Should I Prune My Venus Fly Trap? – Trimming Guide

When you own a Venus flytrap, you know you will encounter dead leaves reasonably often. When you do, you have the option to prune your plant. I would like to share with you a short guide on pruning your Venus flytrap.

Venus flytraps can be pruned. Trimming is not essential to the plant’s survival, but it provides health and aesthetic benefits. Use sharp and thin scissors to cut the dead leaves from the base, and be cautious with the bulb and surrounding healthy leaves.

It is not a requirement to trim your Venus flytrap, but it can bring some benefits. Keep on reading to get more information in the proper trimming technique and considerations.

Venus Flytrap Pruning

The traps of Venus flytraps can only close less than a dozen times before they wither and die. This process is normal.

Venus flytraps are continually producing new leaves while old ones die. When Venus flytrap leaves wither, they turn to a dark black color. It takes several days for a trap to wither completely.

In the wild, the dead leaves tend to stay close to the ground and eventually decompose in the soil.

At home, you might want to consider pruning your Venus flytrap every now and then. The trimming process is entirely harmless when done correctly. After pruning, your plant will look healthier, have more room to grow, and more energy to produce new leaves.

When to Trim Your Venus Flytrap

Venus flytraps generate their food through the photosynthesis process. Even though they consume bugs, their survival depends on photosynthesis.

When a Venus fly trap leaf starts turning black, it might be unable to capture prey. However, it will still be able to help in the photosynthesis process. When the traps wither, they do not blacken all at once. Sometimes the top part of the leaf starts changing color, while the rest of the leaf is still green.

Even when only a fraction of the leaf is still healthy, the plant can still use that part of the leaf during photosynthesis.

Do not cut off traps as soon as they change in color. Instead, wait until they have wholly withered to take action. Once they have dried completely, then you can trim them out and remove them.

Also, during spring, your Venus flytrap will produce flowers. If you let your Venus flytrap flower, those flowers will also wither eventually. You should also trim the flowers. Flower stalks are thick and substantially heavier than the leaves. Removing them will save your plant some energy.

Venus Flytrap Pruning Considerations

Follow this list of considerations to trim your Venus flytrap properly:

  • Do not pull the dead leaves out manually: Never pull the dead leaves! You can severely damage the plant. All of the leaves spur from a delicate center bulb. The black leaves are still attached to the plant. If you pull them, you can rip off the whole plant or a chunk of it. Instead, use small scissors or pruners to cut them out.
  • Cut the black leaves close to the bulb, but without touching it: When you trim your Venus flytrap, do your best removing those dead leaves completely. Do not only cut the trap portion of the trap but the whole branch.
  • Avoid setting up any traps: Venus flytraps employ significant amounts of energy controlling their traps. When you prune your plant, you will be in contact with healthy leaves. Avoid setting any traps with your fingers or tool. When you activate a trap at a random time, your plant will waste energy, and the trap will die sooner.
  • Set up a trimming schedule to avoid stress: I recommend trimming your plant every couple of months or so, depending on the season. When you trim your plant, especially if you are a beginner, you will put some stress on it due to excessive movement and handling. I usually avoid pruning dead leaves too often. Instead, I wait until I see several black leaves. Then, I clean up the plant to avoid constant stress situations.

Venus Flytrap Trimming Benefits

When you prune a plant, you remove dead and dying branches or leaves to incentive growth and prevent pests. Here are some key benefits that arise from grooming your Venus flytrap:

  • Better Aesthetics: Venus flytraps do not always look picture perfect. Most people are not familiar with the idea of black leaves in Venus flytraps. If they spot the dead leaves, they might assume your plant is dying, even though that is not true. When you prune your Venus flytrap, you highlight the traps and remove the excess. Routine grooming can give a positive aesthetic change.
  • Promote growth: The general idea of pruning a plant is simple: remove the dead to encourage growth. Prune your Venus flytrap to promote its growth and development. A well-groomed plant will focus its effort on growing and developing, rather than supporting the dying branches.
  • Prevent Pest and Mold: Sometimes, mold or bacteria can develop in dead leaves, especially when there are large amounts of dead foliage.
  • Avoid Overcrowding: In the wild, dead leaves decompose at a higher rate than at home due to more exposure to microorganisms. In your home or a small plant pot, the dead foliage will take months or up to a year to decompose. Trim your Venus flytrap to give the traps more space to extend over and grow.
Venus flytrap size
Black Leaves in a healthy Venus Flytrap

Pruning During Venus Flytrap Dormancy

Venus flytraps undergo a dormancy period every year during late fall or winter. This process is entirely normal, and it is analogous to animal hibernation. Venus flytrap experience dormancy when they are exposed to cold weather (32F to 45F).

During dormancy, your plant will change dramatically. Several leaves will die all at once. Also, your plant will stop growing and reduce in size. You might only be left with a couple of healthy leaves by the end of dormancy.

During dormancy, you will have several dead leaves to trim at first. Then, the growth rate will slow down significantly. Trim your plant when necessary and consider repotting close to the end of winter.

Remember, the dormancy period is completely normal. So, do not get worried if your plant experiences sudden changes during winter months.

Trimming Frequency: Black Leaf vs Healthy Leaf Ratio

Should you be trimming so many black leaves?

Pro Tip: Always keep an eye on your plant’s dead leaf ratio or cycle. There should always be a new branch spurring from the bulb for every dead leaf. If you notice an increase in black leaves, your plant can be sick.

Natural Causes of Black Leaves

  • Standard Growth Cycle
  • Dormancy: There will be an increase in black leaves during dormancy

Black Leaves Caused by Poor Growing Conditions

  • Large prey: Leaves die when traps consume overly large prey that is difficult to digest.
  • Poor lighting: Venus flytrap require a lot of sunlight. Without enough lighting new and older traps weaken and die
  • Improper water source: Leaves die rapidly when Venus flytraps are watered with tap water. Only water your plant with reverse osmosis, distilled or rainwater.
  • Wrong soil: Venus flytrap needs nutrient-free soil. Your plant will weaken and die if planted in standard soil.
  • Excessive use of fertilizers: Venus flytraps can handle a light mist of fertilizer. But generally, fertilizer can do more harm than good and kill your plant.

Final Thoughts

The process of trimming your Venus flytrap is completely optional. There is no hard requirement that forces you to groom your plant. Dead foliage would definitely not kill your plant!

When trimming or caring for your Venus flytrap always inspect the leaves. Changes in the color of the leaves can indicate healthy or unhealthy conditions. Also, an increase in black leaves can be a warning sign.

Hope you found this article useful. Good luck growing Venus flytrap. Enjoy!


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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