Venus Fly Traps

One of the most fascinating plants (especially for children) is the Venus Fly Trap.  They are a tiny plant native to both North and South Carolina bogs growing in the open marshlands.  These interesting little plants grow ‘traps’ that catch and feed on small soft-bodied insects.  Their culture in the home can be easy once you know some of the dos and don’ts of these plants.  First of all, one has to realize that it takes a lot of energy for the traps to open and close, so tricking the plant into thinking it has food on the traps will inevitably kill the plant.  Hamburger as well as large insects are not digestible to Venus Fly traps and will cause the trap to rot and endanger the whole plant again. Incidentally, those traps are really a modified leaf set on grabbing some extra nutrition for the plant. The trap possess three trigger hairs on each side of the trap.  A passing insect must brush by two of the three hairs to snap the trap.

These plants prefer lots of moisture, so use filtered or bottled water as chlorine will kill them. Place them in a sunny window that receives morning sun .  Afternoon sun will be too intense and burn them.  In the spring, these plants have a tiny rosette of leaves that are close to the ground. Often you will see a white flower spike growing up the center of the plant.  Summer time produces longer leaves with larger traps on the ends.  The plant continually produces new traps to replace old ones dying.  In the fall, most inexperienced gardeners will throw out their Venus Fly trap, thinking they have killed it, but infact, the plant has gone dormant for the winter.  Take the plant and place it in a zip lock bag (soil and all), and put it in your crisper in the fridge or in a cool basement.  Make sure the plant doesn’t dry out, and in the spring, you can consider transplanting the Venus Fly Trap before putting it back near the window.  Only use peat soils that are acidic.  The roots are very fine and not well developed, likely the reason for developing alternative ways to feed itself. Knowing this, the roots will not tolerate normal potting soil as its too alkaline. 

 If you want to try something really unusual, try planting these little plants In a terrarium shared with pitcher plants or sundews or around your ponds.  As long as the soil is kept moist at all times, they will flourish and create a great conversation piece!

 

Cynthia Booth