I love growing plants at home, but it can be challenging to keep them all healthy. Each plant has different growing requirements. Some need constant watering; others are best left alone for more extended periods. Also, seasonal changes in temperature, humidity, and lighting affect most plants. Carnivorous plants are particularly tricky. In this article, we will focus on the fascinating Venus flytrap. We will cover ten hacks on how to keep Venus flytrap alive.
Venus flytraps require specific environmental conditions to survive. These plants need appropriate water, carnivorous plant soil, plenty of light, and constant watering. Also, Venus flytraps growers should avoid physical stress, overfeeding, plagues, and extreme temperatures. Overall, the growing conditions for Venus flytraps should be similar to their native habitat: the wetlands of North Carolina and South Carolina.
Keep on reading to discover all the hacks to keep your Venus flytrap alive.
1- Use the Correct Water Source
Venus flytraps can’t be watered with good all fashion tap water. Venus flytraps require only nutrient-free, mineral-free water. You have three options; you can water your plant with:
- Distilled water
- Reverse osmosis water
In nature, Venus flytraps live in a nutrient-free environment. These plants have evolved to survive without nutrients from water or soil. If you water your plant with tap water, your plants won’t be able to handle the nutrients, and eventually, die.
You can buy distilled water or reverse osmosis water in almost any grocery store or pharmacy. Be careful when picking up a bottle. Make sure it doesn’t contain any added components. For example, some pharmacies sell distilled water for small children, but they add some minerals for flavor. The added minerals are not suitable for Venus flytraps.
I would recommend to buy a large water jug and refill it at a water store. It won’t cost more than a few cents per gallon. I live in an area where it doesn’t rain very often. There, it would be impossible to collect enough rainwater. However, if you leave in a rainy climate, feel free to collect rainwater and use it for your plants. It is an economical and eco-friendly option!
If you ever make a mistake and use the incorrect water source, take action immediately. Poor the remaining water out. Then, use a new batch of soil to transplant your Venus flytrap. When the plant is set in the new ground, water it with the correct source. This tip is a critical one. Using the wrong source can kill your Venus flytrap very quickly.
2- Water at Optimal Frequency
Venus flytraps grow in moist soils. They require constant watering throughout their lives. The short advice is: When in doubt, water your plant.
Venus flytraps require a lot of water. The soil should never go dry; it should always contain moisture. The strategy is to water the plants until the ground is damped. Then, you can water again when the soil is moist, but not damp.
It can be challenging to remember watering your plant so often. I use the water saucer strategy for my Venus flytrap. You can place your plant pot on top of a plate full of water. Since the container has openings at the bottom of it, the water of the plate acts as a water reserve. This strategy can keep the soil humid for several days without worrying.
3- Choose the Right Soil
Water and soil for Venus flytraps should always be nutrient-free. Improper soil can kill your plants very fast.
Most plants need nutritious soil with some fertilizing now and then. Venus flytraps can not grow in standard soil since they can’t handle the added elements/nutrients. Instead, make Venus flytrap soil by mixing a combination of these components: Long-fibered sphagnum moss, sphagnum peat moss, sand, and perlite.
You can also buy Venus flytrap soil online or at some specialty gardening stores. Some might be labeled as carnivorous plant soil mix or Venus flytrap soil. Generally, make sure it is nutrient-free.
Also, once the plant is potted in the appropriate soil, do not fertilize. The fertilizer defeats the purpose of the unique soil mix. Fertilizers can weaken and eventually kill Venus flytraps. Instead of fertilizing, focus on feeding your Venus flytrap properly. More information below.
4- Get Good Lighting
Venus flytraps need good lighting year long. Optimally, they should receive 12 hours of direct sunlight. They can survive under indirect sunlight but will need a few hours a day of direct sunlight to compensate.
Poor lighting won’t kill your plant immediately, but it will start affecting it fast. When growing without proper lighting, Venus flytraps look sluggish. The bright green color characteristic of these plants fades, and the growth rate slows down significantly.
Good lighting is critical. Make sure to place your plant in a sunny window, balcony, or garden. You can also use artificial lighting when natural light is hard to find.
I used to have the perfect window to grow my plants. But I moved, and my new place didn’t have much natural light. The solution was easy: I bought a plant lamp, with a 12-hour timer. With the lamp, my Venus flytraps get all the light they need.
There is a wide variety of suitable plant light options in the market. High Output fluorescent lights are best for Venus flytraps.
5- Avoid Extreme Temperatures
When people look for a sunny spot at home to grow their Venus flytraps, they sometimes forget the environment might get too hot for their plant. In the wild, Venus flytraps are exposed to several months summer with day temperatures averaging 90F.
Venus flytraps can certainly handle temperatures in the 90F range. You should keep an eye for temperatures that exceed 90F and avoid them. I live in Arizona. During the summer, temperatures can go over 110F or even 115F. These extreme temperatures are too high for Venus flytraps. Placing them outside without any cover can dry out the plant very fast.
Before placing your plant in a hot area, monitor the temperature.
You should also take into consideration cold temperatures. Venus flytraps tolerate temperatures in the 30F range. Do not be too worried about freezing temperatures, but avoid letting your plant get buried in snow or frozen completely.
