Venus Flytrap Care

venus-flytrap-care

Venus flytraps are not hard to care for. Venus flytrap care is really easy, as long as you don't over complicate it. And as long as you pay attention to a few "do's" and "don'ts".

Your Venus Flytrap is just like your other potted house plants - it needs the right kind of soil, lots of light, and water. But the conditions that Venus Flytraps really like is a little different than your average house plant.

If you bought a small Venus Flytrap in a small pot with a clear cover, the first thing to do is get rid of the cover. There is this mistaken idea that Venus Flytraps thrive in a humid, tropic like atmosphere. And they are sold with clear plastic covers that are supposed to maintain the humidity.

Poppycock!

If you want to take care of Venus Flytraps, get rid of the clear plastic cover. Venus Flytraps are native to the southeast United States, in the coastal areas of North and South Carolina - these are not tropics. The purpose of the clear plastic covers is an attempt to create a high humid environment for your carnivorous plant.

I lived in North Carolina for 15 years. And I lived on the coast. It is hot and muggy in the summer - just like the rest of the United States. In the winter, it is cool and wet, gets down to freezing, and even snows! This is not the tropics. And as I show you elsewhere in this website, carnivorous plants native to North America, NEED a cold winter to properly grow the following year.

Containers and Soil

Venus flytrap care includes the right kind of soil and container. Be sure the container is made of plastic or glazed ceramic. Do not use cement, concrete, or terra cotta containers. The minerals in the container will leach into the soil and either kill the plant or stunt it's growth. Try to use a chemically inert container.

Venus Flytraps grow in swamps and bogs in the southeastern United States. Your goal to growing a successful Venus Flytrap plant is to replicate that environment. Your soil should be a one-to-one mixture of peat and sand. Do not use Miracle grow peat moss - it has fertilizers. Do not use sand from your backyard or from the sandbox where your kids play. Again, the minerals in the soils can kill your plants. Purchase sterile sand from garden supply stores.

And place at the top of the soil a layer of spagnum moss. This will help retain the soil's moisture.

Water for Your Venus Flytraps

Venus flytrap care includes creating an environment your plants will thrive in. And water, the right kind of water, is important. Used distilled water, or capture rain water and use this to water your carnivorous plant. Do not use tap water. It has chlorine and other chemicals that will damage your plant. In addition, Venus Flytraps grow in an acidic environment. Tap water from most municipal water supply systems is slight basic, so as to not eat away at the pipes. You need water that is slightly acidic. And rain water is perfect for that.

Light for Your Venus Flytrap

Proper care for your Venus Flytrap includes giving your plant lots and lots of sunlight. And putting your plant next to a florescent light bulb is not the right kind of light. Again, think about the native environment. The southeast of the US gets lots and lots of sunlight.

So give your Venus Flytrap what it wants. Your Venus flytrap will need to get at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day in the summer. This is not a shade plant. Sunlight is a good thing.

Great locations for your plants include south facing decks, sunny porches and windowsills.

Fertilizer is a Big No No

Lastly, do not use fertilizer on your Venus Flytrap. No matter how tempting it is. No matter what you read on the label of your plant you purchased from the store.

Don't use fertilizer.

Venus Flytraps feed on insects because they live in nitrogen deficient soils. And the insects they catch provide that nitrogen. If you supply nitrogen, you will kill your plant.

Don't use fertilizer.

Venus Flytrap Care Summary

Venus Flytrap care is a pretty simple thing once you understand that your plant is like other plants. It needs soil, water, and light.

It is just that it grows in an acidic, nutrient deficient, very moist environment. Focus on providing these things for your plant, and your Venus Flytrap will thrive and grow as you care for your plant.

65 Responses to Venus Flytrap Care

  1. Teah says:

    Hi. I just bought a VFT for my son today. We took it out of the box, and within minutes, it started to wilt. My son touched the traps to make them close (I told him later that he shouldn’t do that). The traps are solid green and on long stalks. The stalks are wilted and the “spikes” on the edge of the traps are curling up. What can I do. We have it in our sunroom.

