Venus flytraps have a bit of a bad reputation thanks to the drama that is Hollywood, but they are actually interesting plants to have. These days, the internet has made it easy for anyone to buy their very own, but they do require a good amount of care. So, how do you care for a Venus flytrap?
Here’s a quick summary of how to care for your Venus Flytrap:
- They need distilled water or rainwater, daily
- They need 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight, daily
- Avoid fertilizers, potting soils, and composts
- Feed them 1 to 2 flies a month, if inside
- Take special care during the dormancy period
While it does not take much elbow grease to grow or care for a Venus flytrap, there are many factors to consider and very important information to know in order to care for it properly. Keep reading to learn all about taking care of Venus flytraps.
Venus Flytrap Care: A Complete Guide
The Venus flytrap, also known as Dionaea muscipula, is a carnivorous plant that eats flies and other insects.
It may seem like some strange, exotic plant that could outgrow you one day and try to eat you, but that’s thankfully the stuff of fiction. Venus flytraps are actually native to small Eastern parts of North and South Carolina that are very boggy areas because they are on the Eastern coast.
It is vital information to know because the best way to keep a plant alive and healthy is to mimic its homeland environment or natural habitat. With perfect conditions and proper care, a Venus flytrap can live up to 20 years!
So, for the beginning part of this article, we are going to explain exactly how to do that and how to take care of your Venus flytrap correctly so that you can keep it alive and healthy for years to come.
Water for a Venus Flytrap
The first thing we are going to discuss when it comes to caring for your Venus flytrap is water. You will learn how much to water it and what kind of water it requires to keep it alive.
This is a very important part of the care for Venus flytraps since they grow in boggy areas. Bogs are freshwater wetlands, so it is pretty clear to see already that the water requirements are going to be an essential part of the care for your Venus flytrap.
It is vital that the area where you are growing your Venus flytrap, also known as a growing medium, stays wet constantly.
You will want to place the pot that holds the Venus flytrap into a plate or any shallow dish filled with water for a few hours every couple of days.
It is not recommended to keep the Venus flytrap in water, even in small amounts, because this can increase the chances of rotting.
You should also use water to keep the plant cool, especially if you are growing it outside. You want to avoid allowing the plant to become too hot. If you live in a very hot climate, then you should pour cool water into the saucer every day.
It is also essential to know that only rainwater or distilled water can be used when watering your Venus flytrap. They grow in freshwater wetlands, so any chemicals like salt, chlorine and dissolved minerals will hurt the Venus flytrap.
If you are growing your plant indoors, then watering it for a few hours every couple of days will do perfectly. The only important thing is not to overwater them.
Light Requirements for Venus Flytraps
The next important thing to know when caring for a Venus flytrap is how much light it will require to thrive. If you think about where they come from, you can guess that they will need plenty of light.
While it is not a requirement to grow Venus flytraps outdoors, it has been said that this is the best place because they will get lots of natural and direct sunlight. With that being said, though, there are ways to keep your Venus flytrap healthy indoors, which we will dig into soon.
But first, how much sunlight do Venus flytraps need?
- If you are growing your Venus flytrap outdoors, it should be placed in an area where it will get 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight and 2-4 hours of indirect sunlight every day.
- If you are growing your Venus flytrap indoors, then it will need to be placed by a window where it will get about the same amount of sunlight. Most people say a South-facing window will likely be the best place to do this.
If you are growing your Venus flytrap indoors and do not have a window that can provide enough sunlight for your plant, then using a light will also be okay, but there are some important things to remember when doing this.
Here are the things to take into consideration when you are using artificial light indoors to grow your Venus flytrap:
- Use lights that give off light in a blue wavelength, such as cool white fluorescents or LED’s.
- Keep the Venus flytrap under the light for 10 to 12 hours every day, but only during its growing season. (You will find out why in the dormancy section of this article.)
- Make sure to keep Venus flytrap at least 6 inches away from the light and up to 8 inches.
It has been noted that Venus flytraps do not do as well indoors with a light as they would outdoors, but it can be possible to keep it alive and healthy if you are willing to follow all of the care instructions carefully.
Avoid Fertilizers, Potting Soil, and Composts
Another essential thing to know when caring for a Venus flytrap is the growing medium it requires to live. You will have to mimic the freshwater wetlands where they come from in order to keep them growing for a long time.
The first instinct any person would have is to find compost or fertilizer that will give the plant all of the nutrients it needs to grow into a healthy plant, but this is not what you should do when caring for a Venus flytrap.
The bogs where they grow consist of decaying plant material known as peat, are very oxygen and nutrient-poor, and are extremely acidic areas. This is why Venus flytraps rely on eating insects to obtain their necessary nutrients.
For this reason, composts, potting soils, and fertilizers would harm the Venus flytrap rather than help it. Fortunately, there is not much that is required for the growing medium; I listed only a couple of different materials below.
So, what type of soil should you plant your Venus flytrap in? Here are some options:
- 1 part sand and 2 parts sphagnum peat moss
- 2 parts peat moss and 1 part perlite
- High-quality sphagnum
You can buy all of these products on Amazon, but it is critical that you use high-quality, long-fiber sphagnum moss, which takes a bit of effort to find. Luckily, I have found it on Amazon to help make things easier for you.
