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Venus Flytraps (Fly Traps)

Light

Venus Flytraps need strong light. The best place to grow Venus Flytraps is outdoors, provided the night time temperatures do not go below 20s F. This is because outside sunlight is stronger than artificial light and stronger than sunlight shining through a window. Venus Flytraps will become thicker, more robust, and more colorful if grown outdoors in full sunlight.

The next best place to grow Venus Flytraps is in a sunny window that receives 4 hours or more of bright direct sunlight. A south facing window that gets exposed to the rising morning sunlight is best. An east and west facing window are the next best and a north facing window that gets the setting late afternoon sun is the least best but can still be used if that late afternoon sunlight lasts for about 4 hours or more.

If it is not possible to grow your Venus Flytrap outside or in a sunny window then you can still grow them under fluorescent lights. Ideally a high output bulb or a shop light fixture should be used. Metal halide bulbs will also work well to but are expensive. High Output fluorescent bulbs like HO T5 bulbs that are available at hydroponic stores or standard T40 or T32 shop lights available at your local home improvement store are much cheaper. Smaller fluorescent bulbs like compact fluorescents will not work as well. The most important thing to do if growing Venus Flytraps with fluorescent bulbs is to position the plants 2 to 4 inches directly underneath the fluorescent bulbs. That is the tops of the Venus Flytraps should be a mere 2 to 4 inches from the fluorescent bulb. This may seem strange but it is extremely important that they are positioned this close to the bulb. This is because Venus Flytraps have very high light requirements and although fluorescent bulbs have light visible to use at a further distance, to Venus Flytraps, past 4 inches from the bulb there is very little usable light. Venus Flytraps kept further from a fluorescent bulb can die in a few weeks from light deprivation.

Water

Venus Flytraps roots are very sensitive to water and soil that has high and even modest mineral content. Because of this there are only 3 types of water that are consistently safe to use for Venus Flytraps, Reverse Osmosis water, Distilled water, and clean rain water. Tap water, purified water, mineral water, and well water are almost always unsafe to use for Venus Flytraps. Reverse Osmosis water and Distilled water can be purchased in bottles at your local grocery store or by the gallon at your local water store or from a water machine that is often located in front of a grocery store. It is very important to understand that not all types of bottled water are the same nor are they all safe to use for watering Venus Flytraps. Unless the type of bottled water you are purchasing is specifically called Reverse Osmosis or Distilled water it is likely unsafe to use and yes it can and usually will kill your Venus Flytraps in a mere 2 days. Having sold 1000s of Venus Flytraps online I have found that the number one way that customers lose their newly purchased Venus Flytraps is by using an incorrect kind of water and it consistently kills them in 2 days flat. Sometimes I am even blamed for this and they complain that I sold them a bad plant because they don’t see how their Venus Flytrap could possibly have died by anything they have done with it so quickly. But in 2 days a nice healthy Venus Flytrap purchased online and received in the mail in good shape will turn black and dried up if the wrong kind of water is used. Often the customer is unaware that they have even used an incorrect kind of water, frequently, because they erroneously believe that all bottled water is basically the same and safe to use for Venus Flytraps and that when the caresheet I send them says use reverse osmosis or distilled water only I’m really just talking about using bottled water. Please understand that reverse osmosis and distilled water are very different kinds of water than purified water, bottled mineral water, bottled drinking water, etc.

Distilled water is water that has been steamed, condensed, and recollected so that it has no mineral content whatsoever. Reverse osmosis water is water that is pushed through a membrane that prevents most of the minerals from coming out of a pure water outlet. Reverse osmosis water made at a person’s house, using a reverse osmosis unit attached somewhere to their home’s water supply is of course also safe to use. Please be aware that a purifier unit is different than a reverse osmosis unit. A reverse osmosis unit has 1 water inlet tube and 2 water outlet tubes, one for clean water and one for waste water. The waste water is of course not safe to use for Venus Flytraps. If your water unit at your house has 1 inlet tube and 1 outlet tube it is not a reverse osmosis unit and does not make reverse osmosis water. With 1 outlet tube only it is a water purifying unit and makes purified water which is usually unsafe to use for Venus Flytraps and can kill a Venus Flytrap in 2 days. Water purifying units only remove chlorine, large particles, and hard metals like lead and mercury. It does not remove the vast majority of minerals in the water and thus does not significantly remove mineral content from tap water.

