How to Care for Venus Fly Traps

Updated on October 21, 2016

Venus fly traps are the most commonly known of the carnivorous plants. And probably the most infuriating to keep. But that stems from a misunderstanding of how to care for fly traps – rather than because they’re difficult to care for. You may be surprised to learn that they're a fairly easy pant to care for - providing you know how to do so.

Venus flytraps are, believe it or not, almost non-existent in their native environment. However, there are conservation efforts underway in order to save the flytrap (in the wild) and at least it continues to thrive in domestic gardens, window sills and greenhouses all across the globe.

Its scientific name is Dionaea Muscipula and it can be found (naturally) in the marshy areas that span the coast of North and South Carolina. It requires very little by way of nutrients through its root base/soil content, hence its need to trap prey within its leaves.

However, Venus flytraps that are bought and grown in and around the home are unlikely to be sat in naturally boggy soil – and if they’re kept indoors, they will be unable to trap prey for themselves. Which is what this guide is aimed at - attempting to recreate the flytraps natural environment, as simply as possible.

How To Care For Venus Fly Traps

Venus Flytrap

Discovering how to care for venus flytraps is relaitively straightfroward. This strangely alluring plant isn’t quite as complicated to keep as many would realise. Its natural environment can be easily replicated by following a few simple rules. Added to that, a basic understanding of the Venus fly trap will aid your ability to keep yours healthy and allow it to thrive.

Venus Flytrap Basics

Venus Flytrap Triggers Hairs & Cilia

This close up shows the trigger hairs - which are extremely sensitive. Any moving detected on one or two and the trap snaps shut.
This close up shows the trigger hairs - which are extremely sensitive. Any moving detected on one or two and the trap snaps shut.

The leaves of the Venus flytrap are covered with tiny trigger hairs. The outer edges of the leaves are edged with little ‘teeth’ – called cilia - that, when the leaf closes, interlock and prevent its prey from wriggling out and escaping. This allows the leaf to close tightly around its victim and create an airtight seal.

The prey are generally small insects, though flytraps have been known to trap, accidentally or otherwise, larger victims. Unfortunately, when this occurs it can go on to kill the leaf. Anything that exceeds the leaf, that fails to allow the flytrap to close correctly will attract bacteria which in turn rots - this affects the leaf that will then go on to die off.

Venus Fly Trap In Action

The trigger hairs are the nub of the Venus fly traps' success – when an insect lands upon a leaf, it only has to touch one or two hairs and the leaf snaps shut, extremely rapidly. It takes up to several minutes for the leaf to form an airtight seal. Once it’s fully closed, it will remain so for anywhere between 5 to 12 days.

Once the leaf has closed around its victim, it will secret juices that digest the softer, more tender parts of the insect. The insect is eventually digested, which will in turn provoke the plant to re-open the leaf. Anything that remains simply falls out or off the leaf – rain or windy conditions play a part in removing any debris.

Venus Flytrap Care

 

Venus Flytrap Environment

A terrarium is a perfect environment.
A terrarium is a perfect environment.

Feeding A Venus Flytrap

When watering a Venus flytrap use either distilled or collected rainwater. Flytrap plants are sensitive to the chemicals that are found in tap water, so if you do spray your flytrap with tap water, you’re going to harm your plant. If it’s kept in a terrarium, regularly spraying the flytrap is fine as the terrarium creates a false humidity, and one which the flytrap thrives within

If kept in an open planter, sit the pot atop a saucer/drip tray that contains some small pebbles or gravel. Keep this filled with water. The stones will prevent the base of the pot from being constantly submerged in water.

Regarding light, Venus flytraps need around four hours of direct sunlight per day, minimum. It it’s outdoors, you shouldn’t need to feed it as it will trap its own insects as they happen along. If it’s indoors or inside a terrarium, you will have to feed insects to your flytrap but – no more than a couple in a four week period.

The soil needs to be a mix of peat moss and perlite. Successful flytrap growers tend towards a 50/50 mix – and flytraps don’t require fertilisers. They draw the nutrients they need from the insects that they consume.

Flytraps Need A Dormant Period

A Venus flytrap requires a period of dormancy, during the winter months. You will need to remove any leaves that die off – this is perfectly normal. However, if you leave them on, the rotted leaves will affect the rest of the plant and you will risk losing the whole flytrap.

