|How to grow your Venus Flytraps|
Most all carnivorous
plants have similar needs. Bright light, high humidity, and a proper mix of
nutrient poor medium for them to grow in. In nature, carnivorous plants
evolved in bogs and marshy areas that are very low in soil nutrients. They
adapted by developing ways for their leaves to trap and digest insects.
Therefore, any traditional fertilizing, or high nutrient potting soil is
very bad for these plants. We reccomend a mix of 60% peat moss and 40% white
pumice, or perlite. Washed sand can also be added to the mix, but stay away
from any decorative rocks or bleached additives. Live sphagnum moss, or dry
sphagnum moss once re-hydrated, are also an excellent growing medium for
nearly all carnivorous plants. Do not use other types of moss, such as 'spanish
moss', as they are not suitable for carnivorous plants. Generally speaking,
any store bought potting soil will not work, you really have to use the
peat/sphagnum based mediums.
Good water is a factor in succesfully raising carnivorous plants. They are sensitive to chemicals and minerals in water, and hard water or water treated with chlorine generally should not be used. Rain water is excellent, and bottled water is second best, make sure it contains no added minerals. If you must use city water or hard well water, it is best to flush out your plants from time to time to wash out excessive buildups of anything harmful. If you have chlorine in your water, at least let it set for 24 hours so that some of the chlorine may evaporate. It really is best, especially for beginners, to stick to bottled or rain water.
There is never a need to fertilize any carnivorous plants. This can be especially stressful on them, and while they may show an initial spike in growth, in the long run the fertilizers will most likely prove to be too much for the plant to digest. Some experienced growers will use fertilizers in diluted amounts, but only at their own risk. As a general rule, beginners should never fertilize their carnivorous plants.
Terrariums are great for growing carnivorous plants indoors, though some species are better suited to it than others. A terrarium can be as simple as a small fish tank with a plastic lid. The idea is to keep the humidity high for your plants this way. But, be careful that your terrarium doesn't get too warm, especially if in sunlight. If you are concerned about having enough light, flourescent lights work nicely when placed 6-12" above the plants.
Some species, such as venus flytraps and sarracenia, require a dormancy period each year. During this time they will stop growing, and may appear to be browning and getting a bit ugly. This is natural, as each year's growth dies off, and the plant stores energy deep inside, waiting for the following spring to resume growth. It is best to provide 3-5 months of dormancy for your plants.
Carnivorous plants will grow flowers like many other plants. You might not expect some of the dazzling floral displays that sarracenia are capable of, or the charming tiny pink and white flowers common to sundews, but they do grow them. For beginning growers it is best to remove flower stalks before they develop, as they will focus alot of the plant's energy into growing the bloom. By removing the bloom, more of that energy will go towards general growth, increasing the chance of success for your plant overall.
As tempting as it is, you really shouldn't force feed your plants. You do not need to feed them for them to survive, they do quite well on their own, even without eating many insects. You may be surprised by what they catch on their own.
Venus Flytraps: These guys like lots and lots of bright light, and soil which is always wet during their growing season. It is best to use a saucer or tray to keep the plant in 1" or so of water. If kept indoors, an east or southeast facing window should provide enough light, but make sure your plant doesn't get too hot. If kept outdoors, be very sure that your plant never dries out. Keep your venus flytrap in nearly full bright sun all day if possible. In late fall your plant will begin to go into dormancy. Venus flytraps can survive freezing temperatures, but not extreme temperatures. It is best to protect your plants from freezing solid, or open exposure to frost for any prolonged period of time. During dormancy, they do not need any light as they are not growing, and they do not need alot of water. Don't let them dry out completely, but don't keep them excessively wet. You can bring them into a shed or garage to protect them from freezing temps when necessary, but do not bring them into warmth as it will throw off their dormancy clock. In the spring they will be ready to grow again, at that time resume watering. A plant kept through the winter may need to be in a larger pot the following year, and venus flytraps will commonly split and divide into several plants during the course of a year. They can be divided and repotted each spring before active growth resumes. Venus flytraps will produce flower stalks with clusters of white blooms. While experienced growers can get them to produce seeds, it is generally best for beginners to remove the stalks before they bloom.
If dormant venus flytraps are purchased off season, then it is best to keep them in your refridgerator until you are ready to plant them. Keep them in a baggie or something similar so they don't dry out, but they shouldn't be wet either. If kept too wet they can succumb to mildew, use a fungicide powder to protect them, or check on them often to make sure they are not rotting. Venus flytraps can be grown during off seasons in terrariums, but will still need dormancy eventually. Many growers have flytraps that they will keep in terrariums in the wintertime, and provide an off season dormancy in the refridgerator.
