Venus flytraps are a fascinating species. Originating in North and South Carolina, this carnivorous plant is one of nature’s greatest marvels. The Venus flytrap can grow up to 5 inches in diameter and thrives in moist and acidic soil. Each plant ordinarily has around six stems with pivoted leaves.
The edges of the leaves are fixed with “teeth,” and the leaves fit together like a clamshell. They form a trap when the leaves snap shut, snaring their prey, primarily insects.
The popularity of this particular plant in the United States and Europe is relatively high. No wonder more and more people are opting to keep a venus flytrap terrarium. If you have been considering getting a venus flytrap and are unsure where to start, we hope you will be more informed and ready to make that decision by the end of this article. In this read, you will learn more about venus flytrap varieties, where to buy, how to set up and take care of your terrarium. So let’s get right into it.
Step by step guide to setting up your terrarium
The terrarium will determine the container you choose you would like to build and the size. You can go for large bowls, glass containers, or fish tanks. The glass jars should have a stable base and glass lids. Avoid plastic containers and metal lids as they tend to cause overheating.
The best terrarium is an open terrarium as fly traps require a lot of sunlight and good airflow. You can gather all your supplies, which may include: Sphagnum moss, perlite, activated carbon, soil, pebbles, distilled water, and your chosen fly trap plant.
Also, you need a sieve, tablespoon, and paper towels. You can easily set up your terrarium by following these three steps:
Step 1: Soil / Moss Mix
Venus flytraps require good soil to survive; however, they rarely grow in areas with good soil. Excessively nutritious soil can cause your plants to develop issues as they mostly absorb nutrients from insects. Since flytraps thrive in poor soil formation, you will need to come up with as close as possible to their natural habitats.
There are various soil recipe suggestions for Venus Flytraps. We recommend nutrient-free materials that will not cause health threats to the plants, such as Sphagnum moss, Silica sand, perlite, and Sphagnum peat moss. You can mix these materials in this ratio: 50% perlite + 50% sphagnum mix; alternatively, you can improve the sphagnum moss. The materials can be sourced individually in local stores or online; if you feel that this would be too much work, you can buy premade soil mix.
Step 2: Layering
After coming up with the ideal soil mix, the next step is layering in these easy steps.
Layer 1: Carbon
You can maintain the cleanliness of your terrarium by using activated carbon as it destroys odors and helps remove toxins. Scoop up about a tablespoon of activated carbon and rinse using a sieve. Run your carbon thoroughly under water to remove excess carbon dust. Pour it into your glass jar once clean.
To avoid rot caused by waterlogging, you can use glass pebbles as your base. Artificial grass is recommended as natural pebbles can ooze slowly into the water with contaminants like calcium leading to the death of the plants. In case you prefer soil, add a tablespoon on top of the carbon. Please note that the soil and carbon should not be mixed.
Layer 2: Moss Mix
Take a small amount of your moss mix, preferably a pinch. Moisten with distilled water; alternatively, you can use aquarium dechlorinator drops to a mud-like consistency. Add a few drops to your tap water for instant de-chlorination. Pick out any unwanted debris in your moss. Place the moss on top of your carbon layer. Remember, the layers must be kept separate; do not mix or use fertilizer. Do not press, instead leave it compact and fluffy.
In case you go for pebbles, you can use a thin layer of long-fiber sphagnum moss to soak up the standing water in the pebbles. The layer between the pebbles and the soil prevents the shredded moss and perlite from falling into the rock layer. Next, you can add the moss mix comprising the 50/50 mix of sphagnum moss and perlite.
Always use distilled/ dechlorinated/ reverse osmosis water and never use fertilizer.
Step 2:Setting Up
Most plants in local garden stores come either bare root or loosely packed. If the plant is not bare root, carefully remove the pots to get the roots free. On the other hand, suppose they come in plastic starter cups; you can gently remove the plant.
How do you transfer the plant? Hold it near the base, twisting it backward and forwards up until the plant becomes free. Avoid tugging or pulling abruptly as this might damage the plant. Do not disturb the roots in case a clump of moss comes up with the plant. You don’t have to work with entirely fresh moss; reuse the material that the flytrap came in.
Next, delicately place the plant and ensure that the base is firmly supported by the moss but not stuffed or squeezed. Add a glass lid but remove once a week for free oxygen exchange. Add whatever you wish to at this point, for example, accent plants and decorations. When done, that is it! Your Venus flytrap terrarium is all set.
Venus Flytrap Varieties
Though the venus flytrap has only one species, “Dionaea muscipula,” horticulturists have come up with different varieties of the flytrap based on special features. The distinguishing characteristics of these varieties are mainly color and leaf forms. There are many venus flytrap cultivars, but we’ll explore a few based on color, trap mutations, and trap sizes:
Popularly known as ‘Akai Ryu,’ ‘Red Dragon’ is a perfectly captivating cultivar of Dionaea, which has sparked interest repeatedly. This variety can reach an enormous size in summer and is characterized by a deep dark maroon color if grown in bright light but turns green in poor light.
The Green Dragon is a vigorous grower which can produce huge traps. A mutation of the Red Dragon Venus Flytrap, this cultivar can be distinguished from the former by its bright green trap edges with red leaves or reddish-purple trap interior.
Justina Davis is an all-green plant. This feature makes Justina Davis stand out from other flytrap varieties as it does not develop red coloration. This beauty is an upright grower with slender stalks. One of the hardiest flytraps ever grown as it can survive freezing temperatures.
Trap mutations result from tissue culture mishaps, which may result in the inability to catch prey. The mutants are loved and loathed in equal measure.
The fused tooth variety can get very large. Though the young plants look normal, mature plants form with teeth and fuse to look like bear traps with irregularly merged spines. The webbed teeth appear in the summer.