It should be kept in a relatively constant heat of around 45 > 50f and the soil kept damp. A flytrap doesn’t require feeding during its dormant period so don’t be tempted, no matter how much it looks as though it needs it.

Quick Flytrap Tips

 

 

A Real Flytrap

Just add a piece of fruit - then you've got a homemade flytrap. Feed a couple per month to your Venus flytrap. Otherwise, you've got a cheap, easy way to combat fruit and house flies!
Just add a piece of fruit - then you've got a homemade flytrap. Feed a couple per month to your Venus flytrap. Otherwise, you've got a cheap, easy way to combat fruit and house flies!

Wild Venus Flytrap

A flytrap in its natural environment.
A flytrap in its natural environment.

Round up:

  • Only use distilled or collected rain water
  • Don’t flood the flytrap
  • If in a closed environment, feed it insects, but no more than two per month
  • At least 4 hours of direct sunlight per day
  • 50/50 mix of peat or sphagnum moss and perlite for it’s soil base
  • Allow your Venus flytrap its dormant period
  • Remove dead leaves during the winter
  • Don’t be tempted to ‘spring’ the flytrap

All Venus flytraps will cope with a lack of a naturally boggy environment, providing you replicate it as much as possible. Many thrive, when giving the chance and providing you observe the dormancy periods every year, your flytrap should start to become strong and healthy by the time it’s into its third season.

Remember: too much handling, overfeeding and watering and you’ll end up with a flytrap that’s dead or dying. Venus flytraps are like anything else – with the correct care they will flourish.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        somthing 3 months ago

        i love them

      • profile image

        Annie 4 months ago

        Great article! Really helped with my project!! :)

      • profile image

        Noah 5 months ago

        Veins fly traps are awesome!

      • profile image

        chris 6 years ago

        omg thank you thank you thank you this realllllllllyyyyyy helped

      • oliversmum profile image

        oliversmum 8 years ago from australia

        Frogdropping Hi.These plants are great,besides looking good,they do work.:) :)

      • frogdropping profile image
        Author

        Andria 8 years ago

        They are so much easier to keep than you'd realise. And the home made fly trap really does work. It is a little icky though :)

      • hypnodude profile image

        Andrew 8 years ago from Italy

        Great, and the homemade fly trap is even greater. It's nice to learn new things. Next summer I'll surely won't have flies around combining the two. Thanks.

      • xunlei profile image

        xunlei 8 years ago

        it is a nice hub , great? Thanks ?

      • stars439 profile image

        stars439 8 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

        like your article.

      • ThePartyAnimal profile image

        ThePartyAnimal 8 years ago

        My husband needs to have these every year - he loves them. We live in farm country and we have plenty of flies - so when we get them they eat very well. They are fun to watch as they snatch up a meal.

      • frogdropping profile image
        Author

        Andria 8 years ago

        Ms Chievous - there's a whole heap of carnivoruos plants. Flytraps are the more commonly known. Go get one - just remember the basics :)

      • Ms Chievous profile image

        Tina 8 years ago from Wv

        Cool hub Frogdropping! I have never been able to care for a fly trap but I might give it another try. Is the flytrap the only carnvourous plant? I think we have pitcher plants in WV that trap bugs in their "pitcher"

        Ralwus..LOL!

      • frogdropping profile image
        Author

        Andria 8 years ago

        GeneralH - yes I hope so. They need some help, these strangely beautiful plants - so pop one on your window sill, call it Clive and take good care of it :)

        stuart - and you too, I hope you buy one and raise it to be a good, strong fangster :)

      • frogdropping profile image
        Author

        Andria 8 years ago

        ralwus - I did thankyou :) And I wish I could walk around the place you talk of. I miss the open countryside. I can't begin to tell you how much.

        I want to hear the breeze play gently among the boughs of trees, smell grass and wildflowers after a spring rainfall and sit, in silence - upon an old stone wall, whilst sheep and cattle graze in peace, oblivious to the world around them.

        I miss rural life. *sighs* :)

      • stuart747 profile image

        stuart747 8 years ago from Colchester, Essex, UK

        A very cool plant and a very interesting article, thanks for sharing.

      • profile image

        generalhowitzer 8 years ago

        hehehe resourceful and informative hub...

      • profile image

        ralwus 8 years ago

        LOL, I tho't you'd like that and it is appropriate for this wondeful hub dear. I figured it would do nicely for a hub on carnivorous plants. hehe We have a place here called Brown's Bog. A wonder of nature it is and just full of sun dew plants and Jack-in-the-pulpits, cousins of the Venus Fly Trap. Only a few places like it on our continent. I love to go for walks there.

