Helpful Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) Cultivation Advice for Beginners
Helpful Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) Cultivation Advice for Beginners
Began this care sheet to help new growers grow these plants in the easiest way possible.I recently purchased some dionaea through mail order and thought I might post some helpful growing advice on these plants for new growers due to my difficulties experienced in growing them previously due to lack of correct information.
It covers the most important factors to ensure success at growing this plant, and I hope will act as a concise and informative but also helpful and easily followed guide.
It's only basic and is what I think new growers should know to ensure they have an easy enjoyable experience of growing Venus Flytraps.
Note this is only general advice and I would recommend researching about the plants and read up on them to ensure you know what to do.
Please do not hold me responsible if your plant dies after reading through my information as what works for me may not work for you!
This information is intended as a guide only.
Dionaea require a long photoperiod for optimal growth.
Estimates of 6-9 hours seem appropriate.
One of the most common reasons for new growers’ failure at keeping this plant alive for extended periods of time is inadequate light levels.
These plants can be grown with full sun exposure generally in most climates, using the tray method of watering to ensure there media doesn’t dry out.
If you live somewhere that experiences high temperatures above 35C in Summer than I would advise the use of shade cloth (40/50%,experiment and see what works best for you) to ensure plant is prevented from drying out or overheating too much in summer.
Because of the nutrient deficient conditions they are naturally found in and thus the reason for their trapping mechanism as a way of obtaining nutrients, these plants can not tolerate high levels of salt/minerals.
Therefore it is generally recommended you use distilled/reverse osmosis or rain water(as long as your sure it’s ok) and not general tap water unless you are sure yours is soft enough to use on your plants.
When watering your plant it is generally recommended to keep them sitting in a saucer of water as this ensures the soil is kept continually moist-although I would recommend allowing the water in the saucer to evaporate for one day or so before re-filling as a measure to prevent root or rhizome rot.
Your plant should be kept moist but not saturated with water as this leads to plants that are not optimaly healthy.
By allowing a few days before you replenish the water in their tray you ensure they are not constantly saturated with water, for healthier aeration, growth and to prevent fungal infections.
Be careful about allowing the medium to dry substantially before watering again, as if the weather is hot and dry and the plants are in full sun or very bright light, insure that they don't dry out unexpectedly.
The bottom half of your plants media is always going to be twice as wet as the top layer so this is a good way to judge the moisture content of your plants media, and is a good indicator of how much water to give your plant depending on the season.
Giving your Venus Flytraps Natural Dormancy(Temperatures during winter should not exceed 10C but not drop below 0C)
Every year, during late Autumn, through Winter and into early/late Spring Venus Flytraps experience dormancy. This is a natural process in their growth cycle and it is important for the new grower to be aware of there plants specialised requirements during this time.
The word dormancy can cause a lot of confusion for new growers as it implies total hibernation.
All Venus Flytraps I have read must enter dormancy each year-plants that don’t apparently weaken and die within a few years.
Venus Flytraps usually keep their leaves functioning all year round, even during dormancy, and generally only die back and survive exclusively underground in very cold climates. Therefore they don’t require such a large photoperiod during this time but still need light, just not as much.
Generally if you live in a zone where it gets cool enough outside during winter you will notice your plants growth in middle/late autumn will become small with flat wide leaves level with the soil, some leaves will brown around the edges and the plant will slow or stop growing altogether, this is a sign it has entered dormancy.
During this time keep the plant only slightly moist to avoid risk of it rotting. Many growers I have talked to recommend not to have it sitting in water during dormancy but to give slight infrequent overhead watering during this period to ensure the soil is only slightly moist but not soaking.
Plants generally break dormancy in middle/late spring.
Temperatures to ensure adequate dormancy for Venus Flytraps I have read must be below 10C for a good dormancy but above 0C.
So basically a cool, but not freezing, winter.
If you live somewhere that experiences constant humidity and high temperatures all year round or where it gets too cold to over winter your plants outside without them freezing then you will have to use the fridge method for dormancy.
Carolinas weather chart so you can get a sense of what it's like throughout the year in their native habitat:
Monthly average temperature highs, lows, and means for Wilmington, North Carolina(Part of the range where the Venus Flytraps Naturally occur) in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.