The trap edges are jagged and have short-fused triangular teeth, which resemble the fierce piranhas. The marginal spines are similar to the ‘Dentate Traps’ variety. They are highly sought after due to their deep red coloration.
This unusual cultivar produces small traps which are fused toward one side to form a striking cup shape. During the development process, the trap spines are coiled longer resulting in oddly cupped tips. However, this does not affect its insect-catching ability.
The Petite Dragon is a distinctly small cultivar that can only attain a maximum of 17mm in size. In mature plants, the flower stalk splits into two stalks. This small carnivorous plant has swiveling traps and four to seven leaves, which form underground trunks.
This is one of the most prevalent cultivars. The plants clump and produce large traps. The massive traps can get as long as 2 inches. This famous cultivar exhibits vigorous growth; no wonder it’s one of the top contenders for the most extensive traps in the world.
Where to Buy
You can get a Venus Flytrap plant for as low as $10, and the purchase can be more economical if you buy more than one. Assuming that you’re simply beginning, you can find essential species at your neighborhood garden store. They are placed near the register in tiny plastic pots as a spur of the moment purchase items. Hardware and grocery stores like Walmart are also good options.
Before you buy the plant, ensure that it is in good condition by looking out for discoloration. If you are looking for larger varieties, the best place would be specialty nurseries. However, mature plants and particular types are more costly. Therefore, when buying, you can opt for seedlings, young venus flytraps, mature plants, or flytraps inside terrariums. Should you go for the terrarium option, we recommend buying one that is not entirely sealed to enable the plant to attain maximum growth.
Online garden supply retailers can be great options with many selections from all over the world. Still, you must be cautious as some can arrive in poor condition or be entirely different from what you ordered. Amazon has a large selection of venus flytraps and related supplies. When buying online, the best thing to do is seek reviews for reputable online suppliers to avoid getting scammed. Once you have identified and bought your desired variety and supplies, the next step is to set up your terrarium.
Caring for your Venus Flytrap Terrarium
Venus flytraps live in their natural habitat for years, but most are short-lived in cultivation because of improper care. So first, understand what your plant needs to provide the best environment. Venus flytraps thrive in humid, acidic soil with plenty of sunshine. If you would like your plant to flourish as in its native setting, please follow the essential tips below:
As earlier discussed in this article, we saw that Venus flytraps do well with nutrient-free soils, which is why the first thing you need to do is to choose the best growing medium. Avoid garden/regular potting soil. Instead, go for peat moss and perlite mix or long fiber sphagnum. You can mix equally or opt for two parts to one. Never add compost, lime, or fertilizer to the soil, as these will kill your plant.
The best light for Venus flytraps is bright but not direct. Avoid too much direct sunlight, especially in summer, as the leaves will become crispy due to this. Your plant will require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. In the growing season, you can place the plant under artificial lights for 10-12 hours every day and keep the flytraps 4-7 inches away from the fluorescent lights.
Artificial full-spectrum lighting makes terrarium growing relatively simple though natural sunlight provides the strongest UV light. If your plants get less than the required light, they will be vulnerable to diseases and weak in addition to slow growth. You can tell that your plants are not getting adequate light if the leaves appear long and thin or if the trap’s inside is not pink.
Keep the terrarium moist at all times; never allow it to dry out completely. Water your plants daily during the hottest parts of summer to avoid elevated soil temperatures. Never water your plants using tap water; instead, use distilled or rainwater.
Alkaline water has chlorine, or dissolved minerals will kill the plants. To water your flytraps, you can set the pot’s base in a saucer of water once every few days. To steer clear away from the risk of rot due to overwatering, don’t drown the plant’s crown.
The act of transferring a plant from one pot to another, usually a large one, gives the plant room to grow. Repot big plants every year; for smaller plants, you can repot once every two years. Make sure that you change the medium every time you repot your plant. The best time is early in the spring or late in the winter. If you choose to report at any other time, do not tamper with the roots. Instead, use a tall pot that can allow for long roots when repotting. With enough space to grow, your fly traps will grow faster and be more robust. Large pots also protect your plants during the winter.
Venus flytrap plants become dormant during autumn because of low temperatures and shorter days. The leaves darken and die, and the plants stop growing. Don’t worry about dormancy since your plant is just resting, not dead. The period lasts for about three or four months. Do not throw away your plant; instead, find alternative ways of caring for it.
During the dormancy period, place your plant in an excellent location. Though the plant will not require much light in this state, place it near a window. Keep the plant humid at all times during winter dormancy. Be careful not to let the terrarium freeze as this may lead to glass breaking and the plants dying. You can prevent your plant from freezing by covering it with black plastic. The best temp is 35 to 50°F. Once spring arrives, you can move your plants back to your living space and increase warmth and light. Clip off any dead leaves hanging on to your plant for new leaves and flower buds to sprout.
The flytraps’ main diet is insects. Its main tools are a net for trapping insects and terrarium tweezers to feed the bug to your plant. Trigger hairs inside the plant trigger the trap to close if the insect’s movement is in quick succession, so you can only feed your plant on alive prey.
Release the flies into the container. The insects should not be more than a third of the trap size. Once the trap is closed, digestive enzymes are produced, and the plants absorb the nutrients in the insect. Feed your plants only two bugs at most per month. Never feed the flytrap during winter dormancy. Also, don’t feed your plant any other kind of meat.
There are contrasting opinions on whether growing venus flytraps in a terrarium is a good idea. Those of a different opinion suggest that poor drainage in the terrariums and overheating will lead to the death of the flytraps. However, with a little bit more care and application of the tips shared in this article, there is no reason your flytrap should not thrive in your terrarium. So, what are you waiting for? Grow Venus flytraps today.