Even though the Venus flytrap is among the most popular carnivorous plant species, the Dionaea muscipula or Venus flytrap’s unique carnivorous diet can sometimes turn indoor gardeners away. Unless you’re already aware of this carnivorous plants needs to thrive, you may think caring for your own Venus Flytrap is just too difficult. But don’t fret, by the time you’re done reading this Venus Flytrap care guide I’ve written for you, you’ll know exactly how to care for your own Venus flytrap.
Here’s how you care for a Venus flytrap:
- Water to keep soil moist
- Provide bright, indirect light
- Use well-draining, acidic, aerated soil
- Grow in a plastic pot
- Set temperature to 70-95°F and humidity at 60%
- Do not fertilize
If you’ve always wanted to impress your family, friends, or fellow indoor gardeners with a Venus flytrap, you’ll be able to by the time you’re done reading. I’ll go through every facet of its care in great detail so you’ll know exactly what to do!
Venus Flytrap Overview
First, I want to talk about the fascinating plant that is the Dionaea muscipula or Venus flytrap.
Hailing from the United States, specifically South Carolina and North Carolina, the Venus flytrap groves natively in subtropical wetlands. Subtropical, if you’re not sure, means the areas this plant thrives in are near the tropics.
Venus flytrap mostly eats insects, especially spiders and other arachnids. I’ve talked on the blog before about how a Venus flytrap catches its meals, but now seems like a great time for a refresher.
The flytrap has trigger hairs, which are also known as sensitive hairs. These hairs are across all the inner surfaces of the plant leaves.
When an insect lands or walks upon the trigger hairs and makes contact for up to 20 seconds, the flytrap will snap its trap closed.
Why the 20-second delay, you ask?
It’s simple. The Venus flytrap waits that long for energy conservation. If it closed its trap at any little thing, it could be a gentle breeze that activates the trigger hairs, not a tasty insect.
Then, stimulation must occur several more times before the Venus flytrap will begin digesting whatever it has caught in its trap. This is done intentionally as well to ensure the nutritional value of its next meal.
Although they’re ferocious carnivores, the Venus flytrap reaches sizes of only five to six inches in diameter when it reaches maturity. Each trap is approximately 1.5 inches.
Caring for a Venus Flytrap or Dionaea Muscipula
You’re excited to grow a Venus flytrap indoors. This section will be chock full of useful information to get you started.
Watering a Venus Flytrap
Attesting to the boggy regions they’re native to, the Venus flytrap requires moist soil throughout every season.
This will require you to water the plant more often in the summer or if you live in a consistently hot region. The high temperatures will cause faster water absorption.
In the winter–or if you live in a consistently cooler climate–you can get away with watering this plant less often.
I always recommend the fingertip test as the ideal indicator for when it’s time to water your indoor plants. Use it for the Venus flytrap as well.
Okay, but maybe you don’t want to get your fingers too close to a Venus flytrap lest the plant bites you. I’ll talk more about this later, but don’t worry too much about that.
Remember, Venus flytraps have mechanisms built-in to determine that what they’ve caught is an insect. The plant will let your finger go if it even clamps down in the first place.
It’s also worth mentioning that venus flytrap bites are not toxic.
Getting back to watering, the type of water you use is very important when it comes to carnivorous plants like the flytrap.
What some indoor gardeners do when watering the Venus flytrap is put the plant in 1/3-inch of water such as a shallow basin. This method of water is bottom-watering, as you may recall.
Just because the flytrap appreciates being bottom-watered does not mean it likes standing water. Like many other indoor plant species, if root rot takes hold, that’s usually the end of the road for your Venus flytrap.
Venus Flytrap Light Requirements
Bright, indirect light is the best type of lighting for a Venus flytrap.
A flytrap that’s acclimated to outdoor life can grow in generous sun, but inside, it’s different. Venus flytraps can get sunburned, so don’t subject the plant to direct sun.
I would recommend a westerly-facing or easterly-facing window for your indoor plant. Windows on the east get indirect and direct light, but it’s in the morning when the sun isn’t as harsh. Westerly-facing windows receive more sunlight later in the day.
Provide four to six hours of sunlight per day for the Venus flytrap. In the winter, when daylight is sparse and you’ll use artificial grow lights, position the lights four to seven inches from your plant if you’re using fluorescents.
You can get away with moving the grow lights closer to your flytrap if you’re using LEDs as grow lights, as these give off much less heat.