Month Ave. High Ave. Low Mean
Jan 13°C (55°F) 1°C (34°F) 7°C (45°F)
Feb 14°C (58°F) 2°C (36°F) 8°C (47°F)
Mar 18°C (65°F) 6°C (43°F) 12°C (54°F)
Apr 23°C (74°F) 10°C (50°F) 17°C (62°F)
May 27°C (80°F) 15°C (59°F) 21°C (70°F)
Jun 29°C (85°F) 19°C (67°F) 25°C (77°F)
Jul 31°C (88°F) 22°C (71°F) 27°C (80°F)
Aug 31°C (87°F) 22°C (71°F) 26°C (79°F)
Sep 29°C (85°F) 18°C (65°F) 24°C (75°F)
Oct 24°C (76°F) 12°C (53°F) 18°C (65°F)
Nov 21°C (69°F) 7°C (44°F) 14°C (57°F)
Dec 15°C (59°F) 3°C (37°F) 9°C (49°F)
Page citations: Rice, B.A. 2006a; www.weather.com.
Giving your Venus Flytraps Fridge Dormancy for people who live in climates where it gets too cold to over winter your plant outside(ie below 0C).
Basically in the last month of Autumn, take your plants out of there water trays and allow them to dry out for a few weeks.
Be careful they don’t dry out too much, they still need to be moist, but not wet.
Because your temperatures will have been getting adequately cold earlier in the season, by this time your plants should have naturally entered dormancy and be producing small, flat wide leaves level with the soil and/or have stopped growing.
Take your plants, pot, soil and all and put them in clear plastic bags(makes monitoring fungal growth easier)and put them in the fridge on the last week of Autumn.
Make sure you seal the plastic bags well to ensure the low humidity environment of the fridge doesn’t cause your plants media to dry out completely which could lead to them dying due to water stress.
You can use cinnamon as a natural fungicide if you would like by just lightly sprinkling some overhead of your plants although fungus/mould is not usually a problem but does occur sometimes.
You can buy cinnamon in your grocery store in the bottled herbs and spices section- just make sure you buy only ground cinnamon and not the stuff with added sugar as this could cause problems with fungus/mould growing.
I find you greatly decrease the risk of mould/fungus growing by not using/taking away the sphagnum moss from around your plants during this process.
It is very important to note that your plants should be dormant before they go into the refrigerator as by putting them into the fridge you are just sustaining there dormancy and keeping them in a cool, but not freezing, environment, which otherwise wouldn’t be possible with your natural conditions as they would get too cold with the chances of them surviving not great.
I've heard if you keep them constantly under 6C (ie in the fridge), they can't photosynthesise so it's irrelevant whether they have light or not.
So you don't have to worry about giving them light in the fridge because it's so cold and a nice deep dormancy-just keep them in the fridge over the winter months and make sure they don’t touch the back of the fridge as I’ve found sometimes things freeze when this happens.
Take your plants out in early/late spring and care for them as usual and you should find they acclimatise fine and begin growing again.
This web page is written by someone who has being using the method of fridge dormancy to over winter there plants for some time with good results and I recommend reading it before you attempt to do so.
Giving your Venus Flytraps Fridge Dormancy for people who live in climates where it stays too warm to over winter your plant outside (ie above 10C)
Basically you do the same as in the above section but with a few exceptions.
First the most important fact to note about fridge dormancy is that putting your plants in the fridge does not cause or create them to become dormant.
Plants must be dormant before going in the fridge.
Putting your plants in the fridge over winter simply maintains the dormant state they where in prior to entering the fridge, by providing them with the ideal cool temperatures they need to stay dormant throughout this period.
Throwing your plants straight in the fridge without allowing them to become dormant is not dormancy, more a sort of suspended animation, leaving them weak when they come out of the fridge with no benefits whatsoever.
The plants don't get the necessary cues from environmental changes that start biological processes which tell them it is time for dormancy.
So it is therefore important you provide your plants with these cues artificially, as they won’t be getting them naturally from your environment because it won’t be getting cold enough.
A simple way to do this is to keep them in the shade somewhere outside during the last month of Autumn during the day while at the same time putting them in the fridge between 5pm to 8am every day during this last month. (Place them in sealed plastic bags before putting them in the fridge each night as the low humidity environment of the fridge will dry them out too much as you will have stopped sitting them in water during this process.)
