How To Care For A Venus Flytrap
The venus flytrap is probably the world's most famous carnivorous plant. Flytraps are fascinating plants because of their ability to capture and eat live insects, so in this film we show you how to care for a venus flytrap at home.
Step 1: What is a venus flytrap?
The venus flytrap's biological name is Dionaea Muscipula, and it is an herbaceous perennial, which is native to North and South Carolina in the USA, within a radius of about 75 miles from Wilmington. Its typical natural habitat is open, flat wetlands with occasional pine trees. There are many varieties of the species and it can be grown in many parts of the world, growing best within a temperature range of 0 to 30 degrees Celsius and a humidity of between 55 to 85%.
Step 2: Catching prey
The plant attracts insects to its traps with its colours and a sweet nectar that it secretes. The insect activates the trap by touching trigger hairs twice in quick succession. The prey struggles, the trap tightens and seals, and the plant breaks down and digests the insect. After 4-10 days the trap reopens, revealing the hard exoskeleton of the insect which then drops off or is blown away by wind. The plants get all the nutrients they need from insects and can happily live on one or two flies a week. Venus flytraps should never be fed with fertilisers or human foodstuffs such as minced meat or sausage.
Step 3: Where to grow venus flytraps
If you're keeping venus flytraps at home, a good place for them is a warm, sunny windowsill, or a greenhouse. They need at least six hours of strong sunlight per day. You can also supplement the light with artificial grow lights, such as metal halides. They can also be grown outdoors in a bog garden if the climate is suitable.
Step 4: Soil
Venus flytraps need a soil with an acidic pH, and you can mix a suitable soil yourself using a few basic ingredients. Use at least 50 to 60% sphagnum moss peat, and up to 50% perlite to increase root aeration. Lime-free horticultural sand can also be used, but make sure you wash it thoroughly to remove any contaminants. Most venus flytraps will need to be re-potted about once every two years, although re-potting can be done even less frequently than that if the plant has been correctly watered and the soil is good condition.
Step 5: Water
Do not give venus flytaps tap water or bottled water, as the minerals they contain will build-up in the soil to a level that will kill the plant. Instead, collect rainwater, and stand the venus flytrap pot in about 2cm of rainwater, so that they can draw water up from below. Standing tray water also helps keep a good humidity around the plant.
Step 6: Winter dormancy
As winter approaches, gradually decrease the amount of standing water the venus flytrap is kept in. Its foliage will die back, sometimes completely, and the plant will go into a state of dormancy for the winter. The plant needs to be kept at a temperature under 8 degrees Celsius for at least three month for good results. Keep the plant in a much cooler, less bright part of the house during this time, or store it in a plastic bag in the fridge. During the winter dormancy, the venus flytrap should only have enough water to keep it slightly damp. When spring and summer come around again, the plant can once again be kept in a bright sunny spot, in 2cm of standing rainwater, so that the leaves and traps can regrow.