Save a Dying Venus Flytrap: 7 Steps to Bring it Back to Life


It can be very frustrating when you are growing Venus flytraps, and they are either dying or looking down. Venus flytraps can be quite tricky to grow due to its unique requirements. In this article, I will give you some advice on how to bring your sick Venus flytrap back to life.

Standard plant soil, tap-water, and lack of sunlight can kill Venus flytraps very quickly. Other factors such as excessive humidity, extreme temperatures, aggressive fertilizing, and improper feeding, can significantly affect Venus flytraps.

Is Your Venus Flytrap Dying?

First, let’s verify the state of your Venus flytrap.

A dead Venus flytrap has no green leaves, has wholly blackened, and has a squishy consistency. Yet, some people tend to confuse a dying Venus flytrap from a healthy Venus flytrap undergoing some changes: dormancy or leaf rotation.

Dormancy Period

During the winter, Venus flytraps experience dormancy. The dormancy period is similar to hibernation for animals. During this time, your Venus flytrap will stop growing, it will reduce in size, and several leaves will die. 

If your plant has been exposed to temperatures below 40F (4.4C) for a few weeks, your Venus flytrap might be experiencing dormancy. A yearly dormancy period is crucial for your plant’s development. It will last about three months, and then your plant will start flourishing again in the spring.

Many people get confused during Venus flytrap dormancy. They believe their plat is dead, and they throw it away. Your plant might have experienced sudden changes, but it is because it is in its rest period.

Do not throw away your plant during dormancy. If you are uncertain of its state, keep your plant until spring. Then, it will either exit dormancy and continue to develop or never recover. Follow these considerations to care for your plant during dormancy properly:

  • Do not fertilize: Your plant is not growing; avoid fertilizing your plant altogether.
  • Do not feed your plant: During dormancy, your plant doesn’t need to be fed. If it catches prey on its own, that is fine, but do not feed manually.
  • Lower the watering frequency: Venus flytraps still need a moist environment to live. During dormancy, continue to water, but lower the rate and adapt to weather conditions.
  • Avoid freezing temperatures: The Venus flytrap needs exposure to cold weather during dormancy. However, you should avoid letting your plant freeze or experience temperatures below 25-30 F (-4C to -1C)

Standard Leaf Rotation

New Venus flytrap growers tend to get confused about the presence of black leaves. They mistakenly associate the sole existence of dead lives with a sick plant. 

Venus flytraps grow quickly; old leaves wither while new ones spur from the ground. When Venus flytrap leaves wither, they turn dark in color until they have blackened completely. They dry out and decompose slowly.

Black leaves are normal. You shouldn’t worry about your Venus flytrap unless the number of black leaves has increased significantly, and new leaves are not growing fast enough. Also, remember that during dormancy, your plant will exhibit an increase in black leaves. It is just part of your plant’s life cycle.

Venus flytrap size
Healthy Venus flytraps produce black leaves

7 Steps to Bring Your Venus Flytrap Back to Life

In this section, we will cover the necessary steps to bring your Venus flytrap back to life. The first two steps are essential care considerations. They are critical as improper soil and water can kill your Venus flytrap very quickly. Read over the whole list to determine the reason or reasons why your Venus flytrap is not thriving.

  1. Examine the soil 
  2. Check the water source
  3. Create a watering schedule
  4. Inspect lighting requirements
  5. Perfection your feeding technique
  6. Examine your plant for pests and  root rot
  7. Be Patient and avoid these actions

Step 1: Examine the Soil

In the wild, Venus flytrap grow in very poor soil. Throughout the years, they have developed an intolerance to nutrients. Therefore, you can not use standard ground for Venus flytraps. 

If you are using standard soil with minerals and nutrients, you will have to repot immediately. Standard soil can kill your Venus flytrap very quickly. For your Venus flytrap, you can buy a nutrient-free carnivorous plant mix or make your own. To make your own, employ moss, such as peat or long sphagnum moss and a draining agent, such as sand and perlite. 

Step 2: Check the Water Source

Venus flytrap are particular about the water you can employ. Never water your plant with tap water or bottled water. Instead, you need nutrient-free mineral-free water. Chose between:

  • Distilled
  • Reverse Osmosis
  • Rainwater

If you have used the wrong water source, you will have to make a few changes. First, repot your plant with new soil while moistening it with the correct water source. Then, continue to water with nutrient-free water only. Make sure you read the water tag and verify, it has no nutrients added (not even for flavor) before you use it.

Tap water or bottled water can kill your plant very quickly. You should make the transition right away and always use the correct water source.

Step 3: Create a Watering Schedule for Your Venus Flytrap

Venus flytraps live in humid climates. They are used to moist soils and humid weather. Some people mistakenly believe Venus flytraps live in swamps, but this is not true.

When you water Venus flytrap, the solid should remain moist. But, you shouldn’t saturate the ground with water. Excessive watering can damage your plant and potentially create an optimal environment for mold and bacterial growth.

