The Best Carnivorous Plants for Indoors


What are the best carnivorous plants for indoors? When I mention carnivorous plants that are able to thrive when grown indoors , the Venus flytrap likely comes to mind first, right? Yet there are many other carnivorous plants that are able to flourish indoors, and in this article, I’ll tell you which carnivorous plants are the best to grow indoors. 

The best carnivorous plants for indoors are:

  • Venus flytrap
  • Pitcher plant
  • Butterworts
  • Bladderworts
  • Sundews
  • Monkey cups

If you want to add a carnivorous plant or two to your indoor garden, you’ve come to the right place. Ahead, I’ll talk further about the origins of these unique plant species as well as share some care facets! 

6 Best Carnivorous Plants to Grow at Home 

Venus Flytrap

Of course, I must start this list with the most classic and well-known carnivorous plant for indoors, the Venus flytrap or Dionaea muscipula.

Native to the United States’ subtropical wetlands, the Venus flytrap regularly munches on spiders and other insects. 

That explains why it’s such a desirable if not unconventional pick for many indoor gardens. 

Its size also helps. Growing a mere five to six inches, the Venus flytrap is a tidy plant for the home and office alike. 

I know what you’re thinking, what about its potential to bite you?

Let me explain how the trapping structure of this plant species works. The Venus flytrap has trigger hairs that, when contacted by small insects pests or spiders, will slowly snap closed. 

Repeated stimuli must occur for the Venus flytrap to begin digesting what it’s caught to prevent the plant from needlessly wasting energy.

Are Venus Fly Traps Poisonous to touch?

No, if you happen to touch a venus flytrap with your bare hand you don’t have to worry it’s not a poisonous plant. Taking this a step further, venus flytrap bites are not toxic, not dangerous, and some indoor gardeners say “not even that painful”. 

Are Venus Fly Traps Poisonous if Swallowed?

The Venus flytrap or Dionaea muscipula is not even poisonous if ingested and is only likely to give you a stomach ache if that.

Fun fact: Venus flytraps can bloom and produce flowers, making this carnivorous houseplant even more appealing. 

Venus Flytrap Care

Venus flytraps don’t need your help staying fed, but you do want to maintain their moisture by watering them regularly. The soil should never dry out.  

Provide your indoor venus flytrap bright, indirect light, especially if yours is a colorful Venus flytrap cultivar. Otherwise, its color will fade. 

Standard plant soil with amendments such as perlite and peat moss (one part apiece) should be aerating and well-draining enough for this plant. 

Pitcher Plant

The pitcher plant includes such species as the Australian pitcher plant in the Cephalotus genus, cobra lilies, and the North American pitcher plant in the Sarracenia genus. 

What Do Pitcher Plants Eat

Indoor pitcher plants are known to eat flies, gnats, ants and even the occasional slug or beetle while larger pitcher plants are able to digest lizards and small amphibians such as toads and salamanders.

These plants entrap prey in a different way than the Venus flytrap. 

Pitcher plants have a deep, long cavity in which digestive fluid resides. The pitcher plant produces nectar and has brightly-colored leaves to attract insects.

Nectar around the peristome or pitcher rim makes it wet and slippery, so once an insect lands on the rim, they fall into the cavity. Some pitcher plants have aldehyde crystals or waxy scales within that make escaping difficult once in the cavity.

After the insect falls into the cavity of digestive liquid, the carnivorous pitcher plant dissolves the insect completely.

How Big do Pitcher Plant Get?

The average size of a mature pitcher plant is one foot when grown indoors. 

Pitcher Plant Care

Pitcher plants require a constant moist, humid soil. 

The carnivorous pitcher plant does best with rainwater, reverse osmosis water, or distilled water. Avoid bottled water and tap water to keep your plant healthy.

Pitcher plants react poorly to certain chemicals such as sodium fluoride found in tap water in the United States.

Depending on the species, the lighting requirements of a pitcher plant vary. 

Some types of pitcher plants are more used to rainforest conditions and can grow in dappled or filtered sunlight. Other pitcher plant species can handle direct sun without burning. 

Best Type of Soil for your Indoor Carnivorous Pitcher Plant

Rich, well-draining soil is a must for the pitcher plant. Be sure to add moderate amounts of vermiculite, bark, or peat moss. 

Butterworts

The Pinguicula or butterworts genus catch food in yet another unique way than the other carnivorous plants for indoors that I’ve discussed.

Their glandular leaves are sticky, and some even say greasy. This feel is due to the mucilage that the leaves secrete via dual glands on the surface of the leaves. 

The glands are known as peduncular glands. 

Once an insect lands on a butterwort, the peduncular glands produce more mucilage that’s located in a reservoir in the stalks. The more the bug struggles then, the more it seals its own fate.

Butterworts can grow flowers in hues like white, violet, or blue.

Butterworts Care

Watering your Indoor Carnivorous Butterworts

If your butterwort comes from a warm region, then its soil should be kept moist to mimic its native environment. Never allow the soil to get dry. Overhead watering suits the Pinguicula the best.