  2. Aksel says:

    My VFT had some dirt in it’s “mouth” when I bought it, what should I do?

    Thank you for replies!

  3. Zoe says:

    dear mike, i have a VFT in my home and it is doing fine. My problem is that i also have a kit that contains VFTs and some other carnivourous plants and only small sprouts I am worried about what you said because they are growing in a dome, but i think that if i take it off the other plants wont grow what should i do??????

    • mikegreen says:

      Zoe, this is a challenge. The pitcher plants are probably from Central America (tropics) and the VFTs are from temperate North America. Not the same growing conditions. When you can you should probably transfer the Venus Flytrap plants to a different container. – Mike

  4. Zoe says:

    i just recently bought a VFT an so far it’s looking great. but i am also growing a carnivorous plant kit that has VFT in it. but that kit is in a dome and it says it will take about a year for them to fully grow, there are no sprouts yet and i’m worried they wont grow because of the dome and i’m also worried because if i take off the dome the other plants wont grow what should i do mike????

    • mikegreen says:

      It depends on what other kind of plants are in the kit besides a Venus Flytrap plant. You really don’t need a dome for the VFT, but you might for the other plants if they are native to tropical areas.

      If you are growing Venus Flytrap plants from seeds, yes it will take a while.

      Just follow the directions on the kit and don’t be in a hurry.

      Mike

  5. Jared Floyd says:

    Mike, I’m fairly new to Venus fly trap growth. I’ve done a lot of research before buying mature plants, but I still have a lot to learn I’ve figured out.

    My problem is, I planted my Venus fly traps in a mix of Miracle Grow sphagnum peat moss. I didn’t realize until about 3-4 days later that the soil had fertilizer in it :/ i have 11 plants total. (I bought two pots from a botanical center, in poor condition, which contained several VFT in each, various sizes) 3 of which are a medium size. The rest are pretty small. Most of the small ones are drooping, brown, and dying. One of the larger ones is as well.

    As soon as I figured out I was killing my plants, I went and bought natural peat moss from a nursery instead of Lowes. I tried to clean off the roots of soil as much as possible with distilled water in a spray bottle, and then repotted in the correct soil. So now my question is.. Is there anything I can do now to help the plants? Do you think the plants will survive? (talking about for new growth, not the dead/dying leaves). And my third question is, is there anything else I can do to save my VFT? Thanks!

    • mikegreen says:

      Jared,

      Thanks for your comment. But I really wish that you had purchased my Venus Flytrap Growing guide. Because you would have realized right away, that using ANY kind of fertilizer is bad for your Venus Flytrap plant.

      It sounds like you have taken some corrective steps, but you won’t know if the plants will survive until time goes by.

      Lesson learned.

      Be careful of your potting or planting medium. Read the labels.

      Good luck.

      Mike

  6. A.H says:

    i bought 65 flytraps and they came in plastic tray cells, and i have put them outside and it was so hot i think about 95 degrees and at night i found about 28 of them from were all black burned . can you tell me is that the temperature that did that to them??

    • mikegreen says:

      Wow, that’s a tough one. But it sure sounds like they got burned from the sun.

      Any plant you received, typically has grown in a controlled environment. And before you let it grow outside, it has to be “hardened”. Which means exposing the plant, over time, to the outdoors. And outdoor sun and heat and wind.

      So yeah. It sounds like you should have been a little more patient and put them outside a couple of hours a day, and allowed the plants to “harden”.

      Better luck next time.

      Mike

  7. Roxanne says:

    Not a bit….a Venus fly trap obviously

  8. Roxanne says:

    Hi, I recently purchased a bit and it amazingly captured flies right away. I live in Wisconsin and have it in a south facing window. I haven’t seen this question addressed yet: when it kills the fly and depletes it, it then opens with the dead fly intact. Should I be removing these dead fly’s so it can capture more? Also at what point do you cut back the tall flowering stem? Thanks so much!

    • mikegreen says:

      Roxanne,

      If you see the tall flowering steam starting to grow, cut it off immediately. It takes nutrients from the plants to grow the flowering stem, and remember the Venus Flytrap plant is growing in a nutrient deficient growing medium – there is only so much nutrients in the plant. Let it grow the flower, and growth of the lobes will slow down.

