Venus Fly Trap (Cultivation Instructions)
How to Grow a Venus Flytrap Copyright 2002, Hungry plants
Culture and Care Information Sheet
Thank you for purchasing your Venus Flytrap from Hungry Plants. We hope that the following
information proves to be helpful in your understanding of the cultural requirements of Venus Flytraps.
Where does the Venus Flytrap come from?
Most people are under the misconception that the Venus Flytrap is a tropical plant, found deep in the
steamy, dark jungles of the tropics. Not only is this far from the truth, its also far from where they grow!
In reality, Venus Flytraps are a temperate, North American native, found in the coastal regions of
southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina, USA.
The Growth Cycle of the Venus Flytrap
Venus Flytraps are low growing, rosetted, perennials that grow in sandy, moist wetland areas. In their
native habitat, they normally start growing in March with wide, short, heart shaped leaves. These wider
leaves take advantage of the early spring sun and photosynthesize food to get growth started. In the
spring, Venus flytraps send up a tall flower stalk, supporting a cluster of white flowers, typically blooming
in May. Small black seeds are produced in early summer. As the summer progresses and as the
surrounding grasses grow taller, many Venus flytraps grow longer, thinner, more upright leaves to raise
the traps higher into the air. Venus Flytraps enjoy hot humid summers, tolerating temperature as high as
35C with no ill effects. As winter approaches, the plant starts to prepare for dormancy. The leaf growth
reverts back to the shorter, wider leaves of the early spring. Leaf and trap production slows down and
eventually stops. This is perfectly natural. Many people mistakenly think that their plant is dying, when
actually, the Venus Flytrap is preparing for its winter dormancy. This resting period is required for the
health and longevity of the Venus Flytrap. In their native habitats in the Carolinas, Venus Flytraps can
experience temperatures as low as ?10C in the winter.
The Trapping Mechanism
The traps themselves range in size from 1-3cms in length. On the inner surfaces of the traps are small
trigger hairs. These hairs are touch-sensitive. When an insect touches one hair twice, or two separate
hairs in rapid succession, the trap closes on the victim. As the prey struggles inside, the continued
stimulation of the trigger hairs causes the trap to close tighter and form a seal around the outer margins.
Once tightly sealed, the Venus Flytrap secretes digestive juices into the trap. After 7?10 days, the trap
reopens, leaving the shell (exoskeleton) of the insect to be washed away by rain.
Avoid the temptation of manually triggering Venus Flytraps to close. The rapid closure of the trap is
caused by rapid cell growth in the outer trap surfaces. Futile closure of the trap will weaken the plant if
done too many times. The Venus Flytrap expends a lot of energy to cause the trap to close, if there is no
nourishment there, the energy expended was wasted. It is also important to realize too, that each trap
can only close a limited number of times before it turns black and dies.
Transplanting, Pot Size and Growing Media
Venus Flytraps usually are sold in 7.5 cm pots. Plants should be transplanted into larger pots the
following growing season. Transplanting is best done in late winter or early spring just as the plants are
coming out of dormancy. Plants should be repotted every 2 or 3 years. Be sure to use only plastic pots
when transplanting Venus Flytraps as clay pots are porous and trap salts and other minerals. These
deposits will prove toxic to your plant over time. Secondly, be sure to use standard length pots as Venus
Flytraps have long roots and will appreciate the extra growing room. Larger pots can be used to hold 2
or 3 Venus Flytraps.
When it comes to growing media, the optimal potting mix for Venus Flytraps is a 75% Canadian peat
mix with 25 % washed white silica sand.This best simulates their natural soil. Venus Flytrap potting
mix is available from Hungry Plants or your local nursery, see our website for details.
General - Venus Flytraps are sun-loving plants. For strong, vigorous growth, Venus Flytraps should be
grown in full sun; a bright window is usually not enough.
Outdoors - During the warm months, Venus flytraps are best grown outdoors in a non-shaded area.
Generally, Venus Flytraps will develop a red coloration inside the traps when exposed to bright sun.
When moving your plants outdoors for the first, remember to gradually expose your Venus Flytrap to the
increased light levels. Start by moving your plants to a shaded area for one week. Then move it for
another week to an area where it will receive filtered sunlight during the middle part of the day. Leave
the plant there for an additional week. Finally move it into full sun.
Terrarium - Venus Flytraps are excellent terrarium plants. A two tube fluorescent light fixture
suspended 30cms above the plants in a terrarium will provide adequate light. Wide spectrum lights
designed for indoor plant growth are excellent. Alternatively, a cool white and a warm white fluorescent
tube can be used together to provide wider spectrum light. The photoperiod, or time the plants are
exposed to light, should be adjusted to match the natural daylight outdoors. Using an appliance timer, set
the photoperiod to match the outdoor daylight hours every couple of weeks or so.
