10 Tips for Caring for a Venus Flytrap

Updated on December 12, 2017
Fly trapped in a hungry carnivore plant.
Fly trapped in a hungry carnivore plant. | Source

A Venus flytrap is a carnivorous plant native to the United States. In the west, it commonly inhabits sandy places, and, in the east, it resides in the swampy lands of North and South Carolina. In these desolate habitats, the flytraps have become used to nutrient-deficient soil. Thus, soil rich in nutrients is potentially hazardous to this plant, and could cause it to wither and die.

The monster-looking leaf or head, sporting tooth-like spikes along the edges, is an insect trap. That's the beauty of the Venus. The plant preys on insects such as spiders, houseflies, and ladybugs. So far, I've not noticed any ants marching up the stem toward certain death, but let's not rule them out as a potential food source for the plant.

Each trap has trigger hairs on each lobe. The lobes produce a sweet nectar that attracts insects. Once the insect is past the point of no return, the jaw-like leaf snaps shut and claims the insect as its victim. Over the next couple of seconds, the trap gets tighter and securely clasps the unlucky insect. It then digests the bug, soaking up its nutrients.

But indoor Venus flytraps cannot entirely fend for themselves. Below are 10 tips to help you care for your plant:

How to Care for Your Plant

1. Add peat moss: If you bought your Venus flytrap from the store, it likely already has the natural soil mix and organic sphagnum peat moss it needs. It never hurts, though, to have some extra peat moss on hand. Make sure to buy the right kind, as stores often sell a garden peat moss that will hurt, rather than help, the plant. Also, avoid the kind with fertilizer, as fertilizers can burn the roots. The soil mix should be "nutrient poor."

2. Repot the plant as it grows: Gradually move your flytrap into bigger pots. Never jump to a huge pot with the idea that your plant will grow faster.

3. Water the plant regularly: Venus flytraps need a lot of water. Bear in mind, though, that you can only give the plant pure water. Distilled water or rainwater are great options. Make sure to keep its soil damp at all times in low humidity conditions, and never use tap water.

4. Put the plant in a moderately sunny place: When the plant is young, never place it under direct sunlight for extended periods of time. When the plant has matured, it will thrive under direct sunlight and produce more pigment. Though flytraps enjoy and love sunlight, the moderate amount of sunshine that shines on your windowsill is perfect. Make sure the plant receives sunlight for at least four hours per day. The morning is a great time to allow your plant to soak up the sun, as the rays are not as intense.

A fly landing on a trap.
A fly landing on a trap. | Source

5. Feed your trap occasionally: It's okay to lend a helping hand to your adorable, alien-looking flytraps, but a trap shouldn’t be fed more than one time a week. Remembering which trap has been fed and when can be quite a challenge. It may help to draw a diagram and keep a record.

6. Don't touch the plant: Avoid fooling around with your trap, provoking it to snap at your finger. Too much triggering will eventually kill the flytrap. In other words, quit poking!

7. Don't overfeed your plant: Big insects are hard for the trap to digest and absorb. If a big bug or insect prevents the trap from closing completely, the trap could get an infection.

8. Prune your plant when traps die: It's okay to cut traps that are turning brown. Don't worry, your plant isn't dying. Dying leaves are part of the growth cycle. Cut the darkened leaves before the rot spreads to the rest of the plant. Also, if the plant begins to grow a flower, cut it. Flowers siphon much of the trap's energy.

The Venus flytrap sitting on a windowsill, where it can receive sunlight.
The Venus flytrap sitting on a windowsill, where it can receive sunlight. | Source

9. Move the plant during dormancy: Dormancy is a hibernation-like state the flytrap will enter during the winter, lasting through November to February. Move it to an area where it will get less sunlight, and water it less frequently. You can tell when your flower has entered dormancy if its traps close slowly, and it does not appear hungry.

10. Slowly increase the amount of sunlight after dormancy: When springtime comes around, give the Venus flytrap sunlight. Your plant should be taller than the previous year.


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    • profile image

      Dolly 3 years ago

      IJWTS wow! Why can't I think of thigns like that?

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Hi Jon. I apologize for this late reply.

      I use a long tweezer to hold an insect (small spider, small fly or a bug). The feelers or hair should be touched for the trap to close. Tickle it a tiny bit with the insect's legs. Avoid feeding a bigger, fat fly if it is too much for a small trap to fully close. You will have to help push anything protruding but will keep a little opening for the trap.

      As far as I know, we must not overfeed a Venus Fly Trap. The monsters don't have to eat all at once. One or two of them fed should be enough. Then, when the fed ones start to open up again, feed another one that has not yet eaten (if only it could speak, it would probably say, "Hey master, not fair! It's my turn. I'd like a leggy one." :) Remember, one or two, the rest can wait for their turn. Be careful though, you could start imagining these fly traps talking to you. Oh, but you have to talk to them. They'll like that.

      If you try to feed and it doesn't close, well, perhaps it is being picky. Nah, or not hungry OR being placed where the temperature is not right for them. If you touch it without food, it's gonna get grumpy and won't open up until it's ready. But don't leave any insect in its mouth when it doesn't close because the flytrap have to fully shut; if it doesn't, it will decay itself. Water moderately and put where it touches some sunshine.

      P.S. You should give it a name. :)

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      Jon rick 4 years ago

      These tips are good but I have a question I love these like crazy...I got em from a website and well they have been growing good and I've read that most of em only grow 7 heads on one patch and the olders are the one that begin to die...well some flowers are starting to grow they haven't yet sprouted as in opening there have some that haven't eaten well when I go to try to feed em they don't close so my question is...is that normal or is they don't have enough energy to close...cause I really don't wanna lose this one..Please let me know what to do or if it's just normal

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Hi Christy! Glad you dropped by and thank you.

      Me too, until that day my daughter brought home the live fly trap from Chicago. I thought they were just all wild and gigantic that is why my imagination tells me that it is a 'man-eating-plant' lol. This is where I went to pick up the peat moss and I asked around if they sell the Venus Fly Trap. The answer was yes but they ran out. So if you will be in Toronto one day, here is the place http://www.sheridannurseries.com/stores/scarboroug...

      Perhaps from where you are located, it should be sold there too.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I am in Canada and have never seen one of these plants in person. I learned a lot here and your details are easy to follow. Well done.

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Hi Tammy! I never have thought of having one at home. I mean, really, I don't own it; it's my daughter's plant and I end up taking care of it. I was given all the necessary 'warnings' to keep it well and alive. Yup, mommy has to do everything! Surprisingly, this live flytraps do not need too much attention, but oh yeah, it makes me catch some insects though to help out these poor fellas. I feel that I am the one getting lockjaw as I see the traps' mouths wide open waiting to lure for food. Thanks Tammy for sharing this hub. Try to buy the Venus Fly Trap. It's not costly.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      I have always wanted one of these plants but I didn't know what to do with one. Great tips! They don't seem to difficult to care for. Pinning!