I have a friend who, like me, has a soft spot for unusual plants. In particular we both appreciate carnivorous plants and grew up fascinated by the most popular of them all-The Venus Flytrap. The thing is that my friend regularly kills his Venus Flytraps through improper care. The most common plant related question he asks is "Why is my Venus Flytrap dying?" My response is usually something along the lines of "It isn't dying, you're killing it!"
What causes his Venus Flytrap to die can't be pinpointed to a single error in cultivation-it is sometimes two or three things he does at one time that kill his carnivorous plant. I'll share with your a couple of the ways he's killed a Venus Flytrap.
Fertilizing a Venus Flytrap
You can't use your average houseplant fertilizer for your Venus Flytrap or any kind of fertilizer for that matter. Venus Flyraps evolved in nitrogen poor environments like bogs and the reason they catch and digest insects like flies and arachnids if for their nutritional content. A Venus Flytrap that is catching and digesting flies and other insects on a regular basis is receiving the nutrients it needs. Some people may fertilize with a diluted form of fertilizer designed for epiphytic plants that is applied with a damp Q-tip to the leaves.
Tap water is bad for Venus Flytraps
If you live in an area that has hard water you can't use tap water to water your Venus Flytrap. Hard water has too many minerals for bog plants like the Venus Flytrap and should be avoided. Boiling your water doesn't do anything to diminish the mineral content of your tap water. Use rain water, bottled water or reverse osmosis (RO) water when watering a Venus Flytrap.
Venus Flytraps need to be kept moist and provided with high humidity. You can make a humidity tray for your plant by placing rocks or pebbles inside of an empty container and filling it with water and placing your plant on top. Make sure to clean your tray from time to time and don't allow the water in your humidity tray to become stagnant.
Light requirement for Venus Flytraps
During early spring to late fall your Venus Flytrap needs full sun to partial shade when it is growing. During the warmer months provide some shade for your plant and increase the amount of sun late summer and early fall when the sun isn't as strong. A good way of doing this is growing it below a taller plant that can provide some shade during the sunnier months and hours of the day. If you're growing your Venus Flytrap indoors you can supplement the light it receives by growing it below grow lights for houseplants and in your sunniest window.
Venus Flytraps in terrariums
Venus Flytraps are not tropical plants and can tolerate mild winter and need to be allowed to go into winter dormancy. The winter dormancy is triggered naturally by shorter days and lowering nighttime temperatures. Plants that aren't given a proper winter dormancy will eventually weaken and die. In zones 8 and higher Venus Flytraps can survive a winter outdoors but north of zone 7 they need protection from deep freezes. You can place them in unheated places like an enclosed garage, root cellar or basement where temperatures range between 30-50°F. The light and dormancy period need by Venus Flytraps don't make them ideal candidates for growing in terrariums.
Triggering a Venus Flytrap
Triggering your Venus Flytrap to close by touching the hair-triggers on the inside can stress your plant and lead to its death.
If you're not like my friend and can adapt and give a Venus Flytrap the growing conditions it needs it can thrive and even flower for you and provide you with years of enjoyment.