Venus Flytrap Care
Get the straight facts from guys who grow and propagate thousands of carnivorous plants every year.
The Venus flytrap, Dionaea muscipula, with its mouth-like leaves, is the most iconic of all carnivorous plants, and one of the most recognizable plants in the world. Thanks to its popularity in cultivation, there are many different varieties of this single species, coming in a fantastic array of sizes, shapes, and colors.
Venus flytraps are native to the 90-mile (145-km) radius around Wilmington, North Carolina, growing in the sunny, coastal wetland savanna. That region gets very hot in summer and can see snow in winter, making the Venus flytrap far from a denizen of the tropics.
Where to Grow
Flytraps grow best outdoors as a container or potted plant on a sunny deck or patio. You may also grow it in a pond or fountain, but keep the crown of the plant above water. Because of its specific soil requirements, avoid planting it directly in the ground.
During the growing season, grow your flytrap outside in full sun. Give it 6 or more hours of direct sunlight for vigorous growth. If full sun is not possible, provide a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight with bright indirect light during the rest of the day. Your plant won’t be as vibrantly colored as one grown in full sun, but you will be able to maintain decent growth.
Flytraps tolerate the summer heat very well. They originate from an area where temperatures above 90°F (32°C) commonly occur in summer. We find that acclimated plants experience their most robust growth in periods of warmth, such as mid- to late-summer.
Flytraps require mineral-free water. If your tap water is relatively pure (less than 50 parts per million in dissolved minerals), then you can safely water your flytrap with it. Otherwise, use bottled distilled water. Keep the soil wet at all times. You can do this by setting the plant in small amounts of standing water, no more than halfway up the pot.
Use a soil mixture of 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite. Never use potting soil, compost or fertilizer; these soils have nutritious ingredients that will kill your plants.
Flytraps require 3-4 months of winter dormancy triggered by cold temperatures (below 50°F or 10°C) and shorter daylight hours. Before entering dormancy, they will drop their upright leaves and stop growing altogether. While dormant, your plants can withstand overnight frosts down to 20°F (-7°C). As long as temperatures rise above freezing during the day, you don't need to protect them. However, even while dormant, plants will still need to sit in a small amount of standing water to prevent its soil from drying out.
If you live in zones 7 and 8, pay attention to weather alerts. If weather forecasts predict the daytime temperature will remain below freezing for more than a couple of days, you will need to protect your plants from frost burn, a type of dehydration that occurs during prolonged freezes. Cover your plants with a tarp (or move them to an unheated enclosure). When the daytime temperature rises above freezing, you may uncover your plants and allow them to continue their dormancies as usual.
If you live in zones 6 or colder, areas where the temperature routinely drops below freezing for more than a week at a time, you will need to mulch your container plants for the winter. Maintain soil moisture whenever the temperature rises above freezing. Uncover your plants in early spring.
THE ULTIMATE CARNIVOROUS PLANT GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS
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- how sunlight and water affect plant growth.
- what type of soil and pots to use.
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