Carnivorous plants are fun to grow. While they do take a little extra work, the effort is worth it especially when your kids produce a squeal when it is feeding time. Before we get to that, let’s take a look at how to grow a Venus flytrap.
Starting your Venus Flytrap
There are several different companies that sell kits that contain carnivorous plants. A gardener that is new to growing carnivorous plants should start with a kit. Why you may ask? The reason is simple. Most kits are supplied with plants that are dormant and only need to be placed in a planting medium. On the other hand, if you want to just jump into carnivorous plants, start your plant through seed.
To start flytraps from seed, one must first select the best planting medium. It needs to be light in nature, moist, and slightly acidic. What meets this requirement is sphagnum moss. For this process though, one will need long-fibered sphagnum moss.
Once you have your moss, soak it in water and then ring it out. Place it in a sterilized, shallow container. Next, sprinkle the seeds on top of the sphagnum moss.
Since Venus flytraps require high humidity, you will need to place a plastic dome over your pot or place your container inside a terrarium with a lid.
Keep the room temperature around 86 degrees Fahrenheit. If conditions are right, you should have baby Venus flytraps in 10 to 20 days. About 2 weeks after germination, the little Venus flytraps will form their traps.
Once your flytrap has formed traps and they have opened, it is time to begin feeding them. Venus flytraps in the wild survive on insects, which includes flying and crawling creatures. As it goes, the most nutritious insects for this plant are those that crawl. Why is this? Well, those that crawl have higher levels of nitrogen, which is what the plant is in need of.
While you could let nature take its course and require the plant to “catch” its own food, a better approach is to hand feed your plant.
To do this, one will need to invest in some freeze dried insects. The best food to use for Venus flytraps is dehydrated blood worms. These worms will need to be soaked in water to rehydrate them. Once they have rehydrated, the next step is to squeeze out excess water. Next, make little balls with the rehydrated blood worms. Place a small ball on the end of a wooden toothpick. How big should you make the ball? Well, it should never be any bigger than one-third of the trap size. If the ball is too small, there is no problem. On the other hand, if the ball is too big, it can cause the trap to die and rot before digestion can be completed.
Once you have the correct ball of food on your toothpick, simply rub the inside of an open trap. This will stimulate the trigger hairs and mimic the movement of an insect. After the hairs have been triggered, the trap will snap close. Keep in mind though; older traps will close more quickly than young traps.
How does a Venus flytrap know the difference between and insect landing and a say a leaf? Well, it all boils down to the trigger hairs. As you feed your Venus flytrap, you will notice that when the trap closes it does not close all the way. The reason for this is the fact that an insect will continue to fight, which continue to fight. This constant motion will cause the trap to close completely, which will trigger the process of digestion. This activity is different if you are talking about something like a leaf.
The traps on your Venus flytraps are good for two to five feedings before they no longer open. As far as feeding frequency, you should only feed two to three traps once a week.
Continued Care of your Venus Flytrap
Venus flytraps require a lot of humidity and as a matter of fact, they require a level of 80 percent or higher. Once the little flytraps have germinated, you will need to keep the plant at 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night. During the feeding time, raise the temperature to 82 degrees Fahrenheit and keep it at this temperature for 48 hours after feeding.
This plant requires a lot of light. In doing so, one will need to get a full spectrum grow light. This light will need to be left on for 16 hours. After that, the plant will need to be in complete darkness for 8 hours.
When it comes to watering your plant, do not use water from the tap. Only distilled water should be used and the plant should only be watered from the top. Why should you use only distilled water? It has to do with the total dissolved solids. Water from the tap has a higher percentage of total dissolved solids than distilled water and in doing so is not tolerated by the Venus flytraps.
Now that we know the growth requirements of the Venus flytrap, the next logical question is how do you propagate them. We have already covered starting the flytraps from seeds but there is another way and that is through the rosettes. Venus flytraps that are not allowed to flower will produce little side shoots. These shoots can be broken off the mother plant and replanted. When using this approach, do not plant your little flytrap rosettes in regular potting soil. Instead, you will need to create a unique mix. This mix’s ingredients are easy to come by but it takes some time to make. To begin the process, gather your ingredients, which includes peat moss, white sand, and perlite. In a large bucket, mix 5 parts peat moss to 3 parts white sand and 2 parts perlite. Once the ingredients are in the bucket and mixed, begin to add water to the mixture. Continue to add water until the planting medium is completely saturated but not dripping wet.
Once the soil is mixed, you are ready for repotting your Venus flytrap but before your remove the first rosette, you will need to select the proper pot. Flytraps do better in pots that are deep. While you do have two choices in pot designs, both have issues. First, plastic pots are cheap but many are colored black. This can cause a problem since the black absorbs heat. On the other hand, clay pots are too porous. The best choice for a pot is a plain old Styrofoam cup. Yes, I said a Styrofoam cup. Why is this? The reason is the color and the insulating factor of the cup. Most Styrofoam cups are white, which reflects light verse absorbing it. This keeps the soil from getting too hot. Also, the insulating factor of the cup keeps the soil temperature uniform, which is very important when it comes to Venus flytraps.
While growing and caring for a Venus flytrap can be a challenge, it can also be a great experience of taking care of a plant that is more like a pet than vegetation.