Check the soil for your Venus flytrap. Test the moisture with one of your fingers. If the ground is damped, do not water again until it is almost dry. But, this time, only water until the soil is humid. 

The best strategy is to create a watering schedule that you adjust through the seasons. For example,  I water my indoor plants once a week, but my outdoor plants every 2-3 days.

All in all, keep the soil moist at all times but do not saturate or flood the ground.

Step 4: Inspect Lighting Requirements

Venus flytraps need a lot of light. Optimally, they should receive 12 hours of sunlight a day. Sometimes Venus flytraps appear to be droopy, or the leaves do not develop properly due to light starvation. 

Examine the current light situation and adapt your setup so your Venus flytrap can have access to light at least 4 hours a day. You can always supplement natural sunlight with a plant light. I have used high output fluorescent light, and high power LED plant lights without a problem. If you are in doubt about lighting, it is better to expose your plant to more light rather than less.

Improper lighting won’t kill your plant right away but will weaken it over time. Color fading in your plant is a sign of light starvation. Healthy Venus flytraps exhibit a combination of bright green colors outside their traps and deep red inside its traps.

Step 5: Perfection your Feeding Technique. Feed Your Venus Flytrap Correctly.

Now, it is time to perfect your feeding technique. Outdoor Venus flytraps can catch their prey and be more self-sufficient. Indoor Venus flytraps will need your help with feeding. Venus flytraps do not need to capture prey to survive; however, consuming them can boost their health and increase their growth rate. 

Improper feeding is one of the leading causes of black leaves. Follow this advice to feed your Venus flytrap correctly:

  • Only feed your plant insects or arachnids: Do not feed your plant any human food such as candy, raw meat, or chicken.
  • Feed your plant only if it has no access to feed: Outdoors, Venus flytrap capture their own prey; they do not usually need supplemental feeding.
  • Do not overfeed: One bug every 4-6 weeks is an acceptable frequency.
  • Feed one trap in the whole plant at a time: You do not need to feed every single trap, feed only one at a time.
  • Pick the right size prey: Choose bugs that are about ⅓ of the size of the trap. Anything more significant can be too much for the plant.

For more information, read this guide on Venus flytrap feeding:

Step 6: Examine Your Flytrap for Pests and Diseases

Carefully examine your plant for any signs of pest infestation or diseases. 

This step doesn’t have a straightforward resolution as your plant might be affected by many different pests of diseases. Identify the symptoms in your plant and research solutions. Here are a few examples.

  • Eliminate aphids with pyrethrin insecticide
  • Get rid of mites with a miticide
  • Employ sulfur-based fungicide to eliminate a fungus infection.

 For example, Aphids produce twisted and deformed leave in Venus flytrap. You can eliminate Aphids with pyrethrin insecticide. Also, your plant might be affected by mites, fungus, mold, etc. Identify the symptoms in your plant and research solutions. 

Step 7: Be Patient and Avoid Harming Your Flytrap With These Actions

After you have gone over the previous six steps, you should have a proper Venus flytrap setup. Follow all those instructions to save your Venus flytrap and take it to the next level. It might take a few weeks to notice any changes, but be patient. Also, while you wait for a full recovery, avoid these actions: 

  • Do not fertilize your plant: It is possible to fertilize Venus flytraps as long as the fertilizer is mild. But, at the time, I will recommend avoiding fertilizing altogether. Instead, focus on feeding your plant correctly.
  • Avoid repotting: I recommend repotting every year to a year and a half. Repotting helps keep the ground fresh and loose to stimulate growth. However, when your plant is struggling, it is better to wait before you change the soil.
  • Place your plant in a quiet location with unwanted stress: Avoid mechanical stress at all costs. Place your plant somewhere where it is not exposed to constant movement. For example, avoid moving curtains and curious pets.
  • Skip the flowering process: Venus flytraps produce flowers during the spring. The flowering process is entertaining, especially for novice growers. Yet, this process can drain your plant’s energy. If your plant is struggling to survive, I would recommend skipping the flowering process. Cut off the flower stalks as soon as you spot them (before they flower). The flower stalks are easy to spot as they are thick tubular structures.
Venus flytrap flowers
Venus flytrap flowers

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this step by step guide on Venus flytrap care. When your Venus flytrap is sick or appears to be dying, you must make changes immediately. Small mistakes can affect your plant’s health and ultimately kill it.

Do not get discouraged about growing Venus flytraps. Instead, perfect your setup over time. Feel free to comment if you have any questions.

Nelly

My name is Nelly, and I am the owner of Venus Flytrap World. Growing carnivorous plants is a unique and rewarding experience. A few years ago, I started growing Venus flytraps and experimenting with other carnivorous plant species. I have done tons of research to perfect my setup and care practices. In this site, I share everything I have learned.

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