When planting bare root venus flytrap bulbs, it is best to prepare and wet your soil mix, then add it to your pot. Tamp it down slightly, then take a butter knife and make a hole in the center in which to place the bulb. Do not plant it too deep, only the roots and white lower portions of the bulb need to be beneath soil, the growth point should not be buried. After placing the bulb in it's place, tamp it down slightly again. Then place the pot in it's saucer of water and put it where you want to keep it, and leave it alone. It is so much fun to trigger those little traps, but they really don't appreciate it. It is best to let the traps be triggered naturally, where there is a chance of a reward for their effort.
Most All Carnivorous Plants: You can reproduce most carnivorous plant species through leaf cuttings or growth point division, just as with most house plants. If kept wet and in proper medium, most leaf cuttings will take root and grow into mature plants. When taking leaf cuttings, try to cut it right down to the growth point, including a 'basal portion' or 'rhizome portion' if possible. Keep light bright and be careful of mold.
Seed Germination : Germination of Carnivorous Plant seeds can be a slow process. Some species require cold stratification, meaning that they need an extended period of cold temperatures before they will sprout. Sarracenia and Darlingtonia seed will both require a minimum 2 months stratification in between 33 and 40 degrees temperature. One good way to do this is to sprinkle the seed across a moist paper towel, fold it up and put it in a plastic bag, and place it in your refridgerator for the required amount of time. Check on them from time to time to be sure they aren't getting any mold, you might also want to use a light dusting of fungicide powder.
Some species will require no cold stratification, such as Drosera and Venus Flytrap seeds.
Start seeds when they are ready by spreading them evenly on the preferred medium, do not bury them, keep them damp and in high humidity and bright light. It can still take some time for them to sprout, and they will grow very slowly. In seedling stage, many CP can be overtaken by mold, or may be outgrown by the peat moss they are planted on. Be careful to keep the seedlings growing free of any such conditions. Fungicide powder can be used to combat the mold, and growing peat moss can be trimmed back.
DORMANCY ALERT- Please be aware, if you purchased your plants out of season, they will need to complete dormancy before you can expect them to grow for you. Dormancy is typically from late fall to early spring each year.
TROUBLESHOOTING: Is my plant growing OK?
Time of year will mean everything when considering how much your plant is or isn't growing. If purchased in the spring near the end of dormancy, it should begin to grow as soon as it observes warmer temperatures. Growth will be strong and steady through mid summer, when some species of perennial carnivores will begin to slow down. If a plant is purchased in mid-late summer, it may not grow much more before going dormant. Plants purchased during dormancy will typically have leaves trimmed, and will appear as a healthy rooted bulb or rhizome. Failure to observe dormancy for plants that require it will certainly kill them, this is the leading cause of venus flytrap death in captivity.
Also, venus flytrap plants purchased mid growing season will probably do best in a bright window or a well lit terrarium for the remainder of that growing season, even if you live in a humid (50%+) climate where they can be kept outdoors. Outdoor sun during re-acclimation can burn the leaves, although it may not kill the plant. If you do plan to keep them outdoors, introduce them to full sun slowly, over the course of 2 weeks or so.
TROUBLESHOOTING: Is my plant happy?
If your plant appears to be struggling, there are a few things to consider. Most concerns can be addressed by increasing humidity, which is a crucial element in raising carnivorous plants. Some growers will mist their plants daily. Strong light is also essential. While these plants will grow for you, they may need to acclimate to your growing conditions. This is common when transporting exotic plants between different growing zones.
Venus Flytrap Planting Instructions:
Venus Flytrap: If received in a domed pot, carefully remove all of the plastic packaging. The dome will not be necessary in most cases, but if you live where there are very dry conditions, the dome may be necessary as humidity is crucial. It is best to move the plant into a terrarium on those cases, then the dome will not be necessary if humidity is high enough. If received bare root, first fill your pot with wet growing medium(peat moss based), tamp the mix down slightly, then take a butter knife and make a divit in the soil wide enough for your plant to fit down into, roots and all. VFT Only grow 4 or 5 wirey roots each year, and they will always grow straight down. Do not bury the bulb, make sure that the growing point is exposed, while the white lower portions of the bulb are under planting medium. Tamp the soil in around the bulbs and put them in good light.
After transplanting, leave your plants alone. They will need time to adjust and root in. Most all CP will appreciate tray watering, and Not top watering, especially when rooting in.
Watering: Carnivorous Plants DO NOT like to be top watered. This disturbs their roots and they hate that. Use the tray method, and keep up to 1" of water in it at all times during growing season.