Venus Flytrap F.A.Q.

Dionaea muscipula

Venus Fly Traps can be very rewarding to grow but too often people run into problems and don't know why. We have complied a list of frequently asked questions and common problems that should help answer most of your questions. Please use this information in conjunction with our culture instructions to help ensure that your new plant will thrive.

My Venus Fly Trap came with a plastic dome over it. Should I keep this on it or take it off?
Always remove any plastic dome from the plant. You may have to do this gradually over a period of a few days as the plant will be used to higher humidity. Lift the cup more and more each day until it is completely off after a week or so. Some nurseries will put these little plastic cups over the plants to help keep them from drying out while sitting on a store shelf but the plant will grow much stronger without it. No experienced carnivorous plant grower will grow their plants this way. This can also be used as a warning sign when shopping for fly traps. Plants under domes will tend to be softer, weaker and more prone to pests and disease.

What kind of light does my VFT need?
Venus Fly Traps grow out in full sun conditions in nature and require the same light levels in cultivation. If sunlight is not available, bright fluorescent light can be provided as a substitute. A minimum of 40 watts is needed and a day length no less than 14 hours should be given for optimum growth.

What kind of soil should I use to repot my plant?
The only type of soil you should use is peat moss. Never use potting soil or garden soil as these do not provide the right acidic conditions the plants need.

What kind of water should I use?
Always use either rain water or distilled water. If your tap water is very low in minerals you might be able to use it after letting it sit in an open container for a few days. Water that contains a lot of minerals and chemicals can quickly kill the plant.

How much humidity does my plant need?
VFTs are not tropical plants and actually like good air circulation. A humidity level of about 40%-70% is good.

What can I feed my plant?
Any small, soft-bodied insect can be used for food. Small crickets, spiders and flies will work well. If the food item is too large, it will rot before the plant can finish digesting it and the trap will turn black.

How often should I feed my plant?
As long as the plant is in full growth and has several traps open you can feed the plant. Never feed more than half the number of traps open at any one time. If the traps are not closing properly, remove the food item and check the growing conditions to be sure everything is being done correctly. Wait a few days and then try feeding again. It can take a week or so for a trap to completely 'reset' after digesting a meal.

I heard that hamburger is a good food for these plants. Is that true?
NO! Never feed any type of meat to your fly trap. It will cause the trap to rot and waste the plant's energy.

Can I trick the trap into closing without actually feeding it?
It is possible to get the trap to close without feeding it just by touching the trigger hairs, however this is not a very good idea. Although doing this on occasion will not seriously hurt the plant, it does weaken it since the closing and opening is actually a growth process. If the plant does not get fed it will eventually run out of energy.

Can I use other types of fertilizer to feed the plant?
No. Never use any type of fertilizer with fly traps. They have very sensitive roots and it will quickly burn them and kill the plant. The insects that the plant traps act as a fertilizer.

Do I have to feed my VFT anything at all?
No, but it definitely helps them to grow faster and bigger. Just like regular plants, Venus Fly Traps can use sunlight to make energy if no insects are available.

Common Problems

My Venus Fly Trap leaves are just laying on the top of the soil and they won't stand up. What's wrong?
The plant is probably in its Spring or Fall growth phase. During this time the plant makes leaves that lie flat against the ground and the traps are somewhat smaller. As the days get longer the new summer leaves will emerge. These are longer, stand more upright and have bigger traps.

My plant does not seem to be growing very fast. I have a light over it but only a couple new leaves have come out and they are very small.
Insufficient light is probably the cause. VFTs grow in full sun in nature and need very bright light when grown indoors. See the info about lighting in the FAQ section.

My plant is making new, longer leaves but they are very thin and the traps are also small. Instead of standing upright they flop over to the ground.
Insufficient light is probably the cause. See the info about lighting in the FAQ section. Also, the humidity could be too high. VFTs do not like tropical conditions and need good air circulation. If there is a dome over the plant take it off!

I have tried feeding my plant but the traps do not close very quickly, or not at all.
Slow closing traps usually means that the plant is too cold. Since this is a growth process, the warmer the plant, the quicker it will close. Try raising the temperature to around 80 degrees and see how the plant reacts. If it is still not closing properly the traps may not be fully reset from a previous closing or the light may not be bright enough.

After I fed my plant the trap turned black.
This indicates that the food item offered was too large and rotted instead of being digested. Trim the black trap off and use smaller food items next time. In nature, insects that are too large to digest are also strong enough to escape from the trap, allowing the plant to avoid rotting a trap and wasting energy.

My plant is making new leaves and traps but some older ones are turning black.
This is normal. As the plant grows, older leaves are replaced with new ones so the plant cuts off energy to the old ones causing them to turn black. Simply trim them off and remove them.

The edges of my plant's leaves are turning brown and dry.
This can be caused by a few different things. It can happen if the humidity is too low, causing the leaves to dry out. Humidity should be kept between 40%-70%. It can also happen if minerals are building up in the soil. Either repot the plant or flush the soil several times with rain or distilled water.

Happy Growing!!

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