      • frogdropping profile image
        Author

        Andria 8 years ago

        BC - evening. I liked your double post, made me smile! I will try and relax. But I've got the wind beneath my sails and I've a heck of a lot of stuff on right now!

        And thankyou - have a great weekend yourself :)

      • frogdropping profile image
        Author

        Andria 8 years ago

        Artemus - yep! They grow anywhere - the secret is to replicate their natural environment :)

        Ralwus - lol brilliant. I can count on you to 'get' me!

        Misty - yes you too go buy one. They're fab plants and so beautiful!

      • profile image

        badcompany99 8 years ago

        When I was a kid growing up this plant fascinated me, I blame that old movie The Day Of The Triffids, great hub oh green one, you relax over the weekend and cut back a bit on yer work ok, that's an order !

        double, delete this one

      • profile image

        badcompany99 8 years ago

        When I was a kid growing up this plant fascinated me, I blame that old movie The Day Of The Triffids, great hub oh green one, you relax over the weekend and cut back a bit on yer work ok, that's an order !

      • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

        Cindy Lawson 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

        Excellent hub, I have successfully killed about half a dozen of these amazing plants in my lifetime. I now know all the things I was doing wrong and might just give them another go :) Cheers.

      • profile image

        ralwus 8 years ago

        Feed me Seymore! LOL here, just for you:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGRN39oifsE

      • Artemus Gordon profile image

        Artemus Gordon 8 years ago

        I actually had no idea that you could really keep these plants. This would be cool to have in my office for those who come in to see.

      • frogdropping profile image
        Author

        Andria 8 years ago

        Ethel - I couldn't agree more. If you can get them to flower, they're even more fab ;)

      • ethel smith profile image

        Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

        These plants are fab

      • frogdropping profile image
        Author

        Andria 8 years ago

        Mrvoodoo - they're easy to keep. Just buy distilled (bottled) water. Pop your venus flytrap in a small terrarium (some come already in one) spray the flytrap, enough to keep in nice and moist. If it's inside a terrarium, feed it a couple of flies per month - let it rest over the winter, then rinse and repeat. You won't need to repot it for quite some while either so ... whatever it's already potted in will be fine.

        Easy.

        And you know - you can buy robot venus flytraps. I want one :)

      • Mrvoodoo profile image

        Mrvoodoo 8 years ago from ?

        Venus fly traps are definitely the coolest plants (they appeal to my dark side ;) ) I was watching 'Shop of Little Horrors' yesterday and nearly wrote a hub on them myself.

        I was going to rush out and buy one (seriously), but then I got to the bit explaining all of the things you have to do to keep them healthy, that's not for me, I can't even take care of a Goldfish. I'll have to get myself one of those pebbles with 'googly' eyes stuck on it instead.

        Great Hub.

      • frogdropping profile image
        Author

        Andria 8 years ago

        ethan - yes but it's a little complicated to explain.

        If you take a look at wikipedia (the link is below) and scroll down to the section titled 'Mechanism of Trapping', you will find a factual account of how it works. Hope that helps :)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_Flytrap

      • profile image

        ethan12349 8 years ago

        does anyone know how venus fly trap moves?

      • frogdropping profile image
        Author

        Andria 8 years ago

        doca - the fruit flytrap works. Try it. Just don't leave it hanging around ... ;)

      • profile image

        docadvocate 8 years ago

        nice one thanks,good idea for controlling fruit flies

      • frogdropping profile image
        Author

        Andria 8 years ago

        dohn - my brother likes them. He has a few. I don't know why but he named them. He even goes as far as saying stuff like 'here ya go boys, dinner' or 'want lunch kids?'. And despite his strange association with his little fangsters, they're remarkably well.

        Or were last time I heard. And thankyou :)

        Candie - lol buy one! I'd have one but I haven't seen any here as yet. And they can get a nice size, you just need to give them time :)

      • Candie V profile image

        Candie V 8 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

        Wonderful.. they sell these in plastic containers at the grocery store (I'm wondering if that's a sneaky way to control fruit flies?)

        Now I know how to grow a really huge!

      • dohn121 profile image

        dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

        This was really awesome. You gave some great tips here. I always wanted a Venus fly trap. If anything else, it'll make for a great conversation piece. Thanks.

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