Clean rainwater is also safe to use and of course if you are growing your Venus Flytrap outdoors and they are rained on this type of water will not hurt them. Rainwater that is collected and has run over other surfaces that can contaminate the water may not be safe to use. But rainwater that falls from the sky right into some sort of sterile container or rainwater that has been cleaned, for example, by carbon filtration is safe to use to water Venus Flytraps.

Some Tap water is also safe to use to water Venus Flytraps if it has a very low mineral content. It should have a total dissolved solids(TDS) of less than 100 parts per million(PPM). If your tap water does not have a TDS of less than 100 PPM or you do not know if it does it is probably not safe to use and will likely kill your Venus Flytrap in a mere 2 days. Also, if you do know for certain that your tap water has a TDS of less than 100 PPM you can use it to water your Venus Flytrap but it will be necessary to flush your Venus Flytrap’s pot every time you water it. That is water should be poured through the soil and flow out of the bottom of the pot and out of the bowl or saucer that the plant’s pot has been placed in. This needs to be done to prevent mineral build up in your Venus Flytrap’s water and soil as water in your Venus Flytrap’s pot and bowl or saucer evaporates over time but the mineral do not and thus tend to build up over time in your Venus Flytrap’s water and soil because of this. Once you know what type of water to use for Venus Flytraps and only use that kind of water, then usually you will find keeping Venus Flytraps alive is easy rather than difficult as some inexperienced growers erroneously suppose.

The easiest and safest way to grow Venus Flytraps is by placing their pot in some sort of bowl or saucer that can hold water. You can then water the bowl or saucer directly and the water will wick up through the base of their pot and keep their pot’s soil wet. Never let your Venus Flytrap’s soil dry out. Venus Flytraps need their root tips to be kept fairly wet. Most of the time they can handle almost no drying even for a several hours or even shorter periods of time if they are too hot or exposed to strong sunlight in conjunction with their roots getting too dry. If their roots get too dry they can die. If there is no container like a bowl or saucer to hold water around the lower part of their pots than their soil can dry easily and quickly. When you add water to the bowl or saucer that their pot is resting in it should cause the water level to rise to about 2/5ths of the way up the pot. Venus Flytrap’s rhyzomes(bulbs) should never be submerged in water for more than a day or two and ideally never. If they are they can start to rot and this can kill your Venus Flytrap. It is okay for the bottom of their roots to be submerged in water most of the time. When the water level in your bowl or saucer recedes to near the bottom, before it all dries up in your bowl or saucer, refill the bowl or saucer with water back up to about 2/5ths of the way up your plant’s pot. You can water your plant overhead as well(you should always water the plant overhead instead of watering the container directly during hot weather) and then just watch where the water settles in the container holding the pot. The water level does not need to be maintained at 2/5ths of the way up the pot all the time.

This method is called the “tray method” and it is a common way to grow not just Venus Flytraps but many other types of Carnivorous Plants. Also, if you are going away for the weekend or will be too busy to check on your Venus Flytrap than just be sure to fill their bowl or saucer to the correct water level and you will not need to check on your plant for the next few days.

While most house plants run the risk of their roots rotting from being overly wet if this method is used, it is safe for Venus Flytraps, provided that their rhyzomes and the top portion of their roots are not being waterlogged. This method also makes it easy to care for Venus Flytraps. Far from being difficult, once you understand how to correctly water your Venus Flyrap and make sure that it has sufficiently strong light, you will find that taking care of Venus Flytraps is just as easy if not easier than taking care of most other types of plants.