6- Chose the Right Feeding Menu
Feeding a venus flytrap is an exciting experience. Yet, it can be dangerous for the plant. Inexperienced growers sometimes get excited about the predatory nature of their plants and experiment with an adventurous menu. They feed their plants with human food such as fruit, raw meat, or candy. Venus flytraps have a diverse diet, but their diet focuses on insects and arachnids.
Do not feed your plants with human food. Venus flytraps won’t be able to process such food. Instead, the plant will prefer to let the trap wither. Also, the food remains can attract bacteria into your Venus flytraps.
Stick to an insect/spider-only menu. Venus flytraps eat crickets, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, slugs, flies, ants, and several other bugs. You can catch bugs to feed your plant. Also, there are a few options in the pet store: dead mealworms, bloodworms, and crickets.
This article covers the feeding procedure in more detail: Venus Flytrap Feeding Guide.
7- Avoid Feeding Too Much (or too little)
Venus flytraps produce most of their food through photosynthesis. And they can supplement their diet by consuming insects. If you want to let your plant thrive, you must feed it. Generally, you have two options:
- Place your plant outside: Your Venus flytrap will catch its own prey and stay healthy.
- Place your plant indoors: Your Venus flytrap won’t be able to catch its own prey. You will need to feed it.
Option 1 is very straightforward. Your plant will take care of the feeding. Option 2, however, can be tricky. You must feed your plant with the appropriate frequency. Follow the instructions below to be successful:
- Only feed one trap of the plant at a time
- Only feed bugs that can completely fit inside a trap (insect pieces are an option for small plants)
- Monitor traps that were fed. Verify the bug was consumed. If the trap dies, the prey might have been too big.
- Feed your plant once every 2-6 weeks
- Do not feed your plant during dormancy
8- Reduce Handling and Reduce stress
Just like humans, plants can be affected by stress. However, in this case, we are talking about mechanical stress: movement and continuous handling.
Avoid handling your Venus flytrap when it is not necessary. You can trim dead leaves and feed the plant, but avoid playing with the traps. Activating the traps is an entirely normal process for the plant. Yet, it can also be very energy-consuming.
When people play with Venus flytrap, they activate their traps and drain the plant’s energy. The stress won’t kill your plant but will weaken it and slow down its growth.
Inanimate objects can also cause stress. Do not place your plant in an area with moving objects such as a window that opens and closes frequently or moving curtains.
9- Keep an Eye for Plagues
Venus flytraps, like most plants, can be affected by several different plagues. The general recommendation is always to keep an eye on your plant behavior. Examine the leaves often and check for any color changes or spots. Each plague has specific remedies, like the ones below:
- Spider mites: use a miticide such as Avid
- Black Spot fungus: use a sulfur-based fungicide
- Aphids: employ pyrethrin or canola oil
“Aphids are the most common pest; the result is twisted and deformed new leaves. They are effectively controlled with insecticides like pyrethrin/canola oil or others (…) Flea collars placed very close to the plant or in an enclosed plastic bag or terrarium work well also. Use the waxy type collars, not the powdery”
10- Skip Flowering
Every spring, Venus flytraps flourish. They produce a few flower bunches thought the spring months. The flowering process is crucial for reproduction, yet, as a beginner carnivorous plant grower, you should skip the flowers during the first years.
Keep close attention to your plant during the spring. As soon as you spot thick cylindrical stalks growing out of your plant, cut them off. By cutting them, you won’t let your plant flower.
The flowering process is not essential for your plant’s livelihood. Instead, it can cause harm. The flowering process is exhausting for Venus flytraps. When they flower, they lose significant amounts of energy.
The flowering process won’t will your Venus flytrap. But, it can weaken them enough so that any growing mistake can kill your plant a lot faster.
Learn more about Venus flytrap flowers with this article: Venus Flytrap Flower Guide
Summary: Hacks on How to Keep Venus Flytrap Alive
- Water Source: Only use distilled water, reverse osmosis water or rainwater.
- Watering Frequency: Never let the soil be dry. Water very often, keeping the ground moist.
- Soil: Use a combination of nutrient-free long-fibered sphagnum moss, sphagnum peat moss, sand, and perlite.
- Lighting: Venus flytraps need more than 4 hours of direct sunlight every day.
- Temperatures: Keep your plant at the appropriate temperatures of over 95F and under 30F
- Feeding Menu: Feed your plant insects or arachnids exclusively.
- Feeding Frequency: Venus flytraps only need to consume one bug at a time, every 4 to 6 weeks.
- Stress: Avoid mechanical stress. Do not play with the traps or place your plant next to moving objects.
- Plagues: Keep an eye on your plant appearance. Research remedies for the specific disease or plague.
- Flowering: Skip the flowering process. Cut off the flower stalks before they grow and flourish.
Make sure to review the growing hacks above every once in a while. Studying them will let you double-check your set up is built for success and will let you keep your Venus flytrap alive.
I hope you have a good growing experience. Venus flytraps are one of the most fun plants to own. Feel free to comment with any questions and additional tips to not only keep Venus flytrap alive but let them thrive.