      Don’t worry about removing the flies. Let nature take it’s course. The dead fly will fall out or be washed out with watering/rain. The trap only captures a few times, so don’t worry about it.

      Mike

  9. Teresa says:

    Hi there,

    I just bought a very small VFT, and stumbled across your site looking for information on how to care for it properly. I’ve been looking into how and when to re-pot it because the pot it came with is quite small. The issue I’m struggling with is the potting medium it came with. It is potted in a small 2″ diameter pot that is filled with some type of moss? The moss is mostly beige with a bit of green towards the middle of the pot. So, I know that it is potted in a live moss, but that’ small that it’s potted in.

    As I said the moss is mostly beige. Does that mean the moss is dying? Is it healthy for the plant to stay in this potting material? Should I re-pot now, and if so do I remove the potting material it’s in now or put the new material around and leave what’s there alone?

    This page has been very helpful so far in giving some info I haven’t found elsewhere such as the bit about not using terra-cotta pots.

    Thank you!
    -Teresa

    • mikegreen says:

      Teresa,

      After buying the plant, you need to stabilize the environment. I wouldn’t worry about re-potting the plant at first. Worry instead of making sure your plant has the right basics – water and light.

      Let it adjust and grow in the new environment before you try to change the potting medium.

      Mike

  10. Jessica says:

    I just bout a VFT today however most of the leaves look to be dead. The leaves are either brown or black and only one maybe two are green and there is NO reaction/movement from any of them. There was this paper type stuff being used as the soil and that was bone dry so I watered the plant till water came out the bottom with water that was sitting out for 24 hours…… was this a waste of money? Are they all dead? Did I water the plant right?

    • mikegreen says:

      Not a waste of money if you learn something about growing these plants. And if you are unsuccessful, then purchase another plant and try again. Learning about plants and actually growing them is something that takes time… and you build knowledge upon knowledge.

      Set the plant in a shallow dish. Water with DI/distilled water only. Trim away the dead leaves. Set it in the sun.

      And wait and be patient.

      Let me know how it goes.

      Mike

  11. K says:

    Can you over feed the VFT with dead flies? My grandson wants to kill flies and put them in the VFT a little to often I feel. Should I have him a little less generous?

    • mikegreen says:

      You can overfeed VFT. Remember, it is a plant. Not an animal. The Venus Flytrap plant can survive without capturing and digesting insects. Avoid the temptation to interfere with the plant’s natural cycle. Let it grow and capture insects on it’s own.

      Mike

  12. kristen says:

    hi, the leaves on my venus fly trap are turning brown around the edges. I suspect this is a sunburn, but what should i do? Should i continue giving the plant sun or leave it in the shade? I am worried that leaving it in the sun will make the sunburn worse. Thanks!
    -kristen

    • mikegreen says:

      Kristen, I haven’t seen your plant, but I suspect that the problem is not sunburn, or too much sun, but something else. What kind of water are you using? Does it have enough water? How long have you had the plant?

      Mike

  13. Melinda M says:

    My VFT was a gift not quite two months ago. It looked rather sickly and just sat there… Finally it started putting up a few new leaves slowly one at a time. But the immature traps turned brown while they were still tiny. I lost a couple of leaves too. Then a bloom spike started up! I suspect leaf/trap production might be better if I removed the spike but I would love to see it bloom. Do you think I need to remove it? Currently it is almost 4 inches high. My main question is concerning watering. Rather than sitting it in a bowl of water, I was able to pull a piece of yarn up through the bottom of the pot into the medium. The outside end of the yarn is in a container of distilled water with the pot suspended above the water, so I am wick-watering. I don’t know what medium the plant is actually in as I did not repot, I can only see moss at the top of the pot. It feels moist all the time but not soggy. (As the water evaporates through the top the wick pulls more into the pot.) I read the comments that too much water can cause brown traps and leaves, but this doesn’t seem like it is as wet as sitting in a bowl of water would make it. Advice please! I’ve killed a few VFT in my time and I’m determined to make this baby grow!!!!!