Best Lighting for your Indoor Carnivorous Butterworts

Partial shade is best for some varieties of this carnivorous plant species while others like the full sun. Butterworts are similar to pitcher plants when it comes to ideal lighting environments.  

Best soil for the Indoor Carnivorous Butterwort

The most ideal growth medium for butterworts is a combination of sharp sand (one part) and peat moss (three parts).

Bladderworts

Next are the Utricularia or bladderworts, which include more than 200 species of carnivorous plants, many for indoors. 

Attesting to their name, bladderworts contain sizable bladders that act as a means of catching prey.

The Bladderworts prey isn’t solely insects but also includes small tadpoles, mosquito larvae, fish fry, nematodes, and water fleas as well. 

The bladderwort has trigger hairs near the bladder that prey will contact when they get too close. The negative pressure allows the bladder trapdoor to open so the prey can be pulled inside. 

Water enters the bladder too, and when it’s full, the trapdoor closes.

This process can happen extraordinarily fast too, in a matter of 10 or 15 milliseconds! 

Bladderworts are Able to Bloom & Grow Flowers

Bladderworts are another carnivorous plant that’s known to bloom and grow appealing flowers up to four inches in width. The flowers come in a variety of colors, nearly any hue imaginable.

Bladderworts Care

The wetter, the better for the bladderwort, even indoors. If its water has risen over the base of the soil, this is preferable. You might even have a better chance at seeing the bladderwort’s beloved flowers.

Sunny conditions will keep your bladderwort happy, but since this plant has small bladders, too much direct sun can burn it so be careful not to give it too much full sunlight.

A great way to help keep its soil moist is to use plenty of peat moss or sphagnum moss in its soil to keep it moist longer!

Sundews

With about 200 species, sundews or Drosera are another ultra-cool carnivorous plant to consider growing indoors. 

The spoon-leafed sundew is especially popular among indoor gardeners due to its opposing red and green color scheme.

Sundews rose into prominence in part due to Charles Darwin’s research on the plant.

Like some of the other carnivorous plants for indoors I’ve discussed, sundews have glands. the carnivorous Sundews glands are attached to long, sticky tentacles. 

The glands are two different types. One is a stalked gland that releases mucilage, and the other is a sessile gland that absorbs nutrients

When an insect wants to sip on the sweet-tasting mucilage, the stickiness of the tentacles prevents them from escaping the sundew. The mucilage can suffocate the insect, or the bug might die of exhaustion. 

Outdoors, sundews can reach sizes of nearly 40 inches tall and 10 inches long, but indoors, they will be smaller. Some sundew species are climbers which is another feature that makes it a great choice for a carnivorous plant to be grown indoors. 

How Long Do Sundews Live?

With the right care, a sundew grown indoors can live for 50 years and sometimes longer! 

Sundews Care

Humid and moist soil is necessary care requirement for sundew species. 

You can use a water tray for the plant and fill it to half of the pot’s height. Always water a sundew with rainwater, reverse osmosis water, or distilled water.

Periods of partial sunlight for several hours and then filtered sunlight suit the sundew best. Avoid dark, even shady conditions. 

Indoors, the carnivorous sundews thrive in a soil mix with perlite and sand in an even ratio (such as 1:1). 

Monkey Cups

The Nepenthes genus includes nearly 200 plant species that grow in such parts of the world as India, Australia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China.

So why are these carnivorous plants that thrive indoors called monkey cups?

The name “Monkey Cups” refers to the anatomy of the meat eating plant.

Monkey cups have a large tube-like appendage that resembles a flute. This is the cup part of the monkey cup. 

Inside the cup is fluid that can vary in consistency from thick, viscous, syrupy-like fluid to a more watered-down fluid. 

In the fluid, regardless of texture, are viscoelastic biopolymers that can entrap insects, including those with wings.

Even if an insect doesn’t touch the liquid upon entering the cup, the wax coating on the interior of the cup makes it difficult to get out once trapped inside. The peristome or lip is waxy too. 

Deep in the cup are glands for nutrient absorption after consuming prey. Then, when finished, a monkey cup can close its top leaf until it needs to feed again.

Monkey Cups Care

As it is a carnivorous plant, the Nepenthes must never have completely dry soil. 

If your tap water doesn’t have a lot of salt, you can use it to water this plant. However, to be on the safe side, purified water, distilled water, or rainwater are best.

Best Light for Monkey Cups

Direct sunlight–or at the very least, bright light–will allow the monkey cup to thrive. Avoid dimmer conditions than very bright light.

Well-draining, aerated soil mix with pumice or perlite (one part) and peat moss (one part) is a suitable growth medium. The soil should not contain many nutrients from the onset.

Share this post with someone else that loves indoor plants!

Fred Zimmer

I'm a lover of plants, animals, photography, & people, not necessarily in that order. Currently, I'm focused on photographing indoor plants & chachkies. I write & rewrite articles about creating an environment where indoor plants can thrive. I'm good at listening to music but bad at shopping to muzak.

Recent Posts