I have for years been growing two Venus Flytrap plants and it has been most satisfying. Many people believe that they are difficult to keep alive but its actually quite easy.
The Venus Flytrap’s scientific name is Dionaea muscipula and its native to the subtropical wetlands on the East Coast of the United States in North Carolina and South Carolina.
They can however be successfully grown in Gauteng, South Africa. The summer months are more than hot enough and the winter lets the plant go dormant.
The biggest expense apart from buying the plant is the water. You need to water the plant with Distilled water or Reverse Osmosis water. But the joy of seeing the plant thrive is well worth it.
How the plant catches its prey
The leaves or traps of the Venus Flytrap are so “designed” that they snap shut when an insect enters the trap. There are tiny hairs inside the trap and when an insect touches one and within a few seconds another, it triggers the trap and it shuts.
Once the trap has shut the insect or prey will still move around inside the trap stimulating more of the trigger hairs. This will cause the trap to seal around the prey and digestion starts taking place.
If the trap has shut and there is no movement the trap will open again after a few hours. This makes feeding the plant difficult unless live insects are used.
Feeding the Venus Flytrap
As the summer rolls around and the days get warmer and longer, the flytrap come out of its dormancy. You will see new leaves grow which will eventually turn into traps.
Once these traps have opened the plant is ready to feed. There might not be many creepy crawlies around yet and that’s when I feed the plants. I feed the plant with Blood Worms that can be purchased at a pet supply store. Gently put a couple of worms into a trap and move them around to trigger the trap. As these blood worms don’t move you have to gently “massage” the the closed trap to simulate movement inside it. This will cause the trap to seal around the worms and digestion will take place.
I generally feed about three traps every two weeks until the insects arrive and they are drawn to the sweet nectar in the traps.
The Soil needed for potting the Flytrap
The venus flytrap requires nutrient-free soil that provides good drainage and aeration. Use a standard soil mixture of 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite. Never use potting soil, compost or fertilizer. These ingredients will kill your plant. The soil mix can be purchased at Hecker Nursery or from Jozi Carnivores.
Watering the Venus Flytrap
This is where most people fail to keep the plant alive. You must only water the plant with water free of minerals or nutrients as it gets these from digesting the insects.
Use only Distilled Water, Rain Water or water that has been through the Reverse Osmosis process. The soil needs to be constantly moist to simulate the natural boggy places the plants originate from. Never let the soil dry out.
I keep my potted flytraps in a pot holder filled with water to keep the soil wet.
The plant needs about 6 hours of direct sunlight per day in the summer months. It can tolerate quite high temperatures but just keep the soil moist.
When the winter approaches, the leaves with start to wither and die. This is completely normal. Through the winter months you can keep the plant indoors away from direct sunlight but still the keep the soil moist.
As spring rolls around you will see new growth. You can now gently cut away the black dead traps to make place for the new leaves and traps.
Venus Flytrap Yes it does flower
The flytrap does flower but it takes quite a lot of energy from the plant. So while the plant is young and rather small rather cut the stem off when it starts producing flowers
The venus flytrap is not difficult to grow and keep alive. Its exciting in many ways having a plant that seems almost more alive. Give me a shout in the comments with your ideas or questions.