Many different factors can affect Venus flytraps’ health and threaten their livelihood. Unhealthy Venus flytraps usually show some key indicators that help us take action. I have grown Venus flytraps for several years and would like to share what I have learned so far, especially how to save an unhealthy Venus flytrap.
Unhealthy Venus flytrap exhibit faded colors, deformed leaves, an increase of black leaves, or unwanted odor. Owners should review their plant’s environment, especially the water source, water frequency, exposure to sunlight, and presence of pests.
In the next section, you can learn about the main reasons Venus flytrap look down or unhealthy. Also, I have included a brief explanation for each one on how to fix it.
12 Reasons Why Your Venus Flytrap is Unhealthy
1. The Soil is Poisoning Your Plant
The Venus flytrap needs nutrient-free mineral-free soil to survive. Any other type of soil (the regular kind) will kill your plant. It might be counter-intuitive, but the soil for Venus flytrap has to lack all nutrients.
Venus flytrap plants grow well in ground that contains either sphagnums or peat moss and a draining agent such as sand or perlite. You can mix the ingredients as a 4:1 or 2:1 depending on your preference. Also, some companies sell their own carnivorous soil mix, but in most cases is cheaper and easier to make it yourself.
Read this article to get all the details on soil for Venus flytraps: The Best Soil for Venus Fly Traps. Also, you can buy carnivorous plant soil online, like this one I use. Follow the link to confirm the price in Amazon.com.
If you used standard soil, you must fix this issue immediately. Venus flytraps die very quickly when exposed to nutrients. Follow these steps to save your plant:
- Buy new soil for your plant. Follow the recommendations above to choose the right elements for the ground
- Make sure to have distilled water on hand
- carefully, remove your plant from the old soil
- Clean your plant’s roots with distilled water, until all the first is out
- Toss the old soil, or save it for other types of plants
- Clean the pot, and do not miss any spot.
- Soak your new soil with distilled water until it is very humid
- Place the new land in the pot (should be moist)
- Make a hole with your fingers in the middle of the pot
- Carefully, introduce your plant’s roots and bulb underground and set with more dirt
- You are all set!
2. The Water is NOT Mineral-Free
Using the improper water source can poison your pant, as Venus flytraps can’t process nutrients. You should only employ distilled water, reverse osmosis water, or rainwater for Venus flytraps. No other water source is acceptable, not even bottled water.
Make sure you water your plant properly, as it is a critical factor in your plant’s health. This guide can help you master the process: Venus Flytrap Watering Procedure.
Using the wrong water can kill your plant quickly, also that water will leave behind minerals in the soil. I recommend to follow this procedure to save your plant:
- Make sure you have extra carnivorous plant soil
- Buy distilled water, reverse osmosis water (collecting rainwater will take too long in these circumstances)
- Remove your plant from the soil
- rinse your plant’s roots with distilled or reverse osmosis water
- Toss the old soil
- Clean the pot
- Make the fresh soil moist with the correct water source (distilled water, reverse osmosis water, rainwater)
- Set the new soil in the pot
- Make a hole for your plant in the ground.
- Repot your plant in the new soil
- Water a bit more to ensure the soil is humid
- Never again water your plant with anything other than distilled water, reverse osmosis water, or rainwater
Tip: Buy a large water jug (3-5 Gallons) and refill it at water stores or grocery stores that sell distilled or reverse osmosis water. Each gallon doesn’t cost more than 20 cents, and it will last you for a while. Also, consider collecting rainwater, it is free!
3. You Need More Light
In the wild, Venus flytraps have access to plenty of lighting. They need that much light to grow and develop properly. Venus flytraps can grow weaker and weaker until they finally die from light starvation.
Some clear signs of light starvation are:
- Lack of read coloring inside the lobes of the trap
- Deformed traps: the leaves grow , but the traps never develop
Venus flytrap must receive at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight. In the perfect scenario, they should receive 12 hours of direct sunlight. the lack of light exposure won’t kill your plant immediately but will weaken it until it dies.
