The Q&A Archives: Venus Fly Trap

Question: I got a VFT the other day and it came in a tube like terrarium sortof thing. My guess is that it is for humidity but can it live out side of it? Also, I put some bugs in with it and it ate three. how many bugs does it need?

Answer: The Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula) is the most well known species of carnivorous plants. These insectivorous plants lure their prey using a sweet smelling nectar. When an insect lands on the head of the fly trap, they seek the source of the nectar, and if the plant is lucky, it will touch one of the many trigger hairs located within the jaws of the trap. Once triggered, the trap snaps closed, trapping the victim.

The plant then secretes an enzyme which essentially 'dissolves' the insect, turning it into a digestible dinner. After a few days, the fly trap will re-open, to await it's next victim. Yummmmm!

Venus Fly Traps are quite easy to grow, as long as they are given the proper conditions. They should be grown in very bright light, but not in direct, hot sun. A warm, humid environment, with a constant supply of moisture, such as you would find in a terrarium is ideal.

The potting mixture should consist of a mix of 70% peat or sphagnum moss and 30% perlite or coarse pumice.

These plants are sensitive to chemicals, so you should only use distilled water or rain water. If it is absolutely necessary to use tap water, allow it to set for 24-48 hours in an open container, to allow the chlorine and other chemicals to dissipate.

Fly Traps do not need fertilizer, the insects which they consume provide them with all the nutrients they need.

Venus Fly Traps have an active growing and feeding season, from May through October. During this period the soil should be kept constantly damp. Temperatures should be kept between 70 and 95 degrees F.

During the winter, they require a dormant period of about three months. At this time, much (if not all), of the foliage will die back. The entire planter may be moved to an area where the temperature will remain at 45-50 degrees F., or the bulb may be removed, sprayed with fungicide, wrapped in damp, live sphagnum moss, placed in a plastic bag, and moved to a cool area.

Fly Trap Tips
If your plant is not grown in a terrarium, it is a good idea to place a pie pan or large saucer, with about an inch of water in it, under the pot. (Elevate the pot by placing pebbles under it so that the base of the pot is barely in contact with the water, not submerged... the growing medium must stay moist, but never soggy!)
This will keep the humidity around the plant higher and it will ensure that the plant has a constant source of moisture.

If your plant is growing in a terrarium, you will have to provide it's food. Fly Traps will consume 2 or 3 flies each month. You can also purchase small crickets at a local pet shop as food. Dead flies and insects may be used, provided that they died of natural causes and not by poisons.

Never, never, never feed your Fly Trap hamburger. The fat content in burger will be fatal to your plant.

Artificially springing the trap, (poking it with your finger), drains the plant's energy. If this is done too often, the trap head will become less sensitive and possibly die.

Always keep dead leaves and heads cut off to prevent fungal infections. (Dead leaves and heads are a part of this plant's life cycle, and do not necessarily mean that the plant is unhealthy.)

Hope this information answers all your questions!

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