10 Tips for Caring for a Venus Flytrap
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.
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.
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.