Though the Venus flytrap is very popular, it’s not necessarily the easiest plant to explain. That’s why I split the guide into two parts.
In this part, we talk about how to take care of a Venus flytrap and what you need to make sure it grows healthy.
Part 1: Need to knows
• What is a Venus flytrap?
The basics: How to take care of a Venus flytrap
Venus flytraps follow the same basic rules all carnivorous plants do. If you understand the basics, you can care for almost any carnivorous plant. These basics are lots of light, low ppm water, and nutrient-free media.
A D.M. Sinagtala after and before getting much more sunlight
Venus flytraps, like most carnivorous plants, love sunlight. A plant that gets enough light will have smaller, colored leaves and larger, redder traps. The pic above, taken by #HappyFlanter @claudinesy, is a great example of how a flytrap acclimated to her sunny grow area, coloring and developing red traps.
A D.M. B52 coloring up under grow lights!
If your Venus flytrap does not get enough light, it will not get red traps. Less light produces broader leaves and smaller traps. Venus flytraps also won’t survive for long without enough sunlight. Light-deprived plants look like “vegetables”: very green, no other color, and very wide and leafy.
I live in a condo/a place without much sunlight. Can I still take care of a Venus flytrap?
You can, with the help of grow lights!
Grow lights also bring out the best colors in your plants, which won’t look as red or bright in just sunlight. This is especially true for red carnivorous plants. With strong grow lights, even a D.M. Sinagtala can achieve deep red colors, like Carnivorey’s D.M. Sinagtala below.
All carnivorous plants, not just Venus flytraps, need low ppm water such as distilled, rain, reverse osmosis (R.O.), or aircon drip water. No tap water, please. Low ppm water has little to no minerals, which burn a carnivorous plant’s roots. If you keep using tap water, your carnivorous baby will eventually die a slow death.
Use low ppm water for healthy flytraps!
How can I tell if the water I use is safe for my carnivorous plant?
By using a TDS meter! This tool measures the ppm levels of the water or media you use. Just stick it in the water or low ppm water mixed with the media (for media testing). A reading below 50 ppm is good, but the lower, the better.
40 is ok, but the lower, the better. Fifty and above is bad.
The water I use from both collecting rain and aircon drip is only 3 ppm. Some neps can survive higher ppm levels, so I use regular tap water on them, but not Venus flytraps or sundews. If you want to buy a TDS meter, you can check my Shopee!
Should I use a water tray for my Venus flytrap?
I use take-out trays
Yes, this will make it easier to avoid making them dry out. My plant rack fits exactly two take-out trays that I use as water trays. Venus flytraps enjoy moist media, but to avoid overwatering, let the water tray dry out before refilling it again. This might change during the summer when it’s very hot or if you’re using grow lights like mine, which generate heat.
It’s best to observe for signs of overwatering: new traps that become black before opening. If you see this in your plant, just don’t water it for a few days until you see a new leaf.
I just mentioned that minerals kill carnivorous plants, right? That’s why you can’t use normal soil or planting media for your Venus flytrap or any other carnivorous plant. The correct media includes coco peat, sphagnum moss, or peat moss. This guide explains the different kinds of media and what they’re good for.
Just make sure that they don’t have any fertilizers, and make sure you use a TDS meter to measure their ppm levels first. When I first bought coco peat for my plants, it was at 300 ppm when I tested it. The only way to fix this is by thoroughly washing the media.
You can also check this helpful video guide from Carnibro on how to repot Venus flytraps, along with other carnivorous plants.
Check the 3:00 mark for flytrap repotting!
Why do I have to wash the media if no one in nature does so?
That’s because the natural habitat of Venus flytraps is usually by rivers or in marshy areas. These places constantly have running water that doesn’t allow minerals to settle. The media is naturally “washed” clear—which is why carnivorous plants like the Venus flytrap evolved to trap bugs in the first place! This doesn’t mean they like living in water, though: I let my water trays dry out for a day or so (if it’s not too hot) before I refill them.
They can’t get minerals from the soil, so their roots only developed to serve as an anchor (nothing more) that draws up water, and their leaves developed to get nutrients from bugs.
What kind of pot can I use for my Venus flytrap?
