Venus Flytrap Care Instructions

Care Instructions for Venus Flytraps (Dionaea muscipula)

Unpacking

If you ordered a potted venus flytrap, carefully remove the tape and clear plastic cup around the venus flytrap.  Here's an unpacking video.   It’s possible that many of the traps will close during transit.  Most of the time these traps will open up again when placed in its new environment. 

Potting

If you ordered a bare-root venus flytrap, here's an instructional video on flytrap potting.

You can refer to this potting diagram on where the soil line should be.

 

Water Quality (one of the most important factors!)

Use only rainwater, distilled water or reverse osmosis water.  Venus Flytraps require very pure water. Your tap water is likely to be too high in dissolved solids—minerals and salts—that may kill a Venus Flytrap, possibly within weeks.  It is possible to test your water for parts per million with inexpensive TDS (total dissolved solid meters) available for purchase online.  You can also ask your water company for a free copy of the water analysis for your area.  The water needs to be <100ppm to be safe for flytraps and the lower the better.  Note that in many places, there is a large difference in water quality from season to season due to the necessity to pump ground water when rainwater and snow run off are unavailable. 

 Light (the other most import factor!)

Venus Flytraps are sun lovers, and in general, the more direct bright sunlight you give them, the healthier they will be.  Plants that don’t get enough light will remain very green in color and have elongated, weak leaves.  The best place for a flytrap during the growing season (Spring to late autumn) is outside or is a very sunny windowsill.  They may be also grown under fluorescent, LED or halogen grow lights.  However, the intensity must be fairly high (at least 32 watts per square foot for fluorescents and 14-16 hours a day) for the plants to appear robust.  If lights are used during the winter, the recommended photoperiod is shortened to 8-10 hours.  

 Watering method

Always keep your Venus Flytraps moist, but never soggy.  One way to accomplish this is through the tray method where the pot is placed in a tray or dish and water is added approximately 1 inch deep.  Allow the water in the bottom of the tray to dry out before adding more.  This will give the wet soil a little chance to breathe and keep the flytrap roots healthy.

 Temperature and Humidity

During the spring and summer months, flytraps thrive with temperatures roughly 55-85 degrees.  Warmer temps up to 110 degrees will be fine as long as the relative humidity in the air remains high (>50%).  The outside summer climate throughout most of the United States is great for flytraps with the exception of certain arid regions such as the deserts of Arizona and Nevada.  In these areas and other warm places, care should be taken to shade the plants during the hottest portions of the day and only give them morning sunlight.  During the late autumn and winter, flytraps should be placed in cooler areas with a reduced amount of light for dormancy.  Flytraps can tolerate a light freeze during dormancy (down to 25 degrees) but lower temperatures may kill them.

 Soil and Repotting

Venus Flytraps must have a particular kind of soil that is poor in nutrients and slightly acidic. They will very likely die in "potting soil" or soil from your garden or yard. Their soil must be like the soil in their natural habitat: acidic and with almost no nutrients, moisture retentive but well drained.  Venus flytraps should be repotted every 1-2 years.  Plant them in a mixture of 50% pure sphagnum peat moss and 50% silica sand.  Horticultural or aquarium silica sand is recommended; however, “Play sand” from the hardware store can be used but it must be rinsed thoroughly at least 3x with pure water (please see water quality section).  Many growers also use pure long fibered spaghnum moss.  WARNING: Miracle Grow or Scott’s sphagnum peat moss has fertilizers added which can kill your flytrap.

Fertilizer and Feeding

Never fertilize!  Although experienced growers can occasionally fertilize Venus Flytraps lightly using special techniques such as foliar feeding, Venus Flytraps will probably die when fertilized by beginner growers, for the same reason that they usually die from tap water: too many minerals and chemicals. These burn the plants' roots and kill them. Venus Flytraps get all the nutrition they need from the sun (through photosynthesis like any plant) and from the insects they catch. If they are healthy and if you put them outside sometimes to "hunt," they will catch insects on their own. You can also feed them captured flies or other insects (but not meat!). It helps to place a captured fly in a jar and then place it in the fridge for a few minutes to make the fly lethargic. Use tweezers to hold the drowsy fly by a wing, then place the fly in a trap and move it a little to stimulate the trigger hairs near the middle of the trap, which should cause a healthy trap to close. Don't close the traps over and over again, because each trap can only snap shut a few times (perhaps half a dozen) before it won't respond.

Dormancy

Venus Flytraps must have a rest period of a few months every year. When the days become shorter and cooler in the Fall, the plants begin to slow down growth and the traps begin to be sluggish. During dormancy Venus Flytraps should be kept cool. Although the plants can survive light frosts and brief freezing, it is better to keep them above freezing: 35°F to about 55°F degrees at night is sufficiently cool, and they can be warmer at times during the day but should be cool to cold most of the time. An unheated porch or garage can work for most people. Venus fly traps should not be watered nearly as often because they don't need nor use as much water during their dormancy. Carefully cut off any traps that turn black. This is natural. Venus Flytrap leaves, like all plants' leaves, eventually die and are replaced by fresh leaves in time. During dormancy a healthy Venus Flytrap can look almost dead on top, but assuming it has not dried out completely nor rotted from too much water, it is healthy and will begin to grow vigorously again sometime in the Spring. At that time it will appreciate being placed in warmer conditions and watered more frequently again.

Special note for holiday season buyers:  If you receive your flytrap during the winter and it is still in active growth then our recommendation is to let it go dormant with cooler temperatures.  However, you could also give it warm temperatures and plenty of light until the following winter.  Flytraps are tolerant of skipping a single dormancy season; however, any more than one with stress the plant out to the point of death.  Note that plants that skipped their dormancy may get confused and go through a mild dormancy in the spring/summer.

Now grow those flytraps!

If you follow the above tips, you'll be well on your way to growing healthy and happy Venus fly traps!  Note that temperature American sundews and pitcher plants can be grown alongside venus flytraps under the same conditions.


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