Venus Flytrap:  Nature's Flyswatter

hungry venus flytrap

The venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is a fascinating bug-eating plant from the Carolina swamps. It attracts insects with coloration and the sweet-smelling nectar secretions along the edges of its leaves. 

The upper part of each leaf is hinged with spines on the outer edges which become traps when closed. There are 3 hairs on the inside surface of either part of the leaf that are very sensitive. They serve as triggers, and when an insect touches 2 of the hairs the "jaws" immediately snap shut.

See Plant In Action

Once the insect is trapped, this carnivorous plant secretes an enzyme which basically dissolves and  digests its prey. Digestion is completed in four to ten days. Then the traps reopens to start the process all over again.

The size of the plant is 4 in (10 cm) across; traps 3/4 in (2 cm) long. The plant grows up to 12 inches tall with basal leaves and small white clusters of white flowers which appear in the spring. Flowers must be pinched off to avoid weakening the fly trap.

The plant loves heat, high humidity, and plenty of light and is frequently grown in terrariums and greenhouses. 

They have an active growing and feeding season, from May through October. After which the plant goes dormant and must be kept cold. Most of the foliage will die back--this is normal--do not be alarmed.

How Take Care of a Venus Flytrap

Light: Full sun or bright fluorescent lights. Shade plant from full sun if grown in a terrarium, care must be taken not to cook the plants.

Water: Keep continually moist when growing, you should only use distilled water or rain water because the plant is sensitive to chemicals. If you must use tap water, allow it to set for 24 hours in an open container, to allow the chlorine and any other chemicals to dissipate. Keep barely damp when dormant.

Humidity: High. Ideally grown in a terrarium. If your plant is not grown in a terrarium, it is a good idea to place plant on a humidity tray or large saucer of pebbles with about an inch of water in it. Place the pot on the pebbles so that the base of the pot is barely in contact with the water. The growing medium must stay moist, but never soggy.

Temperature: During the growing season, 70 - 90 degrees F (21- 32'C) days, 60 - 70 degrees F (15 - 21 "C) nights. Keep down to 40 degrees F (4'C) when dormant.

Feeding: In summer, place open terrarium or pots outdoors and let plants catch their own food.  If plant is kept in a terrarium, feed dead flies and other insects that have died without the use of poisons. You can feed it by dropping insects into its jaws.

Propagation: It is easiest and best to grow your Dionaeo Muscipula from seed.

Repotting: Use a mix of three parts course builder's sand and two parts Canadian peat in a plastic pot with drainage hole or put plant in a terrarium.

Problems: During the winter, plants must have a period of dormancy. Decrease watering and keep plants cool. Too much warmth will cause the plant to rot.

Note:  Do not touch the leaf to make the trap close.  Over-stimulation will kill the plant.  After five or six times, the venus flytrap will lose it function to close.

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