How to Grow Venus Flytrap Easily

How to Grow Venus Flytrap Easily

Venus flytrap carnivorous plants are fascinating additions to the world of gardening. Like pitcher plants, these carnivorous plants can be rewarding for those seeking to go down the offbeat garden path. These plants have special leaves that snap shut like a jaw when curious insects land on them, allowing them to get the nutrients needed to thrive. This comprehensive guide will explore the essential aspects of how to grow Venus flytrap.

Venus Flytrap Basics

Its scientific name, Dionaea muscipula, reveals its unique and surprising nature. Dionaea refers to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, and muscipula refers to musca (fly) and decipula (trap). In order to grow them successfully, first of all we have to understand where Venus flytraps come from and their native habitat. Venus flytraps originate from only one area in the United States, which is marshes and bogs of North and South Carolina, and currently all wild populations are within a 90 km radius of Wilmington, North Carolina. These places are poor in nutrients and receive unobstructed sunlight. As such, recreating their natural environment is essential for them to thrive.

potted venus flytraps
Potted Venus flytraps. It is not difficult to grow Venus flytraps once you understand what they need.

What is amazing about Venus flytraps is they have evolved a “smart” mechanism to trap prey. Only very few plants in this world are capable of rapid movement and the Venus flytrap is one of them. Fine trigger hairs line the insides of their traps. They don’t trap anything unless a second stimulus occurs within 20 seconds of the first touch to these hairs. Plus, they don’t start digesting their prey unless 5 more stimuli occurs, which would happen with a struggling insect. Such a “smart” system ensures the plant only catches insects and not some debris. Ingenious.

venus flytrap nectar droplets
Tiny Venus flytrap nectar droplets can be observed on the insides of their traps. These attract insect prey to them.

In the wild, Venus flytraps have already declined greatly in numbers, so please make sure the plants you obtain are grown and propagated from a commercial nursery.

venus flytrap nursery
Dionaea being grown in a nursery. These plants should only be obtained from licensed nurseries. It is a felony to harvest them in the wild.

Choosing the Ideal Location

Now that recreating their natural habitat is essential, finding the right place to keep your Venus flytrap is the first step in ensuring successful growth. These plants need direct sunlight, and they need lots of it daily, so a sunny location is needed. If you are growing your Venus flytraps indoors, place them near windows with a high incidence of light or use artificial lights suitable for plant development.

Preparing the Proper Substrate

The substrate plays a crucial role in the healthy development of Venus flytraps. Opt for a substrate that holds moisture well, is light, and well drained. Growers like to use a mixture of sphagnum moss with sand. This type of substrate helps mimic the natural conditions of these plants that live in swamps on the coastal plains of North/South Carolina.

venus flytraps grown indoors
An indoor environment is the best option to grow Venus flytrap, since you can control all the aspects of their surroundings.

Watering Carefully

Venus flytraps need a humid environment; they can never have too much water. Keep the soil moist, but avoid soaking the plant’s roots. Using distilled, demineralized, or rainwater is the best option, as it prevents the accumulation of harmful minerals in the substrate and the plant. Venus flytraps are highly sensitive to their water, so take great care when it comes to the water that you use.

Feeding Your Venus Flytraps

In the outdoors, Venus flytraps are capable of catching insects on their own, and feeding them is not recommended. They will capture food, or use the limited nutrients from the substrate as needed. Do not fertilize their soil. But if you’re growing them indoors, you can feed them insects such as store-bought crickets every once a week (or two). Do not feed a trap an insect larger than 1/3 the size of the trap. Feeding too large a meal (or too many at a time) generates very large energy expenditure for the plant, overloading it, and can cause bacterial rot. Once a trap starts digesting its food, it seals itself for days to a few weeks.

venus flytrap prey
An insect prey caught in one of the traps. These traps are basically the leaves of the plant. It is ok to feed your plant live insects, but make sure they are small enough for the trap to handle.

Maintaining Proper Humidity

Maintaining the correct humidity (about 50%) in the environment is critical for Venus flytraps to develop properly. We can place a dish with water around the plant to create a humid environment, but avoid the bottom of the main container from being constantly submerged; this can cause premature rotting of the substrate.

potted venus flytrap
You don’t need a large pot/container to grow Venus flytrap, especially in the early stages. They can always be re-potted after several years.

Dormancy in Winter

Daily temperatures of 65-75°F (18-24°C) are adequate for this plant. During winter, they go into dormancy, triggered by temperatures below 50°F/10°C. This period is natural and helps the plant to stay alive and healthy during the cold winter months. During this time, the leaves may wither and darken.

If you choose to let your plants overwinter, keep them in a cool place (about 4-10°C) and reduce the watering. They will come back to life in the spring.

Propagation of Venus Flytraps

Venus flytraps can be easily propagated from seeds, leaf pieces, or by dividing mature plants. Propagation from seed takes longer but offers the opportunity to observe the entire growth cycle of the plant. It is way more complex to propagate them from seed, and this is a subject best left for another day. Most of the Venus flytraps sold to the public are already established plants. If your adult Venus flytrap is healthy, it will produce flowers every spring that require insect pollinators, and amazingly, the plant does not eat those insect pollinators.

venus flytrap flower
Venus flytraps produce flowers in spring on tall flower stalks that are separate from their traps. Many gardeners advise cutting them off at the base to help the plant conserve energy.

Common Problems and Solutions

For the care of your Venus flytrap, you might encounter some problems, among the most common are:

Black or Yellowed Leaves: This could indicate that the plant is not getting enough light or is receiving poor-quality water. To correct this problem, adjust the lighting and water. If you are growing your Venus flytrap indoors, adding a full spectrum light to the natural light will often solve the problem of an unhealthy plant.

Leaves not closing: If the plant traps are not closing after catching an insect, the plant may be under stress. Ensure it is in a suitable and healthy environment, getting enough water and light.

Pest issues: Venus flytraps rarely get pests, but if they do show up, the culprits are usually aphids, fungus gnats, or red spider mites. Applying neem oil should fix any aphid or red spider mite problems. For fungus gnats, mix 1/5 hydrogen peroxide to water and water the substrate with it until the gnats are gone. Also, it is important to reduce your watering, because fungus gnats are always the result of soil that is too moist.


To grow Venus flytrap is to undertake a intriguing journey into the world of carnivorous plants. Choosing the right location, preparing the soil, watering carefully, and maintaining proper humidity will provide the ideal environment for these plants to thrive. Keep in mind that they go through a period of dormancy in the winter and may need some extra attention during this time. These are not difficult plants to care for. With dedication and care, your Venus flytrap will become a true wonder of nature right in your home.

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