Ultimate Guide: How to Care for Venus Flytrap

Not many people know about this carnivorous plant and how to care for Venus flytraps. There are several varieties of Venus flytrap, including the red, yellow and white ones. They are known as Dionaea muscipula which is the most common type you can find in virtually any nursery today.

What makes the Venus Flytrap such an intriguing plant? First, it’s exciting eating habits. The plant’s knack for luring prey into its trap and suddenly snapping shut is fascinating. Venus Flytraps use sweet nectar to attract their game. An electric charge will close the trap once an insect touches the trigger hairs two consecutive times.

 As the insect continues struggling, the trap seals and produces enzymes that dissolve the prey’s tissues. After re-absorbing the nutritious soup, the Venus Flytrap uses the carcass to draw new victims. Unfortunately, this single species plant native to North and South Carolina is threatened by extinction because of habitat destruction. 

The Venus Flytrap is a relatively easy plant to look after despite popular belief that the plant is complicated. Once you understand the best environment for your plant to thrive, you will realize that this is one of the most rewarding houseplants. Let’s get started.

Venus Flytrap Cultivars

The Venus Flytrap has only one species, Dionaea muscipula; however, many varieties have been bred for their desired traits. Most forms feature petioles that end in a trap. The traps of mature plants can go up to 5cm in length.

Cultivars are selected for their color, size, or mutation. The most popular are the all-green like ‘Justina Davis’ and all-red forms, including the Red Dragon. Similarly, larger varieties include the ‘South West Giant,’ which originated in the UK. Lastly, we have the mutants which result from tissue culture mishaps.

The Best Places to Get Your Venus Flytrap Plant

Carnivorous plant nurseries are the best places to buy Venus Flytraps. You can also order from various US Retailers. Additionally, you can take a trip to your local nursery though the plants here might not be of the best quality due to light deprivation and watering with impure water. Large retailers like Walmart are not a bad idea if you don’t mind plants that have been on the shelf for some time.

Light Requirements

Venus Flytraps require bright and indirect sunlight for optimum growth. Go for a south-facing sunny windowsill. We recommend 12 hours of adequate sunlight supply. Insufficient sunlight may lead to weak and floppy leaves plus a lack of red coloration inside the trap. Grow Lights can come in handy if you feel that your plant is not getting enough light; place it at least 6 inches above it. 

A Venus flytrap outside.
Insufficient sunlight may lead to weak and floppy leaves plus a lack of red coloration inside the trap.

Temperature Levels

The Venus Flytrap can briefly tolerate extreme temperature changes. This hardy plant can take temperatures as high as 86°F to as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit as long as it is sheltered from the elements. Indoor temperatures that are warmer than average are ideal.

Water Requirements

Carnivorous plants need pure water; the Venus Flytrap is no exception. Getting pure water can be challenging, especially for new growers. Be warned that bottled, filtered, or tap water will increase dissolved salts and minerals, ultimately killing your plant. We recommend using rainwater, distilled or demineralized water. Alternatively, use water that has been purified through reverse osmosis. So how do you get pure water?

  • Buy purified water

You can buy distilled and deionized water from hardware shops. Local aquarium specialists may also have purified water.

  • Collect rainwater

Place some trays outside and accumulate the rainwater in plastic bottles. Once your plant collection has grown, you can use rain barrels.

  • Fix up a Reverse Osmosis System

Mount a reverse osmosis system under your sink to remove contaminants. Though pricey, this investment will pay off in the long run.

To water your plant:

  1. Stand your container in 1-2cm of water and refrain from flooding from the top.
  2. Keep the soil moist throughout the growth period but make sure your plant is not waterlogged. The pot should have drainage holes because excess moisture leads to root rot.
  3. Reduce the frequency of watering during winter.

Soil

Carnivorous plants receive their nutrients from their prey, so they don’t need nutrient-rich soils; they instead prefer acidic soils. A word of caution, do not use standard potting soil. Instead, use sphagnum peat moss blended with lime-free coarse sand or perlite. The ratio should be 2:1. Alternatively, use one part peat moss with one part perlite. Both options offer superior aeration and drainage for your plant in addition to increasing acidity. Venus Flytraps also do well in pure sphagnum.

Venus flytraps in a pot.
They don’t need nutrient-rich soils but they instead prefer acidic soils.

