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Venus Flytraps

How to grow, feed and care for these lovely carnivorous indoor plants.

Ccarnivorous PlantI know this will sound stupid, but I’m sitting in my office weeping into my keyboard because some damn fool stole my Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula). I adored them, and now they are gone. These adorable little plants did everything but talk back to me. All through the summer, they caught everything from yellow jackets to beetles to those big mosquito eaters. I would stop for my morning visit and see the leaves shaking furiously, accompanied by ghastly buzzing. The little plants held onto their prey like grim death. There were even some volunteer Sundews that grew in the same pots with the flytraps and they were absolute murder on the ant population. The little executioners captured everything except spiders, which I have the feeling we’re too smart to fall for their lures. I have never had plants that gave me so much pleasure, and now they’re with somebody who doesn’t know how to care for them.

It’s not like they looked great or anything. They were well into their dormant period so some of the leaves were black and withered, the saucer was green and scummy and the leaves that were left each held the remnants of a grisly meal. Why would anybody steal something like that?

The best known of all carnivorous plants! The Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) lures insects to their death by the scent and the color inside each trap. Purchase live plants here — care and growing instructions are provided with each order.

Here’s a little background on carnivorous plants, and Venus flytraps in particular, in case you want to try growing them yourself. Some plants live in environments where nutrients aren’t available, so they have evolved ingenious ways to trap insects and then digest the bodies as a source of nitrogen.

There are three basic types of carnivorous plants; the flytraps, which have hinged leaves that actually enclose and trap an insect, Pitcher plants which have water filled funnels instead of conventional leaves and Sticky leaved plants such as the sundews that attract and capture insects with a sticky sap, then digest them. The Venus flytrap is probably the best known of the carnivores.

Carnivorous plants are not at all difficult to grow indoors, so long as you have a buggy spot for them to live. A sun porch window where doors open and close frequently to let in insects is perfect. They need as much sun and heat as you can provide and a resting period during the winter months. In their native creek beds near Wilmington, North Carolina, the Venus flytrap has all the heat and humidity anybody could stand during the summer months, and freezing temperatures in the winter. Mimic these conditions and you will have success with your own carnivores.

Most carnivorous plants are native to streams where the water is very pure. They should be watered with either distilled water or rain water for best results. Don’t wash the containers with soap or detergent which may adhere to the glass. I kept my plants in a plastic saucer which I kept about 1/3 filled with water from my freshwater aquarium. The container became a bit scummy looking, but the plants seemed to thrive. If you don’t have an aquarium, catch and store rain water in clean glass containers that have been allowed to air dry for several days or purchase bottled spring water.

The growing medium should to be kept damp to wet all year long. It should be made up of 1 part peat moss mixed with 1 part sand or fine gravel, but you don’t need to worry about transplanting for the first year or so.

Watering is done from the bottom and there should always be some water standing in the saucer. The plants will tolerate deeper water if you plan to go away for a week or so. There should be ample humidity from the water in the bottom of the saucer.

Although it is tempting, don’t overfeed your carnivores. An occasional dead fly or spider dropped onto the leaves will suffice, but I always let my little plants work for their supper, and they did just fine. And one more thing, please try not to trick them into closing on a pencil or finger. It wastes precious energy and the oils from your hands will damage delicate leaves.

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25 Responses to “Venus Flytraps”

  1. Toni Edwards on March 10th, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    hi my brother, John, just got a venus fly trap barly yesterday and he really needs help to take care of it. Could you possibly send me an email of some advice I could tell my brother. My brother’s age is 12 and I am 16. And I dont know that much about venus fly traps and not really any wabsite is giving me any advice. My brother’s venus fly trap is just a baby. So thank you and i will keep in touch with this website.:]

  2. Toni Edwards on March 10th, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    And i am so sorry about your venus fly traps. I know how you feel. It happened to me once. I was going to the store to buy some dinner for my family. My family were coming home from work and school and when i got home the door was open and all my venus fly traps were gone. I was so angry. I got them from my great grand mother right before she died and those were the only things i got from her. Now i have nothing of hers to remember.

  3. Catlin on April 17th, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    You know what probably happened, the cleaning people or someone else might have thought it was a dead plant and threw it away! I’m sorry for your loss, I know how you feel, I adore my VFT.

  4. Ian on April 6th, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    i am growing a vft right now they are way harder to grow then regular plants. They’re pretty needy. little spoiled brats.

  5. marty mart on April 17th, 2015 at 12:01 am #

    Could you grow it inside your fresh water fish tank?

  6. Mr. Quincy on August 7th, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    Because of the booming interest in “carnivora” extract for supposed health benefits all over the Internet, Venus Fly Traps apparently fetch a pretty penny these days. That may be why it was stolen. “Poaching for profit” is now a big problem.

    Here’s more on the issue:

  7. Jani on November 9th, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    I am growing a pet TickleMe Plant. It won’t hurt a fly but it will close its leaves like crazy when you tickle it.

    • Christian Soldier on April 13th, 2018 at 12:49 pm #

      Jani, that’s very bad for the health of your plant. If you think it’s mean for a plant to eat bugs, don’t buy a plant that Needs to Eat Bugs to Survive. You might prefer a soft feathery plant that feels really nice when you tickle it. 🙂

      I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but your venus flytrap really does need to eat insects to stay healthy, and I know you just want to tickle your plant, but when you touch it and it closes, and it doesn’t have food inside, it uses up energy which can kill your plant if you do it too much. It’s like teasing your plant or pet. It thinks it’s getting a meal, but you’re not giving it a meal. It will eventually die of starvation and sadness, if you continue to tease it and make it be something it was not born to be. The best way to LOVE your venus flytrap, is to never tease it, never tickle it, because that actually hurts it when it closes without food. And feed it with insects.

