How to Grow a Venus Flytrap

The Venus flytrap is a carnivorous plant native to the wetlands of the Carolinas. This mysterious plant lives on spiders and insects, which it traps between pairs of rosy-hued leaves. Venus flytraps can thrive in a home environment if they’re exposed to adequate sunlight and humidity. See Step 1 to learn how to grow this amazing plant.

Planting a Venus Flytrap
Buy a Venus flytrap bulb. The most common, and easiest, way to start growing a Venus flytrap is to purchase a bulb (or several bulbs) from a company that specializes in growing the plants. Search online to find a vendor from which you can mail order bulbs. You’ll be able to choose from among several varieties that have differences in shape and color.[1] You may also be able to find a nursery in your area that sells Venus flytrap bulbs. While it’s less common, you can certainly grow a Venus flytrap from seed as well – bearing in mind that it could take up to 5 years for the seed to become a mature plant.[2] Order seeds online and germinate them in deep pots filled with a seed substrate composed of sphagnum moss. Place the pots in plastic bags to keep the environment warm and moist. Once the seedlings have sprouted, you can transplant them to a more permanent growing medium.

Choose a growing container. Since Venus flytraps require high humidity, a glass growing container is an excellent choice. This is especially true if you live in growing zone 7 or lower, where the winter temperature gets too cold for the Venus flytrap.
If you live in growing zone 7 or lower, consider planting the Venus flytrap in a terrarium. The high sides of the terrarium will keep heat and moisture trapped in, helping the Venus flytrap thrive. Airflow is important, though, so don’t plant it in a container with a lid. A fishbowl or another glass container with an opening works well.

A glass pot or a regular clay pot with drainage holes both work fine if you live in a warm climate with mild winters – growing zone 8 or higher.

Make a soil mixture for the Venus flytrap. This plant naturally grows in very poor soil, and gets most of its nutrients by eating insects and spiders. In order to replicate the plant’s natural growing medium, make a mixture of 2/3 sphagnum moss and 1/3 sand. [3]
If you plant a Venus flytrap in regular potting soil, it won’t thrive. Regular potting soil contains too many nutrients.

Never add lime or fertilizer to a Venus flytrap’s growing medium.

If you’re using a terrarium, line it with gravel and place the soil mixture on top, so that you can ensure the soil will drain adequately.

Plant the bulb root side down. Dig a small hole in the soil and plant the bulb so that the top of the bulb is even with the soil. If you started your Venus flytrap from seed, plant the sprouted seedling so that the bulb is under the soil and the green stems are exposed to the air. After planting the Venus flytrap, providing the right environment and food will help it grow and thrive.

Providing Sunlight and Water
Keep the soil moist. The Venus flytrap is native to Carolina boglands, where the soil is constantly wet. It’s very important that the soil in your Venus flytrap’s pot or terrarium be kept moist to mimic its natural habitat. That said, the Venus flytrap should not be kept in standing water; make sure the pot or terrarium drains well so that the plant doesn’t rot.

Use rainwater or distilled water. Tap water is usually too alkaline or contains too many minerals to use to water a Venus flytrap.[4] An easy way to get enough water to keep conditions moist and humid is collecting rainwater for this specific purpose. Set out a container to catch the rain and store it up so you’ll have some on hand whenever you need it. Otherwise, you can buy distilled water by the gallon in most grocery stores.

Give the Venus flytrap adequate sunlight. During the warmer months, you can keep it either outside (as long as the temperature doesn’t dip too low at night) or place it in the window in the sun. Take care to water the Venus flytrap consistently so that the sun doesn’t dry out the soil, especially during the summer.
If your Venus flytrap is in a glass terrarium, make sure it doesn’t get burned in the sun. If the plant looks like it’s wilting a little, take it out of the sunlight after a few hours every day.

If you’d rather not worry about making sure it gets enough sun, you can also grow Venus flytraps using a fluorescent grow lamp. Turn on the grow lamp so that it provides a regular day’s worth of light, and make sure to turn it off at night.

If the leaves of the Venus flytrap aren’t rosy pink, it’s probably not getting enough sun.

