Venus Flytrap plant with cloche terrarium and terrarium tools

Plants 101: Venus Flytrap

The carnivorous plant is one of the most fascinating wonders of the plant world. Since I was a child, the lore of these plants has always been intriguing. They are quite prevalent in pop culture, literature, and cinema, which have all added to my curiosity. When you break it down, however, carnivorous plants are just taking in their nutrients in a different way, much like how humans consume food. Following are some basic facts about one of the most common types of carnivorous plants, the Venus Flytrap, and a great way to cage one of these beasts for your home.

close up image of venus flytrap

First, you must know the growing requirements for this type of plant before you attempt to grow it. Venus Flytraps are actually a swamp plant native to bogs and wet savannas in the Carolinas, here in the United States. The soils of these wetlands are nutrient deficient, which has encouraged the plant to slowly evolve to adapt to its environment and find a way other than roots to get its food. The plant gets its nutrients, specifically nitrogen, from the flies that it traps and consumes. Although these plants grow in wet, warm climates, they are not considered tropical plants. They will actually tolerate a mild winter, and will use this as a period of dormancy. Otherwise, the plant can weaken and die prematurely. 

image of venus flytrap in soil

Because Venus Flytraps thrive in a damp environment, a moisture-retaining potting medium is the best for planting. Ideally, wet, sandy or peaty soils should be used. These plants need constant moisture or their tissues will dry out, which is why they are usually packaged in some kind of enclosed container at plant stores, markets, or big box stores. When planting these circus plants in a terrarium, they need constant humidity, so a closed or lidded terrarium is the best choice. The small cloche terrarium from 46 & Spruce is a perfect container for this plant because it also has air holes in the lid, allowing in a minimal amount of fresh air, and perhaps even a fruit fly or two! Keep the soil in your terrarium constantly moist, but not soggy. In a closed terrarium, much of the moisture is contained, so you won't have to water it often.

venus flytrap in small cloche terrarium

If you're nervous about taking on the responsibility of becoming a Venus Flytrap owner, try imagining it as a pseudo-pet. Even though Flytraps have become a domesticated houseplant, they still need to be fed, however, you will not have to feed them flies! In a terrarium, unlike in the wild, you can control the amount of nutrients in the soil by adding a mild fertilizer from time to time. Anything that is high in nitrogen and phosphorus is best, but a general houseplant fertilizer will work as well. Be sure to follow the directions on the packaging of the fertilizer.

venus flytrap open cloche terrarium

When it comes to light, think about a plant's natural habitat to determine how much it will need in your house. If a plant lives in a swamp, it is probably not getting hot, direct sunlight. Venus Flytraps prefer filtered bright light, as the sun shines through trees down onto the plants below.

Now that you know more about these carnivorous wonders, the next time you pass a display of these plants, often decorated in the fashion of Little Shop of Horrors, you will feel confident about purchasing one. These are great plants for kids and adults alike as they are both interesting and entertaining.


Owner of Floral Underground

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