    • mikegreen says:

      Melinda,

      You seem to be doing well with the plant. If you got it sickly, and now you see new leaves coming out, you are doing the right things.

      Regarding the bloom spike, I would recommend cutting that off because that takes a lot of energy from the plant, and at this stage, your plant is still struggling. I know you would love to see it bloom, but I recommend that you wait until your plant is a lot more healthy.

      Wick watering is fine as long as the soil medium stays moist. I have a Venus Flytrap plant at work sitting in my window, and I just have the plant sitting on a dish of water. That seems to work fine for me.

      I would question the type of water you are using. Please see my Venus Flytrap Growing Guide Secrets for all the information you will need to successfully grow this plant.

      Mike

  14. Max says:

    Hi I want my plant to grow enormous traps is this possible

    • mikegreen says:

      Max,

      I don’t know. I have never tried it. You will have to study how to grow certain varieties, and cultivate those that have larger traps.

      Mike

  15. Tachianna Charpenter says:

    Hi, I recently received my traps from Montana through the mail. They clean through the mail well packaged but inside a mound of moss. the instructions on the packaging told me to just plant them as is in the correct type of soil, so I did. However, I don’t know if I was supposed to remove the moss and the seller has yet to get back to me. I know the moss will help them retain moisture, but is it really necessary to completely cover the plant except for a few exposed and small traps? there are blackened traps in some parts of the moss and I’ve tried to move the moss from those ones. I don’t know what to do. I really don’t want them to die.

    • Garrett Young says:

      No, you don’t need the moss. The moss is used to keep the plant warm, protected, and maybe moist too. But don’t cover the plant, it will lack light. Also, you should groom your VFT. Just get a small pair of clean scissors and cut the fully dead leaves off. Only cut them off if the whole thing is black.

  16. Cullen McDonald says:

    Hello, I bought a Venus FlyTrap two days ago and I have some questions. I’ve done some research but I’m still unsure on things. First I took the plastic cover off so I just have a little plastic pot that it sits in. Should I repot yet or not? Also, I killed a fly and put it into a trap and moved it till it closed but to the next day the trap was slightly open where I could see the dead fly! I live in North-Eastern Penmsylvania, any beginners advice would be appreciated, thanks!

  17. Cullen McDonald says:

    Hello, I got a Venus FlyTrap two days ago and I have done some research but I am still unsure. I took the plastic cover off and move it in and outside as it gets warmer and cooler. Also, I have killed a fly and put it into the trap moving it with tweezers till it closed, and the next day the trap had semi opened where I could see the fly! Should I keep it in the tiny plastic pot it came in or should I repot. I live in North-Eastern Pennsylvania. Thanks for all the advice… Cullen

    • mikegreen says:

      Hi Cullen,

      Yes take the plastic cover off. Leaving the plastic dome on can kill your plant. Don’t worry about feeding your Venus Flytrap plant or repotting. Focus instead on the three things that matter the most – light, water, and soil.

      Mike

  18. Ashley says:

    Hi! I just bought a VFT yesterday and I really need help. It is in a plastic done with a little pot. I live in Phoenix AZ, but I don’t know what to do! I put it in an aquarium with a cup of water for humidity, but please help me!

    • mikegreen says:

      Ashley,

      First step is to take off the plastic dome. It doesn’t need the humidity.

      Second, place it on a shallow dish of water in window with a sunny location.

      Third, ONLY use distilled water. Do not use tap water – tap water is likely to kill the plant.

      For more tips on growing this fascinating plant, get my Secrets to Growing Venus Flytraps which you can get here =>
      http://venusflytrapcenter.com/secrets-to-growing-venus-flytrap-plants/

      Good luck!

      Mike

  19. Dylan says:

    Hi I’m Dylan
    Just real quick , should I leave my Venus flytrap in water ? I’ve heard I ahoumd and that I shouldn’t. What should I do ?

