients.
You should use a combination of horticulture sand, not beach sand, and sphagnum or peat moss to plant the Venus flytrap. Sphagnum will at times hold too much water but does work for these plants, but peat moss is often the best choice. This combination of sand and moss allows your plant to get the perfect amount of water and is similar to how they naturally grow.
To provide additional drainage to your plant, you may want to add gravel or additional sand to the pot.
3 – Watering Your Venus Flytrap
As mentioned, the amount of water you give your plant is just as important as the amount of sunlight. The soil should be damp at all times, but you should only water it about once every few days for smaller pots or every day for large pots. You should check the water levels in the pot as lower peat moss can be moist while the top layer is dry.
For proper growth, you will want to use distilled water or rainwater. Some tap or filtered waters use too many alkaline minerals which can harm a plant that needs an acidic environment.
When you use a pot that has holes in the bottom, you can fill a saucer or tray up with water, and it will lower the number of times you must water the plant each week. The peat moss in the pot will draw in this water to your plant.
4 – Feeding Your Venus Flytrap
Outdoor plants will catch their own prey, as this is the main attraction to the plants. Indoor plants can catch their fair share of flies, gnats, or other unwanted pests. However, they can begin to look unhealthy as they do not catch as many insects as they would naturally.
If you do want to supplement the feeding of your plant, you will want to give them small insects. If you have multiple plants, always keep track of those that have been fed recently. It is best to feed them live insects, as these trigger the natural digestive process. Do not overfeed the plants, as this can shorten their lifetime.
Some commonly fed live and dead insects are:
Of course, you may not want to touch these bugs, which is why most use tweezers to feed the bugs to the plant. You should only feed the plant smaller insects, which is around 1/3 the size of the trap itself. Too small and it may not close properly, too large and it cannot close fully, both can lead to unwanted issues.
5 – Prune Dead Leaves for Proper Growth
If you see sick, dying, or dead leaves on your Venus Flytrap, you will want to remove them. These leaves are susceptible to fungal growth, and this can invade and kill the plant. You will want to remove any dying leaves as soon as possible.
To identify these leaves, you will see that they are wilted, dry, and are changing to a darker brown or black color. You will want to prune the plant as soon as possible, but this is not always as simple as that sounds. If you notice a growth in mold, you will want to remove this and spray the plant with a fungicide.
6 – Allowing Your Plant to Flower
Venus Flytraps will naturally flower over time, which is how they reproduce in the wild. However, this is a very energy-sucking experience and is not entirely necessary when it comes to your potted plant at home. You will have to take special care when having a flowering plant, but the process itself can greatly weaken it or even cause death.
The flower will grow from the middle of the plant. You will see a rod-shaped stalk growing which will later flower. You can avoid this process by cutting the growth in the middle of the plant once you notice it.
7 – Account for Plant Growth
As mentioned, you will need to repot the plant as it grows to ensure that it has room to spread out and is not overcrowded in the pot. You can give them more room by gradually transferring them to a larger pot and an even larger pot later on. You do not want the roots to get overcrowded, which can also cause the sand and moss to compact.
Things to Avoid When Growing Your Venus Flytrap
While watching a Venus flytrap close on an unknowing pest can be a great experience and something many love, it is something you should let happen naturally. While you can supplement nutrition by offering bugs to your plants, you should never overfeed. You should also never trick your plant into closing on something besides a bug, like your finger, a stick, etc.
Though your flytrap cannot harm you, if outside objects brush against the trigger hairs on the plant, the trapwill close. While this can’t hurt you; it is a waste of energy for the plant. Though the plant will open up again in about a day, this process is very laborious for the plant and gives no payoff when a bug is not trapped.
The biggest factor that comes into this is that flytraps can actually only close and open a small number of times within their lifetime. Though you may be curious about the process, you can actually kill your plant more quickly by triggering this process more often.
If you do notice that your plant does not close when triggered, it may have recently digested a bug, or it could be running low on energy and nearing its death.
Where to Purchase Your Venus Flytrap
Of course, now that you know more about the level of direct sunlight that your plant needs and how to care for a flytrap, you may want to add more to your collection. The best place to purchase a high-quality Venus flytrap is to visit a local nursery near you. Most nurseries and garden stores will have them in stock during their growing season.
You will most commonly find Venus flytraps during mid-spring to mid-autumn when they are in season. Many larger retailers also sell these plants in their garden section. However, these may not be the best places to purchase from because they can be toyed with by shoppers who may not know that touching these plants can lower their lifespan.
Often, purchasing from a local nursery or expert in the plant world can ensure you are getting a higher quality plant. Of course, you want to take the plant home and begin using the steps listed above to give it a long, healthy life!