Tips and tricks to caring for a Venus Flytrap
For the Associated Press
Q: I recently acquired a Venus Flytrap plant. Does this plant really eat flies and what can you tell me about it?
A: The Venus Flytrap, Dionaea muscipula, is by far the most commonly recognized and cultivated carnivorous plant in the world.
It’s trapping structure is used to catch and digest insects and arachnids. It uses the capture for supplemental nourishment in addition to what it already receives from the soil. This additional protein is not vital to the survival of the plant.
In the wild, the Venus Flytrap is found in nitrogen and phosphorus-poor environments, such as bogs or wetlands. The roots of the plant are rather fragile and are extremely susceptible to damage from fertilizing.
Be sure to supply your plant with plenty of water during the growing season. A simple way to do this is to cover it with a plastic terrarium. This will trap in humidity and moisture, allowing you more time between waterings. By using this method, watering will only need to take place about every four to six days.
Flytraps grow best in natural filtered sunlight. The best way to tell if your plant is receiving the proper amount of sun, is if the inner part of the trapping structure is pink.
Be cautious not to place in full sun as this will harm the plant. Flytraps thrive in temperatures of 70-80 degrees during the growing season.
When winter approaches, the Flytrap will need to go through a period of dormancy. Achieve this by placing in a cooler part of the house and reducing the amount of water. Flytraps can tolerate temperatures as low as 40 degrees, but not for extended periods.
If the temperature gets too low, take the plant bulb out of the pot, cut back the foliage and apply a weak mixture of fungicide. Wrap the bulb in moist sphagnum peat moss and seal inside a plastic baggie and place inside the refrigerator for the remainder of the winter. The bulb can then be transplanted back into the pot after dormancy.
Venus Flytraps show the longest growth survival in acidic soil. Sphagnum peat moss has a very high acid content, supporting the plant with good strong health. If peat moss is used without means of ventilation in the pot, the roots may rot.
The Venus Flytrap is an interesting and delicate plant. The leaves which make up the trapping structure are designed to open and close only a limited number of times in its life. By inserting foreign objects, such as your finger or people food, you may cause the trap to prematurely close. This also could weaken the plant and ultimately result in its death.
• Dannielle Doyle is a Ohio State Master Gardener in Williams County. Please send your gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org