To resolve this issue you can find a better outdoor spot to place your plant. A safe bet is to find a placement where your plant gets 6 hours of direct sunlight, plus some indirect sunlight, it is not the optimum scenario, but a safe place to grow your plant way above the minimums.
Also, you should consider supplemental lighting. You can employ artificial plant light to give appropriate lighting to your plants. I recommend the following specifications:
- High output fluorescent lights or high power LEDs.
- Cool colors that do not overheat your plant
- 6+ hour automatic timer that can automatically turn on and off
I use this LED plant light for some of the Venus flytraps I own and my plants are thriving. It has the appropriate lumen level and color spectrum. Also, it comes with a built in timer to turn on/off automatically.
You should observe positive changes just a few weeks after exposing your plant to appropriate lighting. For example, a bright red color inside the traps is always an encouraging sign!
4. Not Enough Water
The soil for your Venus flytrap should always remain humid. Venus flytraps do not develop well in dry or arid land. They need a constant water source.
Water your plant until the ground is moist, but not damp and then leave it alone. Water again when the soil is almost (but not) dry. Many plants can’t handle constant humid soil; Venus flytraps are not like that. If you are in doubt, I would recommend to water them. Under-watering is a far more common mistake than over-watering.
I recommend following a watering routine until you get the hang of it. Also, I employ a water saucer strategy. With this method, you place my plant’s pot on top of a shallow plate. After watering your plant, add an inch of water on the plate. The extra water lets the soil remain humid, but doesn’t saturate it.
5. Too Much Water
There is some misinformation out there that leads new Venus flytrap owners to believe these plants grow in swamps, and they should live in overly watered soil. The soil of Venus flytraps must be moist at all times, but it shouldn’t be saturated.
Sometimes the leaves of Venus flytrap start turning yellow, this can be caused by overwatering. And, an excessively humid environment is the optimal environment for mold and bacterial growth.
If you are in doubt, check for over-watering conditions:
Use your fingers and press against the soil of your Venus flytrap. Ask yourself, does it only feel humid? Or is your finger soaking wet? If you answer “yes” to the second question. Then, you must take action:
Do not water your plant again until the soil is almost dry. Then, water carefully and right after, check if the soil is moist but not soaked with your finger. Repeat this process until you have mastered it!
6. The Feeding is Out of Control
It is not unusual for Venus flytrap owners to harm their plant by feeding. Improper feeding can cause an increased level of black leaves and can even attract bacteria to your plant.
The most common problems when feeding Venus flytrap are the following:
- You are feeding your plant human food: Always stick to an insect and arachnid diet for your plant. Do not experiment with human food. The plant will attempt to consume it, but will likely fail and the leaf will die
- The bugs are too big: Only feed your plant with bugs that can fit completely inside a trap. Do not attempt to stick a bug inside a trap, if it won’t be able to close. A good rule is to choose bugs that are 1/3 of the size of the trap.
- Too much food: Venus flytraps can be fed too often. If they are, the plant will purposefully let some of the traps digesting prey to wither. Only feed your plant one bug at a time and wait for 3 to 6 weeks between each feeding.
Incorrect feeding causes more black leaves. the black leaves won’t affect the whole plant, but the fewer leaves you have the less likely your plant will thrive.
In this article I teach you how to feed a Venus flytrap properly every single time: How to Feed a Venus Flytrap.
7. Extreme Heat Exposure
Extreme heat exposure can affect Venus flytrap. They do require sunlight, but they shouldn’t be in contact with heat surpassing 95 F or 35 C.
Do not leave your plant outside if the temperature is surpassing 95 F (35 C); they will dry out very quickly. And it might even get burnt. Some owners leave their plants under extreme heat during the summer, but very quickly, they notice red coloration in the exterior of the leaves, this is basically a sunburn.
Avoid windows that get too hot. The glass intensifies the intensity of the sun and can also overheat your plant. Before placing a Venus flytrap in a very sunny window, monitor the temperature at that spot.
If your plant has suffered some burns or is slightly dried up, follow these procedures:
- Remove them from the heat source.
- Find a spot at home where they can get enough light without burning. Also, consider a plant light of cool colors.
