Houseplant Spotlight: Venus Flytrap
A one of a kind carnivorous plant
Venus Flytraps benefit from a bright windowsill that will get a few hours of direct sunlight each day. A southern window or even a sunny porch during the warmer months will suit a Venus Flytrap very well. Flytraps can add some plant diversity to your cactus-only Southern windowsills and a healthy plant will have a pinkish hue on the inside of the plant traps. While some Venus fly traps varieties have been developed to have zero pinks, most commonly obtained fly traps have some kind of pink or red coloration and completely green traps is a sign the plant is not getting enough light. If kept outside, Venus flytraps enjoy some shade or dappled sunlight during the day. Full sun all day in a hot climate can dry the plant out or even burn the leaves.
The modified leaves that allow flytraps to trap flies have evolved out of a need to collect nutrients in a nutrient-poor environment. The native environment of flytraps involves very poor soil and pure water. The best water for home flytraps is rainwater or distilled water. A big reason for flytraps to die in the home environment stems from being watered with tap water which is typically too alkaline or contains too many trace elements for their needs. While most plants can tolerate a couple of tap waterings before showing symptoms, the minerals and solids will build up in the soil over time and contaminate the plant. During the hot and growing months, it’s important to keep your venus flytraps evenly moist and not to let the growing medium dry out. During the winter, it’s important to give the flytraps a dormant period where watering is reduced to a couple of times a month allowing the medium to become almost dry between watering.
During the summer on my hot south-facing windowsill, I keep flytraps adequately watered by always keeping between a ½ inch to 1 of water at the bottom of there saucer. This allows the plant to suck up the water it needs through the potting medium without suffocating the roots by keeping them submerged in water. During the winter when I’m trying to create a dormant period I’ll move them to a shadier window in the colder part of the house and water thoroughly once every other week or so and am not concerned about letting water sit in the saucer.
Fertilizing and feeding:
Venus flytraps do not need to be fertilized like other plants. Specially modified leaf traps have evolved to excrete a sticky residue that attracts insects and when the insects land on the leaf and trigger a couple of hairs the trap closes, trapping the insect inside. The trap then secretes a digestive enzyme that will leach out the insects' juices and be absorbed by the plant. The best way to feed or ‘fertilize’ a venus fly trap is to allow them to catch bugs themselves by growing them outside a couple of times during the summer. The next best method is to feed them yourselves using suitably sized bugs for the traps. A small trap can be fed baby crickets, rehydrated bloodworms, and ants. Larger traps can be fed larger crickets, ants, slugs, or houseflies.
Venus Flytraps grow well in a potting medium made up of half sphagnum peat moss and half perlite.
Venus Flytraps are perennial plants native only to select boggy areas in North and South Carolina. Their limited range and the fascination people have with them has caused a lot of poaching from the wild and currently, flytraps are endangered. The protect the native plants only purchase your plants from reputable sources that have cultivated them from seeds or clones.
Venus flytraps do well in the home environment and can even live outside year-round in many southern growing zones. The biggest consideration when caring for flytraps is to provide adequate water and light.
Repotting and reblooming:
These plants respond well to being repotted once a year in the spring as they come out of their dormant period. In good growing conditions, they will produce a white flower on a long green stalk. Many growers advise cutting the flower off when the stems are first produced so the plant can spend that energy towards creating more traps. Often after cutting off the flower stalk, the flytraps will respond by sending out rhizomes to create baby flytrap clones.
A unique sun loving houseplant with a character that responds well to the home environment.