Overwinter the Venus flytrap. Venus flytraps have a natural dormancy period during the winter season. It usually lasts from September or October through February or March – the natural winter of the Carolinas. During this time, the Venus flytrap should be kept at a temperature of , with less sunlight than it receives during the summer months.
If you live in growing zone 8 or below, you can keep the Venus flytrap outside all winter, as long as temperatures rarely drop below freezing.

If you live in a place with a colder winter, it’s necessary to take the Venus flytrap inside. Keep it in the garage, shed or unheated greenhouse where it will receive protection from frost but still get sunlight and be exposed to cold enough temperatures to facilitate a dormancy period.[5]

Feeding a Venus Flytrap
Let the Venus flytrap catch its food. If you keep your Venus flytrap outside, it will catch spiders and insects on its own (unless your outdoor environment is unnaturally sterile). When you see the leaves in a clasped position, the Venus flytrap has probably caught something.

Feed the Venus flytrap mealworms or insects. If you want to feed the Venus flytrap – either because you’re keeping it indoors or you just want to experience the excitement of watching it eat – you can use mealworms, insects or spiders that are small enough to fit in the leaf traps. Place the food inside one of the traps or release it inside the terrarium. The trap will close when the tiny hairs inside are triggered by the insect’s movements. It’s best to feed a Venus flytrap live bugs, but freshly dead bugs are also fine. However, since the trap won’t close unless movement triggers it to, you’ll need to move the bug around inside the trap a bit so it touches a few of the hairs.[6]
You can purchase live or dead insects from a pet store, but you could also try catching your own. For smaller Venus flytraps, black flies are a good size. For larger traps, you could try small crickets.

Venus flytraps can go months without eating, but if you’re keeping yours indoors you should plan to feed it about once a month for best results.[7]

Watch for the trap to reopen. Once the Venus flytrap closes over its food, it takes at least 12 hours to digest the its meal. Digestive enzymes break down the soft inner fluids of the insect or spider, leaving the exoskeleton intact. After about 12 hours, the trap will open and the empty exoskeleton will blow or wash away.
If a small stone or another indigestible object ends up in the trap, it will release the object after 12 hours.

Don’t feed it meat. You might be tempted to give the Venus flytrap a piece of ham or chicken, but the plant doesn’t have the right enzymes to digest animal meat. Feeding it anything besides spiders or insects could cause it to rot and die.

Growing New Plants
Repot the Venus flytrap every few years. Be sure to repot in a mixture of sphagnum moss and sand. Only repot in the spring, after the dormant period is over, or the plant will get shocked at being moved.

Allow it to flower. Pinch off the smaller flower stalks and keep a strong stalk with many heads. Let the flower stem grow high above the rest of the plant. This way the insects that pollinate the flowers won’t get caught in the traps. Each flower will produce a seed pod.

Plant the seeds of a mature plant. After a few years, when your Venus flytrap has matured, you can propagate it by planting the seeds it produces. Break open the seed pod to find the tiny black seeds. Plant them in sphagnum moss, and keep them warm and moist until they sprout.[8]

Try planting a leaf. Since the plants can grow from rhizomes, you could also try planting a leaf pinched off at the base to see if it sprouts. If conditions are right, the leaf will die and a tiny new plant will begin to grow.

Don’t shut the traps artificially. Where do you think it gets most of its energy? It’s that glowing thing in the sky. And even then that energy is hardly anything. It also isn’t that effective in catching things.

Clip the heads as they turn brown. A new, even bigger head could replace it, but this all depends on the time of year (it’s very unlikely during cold seasons). [9]
Don’t fertilize. If you want to make it grow better, give it a couple of flies per month.

Related wikiHows
How to Clean the Traps of a Venus Fly Trap

How to Choose a Venus Flytrap

How to Care for Venus Fly Traps

How to Raise Carnivorous Plants

How to Make Home Made Fly Trap

How to Care for a Red Dragon Venus Fly Trap

How to Care for a Carnivorous Plant

How to Catch Flies

How to Grow Pitcher Plants

How to Decorate With Houseplants

How to Grow Cactus Indoors

Sources and Citations
Fly Trap Care

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