Plants

Venus Flytrap

Dionaea muscipula

Everyone has at least heard of this plant: The Venus flytrap fascinates, enthralls and captivates people all around the globe. Let us introduce this ravenous houseplant in detail and give you some care tips.

Growth type
  • Perennial plant
Growth height (from)
from 10 cm to 12 cm
Growth width (from)
from 10 cm to 20 cm
Growth characteristics
  • bizarre
  • sweeping
  • horst-forming
Flower color
  • white
Flowering time (month)
  • May to July
Flower shape
  • Uniflorous
  • terminal
Flower characteristics
  • unfilled
  • hermaphroditic
Leaf color
  • green
  • red
page format
  • oval
Sheet properties
  • wintergreen
Light
  • sunny to scattered light
Soil type
  • sandy
Soil Moisture
  • humid to swamp
ph value
  • acidic
Lime compatibility
  • sensitive to lime
Nutrient requirements
  • low in nutrients
Humus
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Flower Decoration
  • Leaf ornaments
Toxicity
  • non-toxic
Winter Hardness
  • frost-sensitive
Use
  • Interior greening
  • Planters
  • Winter garden
  • cold house

Origin

The Venus flytrap (Dioneae muscipula) is probably the best-known carnivorous plant in the world - plenty of films, books and comics have been dedicated to this creepy plant and its unusual name. Originally exclusively native to North and South Caroline (USA), it quickly gained international fame and is now kept as an exotic houseplant all over the world. Botanically, it is part of the sundew family (Droseraceae). In its natural habitat, it has proven to be a real survivalist: over time, it has evolved strategies to get nutrients from the air that it was unable to find in the soil.

The fly-catching Venus flytrap was researched for decades. Special attention was, of course, paid to its highly complex trap mechanism. The trap only snaps closed if the feelers on the trap leaves are touched multiple times within a few seconds. This ability to remember interaction prevents the exertion of excess energy. As long as the prey is still thrashing around, the same feelers prevent the trap from opening up again. The insects remains securely trapped and the plant secretes digestive juices that decompose the prey within one to two weeks. The only thing left is the insect’s chitinous exoskeleton. The Venus flytrap’s trap leaves only open up again once the plant has fully absorbed the digestive juices along with the dissolved nutrients.

Growth

The Venus flytrap is a small yet long-lived herbaceous plant. It grows very slowly and only blooms after three to four years. It is dormant from fall, after which it only forms small leaves with inactive traps. The roots of the Venus flytrap are relatively weak - they mainly serve to anchor the plant in the ground and absorb water as nutrients are absorbed from the air.

Leaves

Venus flytrap with prey

The Venus flytrap snaps closed within one tenth of a second, trapping its prey

The Venus flytrap’s oval trap leaves can grow up to 1.57 inches long, and snap closed when touched. Actually green, they turn red in sunlight and produce a kind of nectar, simulating a flower to attract insects. The spiky feelers along the edges of the leaves react to the smallest contact like sensors, but only activate the trap mechanism after being touched multiple times. In doing so, they develop extraordinary strength. Despite the name, the Venus flytrap can even trap - and hold - small frogs. However, they mostly feed on flies, ants and spiders. To see it catch its prey, you can feed your Venus flytrap.

Flowers

In spring, from May to July, the Venus flytrap forms a stem up to 12 inches tall, on which multiple flowers appear. These are hermaphroditic and measure up to 1.18 inches in diameter. The individual flowers are made up of five greenish sepals and five white petals. The flowers sit so far up above the traps that pollinators can pollinate the flowers without accidentally falling into the traps.

Location

The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) needs a sunny, warm location without draughts. This is the only way that the trap leaves can turn red and the plant can thrive. The rule of thumb: the redder the plant, the healthier it is. Optimal humidity is relatively high, ideally between 50 and 80 percent. When the plant starts growing small new traps, it’s time to move the Venus flytrap to its cooler winter home. A bright south-facing window in an unheated room is ideal. In principle, the Venus flytrap is winter hardy down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit but does not do well with drastic changes in temperatures. In summer, the Venus flytrap can be left outside in a protected location - as long as it is acclimated slowly and not positioned in direct sun.

Substrate

In the wild, the Venus flytrap grows in moist, low-nutrient, acidic sandy or peat soil. When grown as a houseplant, it should exclusively be grown in special carnivore substrate or pure peat. The Venus flytrap reacts very sensitively to lime in the soil.

Venus Flytrap

The carnivorous Venus flytrap is a particularly spectacular houseplant

Watering

As a swamp native, the Venus flytrap should always be kept moist. It should never be watered from above like other plants, rather the pot should be placed onto a saucer of water to bottom-water the plant. The substrate absorbs the water through the holes in the bottom of the pot. The saucer should always be filled with at least one finger of rainwater or lime-free tap water during the growing season. The Venus flytrap will suffer very quickly even if the level of lime in the water is low. Watering once a month is plenty during winter dormancy.

Fertilizing

The Venus flytrap covers its own nutrient needs through insects, so it does not require any additional feeding. It uses almost all of its prey, using the nutrients to grow flowers and new traps.

Repotting

This spectacular houseplant needs a new pot each spring. Generally, it needs to stay in a pot until the roots fill up the whole pot and begin to grow over the edge. The perfect time to repot is late February to early March, when the plant begins to emerge from its winter dormancy and you move it to its warmer summer home. Remove any dead roots with a sharp knife or pair of scissors before moving the plant into its new pot. The pot can be quite flat, and the old root ball should never be buried too deep in the soil, as the Venus flytrap’s roots grow more horizontally than vertically. Water the substrate well.

Venus flytrap flowers

Not many people know that the Venus flytrap’s flowers are really eye-catching too

Pruning

Do you keep your Venus flytrap for its flowers or its traps? If, like most people, you focus on the traps, you can cut off the flowers as soon as they appear, right at the stem. During its flowering period, the plant focusses most of its energy towards its flowers and doesn’t form any new traps. You can circumvent this with a simple prune. If you want to harvest seed from your plant, you will have to leave the flowers.

Propagation

You can easily propagate Venus flytraps through leaf cuttings. You have to cut the leaf so that it’s still connected with a couple of roots. You can then place this in moist to wet substrate. It will take a while until a new Venus flytrap forms but the chances of success are pretty high. When propagating through , shake the mature seeds carefully out of the flower and place them in a cool place until it’s time to plant (e.g. in a refrigerator). These can then be placed into soil in early spring. It’s also possible to divide a Venus flytrap during its annual repotting. Separate the rhizome and place it in a new pot. It must be watered well initially so that new roots form quickly.

Diseases and Pests

The Venus flytrap is not just easy to look after, but also very resilient when it comes to and pests. Aphids are occasionally a problem.

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