Feeding

It’s best to wait about 3 days after you have transplanted your Venus Flytrap before feeding them. Venus Flytraps should only be fed live bugs. Venus Flytraps can safely eat about 1 insect per whole plant per week. If your Venus Flytrap is already well established where it is growing and it is experiencing strong light and warm temperatures it can safely eat 2 insects per whole plant per week. Insects fed to a Venus Flytrap should not be larger than about 2/5ths the size of the trap that it is being fed to. If your Venus Flytrap is growing outside it can catch all the bugs it needs on its own and does not need to be fed at all. It is also not necessary to feed your Venus Flytrap at all even indoors. They will not die if they are not fed. But they will grow more slowly with out eating anything. It is not a good idea to poke your Venus Flytrap’s mouths to trigger them to close. This is because it can tire your plant out with no benefit to the plant and may make it weaker if it is abused too much in this manner. Never use any fertilizer for your Venus Flytrap. Fertilizer can burn your Venus Flytrap’s roots and kill it in 2 days.

Leaf/Trap Growth

Venus Flytraps’ leaves and traps only last about 3 months and then are shed. A healthy Venus Flytrap should be continually sending out new fresh leaves and traps to replace the old ones that have died off, except during the Winter where they have very little top growth. If your Venus Flytrap is shedding its lower leaves don’t worry this is normal, as long as there is also fresh new healthy leaves with traps emerging. The shed leaves can be trimmed off but it is not necessary to do this as the old dead leaves/traps will not harm your plant. If you would like to trim them off to make your plant look better then it is best to wait until the old dead leaves and traps are completely black and dried. This is because the Venus Flytrap is reusing the nutrients and energy from the old leaves and traps and if you clip them off before they extract all of them then your plant will grow more slowly.

Potting

Venus Flytraps can be grown in long fibered sphagnum moss(which is what I use and send to my customers with their Venus Flytraps that they purchase from me) and peat moss. Perlite or rinsed sand are also safe to use so long as they constitute no more than about 25% of the potting medium and long fibered sphagnum moss or peat moss constitute 75% or more of the rest of the potting soil. It is also very important to make sure that whatever brand of long fibered sphagnum moss or peat moss is used that it does not contain any additives like fertilizers which can burn your Venus Flytrap and kill it. You should also make sure that the long fibered sphagnum peat moss or peat moss that you use for your Venus Flytrap’s soil is fully wetted and hydrated before being used. Be careful to use only reverse osmosis, distilled, or clean rain water to wet and hydrate it.

The best kind of pots to use for Venus Flytraps are plastic pots that are about 5 to 8 inches deep. The width of the pot is not really important. This will enable the plants roots to grow long and will also enable you to water your plants less frequently when using the tray method described above. I usually provide 3 inch net pots for the Venus Flytraps that I sell. These are good and easy beginner pots and can be shipped easily and cheaply with the plants. But a deeper pot is more ideal to use for large Venus Flytraps. Small Venus Flytraps can grow in 3 inch pots just fine. But large Venus Flytraps should be put in larger pots because their larger rhyzomes are deeper down in their pots and because they do not like the top 75% or so of their roots to be waterlogged often. I also sell extra long fibered sphagnum moss that is good and safe to use for Venus Flytraps. Clay or terra cotta pots should not be used for Venus Flytraps because they leech minerals into the Venus Flytap’s soil and water and this can burn the roots of the Venus Flytrap and kill it.

The best colored pot to use depends on where in the US you live. If you live in the top half where you normally experience snow in the Winter than black or dark colored pots are best. If you live in the bottom half of the US where the Winter night time temperatures don’t normally drop below 20 F and you have hot Summers or you live in a tropical climate than a white colored pot is best to use. This is because the black or dark colored pots can get very hot in the sun in hot weather and while this won’t usually hurt the leaves and traps of the Venus Flytrap it can hurt the roots and kill your Venus Flytrap if the roots get too hot too often. They need to be kept cooler in hot climates and white pots reflect heat and helps to do this. Another thing that can be done is to use any colored plastic pot but wrap aluminum foil or some other solid white or reflective material around the pot. This will reflect heat away from the pot, irregardless of whatever color the pot happens to be.

Humidity

Venus Flytraps do not require high humidity. They do not need silly humidity domes, or terrariums, or a greenhouse and in fact almost always do better in open air. Humidity domes and terrariums can overheat too easily as they tend to trap heat and not release it and with very few exceptions do more harm than good.