      If you just can’t feed it bugs, and you just can’t stop tickling it, I think you should give it to a better home where someone can take care of it properly. And you might like to have a fern or some baby’s breath, or even a nice moss patch. 🙂

      I hope you have a VERY fun and cool day today! Thanks for sharing your neat story about tickling your plant, but I really do hope you learn something from what I shared and it helps. 🙂 Later dude!!

      • Alli on June 3rd, 2018 at 4:37 pm #

        Jani doesn’t have a venue fly trap. They said they were growing a tickle me plant, which is a completely different that responds to being touched, so no need for the long lecture.

  8. Brandon Gaspar on March 8th, 2016 at 6:09 pm #

    I want to start growing a Venus Fly Trap and grow it with amazing care. So when I research its disappointing to see no good facts or tips (in detail) how to grow the Venus Fly traps indoor as well as recreating their environment. So please I would love an extensive response on how to grow them correctly.

    • Venus Fly Traps on May 28th, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

      Hi Brandon there is a good article online that will help you. depending where you are located in the world will determine if you can grow your plant successfully. You will also need to purchase your self some Peat mix soil for optimum growth.

  9. Lisa Adames on October 2nd, 2016 at 8:10 am #

    I bought a venus fly trap plant last week and was wondering if I don’t have a place for them where a lot of insects are, would I be able to buy some meal worms from the pet store to feed them??

    • Gail Jones on October 21st, 2016 at 3:04 pm #

      I have fed my baby venus fly trap soaked meal worms and it’s doing great, only about once a week it needs food though!! Good luck!!

  10. Pauline on June 27th, 2017 at 9:36 pm #

    Hi, I just got my son a VFT. He loves it, but the question we have is, can the VFT be affected by smells…like febreze or candles? He keeps the VFT called Carnage in his bedroom next to a window that he opens for at least 4 hours a day to give Carnage sunlight…and feeds it tiny crickets…are we on the right track?

    • Kenneth on December 28th, 2017 at 8:45 pm #

      Feed weekly. Maybe 1-2 crickets or bugs will do.

  11. Teresa on July 14th, 2017 at 10:41 am #

    My husband has a VFT and it is doing great. It has produces 3 lovely long stemmed multi head flowers, is this usual, and what does he do with the flower stems when the flowers are over?

    • Kenneth on December 28th, 2017 at 8:47 pm #

      People tell me to cut it off as the plant puts most of its energy in that flower, if you don’t plan on making seeds and more fly traps just cut it off. Cutting it off will stop it from spending more energy on something you don’t want.

  12. Brennen Beck on September 26th, 2017 at 11:43 am #

    What should you do as far as growing them from seeds?

  13. Gwendolyn Seymour on February 28th, 2018 at 6:00 pm #

    My flytrap put out a long stem with 6 little flytraps on it like a flower. Can I cut and pot it? And how? It bloomed 3 times last summer so I have seeds too. Please advise, thanks!

  14. Lena on June 21st, 2018 at 4:00 pm #

    Here is what I do for my very successful Venus Flytrap that I have had about 10 years and it has spread to hundreds of plants (I can’t give them away fast enough – I could probably open up a Venus Flytrap store).
    1. It (really, it is about 100 plants in one large pot) is growing in sphagnum moss only. Home Depot carries it.
    2. It is in a deep pot with a plastic, deep pan, wider than the pot, to hold water.
    3. It is outside, in full sun.
    4. I keep it wet with either rain water or distilled water – nothing else. If water gets too low, I add more water. I never let it get dry.
    5. I pinch off the seed flowers on all but 4 or 5 of my plants.
    6. I bring it indoors in October, put it in a plastic bag, put in my fridge and leave it until April. I never touch it.
    7. In April, I pull it out, put it outside in a semi-sunny location.
    8. After about a week or so, I put it into its permanent sunny spot where it sits all summer.
    9. Trust me, your plant will spread and make multiple Venus Flytraps to give away to friends if you do the above!
    9. I never touch the traps. I let it free feed on bugs.

    • Lena on June 21st, 2018 at 4:02 pm #

      I forgot to say that I prune the plants regularly by pinching off the black traps – constantly – all summer.

  15. Jeremy on April 18th, 2019 at 1:16 pm #

    I have grown venus fly traps for years. I live in the UK. They are ridiculously easy to grow. I potted them into peat and perlite (about 2:1 mix), sat them in a dish of rainwater outside (about 1/3 the way up the side of the pot) in full sunshine and that’s it. Occasionally I will divide them just before they emerge from dormancy to stop overcrowding and water them with distilled water if the rainwater dries out, but that is literally all the care they need. They stay outside in all weathers, all seasons (they have survived temperatures of -10oC for periods of up to a week and came back smiling, they often flood and are completely submerged, and I just leave them to get on with things). I let them flower freely, despite the advice to the contrary and they set seed quite happily and come back just as strong the following year. They are very efficient at trapping prey and will usually have all traps full without any help from me. They tend to catch a lot of harvestman spiders more than anything else. Essentially, they are growing in my garden as they would in the wild, and doing very well. They don’t need a lot of care. The only problem that I have had in the past is that birds like to pull them up when searching for bugs in the compost during the winter. I have lost the odd one to this, but usually I will find the plant halfway across the garden and just plonk it back in its compost. Good as new.

  16. patrick burrell on June 24th, 2019 at 12:06 pm #

    Are Venus Fly Traps harmful to pets? I have a cat.

  17. Phil on August 26th, 2019 at 10:33 am #

    My Venus Flytrap will open up after feeding. There is what appears to be a carcass left inside. Is there anything to be done with the leftovers?

    • Kate T. on September 26th, 2019 at 7:05 am #

      The exoskeleton of the bug will eventually fall away. Don’t try to remove it as you can damage the trap.

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