Amber has cared for a Venus flytrap and enjoys sharing advice about these amazing plants.
How I Decided to Get a Venus Flytrap
I had a new plant follow me home last week. I call him Little Audrey. He is a Venus flytrap (VFT), and he is awesome.
I brought him home because every fall we have a new batch of fruit flies move in, and I have a problem with fungus gnats in my orchids. Not only has Little Audrey shown his enthusiasm for taking care of the nasty little problem, but he is an absolutely GORGEOUS plant.
But What If I Don't Have a Flytrap to Eat My Fungus Gnats?
One way to get rid of fungus gnats is with a pesticide. You can buy these at gardening stores, or you can make your own with Ivory dish soap and cinnamon. You can also use those sticky yellow fly papers. Eventually, you will run out of mature flies to lay eggs.
Do Venus Flytraps Need a Terrarium?
The myth that VFTs need a terrarium is absolutely untrue. Venus flytraps (or Dionea muscipula) are native to North and South Carolina. This is not an overly humid area.
Chances are, when you bring your VFT home from the grocery store (that's where I found mine), it will be in a plastic container with a lid and a little blurb on the side stating that your VFT wants to be in a relative humidity of 50%. Your plastic container (AKA "The Death Cube" amongst VFT enthusiasts) will keep the humidity in that range; however, it does not allow for adequate air flow, making a lovely home for microbes and bacteria.
How to Repot Your VFT
I started slow with Little Audrey. I left him on the shelf for a day with just the lid off so as not to put him into shock from lowering the humidity too much at one time. After about a day, I very carefully took him out of the cube. He already had mold growing on top of the soil.
Venus flytraps grow naturally in swamps and bogs. This means they grow in soil with very poor nutrients (hence the adaptation to eating bugs). When you repot a VFT, be very sure that you use totally unenriched soil. Mix a ratio of 1:1 peat moss and perlite. They are deep rooters, so they also like being in taller pots with excellent drainage. Sitting in a medium that is too wet will cause the roots to begin to rot.
Can I Water My Plant With Tap Water?
Do not use tap water on a Venus flytrap. The dissolved minerals and chlorine will burn the roots. It won't happen immediately, but it will eventually. Chances are, the store you buy your VFT from will have used tap water. Flush the medium as soon as you bring your flytrap home.
How Much Sun Do They Need?
VFTs love the sun. They like to be in full sun for as long as they can. When you bring yours home from the grocery store, place it in a location with filtered light for a couple of days. Gradually bring it out to full sun. After living under fluorescent lights, just putting them directly into bright sun will cause the leaves to get sunburn and could potentially kill the plant. Give them an hour of direct sun one day, two hours the next, and so on.
Can You Feed Your Flytrap Raw Hamburger?
No; this is another myth. I don't know if you've ever noticed, but the meat on a fly is a lot different than the meat on a cow. Do not feed a Venus flytrap anything but insects! I had a roommate kill my last VFT by doing this. I can't tell you how angry I was.
I grow indoors, since my climate doesn't allow much other than pine trees to flourish outside. In order to make sure Audrey is eating properly, I hand-feed him a couple of spiders a month. VFTs do like flies, but spiders, beetles, and ants are actually more nutritious than just flies. They will love you for feeding them mosquitoes and earwigs as well.
I've been told not to kill the bug first, as the fly trap needs the souls to grow big and bad.
Do Venus Flytraps Go Dormant for the Winter?
Yes; this is a fact. I have known a lot of people who believe their flytraps are dying every autumn—but that's not necessarily the case. They actually need to go dormant for 3–4 months in the winter. During this time, it is not a pretty sight. I start losing sunlight in September, so the flowers and leaves are already beginning to turn black. I trim the black stems off so they can't rot in the medium and allow the fungus to grow—personal preference.
Can You Skip the Dormancy?
You can skip the dormancy period, but your plant won't grow as strong or live as long as one that is allowed to follow it's natural cycle. If you live in hardiness zone 7 or better, your flytrap can have its dormancy period outside.
I do not. I live in hardiness zone 2a. I will be taking Little Audrey out of his pot, placing him in a plastic bag, and letting him sleep in my crisper for four months. I want to feed Little Audrey stray cats and small children by next year, so it's very important for him to grow big and strong.
How Do I Prepare My VFT for Winter?
You don't have to take it out of its pot for the winter, you can leave it in; either way, be sure to treat with a fungicide before you put it away. You can place it on a windowsill that stays between 0 and 5 degrees C for the winter, or a garage, basement, cold room, or porch. I'm doing mine in the fridge because it's my only option.
VFTs Are Beautiful Plants That Attract a Lot of Attention
Contrary to popular belief, these plants are actually very easy to grow once you understand their basic needs. If you are willing to meet these needs, you will not only have a beautiful plant, but also a conversation piece.
Trust me; all of my neighbors have asked if they can come in and meet Little Audrey. They also want to stick their fingers in the flowers to see them close, feed it hamburger, and all sorts of weird requests.
Good luck, and happy plant addiction.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: What if I don’t have insects for my Venus Fly Trap? Will the plant still live?
Answer: They don't need a lot of food to live, but like anything else, they do need food to survive.
Question: How do I feed my Venus Fly Trap spiders, and can it eat anything else?
Answer: I use tweezers to gently pick the spider up, because bugs are icky and I don't like using my fingers. Put the spider in the trap and keep holding it with your tweezers until the trap starts closing around it.
DO NOT feed it them anything but bugs. Carnivorous bugs are best.
Question: Do I feed my Venus Fly Traps when they are dormant?
Answer: No, you don't. The traps will turn brown and die off. They store energy from the food they eat during the summer; like a bear during hibernation.
Peter alexeev on May 16, 2020:
You can't feed Andrew cats because no meat,remember?
.. on February 18, 2019:
I gave mine a fly and it hasn't opened since?
Barbara on May 16, 2016:
I received my Venus flytrap on Mother's Day. I fed it a few bugs. The leaves haven't opened up since. What can I do ?
Chloe from Minnesota on July 31, 2015:
I just bought one and I'm really excited about it. I can't wait to see it eat some bugs.
Amber Joy (author) from Canada on October 07, 2012:
Oh me too...Who doesn't love a plant that eats MEAT? They're actually surprisingly easy to grow too!
Darkproxy from Ohio on October 07, 2012:
I always loved these plants