Best Soil for a Venus Flytrap
Venus flytraps need well-draining, aerated soil. You can use a standard soil mixture for this plant and that should suffice.
Don’t confuse soil mixture and potting soil, as the latter is not something the flytrap can handle. Soil mixture is a growth substrate with nothing in it (i.e., nutrients, soil amendments) whereas potting soil does contain those ingredients.
You can add soil amendments to the Venus flytrap’s soil without killing it, but you want to do so in limited quantities, and only use certain types of amendments as well.
One flytrap-safe soil amendment is perlite. This granular, pebble-like white material aerates the soil.
Peat moss, also known as sphagnum moss, is another aerator and can influence water drainage as well.
You need one part peat moss and one part perlite in the soil mixture. Although that might not seem like a lot, it’s fine for the flytrap, so don’t use more than that.
Venus flytraps like acidic soil. Perlite is on the neutral side of the pH scale, which is another reason not to use too much. Peat moss is more acidic, but not overly so.
Best Type of Pot for a Venus Flytrap
You know already that the Venus flytrap must always have moist soil, and thus, one of the best types of pot or container for this carnivorous indoor plant is actually plastic.
Plastic is nonporous so water won’t be absorbed into the pot material as soon as it makes contact. This will guarantee that when you bottom-water your flytrap that more of the water reaches the roots.
The color of plastic that you choose for your Venus flytrap’s pot is an important consideration. No, not only because of aesthetics.
The darker the pot color, the more heat the pot pulls in. That’s true even if you grow your plants indoors, as the Venus flytrap still gets a bountiful amount of sunlight per day.
The heat from the dark plant pot material goes straight to the flytrap’s roots. This can stress out your plant and possibly make it weak or sick.
If you find that a plastic pot is holding onto too much water and the soil is on the soggier side, try a glazed ceramic pot with a plastic liner at the bottom.
Ceramic is usually very porous, but with a layer or two of glaze over top, it becomes more nonporous. The plastic liner will keep water nearer the bottom of the pot.
Venus Flytrap’s Ideal Temperature and Humidity
The Venus flytrap prefers average temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but its heat tolerance allows it to withstand temperatures up to 95 degrees.
As you’ll recall, the Venus flytrap is a native of the Carolinas, where it can get quite balmy. That’s why the indoor plant has such a high heat tolerance. That said, don’t push the temps too far past 95 degrees.
If you do, your poor Venus flytrap could wilt!
Although it doesn’t get very cool in South Carolina, North Carolina can experience winter weather with the best of them. That’s why the flytrap is ready to handle temps as low as 35 degrees, even 21 degrees in some instances.
In the winter, the Venus flytrap goes dormant. Even still, you want to carefully monitor its condition so the plant doesn’t get too cold.
Like other indoor plants, the Venus flytrap could experience cold shock with symptoms such as leaf yellowing, slowed growth, and even tissue death or necrosis.
What about the humidity requirements of the Venus flytrap? This indoor plant loves humidity and requires it at a rate of 60 percent or more.
Considering that the average relative humidity in most households and offices is no higher than 50 percent, you’ll have to create moisture in other ways.
If you have a bright enough bathroom, your Venus flytrap could be a bathroom plant. That said, the flytrap might not attract the most bugs in this part of the house.
Using a humidifier is always a reliable way to create moist, hot air for the Venus flytrap.
Best Fertilizer for a Venus Flytrap
Most plants rely on plant fertilizer to deliver crucial macronutrients such as phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium. Not the Venus flytrap.
When it slowly digests caught insects, it absorbs nutrients from what it consumes, especially phosphorous and nitrogen.
The parts of the plant that the flytrap can’t digest get spit back out into the soil.
Digestion can take a while, so don’t be surprised if your Venus flytrap refuses to open for anywhere from five to 12 days. The plant is simply processing what it ate and doesn’t have the capacity for more food yet.
When it’s ready to eat again, your flytrap will open its leafy trap and await its next prey.
Common Issues with Venus Fly Trap
Is your Venus flytrap not growing quite as intended? Perhaps it seems weak or otherwise unhealthy? This section will help you diagnose what may be going on with your plant so you can get it on the mend!
As I’m sure you can imagine, pests are usually no problem for the Venus flytrap. That said, not every insect is part of this carnivorous plant’s diet, and two of them can be a nuisance to your flytrap. Those insect species are the fungus gnat and the aphid.
The tiny gnat species called the fungus gnat is more likely to target your Venus flytrap once the gnats reach adulthood. Hungry larvae might choose the carnivorous plant to feast on as well.