Mimicking the outdoor photoperiod is very important as it is the hours of daylight, as well as other
factors, that trigger dormancy and flowering.
General - Venus Flytraps are bog plants, thus they enjoy high humidity and lots of moisture. In the wild
they are found in areas that are constantly damp to wet. This type of environment is naturally humid ?
60% or higher relative humidity. In these areas, the soil never dries out. Although the surface may feel
dry to the touch, there is always water at the root level. Venus Flytraps should be watered with
rainwater collected from a downspout. Alternatively, distilled or Reverse Osmosis water ca be used.
Do not use bottled spring water or tap water as the dissolved salts and minerals are slow poison to
flytraps. Special water is also available from Hungry Plants or your local nursery.
Outdoors - Venus flytraps like to be wet but not waterlogged. Venus Flytraps respond well to the tray
system of watering. Fill a plastic tray or similar container, with water to a depth a depth of 2.5 to 4cms.
When the reservoir has just dried out, refill with water. This regime has a number of benefits for the
plants. The lower moisture level allows the roots ?breathe?. The open water in the trays will increase
the local humidity, which is important for good growth and trap formation. Lastly, any mosquito larvae
that may be in the water will be killed off when the tray dries out. Watering with this method should
start in the early spring when plants start to grow and continue through the summer and early autumn
months. As the plants prepare for dormancy in mid to late autumn, cut back on watering. Leave the
trays emptier longer. When the soil in the pots is just damp to the touch, refill the tray, let the pots soak
up as much water as possible, and discard the excess. Maintain this regime through winter and early
spring until growth resumes in the spring. The goal is to keep the soil barely damp over the winter
Terrarium - When growing Venus Flytraps in terrariums, potted plants should be placed in trays.
Watering should be carried out as described above. Keep the terrarium covered with a sheet of glass or
plexiglass to maintain high humidity. Remember, as terrariums are covered, the rate of evaporation is
significantly decreased. Therefore, watering will be done much less frequently, with less water. When
filling trays, only add 1cm or so at a time. In the winter months, it is advisable to leave the lid of the
terrarium slightly open to encourage air circulation, decrease the humidity and keep internal temperature
from rising. High humidity and temperatures in the winter can lead to fungal growth and rot..
General - Venus Fly Traps are temperate plants. As such, they need a period of rest, or dormancy. In
the winter, a dormancy period of approximately 3 months must be respected. Without this rest, Venus
Flytraps will loose vigor and eventually die. During this time, plants may continue to grow, albeit very
slowly, or growth may stop completely.
There are three factors that trigger dormancy in Venus Flytraps. Decreased daylight, or photoperiod,
decreased temperatures and decreased moisture.
When a Venus Flytrap is dormant, the temperature should ideally be kept between 2 and 10C, however
slightly warmer temperatures should have no adverse effects.
Outdoors - Venus Flytraps grown outdoors in the warmer months will naturally go into dormancy as
the daylight hours and temperatures decrease in the autumn. Plants should be brought in just before the
first frost and placed in a cool location; a cool windowsill, a cold cellar, or even a garage that stays just
above freezing is ideal. In late August or early September, move the Venus Flytrap to a sunny window with
a southern exposure, increase watering, move outside when danger of frost has passed.
Terrarium ? In the autumn, gradually decrease the photoperiod your plants receive as discussed in the
section on light. Water should also be reduced, so that the soil is just damp to the touch. If possible
move the terrarium to a cool location, a cold cellar, garage, sun-porch, or anywhere where the
temperature is relatively cool. Also keep the lid to the terrarium slightly open so that internal humidity
and temperatures remain low. When growth resumes, cover the terrarium and move to a warmer
Each of the traps on a Venus Flytrap have a limited life span. Generally they die after the second or third
capture. Even if the traps haven't captured prey, they will die off naturally and the plant will continue to
grow new leaves. The dead leaves should be removed and if fungus develops, apply Benomyl / Benlate
to the directions. Do not use any fungisite. A special fungisite is available for Carnivorous Plants. Enquire
For more information on Venus Flytraps, and other Carnivorous plants and how to start your own
Carnivorous plant collection go to www.hungryplants.com
Cultural Requirements Summary
Light full to nearly full sun.
Soil/Pots 75% Canadian peat with 25 % washed silica sand. Use only Canadian Peat moss as local peat
will kill your fly trap. Plants should be potted in 7.5 to 10 cm standard pots.
Humidity moderate to high - above 60%
Temperature summer : 21 - 35 C winter : 2 to 10 C
Dormancy 3 months roughly June to August (Winter period)
Water use only rain water or distilled water. keep soil wet in summer, damp in winter.