Venus Flytraps can even live in arid climates like Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or inland California. These types of hot arid climates do require the Venus Flytraps to be grown in a slightly different manner outdoors though. If you live in one of these type of climates it is better to put them in a spot in your yard that gets about 4-6 hours of direct morning sunlight only and be sure to wrap aluminum foil or some other reflective or solid white material around their pots or use only white plastic pots, ideally that are 6 to 8 inches deep since the water in the bowl or saucer will evaporate so quickly in hot arid climates.

Shade cloth will also work well for Venus Flytraps being grown outdoors in hot arid climates and will make it so that they can safely handle longer hours of direct sunlight provided the pots are a light color to keep the roots cool. The shade cloth does not need to be a high percentage. Even a 20-40% level shade cloth will work well and probably will be better overall for Venus Flytraps than a higher level of shading. Polyfilm also works well for Venus Flytraps in hot arid climates and so do greenhouses with white colored polyfilm or polycarbonate roofing. But in cooler climates direct, unshaded, sunlight is best for Venus Flytraps and the humidity is largely irrelevant. If you cannot shade your Venus Flytrap in a hot arid climate and keep their pots from overheating then you should move your Venus Flytrap indoors next to a sunny window once your day temperatures start going into the 90s F and leave it there until your day temperatures are no longer going into the 90s F and then you can move it outside again.

Dormancy

Every Winter Venus Flytraps need to go dormant. They will do this on their own if the right type of environment is present. If you live in the top half of the US you will need to move your Venus Flytrap indoors next to a sunny window once your night temperatures start dropping below 40 F in the Fall. If you place your Venus Flytrap close to the glass of the window so that night time temperatures get chilly where it is at, it should go dormant on its own there. Going dormant means it will shed its Fall leaves and grow only little leaves and/or leaf/trap buds. If it looks like the plant is dying don’t worry. It is supposed to have its leaves and traps die down every Winter. You can also allow your Venus Flytrap’s soil to get a little drier during the Winter so long as it never completely dries and is always at least moist. Once Spring comes and your night time temperatures are no longer dropping below 45 F you can then move your Venus Flytrap back outdoors. Your Venus Flytrap will likely start coming out of dormancy before it gets moved outside though. Breaking dormancy means it will start growing larger leaves and traps again and sometimes make a flower stalk too.

If you live in the bottom half of the US, including Florida, and your Winter night time temperatures do not drop below about 20 F you can grow your Venus Flytrap outdoors year round. The frost will not kill them. The tops of the Venus Flytraps are quite frost resistant during the Winter. If you live in this type of climate you will need to be careful to not allow the Venus Flytrap’s rhyzome(bulb) to get waterlogged. This can easily happen from rain or melted morning frost. Be careful to make sure and dump out excess water. In fact you can allow the soil in your Venus Flytrap’s pot to get a little drier during the Winter provided that it gets no drier than moist. If the soil dries out in the Winter it can still die from this during the Winter time.

If you live in a tropical climate like Hawaii or Puerto Rico or you are unable to provide dormancy for your plant in one of the two ways mentioned above then you will need to give your Venus Flytrap a refrigerator dormancy every Winter for 3 months. To do this you can take your Venus Flytrap and gently squeeze most of the water out of its pot with your fingers so that it soil is only slightly damp. Clip off and remove any dead or dying leaves and traps so that there is no black foliage left. Then put your whole plant in its pot inside of a ziplock baggie and seal it shut. Place the plant in its pot in its ziplock baggie somewhere inside your refrigerator, not in the freezer. Make sure to check inside your baggie about every 3 weeks for any mold or fungus forming. If you see some you can rinse it off with distilled or reverse osmosis water. You can do this by placing it in a bowl or bucket and holding the plant in its pot there and with your fingers gently scrub off any into the water. Also, make sure to once again clip off any dead black leaves and traps. After you have removed all the fungus or mold and clipped off any dead leaves and traps then squeeze out the excess water in the soil with your fingers so that the soil is only slightly damp again and put your plant in its pot in its baggie right back in the refrigerator. Once Spring rolls around you can take your Venus Flytrap out of your refrigerator, and place the pot in a bowl or saucer again. Fill it back to about 2/5ths of the way up the pot and put it back outside or in whatever growing area you had it before. The plant should start making new larger leaves and traps within 2 weeks then and possibly one or more flower stalks.