- Water your plant to hydrate and be especially careful during the next few weeks.
- Avoid feeding your plant for a few weeks so it can focus on healing
Once your plant has recovered, you can reconsider placing them outdoors . But, this time buy a gardening shade cloth to reduce the temperature. Also, consider increasing the humidity of the environment.
8. Your Plant is Suffering From Stress
When your plant undergoes, it tends to look down and lose leaves. Some common causes of stress are:
- Improper feeding (covered on item 6)
- Constant movement or contact
- The traps are being set for no reason
Avoid placing your plant next to moving objects, such as a curtain or a window. Also, sometimes pets get very curious and try to play with plants. Place your plant in an strategic location so it is not bothered too much.
Finally, avoid touching the traps of your plant. Do not try to activate them for fun. Venus flytraps employ substantial amounts of energy controlling the trapping mechanism. If you use them in vain, your plant will lose energy for no reason. Instead, consider feeding your plant to observe the trapping mechanism.
There is no follow up method for this issue. The only advice is to reduce the amount of stress your plant is receiving to a minimum. More leaves should grow healthy as you make these changes.
9. The Fertilizer is Not Appropriate
It is a misconception that Venus flytraps shouldn’t be fertilize. They can be fertilized, but it has to be done carefully. Exposure to too many chemicals can harm your Venus flytrap.
Light fertilizers give Venus flytrap an extra boost, too much fertilizing can poison it. Go over this checklist to confirm you are fertilizing your Venus flytrap appropriately:
- Only fertilize Venus flytraps during the growing season
- Only plants that do not have access to feed
- Fertilize your plant by lightly misting the leaves
- Employ weak foliar sprays as fertilizers
If you fertilized your plant improperly, quit it immediately. Avoid fertilizing for the next coming months to give your plant time to heal. Once you are ready to fertilize again, follow the instructions above to do it carefully.
10. Your Plant Has No Access to Feed
When plants live indoors, they do not have access to feed. No access to prey won’t kill your plant, but it can weaken it as it doesn’t have access to critical nutrients.
Venus flytraps that do not have access to feed won’t look very unhealthy, but they might look down or not at their prime.
Boost your plant’s growth; you can consider feeding it now and then. Just one bug every month and a half can make a big difference. You can buy dried insects such as cricket or bloodworms to feed your plants or use live feed.
11. Pests, Pests, Pests!
Pests can affect Venus flytraps. Check your plant for signs of pests: spots, deformities, color changes, etc. Eradicating pests is not as straightforward, since many different types of diseases can affect your plant. Here are a few examples of pests and solutions:
- Get rid of aphids with pyrethrin insecticide
- Mitigate mites with a miticide
- Eliminate a fungus infection with fungicide based on sulfur
Identify the symptoms within your plant and research for the appropriate fungicides or insecticides.
12. Root Rot
Root rot is caused by overwatering Venus flytrap and exposing them to bacteria or fungus. Root rot can kill your plant as the root starts rotting, and the whole plant gets infected.
When your plant is suffering from root rot. Some clear signs of root rot are:
- A rotting smell coming from the ground and the leaves
- An increasing number of black leaves
- The bulb turns black in certain areas
You must take action immediately if you identify root rot. Follow these instructions to save your plant:
- Remove your Venus flytrap from the soil: Manually extract your plant from the ground. Then, rinse the roots with distilled water.
- Remove the affected root area and leaves: Use small scissors to remove the affected area of the bulb. The affected area will be blackened. Remove the whole affected area, including any dead leaves.
- Repot the plant: Clean the old pot and remove the old soil (do not reuse). Add new ground to the pot and make a hole in the middle of the pot. Finally, repot the plant.
- Water your plant: Once your plant is repotted, water it thoroughly with distilled, reverse osmosis, or rainwater.
- Monitor the plant for the next weeks
You can also explore the complete article in how to save your plant from root rot.
I hope you found this article informative. Make sure you review it thoroughly and fix your plant’s setup. Best of luck growing Venus flytrap. Feel free to browse around the site and learn more about carnivorous plants. Enjoy!