Dormancy

The dormancy period is necessary for carnivorous plants and happens from fall when sunlight levels are lower. Provide a cold resting period for your Venus Flytrap by moving your plants to a more relaxed place in your garage or shed. The leaves start turning black as temperatures drop. Do not panic; this is normal. Weed out any dead growth. After the end of the dormancy period, it’s time to repot your plant. If the weather warms up and your plant does not brighten up, the plant could be sickly. 

Repotting

Regular repotting of the Venus Flytrap gives your plant enough room to grow. We suggest repotting once a year for your Venus Flytrap to develop strong roots. The best time to repot your plant is in spring or early summer. Do not repot the plants during the active flowering stage. When you purchase your plant, repot it if there are any impurities. Follow these basic steps for the best outcome when repotting:

  1. Choose the right potting mix

Standard potting mix will kill your Venus Flytrap. Instead, use carnivorous plant soil mix when repotting your plant. You can either buy it or come up with something. A 1:1 mixture of peat moss and perlite is recommended. Peat moss provides acidity while perlite retains moisture.

2. Choose the right pot.

Venus Flytraps have a deep root system, so choose a pot with a bit of depth; a minimum of 4 inches is okay. We recommend plastic pots for Venus Flytraps because the plants need proper insulation.

Venus Flytraps in pot.
Choose a pot with a bit of depth; a minimum of 4 inches is okay.

Tools needed

You will need:

  • A garden spade
  • Small plastic pot
  • Recommended potting soil

Instructions

  • Fill the pot with the recommended mixture
  • Water the potting mixture
  • Create a hole in the center where you will place your Venus Flytrap
  • Gently lift the Venus Flytrap from its parent pot, being careful not to disturb the roots
  • Place your plant in the new potting mixture
  • Lastly, water the plant and let the excess water drain out through the drainage holes

Aftercare

If done correctly, your plant will require no extra care after repotting. There might be a stall in growth but give your plant time.

Pruning

Pruning is not essential for the Venus Flytrap’s survival. However, it can provide health and aesthetic benefits. Some of the benefits include better aesthetics, growth promotion, and prevention of pests and mold. You will need sharp and thin scissors. Next, cut the dead leaves starting from the base and carefully prepare the bulb and healthy leaves.

Venus flytrap in white pot.
Cut the dead leaves starting from the base and carefully prepare the bulb and healthy leaves.

Only trim your plant when the traps have completely dried. Do not pull the dead leaves for proper trimming, which can damage your plant. Instead, use scissors to cut them out. Altogether remove the dead leaves. Be careful not to activate the traps because this will waste your plant’s energy. Do not prune too often; only do it when you see some black leaves.

Flowering

Mature Venus Flytraps bloom in spring and thrive during summer. Flowering diverts energy from trap-making. If you let your plant bloom regularly, it might exhibit signs of exhaustion such as sluggishness and droopiness. If your flytrap is small, pinch off the flowers before they grow too tall. 

Feeding

Once you have met the growing needs of your Venus Flytrap, feed it on arachnids and insects, either live or dead. We recommend Mealworms, Spiders, Blood Worms, or Crickets. Feed your flytrap once a week. Remember, the trigger hairs have to be stimulated once the trap closes. Here are some things to remember when you are feeding your plant;

  • Feed your Venus Flytrap on bugs only.
  • Venus Flytrap prefers nutrient-free soil, so do not fertilize it.
  • Prey that is too large will make your plant rot.
  • Tickle the hairs if using dead bugs using a toothpick for digestion to start. If you skip this part, your plant will pop open after a few hours, hardly absorbing any nutrients.
A Venus flytrap with a fly trapped,
Tickle the hairs if using dead bugs using a toothpick for digestion to start.

The Propagation Process

The best way to propagate the Venus Flytrap is to let them grow through division. A mature plant sends offshoots in early spring, replanted as new plants. Make sure the shoots include roots so that the new plant will grow. You can also use seed or leaf cuttings to propagate. 

Pests

Venus Flytraps do not just feed on bugs, as some can be harmful. These include mites, aphids, and mealybugs and mostly attack in spring. To keep pests and diseases at bay, ensure your plant gets enough sunlight and not waterlogged soil.

Bottom Line

The Venus Flytrap can be difficult to care for if you are not well prepared. Give your plant the attention it requires, and you will enjoy having the flytrap as an indoor plant.

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