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Venus Flytrap Care Sheet

VFTs are not really hard to keep and grow, but like any plant they have certain needs. Fulfill these simple needs and they will reward you with great colors, good growth and multiply for you. Often thought of as tropical or exotic, they are actually temperate and grow in North Carolina bogs and wetlands.

Planter: Your plant will be happy in its current 4” container for at least one year. As it grows, you’ll want to upgrade to a bigger planter. Venus flytraps like depth for their long roots. For adult plants I recommend 8” to 12” pots. Use an opaque plastic, resin, or fully glazed ceramic planters.  Do not use terra-cotta since it draws out moisture and can leach minerals

Soil Mixture: VFTs naturally come from a very nutrient poor environments, slightly acidic soil with virtually no mineral content.  When the time comes to re-pot, your plant will need a very specific but simple soil. I use one part organic peat moss to one part perlite. You can also use long-fibered sphagnum moss (also called orchid moss) and silica sand. Most importantly, the soil must be inert and free of minerals, fertilizers, or any other additives. The enemy of VFT is minerals and nutrient salts. Do not use potting soil!  Do not use Miracle-Gro products as they add their fertilizer to the straight peat moss you buy as well as perlite. This fertilizer will damage them. Read labels to be sure there are no additives.

Fertilizer: No, none, never. They come from low to no fertility areas and get all they need from feeding.

Water: Venus flytraps are bog plants which like to be kept moist (not soaked!) with mineral-free water. Use distilled water, rain water, or purified water with reverse osmosis. Distilled or reverse osmosis water can be purchased at grocery stores for around or under $1 per gallon. Keep your planter in a tray filled with a half inch of water. Allow the tray to just dry out before refilling it again. You can occasionally water over the top of the soil to flush away mineral build-up and impurities in the soil, but this is not a hard-fast rule. If you expect rain, simply set your plant outside without the tray and the rain will flush the soil for you! ZeroWater pitcher (about $20 at Walmart) will give great water for these. Brita and PUR do NOT remove TDS -(total dissolved solids) only chemicals, so do not use water from them. And do not let the soil dry out.

Light: Yes, yes and yes. lots of it! Venus flytraps love LOTS of light! Put them where they will receive the most sunlight in your house possible. In most areas cases that is a south windowsill or even a west one. If keeping indoors, we recommend 12-16 hours and use of plant or supplemental light if not in a windowsill. Venus flytraps are very happy outdoors in direct NM sunlight until about noon or 1pm, then filtered light afterwards.. If you expect temperatures over 90 F, move your plants to where they will get some shade. Remember these are greenhouse grown and need slowly acclimated to more and direct light.

Temperature: They do well in the growing season from 50f-90f and do fine with cooler nights. This mimics nature. But they can go well below freezing if slowly acclimated.

Dormancy: Venus Flytraps must have a rest period of a few months every year. When the days become shorter and cooler in the fall, the plants begin to slow down, not grow as much, and the traps begin to be sluggish. During dormancy Venus Flytraps should be kept cool. Although the plants can survive light frosts and brief freezing, it is better to keep them above freezing: 40°F to about 60°F degrees at night is sufficiently cool, and they can be warmer at times during the day, but should be cool to cold most of the time. An unheated porch, garage, basement or cool room can work for most people. Venus fly traps should not be watered nearly as often because they don't need nor use as much water during their dormancy. Carefully cut off any traps that turn black. This is natural. Venus Flytrap leaves, like all plants' leaves, eventually die and are replaced by fresh leaves in time. During dormancy a healthy Venus Flytrap can look almost dead on top, but assuming it has not dried out completely nor rotted from too much water, it is healthy and will begin to grow vigorously again sometime in the Spring. At that time it will appreciate being placed in warmer conditions and watered more frequently again. These are temperate plants found in nature only in NC and maybe some in SC. They will go dormant in the fall even indoors from change in day length. Many people assume they are languishing,  dead or they have killed them by how they look. They are not!  Keep caring for them and in spring they will pop back bigger and better.

Food: Venus flytraps kept outside are experts at catching their own food, and require no hand feeding. If you do hand-feed, less is more! Only feed two traps once per week at the very, very most and one trap once a month is better. Carnivorous plants can be overloaded on nitrogen from food and may die back if fed too much. Think of feeding like fertilizing: helpful in small doses, but not absolutely necessary for survival. They can be fed about any insect, mealworms, wingless fruit flies, and some fish foods. If feeding food that is not alive you need to slightly squeeze the trap between thumb and forefinger 20-30 times. They start digesting and stay closed by triggering the hairs inside the trap. This how they tell prey from debris which has fallen in.  Try not to poke or show off how they snap shut too often. The traps expend a lot of energy snapping shut and can only do this 5-8 times before that leaf, or trap dies off and they must grow a new one.

While at first it may seem daunting, their care is actually quite low maintenance and simple, if you follow a few easy rules they will live, grow and prosper.

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