The older your flytrap, the better it can ward off damage, but previously injured, ill, or weak plants will not hold up as well, nor will young ones.
When fungus gnats find a plant to feed on, they get deep within the stems so they have prime access to the leaves. They can even damage the roots!
Venus flytraps are known to eat gnats, but not so much fungus gnats. Instead, the best option for the removal of fungus gnats is repotting your flytrap in completely new soil or using a fungicide.
Another sap-sucker that will happily nosh on the Venus flytrap is the aphid.
These microscopic bug species are too tiny for even the flytrap to eat. Its trigger hairs don’t detect the presence of aphids unless in a great quantity.
Aphid removal entails spraying them away with a gardening hose, dunking your flytrap in water periodically, or combining water and dish soap in a spray bottle and killing the aphids.
Although not much gets by the Venus flytrap, this plant species can succumb to certain diseases, including gray mold and root rot. Let’s take a closer look now.
Botrytis cinerea or gray mold occurs if you moisten the leaves of the flytrap too often.
The mold will be a distinct gray color that’s sometimes blue-ish, sort of like moldy bread (sorry for conjuring that mental image).
Before the mold develops, you might notice spots on the Venus flytrap’s leaves that look soaked with water, even when they’re completely dry. Later, wilting can occur, and eventually, the plant can collapse.
You’ll have to prune your flytrap with clean gardening shears and amend your watering habits to prevent reoccurrences of gray mold.
Another fungal disease that can affect the Venus flytrap is root rot. This overwatering disease causes the roots to die off one by one until the entire plant can eventually die.
By the time you notice symptoms in the flytrap itself such as wilting or discolored foliage, the root rot is likely already quite advanced.
If you suspect your Venus flytrap has root rot, you need to take the plant out of its pot and assess the root ball. The more black or brown roots (which are dead), the worse off your plant is.
Cut off all dead roots using clean gardening shears. Then repot your plant in fresh soil and water it less frequently than you’re doing now. I again recommend the fingertip test if you weren’t doing it before.
Venus Flytrap Common Questions
Do you still have a couple of burning questions about the Venus flytrap? Here is yet more information on this carnivorous indoor plant species.
Can a Venus Flytrap Eat a Human?
The Venus flytrap can be very off-putting to some people, so I want to take this section to dispel myths about it.
As I mentioned before, the Venus flytrap doesn’t bite down unnecessarily, and it certainly doesn’t enter digestion mode unless it knows it has something good in its trap.
The presence of your finger could cause the flytrap’s leafy traps to clamp down, that’s true. However, the plant is not going to digest you.
No, there’s no possible way a Venus flytrap could eat an entire human being. The traps themselves, on average, are less than two inches each. It’s just not going to happen.
I must say though that the Venus flytrap does have a penchant for flesh, and that can include human flesh. The flytrap cannot digest your flesh while it’s still part of your bones, muscles, and sinew though.
As for loose animal flesh though? That’s another story.
Is the Venus Flytrap Toxic to Pets?
Can the Venus flytrap coexist with other animals you have in the house?
Indeed, the plant isn’t toxic to cats or dogs. Still, considering the flytrap bites, I’m not so sure you’d want to have one in the same house with living animals. That goes double if you have very small pets!
Can a Venus Flytrap Live Without Bugs?
You can’t fathom having bugs in your house all the time just so the Venus flytrap can eat a meal. Bugs give you the heebie-jeebies.
Can the Venus flytrap forego insects?
Ultimately no, it can’t. As I talked about earlier, the Venus flytrap does not require fertilization because it gets its nutrients from insects.
While the flytrap might not eat for a month or two if it had a really big bug to digest, eventually, the plant will require more nutrients.
If your Venus flytrap can’t access those nutrients because your home is a (nearly) bug-free fortress, then nutrient deficiencies will develop. Failing to amend these deficiencies could lead to the death of your plant.
All homes have some bugs that manage to slip through the cracks. You might as well let your Venus flytrap take care of them!
Should You Feed Your Venus Flytrap Meat?
No, definitely not. Putting cooked or raw meat in your flytrap’s open trap could result in the death of your venus flytrap.
The Venus flytrap is called the flytrap for a reason. Its primary diet is insects.
That’s not only flies, as caterpillars, slugs, crickets, and spiders are all eaten by this carnivorous plant, but thinking you’re helping your plant by feeding it meat is one of the quickest ways to kill your beloved flytrap. Just don’t do it.