Because minerals are an issue, avoid anything porous: wood, unglazed ceramic, terracotta, cement, etc. If you want to keep it safe, use plastic pots or even Styrofoam cups. The same applies to the water tray. I’ve killed sundews before because I used a ceramic water tray when I first tried raising these plants. Do not repeat my mistake. D:
My plastic pots are tall and square, and I can fit 25 of them on my trays nice and snugly. You can get them here.
Can I use loam soil for my Venus flytrap?
Yes, if you want to kill it. Stop asking if this is ok, it will never be ok, please read everything above three times. Please. May hugot ako dito.
Feeding a Venus flytrap
Venus flytraps catch food when they’re outdoors, where bugs are free and many (sadly). They can eat any insect that triggers their traps if it is small enough to fit. A trap that eats a bug too big for it will turn black and die.
Don’t feed more than 2/3s the trap’s size!
As a rule of thumb, food that is 2/3 and below the size of the trap is ok. Traps will also die after eating a certain number of times, but as long as your Venus flytrap is making new leaves, this is ok! Don’t worry too much about dead traps. New growth is key.
Fed this big D.M. SD Kronos a grub, though it did turn black after. The meal’s too big.
Some traps are so big they can eat little animals like tiny frogs or lizards. This is kind of gross but cool. Though they feed well, the dry carcasses of the prey stay behind. Nature washes these away with rain, but in this case, you’re the one who does clean up.
Since carnivorous plants evolved to eat bugs, they need to be fed, right?
Living on the edge of a D.M. Korean Melody Shark
I said before that you don’t need to feed your Venus flytrap or any carnivorous plant, but their growth is supported by eating. They can get their food on their own if they’re outdoors. For fun, you can also feed your flytrap live flies or bugs. If I swat a fly that’s still alive, I feed it to my flytraps.
You can also use Maxsea plant food, a kind of fertilizer good for carnivorous plants that I regularly use myself. If your plant is in a place where it can’t catch food or there are just no bugs, you can try feeding it yourself. Some growers also feed live flies, rehydrated bloodworms, or even moist plain fish food (the red and green pellets).
To feed bloodworms or fish food, moisten it until it’s squishy (but not too wet). Leave it inside the trap, then gently press the trap between your thumb and forefinger about 15 times. This will signal to the trap that the prey is inside. Check the trap later, and if it looks sealed and tight, then your feeding worked.
Just avoid feeding them meat or any human food. They’re plants, not animals, and they don’t need the same nutrients we do.
Can a Venus flytrap overeat?
Not really. As long as the Venus flytrap keeps producing new growth, you’re ok. Your plant will just not look as pretty because all the traps will die more quickly as the plant expends energy to digest food.
Can a Venus flytrap eat me?
Only if its name is Audrey II and your name is Seymour. Or if it looks like a Final Fantasy Marlboro.
D.M. Giant Peach gets pretty big, but it still can’t eat people
Seriously though, most carnivorous plants are small, and Venus flytraps especially. Big trap cultivars like D.M. DC XL, D.M. GJ Goliath, and D.M. Giant Peach can grow up to maybe two inches in trap size. Your Venus flytrap will not be able to eat anything bigger than its traps.
By the way, the record holder for the largest Venus flytrap is actually D.M. Alien. I don’t sell this cultivar yet, but you can buy an established D.M. Alien of your own from Venus Flytrap Philippines, a very trusted seller in the Philippines.
What happens if a Venus flytrap bites me?
Nothing, but remember that a trap will close a limited number of times. If you’re always poking your Venus flytrap, you make the traps die quicker. You won’t feel anything if you try to touch the inside of a trap.
The classic carnivorous plant
I had to split this guide because it’s already very long, but if you want to learn more about the Venus flytrap, like ways to propagate, dormancy, and pests, check the first part of my guide below!
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in a comment—but please make sure it’s a question not already answered in my guide!
You can also follow my Facebook or Instagram for more plant content since I post every day about learnings, experiments, and the progress of the plants in my collection. I post about plants for sale, like Byblis, droseras, and Venus flytraps, as well as carnivorous plant gardening items like media (sphagnum moss, rinsed cocopeat mix) and Maxsea fertilizer.
D.M. GJ Explosion, a beautiful and unusual cultivar with pompoms