  20. Claire says:

    Hi ive just bought a venus fly trap. ive re potted it, gave it the right type of soil and spagnum moss.
    i live in england and its freezing over here in winter, i was wondering if it will be alright with just sunlight during the day, i feel i have to take it off the window sill at night as temperatures drop around the window and i dont want the cold to get to it. i want to find a sort of cover to put over it to keep some humidity at night, what would you suggest?

    • mikegreen says:

      Claire,

      I have a Venus Flytrap plant that I bought just before Halloween, and I have it at work against a south facing window. It is rather cold outside, and this isn’t the warmest place, but the plant is doing just fine.

      Remember that the plant is native to the swamps and bogs of North and South Carolina, USA, and it does get rather chilly in the winter there. So my advice is to not worry about the cold getting to it. The plant may slow down in its growth, and may even go dormant. And that is part of the natural growing cycle. As long as it is getting sun and the right kind of water you should be ok.

      Don’t worry about a cover to keep the humidity at night.

      Let us know how it goes.

      Mike

  21. Phil says:

    Hi i want to start fly traps, i live in Vancouver WA and its winter what kind of lighting do i need for them to grow.

    • mikegreen says:

      Hi Phil:

      As we go into winter, you are going to need to place the plant where it gets lots and lots of light. Preferably a south facing window.

      I’ve summarized the best tips on taking care of Venus Flytrap plants in this special guide which you can get here:

      Secrets to Growing Venus Flytrap Plants

      Thanks!

      Mike

  22. Mike Ericks says:

    a question , I got my plant thou the mail its in a small pot with a plastic enclosure to act as a terrarium, how long does it take for the plant to grow thru the soil ? I have had it for 2 weeks and see nothing coming thru . I must think it is a seed ! Thanks MIKE

    • mikegreen says:

      Mike, thanks for your question.

      First of all, did you buy a plant or a seed? There should be difference in the price and what was sold you. Did you buy it from online or at a local store?

      Secondly, unless you live in the arid Southwest like Arizona, get rid of the plastic enclosure – keeping the plastic lid on the pot is guaranteed to steam your poor plant to depth. At this time of year in CONUS, there is plenty of humidity for your plant in the air.

      Just make sure the pot gets some sunlight and that your potting soil doesn’t dry out. And once a plant starts growing, give it lots and lots of light.

      Hope this helps. And let us know what happens to your new plant!

      Mike

  23. dudley smith says:

    hi mike,
    i have had my venus since dec 2013,a few hiccups in the beginning but now the traps are growing like crazy and the flower stem (stalk) is about 13 inches long,but top with the flowers is all dried out.how long before this plant bears seeds?how often would you have to replant venus to a larger pot? this plant in its pot stands in small bowl in +/- one half inch of water(centimetre) and i keep it topped up nearly every day and have excellent results…….Dudley.

    • mikegreen says:

      Dudley, would love to see pictures of the plant! Sounds like you have a green thumb when it comes to raising Venus Flytrap plants.

      I don’t know where you live, but if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, and your plant just had flowers, then it is out of sync with the natural seasons… it should flower in the spring after dormancy. Don’t know if you will see seeds…

  24. My VTF will be given a place outside in full glaringly bright, all day sun. It has been looking a bit sickly recently and traps have been turning black before fully formed. Still sprouting new leaves often, but they don’t get far before dying. Thought maybe too much sun was the problem, but sounds like I will be doing it a disservice by moving it inside or shadier position…

    • mikegreen says:

      Fredd, how long have you had the plant? Don’t forget to “harden” a plant after coming home with it from the store or greenhouse.

      If traps are turning black it doesn’t sound like a sunlight issue, maybe too much love with your water? Are the roots draining and not standing in water?

      Some things to think about.

      • Had it for some time now, I think I may have been too generous with the water, filled too high in the tray. Have reduced and hopefully it will pull through.

        • mikegreen says:

          Sounds like a plan. Let us know how it goes. I cannot tell you how many plants over the years I have killed by over watering. I had to learn the hard way.

          Fredd, I would love to see pictures of your plant, some now and some when healthy again. I have to figure out how to allow readers of this blog to upload photos… have to keep the spammers at bay and I don’t want to deal with graphic licensing issues…

          I am looking into how folks can include in their comments, images from Pinterest or Flickr. Would be more fun that way!