Here are the links to these products:
- Josh’s Frogs Chilean Sphagnum Moss
- Coarse Silica Sand for Carnivorous Plants
- Hoffman Canadian Peat Moss
- Organic Coarse Perlite
Having the perfect soil for your Venus flytrap will ensure that it survives as long as possible, and if you think about it, it will help make your plant feel right at home!
Feeding Guidelines for Venus Flytraps
Another important thing to know about when caring for a Venus flytrap is how and when to feed it. This should not be a concern if you are growing your plant outside as it should be able to get all of the food it needs on its own.
A Venus flytrap has sweet nectar that attracts insects to its trap; then, once the insects start moving around in the trap, it will begin to close the insect completely inside of it. If it is outdoors, then it is doing all of the work to get food by itself.
With that being said, when Venus flytraps are grown indoors, they have to be fed by their owners. So, how do you feed a Venus flytrap?
First, you will have to catch some small bugs. You could catch flies, spiders, ants, or really any bug that could fit in the plant’s trap. Once you catch a bug, you will have to put it into the trap. You could use tweezers to do this.
Once the Venus flytrap closes its trap because of the movement from the bug, digestive enzymes will begin to absorb nutrients from the bug.
It is quite an exciting process to witness, but there are a few guidelines that Venus flytrap owners should be aware of before feeding their plant.
Here are some things to avoid when feeding Venus flytraps:
- Only feed the Venus flytrap 1 to 2 bugs a month.
- Do not feed during the dormancy period.
- Do not feed the plant anything other than small bugs that can fit inside the trap.
As you can see, feeding a Venus flytrap is not time-consuming or a big part of caring for one, but knowing these important guidelines will help you keep the plant healthy.
The Venus Flytrap Dormancy Period
The Venus flytrap dormancy period is one of the most critical parts in caring for a Venus flytrap. This is basically like a hibernation period for Venus flytraps, and the process of shifting into this state happens when the fall season arrives so that it can be fully dormant during the winter.
During a dormancy period, Venus flytraps stop growing, stop eating, and their leaves start turning black and dying off. It usually lasts about 3 months but can last up to 5 months. This process is essential in a Venus flytrap’s life, even if it is grown indoors.
It is crucial to know about this part of a Venus flytrap’s life because most owners assume that, during this period, their Venus flytrap has died. At this point, the owner will dispose of it, not knowing that it is actually doing well.
Here are the things you should do to keep your plant healthy during the dormancy period:
- Place the plant in a protected and cool location, even if you are growing it outside and the weather has started to cool off. This area could be a garage, shed, basement, or anything similar that is not heated. Venus flytraps that are grown in pots do not do as well in the cold as they would being in the ground in their natural habitats.
- It will still need some light but not very much, so be sure to place it next to a window.
- Do not trim the leaves when they turn black.
- Do not try to feed the Venus flytrap.
- Make sure to keep the growing medium only damp at all times but never very wet or dry.
Once there starts to be more daylight during the day and the temperatures rise, you can go back to the regular care of your Venus flytrap. At this point, you can trim any black leaves off of the plant because it will begin to grow new ones.
Should Venus Flytraps Be Kept Indoors or Outdoors?
Now that I have given you about everything you need to know about care for a Venus flytrap, it is time to decide whether you are growing it outside or inside.
If you have the proper climate, I recommend growing Venus flytraps outdoors because they will grow better there. Outside, they will be able to get the natural amount of sunlight that they need and be able to catch their own food, which cuts down on the amount of work required from you.
The outdoors will also naturally regulate the humidity in the growing medium, which is another essential part of helping it to stay healthy. The more humidity that is in the soil, the less likely it is to dry out, which can quickly kill a Venus flytrap.
With that being said, plenty of people have grown Venus flytraps indoors and had success with it. You will just need to be sure that it has adequate lighting and that you are feeding it the right food and the right amount of food.
When it comes to dealing with the humidity in the plant’s soil, growing the Venus flytrap in a terrarium with an open top will help to keep it humid enough to make sure it stays healthy.
I would not recommend having a completely enclosed terrarium because that will cause too much humidity, which can cause rot and mold in the Venus flytrap.
So, while it is recommended to grow Venus flytraps outdoors, the decision is completely up to you. As long as you follow all of the care instructions, your plant should do perfectly well.
What Temperatures Are Best for Venus Flytraps?
The temperatures that are best for Venus flytraps are not very important to know unless, of course, you live in a very cold area.
Since Venus flytraps come from the east coast, they have evolved to be prepared for very hot weather and very cold weather. With that being said, a suitable temperature to keep the terrarium if you are growing it indoors is 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
But what about the dormancy period? Are there special temperature requirements for a Venus flytrap, then? A good range of temperatures to keep a Venus flytrap during the dormancy period is up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) and no lower than 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 degrees Celsius).
If you live in an area that rarely ever gets down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter, then there are some things that you can that will encourage your plant to go into the dormancy period.
It is important to encourage your Venus flytrap to do this because this is a resting period for the plant. During this time, it will be conserving energy to grow well during its growing season.
