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Venus Flytraps, Dionaea muscipula
Introduction: Venus Flytraps have captured the attention and imagination of many people due to the fact that they consume insects. Aside from the diet, Venus Flytraps are in a very small group of plants that are capable of rapid movements. Other plants that have this capability are Sundews, Bladderworts and Mimosa; with Sundews and Bladderworts curiously being carnivorous as well.
The Venus Flytrap is native only to North and South Carolina. It is found mainly in coastal bogs and flooded savannas. It is also now found in parts of the New Jersey Pine Barrens and Florida due to people introducing it to those areas.
It is best known for it's insect catching traps that are capable of quickly closing on any insect that trips the sensitive hairs inside the trap. Once an insect has been caught and the trap sealed, the Flytrap will produce a number of enzymes that will reduce the insect to chitin (a biodegradable by-product) within 5-10 days, at which time, the trap reopens and is ready for it's next insect.
Light: Venus Flytraps should receive at least 5-6 hours of full, natural sunlight and 12-14 hours of light daily. Exposure to full sun allows the plant to produce large strong stems, leaves and traps. Inadequate light will produce spindly, weak plants. A good indicator of adequate light is the color inside the traps. Traps that have a red to maroon color are receiving enough sunlight, those that are light green are not receiving enough sunlight.
Water: Your flytraps' substrate should always be wet. Never allow the substrate to dry out. You can place your plants' container in a flat tray with a water level about 1-2 inchs during the growing season. Rain water or filtered water should be used. Chemicals in tap water will burn the roots of the plant.
Soil: Potting soil should never be used with carnivorous plants. We recommend plain sphagnum peat moss. Or, a 3:1 mixture of peat moss and sand/perlite. Using potting soil will not allow the plants' roots to receive the proper oxygen that they need. Most potting soils are also enriched with nutrients that will kill carnivorous plants.
Fertilizer/Food: It is strongly recommended that you do not fertilize ANY carnivorous plant. Healthy plants will catch all the nutrients they need. To assure that your Flytraps are receiving good nutrients, you may offer them small insects periodically such as fruit flies, ants and other small field plankton. If live food is not an option, we suggest dehydrated insects such as flies or crickets that can often be purchased at locations that cater to reptiles.
Temperature/Winter Care: During the growing season, Dionaea may be exposed to temperatures in the low to mid 80s. Humidity should be 40-60%, but brief periods above or below will be tolerated. We recommend that Dionaea have a dormancy period of 3-4 months during cool to cold temperatures (below 55 degrees Fahrenheit). This will allow the plant to rest while a food supply is low and assure they do well the next growing season.
Terrarium Suitability: Growing a VTF in a terrarium is one of the most common causes of plant death among first time owners of Venus Flytraps.
We strongly advise against maintaining your plant in a terrarium.
Venus flytraps are native to the US East Coast, and therefore will do great if kept as outdoor container plants.