  25. Stephanie says:

    I just bought a venus fly trap, it arrived mid December. I live in Texas and keep my ivys on a window seal. Would a plant light be better? Th he traps are mostly closed and very green on the inside.

    Thanks!

    • mikegreen says:

      Hi Stephanie, thanks for reading my blog.

      You have a great question, but we probably need a little more information, such as how much light do plants get on your window sill? Direct? Indirect? How much light in the day? South facing window?

      It would be my opinion that if you are growing plants successfully on your window sill, then it will probably be good for your Venus Flytrap plant.

      If you think it needs a little more light such as provided by a plant light, start off easy and slow, maybe only a couple of hours from a plant light a day.

      Plants purchased usually are grown in a greenhouses, and they need to be hardened. You will want to make any changes in their environment carefully, slowly, and deliberately.

      Come back and let us know how it goes!

      Just don’t drown the roots or keep it tooo wet.

      Mike

      • Mitzi says:

        Hi my name is Mitzi and I recently bought a venus fly trap but I’m not sure what I’m suppose to plant it in I know a pot but what kind of sand or dirt ? And how many times should I feed it a day?

        • mikegreen says:

          Hi Mitzi,

          I need a little more information. You say you bought a Venus Flytrap Plant, and want to know what to plant it in? Well, what kind of pot or soil did it come in?

          Did it come packaged with just bare roots? If so, you need to plant it in a plastic pot with sphagnum moss and maybe a little clean sand. DO NOT use anything with fertilizer. You want a nutrient deficient soil.

          If it came in a pot with soil, then do nothing for a while. The plant has been under stress from shipment, and you need to let it settle down and get used to it’s new growing condition. After a few weeks, feel free to transplant your plant to a bigger pot. See above for soil types.

          Let us know what you do.

          Mike

  26. alice nierenberg says:

    thanx for your info. I immed. removed pot from tray of distilled h2o and put plant on cool windowsill. hope this will bring it thru winter o.k. will buy some more vft in warmer weather so I can summer it outdoors with my other plants that like it sunny and warm.

  27. alice nierenberg says:

    purchased vft in dec., all traps turned black, small leaves and traps growing from center, don’t know whether to take outdoors for winter, or continue growing under my E5 fluorescent bulbs until spring. live in zone 5, temps can go to 0 which is much colder than n.and s. Carolina. thanks. fascinated with carnivores since childhood, now in 70 s.

    • mikegreen says:

      Hi Alice:

      I am not an expert, just an enthusiast. But if you bought a venus flytrap plant recently, and then the existing traps turned black, with small leaves and traps growing from the center, it seems that it is going through the cycle it needs to go through.

      Just a heads up, if traps turned black, be sure you are not overwatering your venus flytrap plant. You don’t want to have mold or fungus problems.

      If your winter temperatures can drop to zero degrees F, like where I live in Oregon, I wouldn’t take it outside, that would probably be too much. But it does need a little cold in the winter, so it can cycle through dormancy.

      Let us all know how it goes!

      Mike

  28. kylewolbert says:

    how do you take care of them in the winter

    • mikegreen says:

      Taking care of your Venus Flytrap plants in the winter depends upon where you are located. If you are located in the temperate growing zones in the US, you probably don’t need to do much. If you are located further north, then you probably want to bring your plants into the house during the winter.

      Think about where these plants grow in their native habitat – the eastern swamps of North and South Carolina – and seek to replicate this habitat.

  29. Man says:

    does this mean i need to get bugs like mealworms at the pet store to feed it if it doesn’t catch one?

    • mikegreen says:

      Good question. Some things to think about are, that the plants don’t need to catch and feed insects everyday. They are feeding on insects to extract nitrogen. All other nutrients they will obtain from the soil or moss.

      And if it is winter, the plants don’t feed on insects much at all, if at all. In fact the plants go dormant in the winter and do not feed at all.

      It might be fun to get a few mealworms and use these to feed your Venus Flytraps, but if your plant is not in an enclosed greenhouse, insects will find the traps and be captured.

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