I know that some people have skipped the dormancy period, but their Venus flytraps do not live as long as they would have if they had been allowed to go into their dormancy.
So, to encourage dormancy for your Venus flytrap, the only thing you can really do is place it in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal spot, but the dormancy period is so important for your plant to live for many years.
You should only do this if you have no cold room anywhere in your home that you can place the plant because the temperature never changes in a refrigerator, and the sunlight cannot possibly get in there.
Here is how to refrigerate your Venus flytrap for its dormancy period:
- Gently remove the growing medium from the plant after you pull it out of its pot.
- Trim any dead leaves off.
- Spray fungicide on the entire plant.
- Wrap the plant in paper towels that are only slightly damp.
- Place the plant in a Ziploc bag with all of the air squeezed out of it.
- Place the bags inside one of the bottom drawers of your refrigerator.
- Check the bags occasionally for any mold.
By following these steps, you should be able to keep your plant healthy and relaxed during dormancy and ready to thrive during its growing season.
Should I Let My Venus Flytrap Flower?
For those that did not know, Venus flytraps grow white flowers, green veins, and tall stalks. This flower is a wonderful addition to an already gorgeous plant, but most people discourage letting their Venus flytraps flower. So, why is that?
It may seem a little cruel to snip off a beautiful flower when you see it start to grow, but it is actually better for the Venus flytrap. This usually happens shortly after coming out of dormancy and once the plant has reached 2 years of age.
The reason is that it takes almost all of a Venus flytrap’s energy to grow flowers. Once a flower has been produced, the Venus flytrap will seem almost tired for the next whole year until it comes out of dormancy again.
Sometimes, people notice that their plant never gains back all of its energy after producing a flower.
For this reason, you should not let your Venus flytrap flower unless you are prepared to deal with slow growth for a while. Likely, it will not survive as long as it could if you do allow this to happen.
And yes, they obviously flower in their natural habitats and live long lives without anyone trimming the flower stalks, but that is because they are in perfect conditions that they have evolved to. It would be complicated to copy that type of environment fully. So, if you want to do what is best for your beloved Venus flytrap, then go ahead and trim the stalk as soon as you see it starting to come up.
How to Trim a Venus Flytrap
While it may be necessary for the sake of the Venus flytrap’s health to trim a flower stalk off of it, it is not necessary to trim it for any other reason. If you did, you could be improving the plant’s health and looks, but it will not help it to live any longer.
If you decide to trim your Venus flytrap, it is essential to wait until the leaves have completely dried out. Avoid cutting them as soon as they turn black because they could benefit the plant by helping with photosynthesis.
Here is how to trim a Venus flytrap:
- Be sure to use scissors or some other kind of cutting instrument as you will want to avoid pulling and tearing the leaves off.
- Cut the dried-out leaves as close to the bulb as possible without cutting the bulb.
- Be careful not to touch the plant trap because it can only open so many times before the whole plant completely dies.
- Only trim the plant every couple of months. Avoid doing it often.
The same rules apply when trimming the flower stalk off of a Venus flytrap. Always avoid cutting the bulb and triggering the hairs inside the trap.
After reading this guide, it is obvious to see that Venus flytraps are some of the easiest plants to care for and the most interesting!
How Big Do Venus Flytraps Get?
Like we have said before, movies have given Venus flytraps a scary reputation. Their hunger for meat and insane size have been completely overexaggerated in the world of Hollywood. So, how big do Venus flytraps truly get?
When a Venus flytrap is fully grown—which is when they hit 2 years of age—it will usually be about 5 inches in diameter with leaves that are 1 to 3 inches long. The trap will never grow over 2 inches long.
They stay pretty small for the entirety of their lives, which is the reason why they only eat small bugs.
So, as you can see, you obviously will not have to worry about losing a finger to your cool, little Venus flytrap!
Other Carnivorous Plants You Can Keep
If just having a single Venus flytrap doesn’t scratch your itch for having carnivorous plants around, then you’re in luck!
The Venus flytrap is closely related to two other types of plant that are also carnivorous:
- The “Waterwheel plant” is a completely submerged type of carnivorous plant that uses a similar mechanism to trap minor water bugs. If you want to add a beautiful aquatic terrarium to your home, consider looking into sprouting this one.
- There is a wide variety of Sundew plants that are also carnivorous. At least one species is native to every single continent except Antarctica. They can be difficult to keep, but they are absolutely gorgeous ornamental plants (with a “bite!”).
However, of the three of them, the Venus flytrap is the easiest to care for and is where a beginner to carnivorous plants should start.
In conclusion, a Venus flytrap is one of the most exciting plants—in some people’s opinions—that a person can own. Caring for them does not take much work, but it definitely takes a little bit of thought.
Here is how to care for a Venus flytrap:
- Water daily with rainwater or distilled water.
- Give it plenty of light.
- Use peat moss or perlite rather than soil.
- Feed it flies only if it is growing inside.
- Research and learn all about the dormancy period.
After doing some research, it is clear to see that Venus flytraps have a few special requirements when it comes to caring for them, but with some time and effort, it can be an easy and interesting experience for anyone.