And take them out of their watering trays so they become moist, but not dry, over this period of four weeks or so.
Hopefully after placing them in the fridge each night over this last month of Autumn the lower daytime light levels coupled with cooler night temperatures and decrease in amount of moisture in their media will cause the plants to become dormant, and so you should notice their growth stopping/slowing altogether. And any new leaves produced will be small, flat on the soil level, and wide.Although because you are artifically inducing dormancy it is most likely the most notable sighn your plant has become dormant,because of your warm climate, will be slow or a complete halt in growth and that the traps will be sluggish when triggered or not close at all.
Then place them in sealed plastic bags in the fridge permanently for the winter months and take them out in early/late spring.
Refer to the above section on fridge dormancy for specifics on fungicide prevention etc.
Also if you keep them constantly under 6C (ie in the fridge), they can't photosynthesise so it's irrelevant whether they have light or not.
So you don't have to worry about giving them light in the fridge because it's so cold and a nice cool deep dormancy for them which they otherwise wouldn’t get in your warm conditions.
Please note: The above information about fridge dormancy, where i say you have to put your plants in the fridge each night for a month to cause them to become dormant is incorrect and i have found makes vft culture more difficult for beginners and is misleading. Your plant may naturally go into dormancy even in warm climates if you reduce their photoperiod and water, without any need to be placed in the fridge each night which makes this process so much simpler on the beginner grower. So see if they begin showing the sighns of dormancy by decreasing photoperiod and amount of water before you use the method mentioned above as you find your most probably will be fine without putting them in the fridge each night for a month. Just make sure they are showing the sighns of dormancy before putting them in the fridge permemently over winter and they should go fine.Only use the monthly nightly fridge method mentioned above if they fail to show the sighns of dormancy by decreasing photoperiod and moisture content of media, as the cold night temperatures may help these plants who fail to show sighns of wanting to enter dormancy based on shorter photoperiod/drier media achieve this state more readily.
Please refer to this excellent thread regarding Venus Flytrap dormancy information for warm climate growers
Venus Flytraps have very small root systems so pots ranging from 8cm-12cm deep will be more than adequate.
These will provide more than enough root room for your plant and because of their small size will be easy to keep uniformly moist using the tray method as I have found anything beyond 20cm is too large and have a negative effect in that they are much more difficult to keep uniformly moist in hot dry climates.
Plastic pots are ideal as they will not leach minerals into the media which could be harmful. Use a non toxic sealant if you want to use terracotta etc or experiment and see how they go in other types of pots.
Some people living in hot climates or at sunny high altitudes find plastic pots overheat and cause the media to dry out completely very suddenly in full sun and suggest using deeper pots or trying styrofoam and polyurethane foam insulating pots.
Alternativly if you want to use plastic pots i find using shadecloth(40%) keeps the plants moist while at the same time allowing them to recieve their necissary long photoperiod.
If using the tray method of watering you'll need to make sure the pot has holes in the bottom of it to ensure media can take up water from the tray.
Over the years, as your plant grows older, you may find they benefit from using deeper pots than suggested above,as they can sometimes be producing roots 20cm long.
Although because of the ease at keeping them uniformly moist in smaller pots most growers don't bother using anything larger than 12cm and find there plants grow fine.
Use sphagnum peat moss only not coco or sedge peat as these contain high levels of salts. If you are living in the northern hemisphere you don’t have to worry about the dangers of coco/sedge peat as this is only a problem in the southern hemisphere.
For aeration and to encourage healthy root growth you can add additives to the peat.
A quartz based sand (as river sand can contain harmful levels of salts) can be used although perlite is preferable as you don’t have to worry about it containing harmful salts and it doesn’t dominate the ph of the peat as some sands can.
There is some speculation about whether or not it is necessary to use additives in your plants soil mix as generally sphagnum peat has more than enough bark and moss fibres to provide sufficient aeration.
So if you want to keep it simple plain peat is fine and works just as well as the fancy soil mixes with additives such as sand and perlite.
My advice would be to purchase the peat along with your plants from a respected cp nursery to ensure you are getting the right stuff and quality products. I did and it makes owning these plants for a novice grower like me so easy and carefree as you don't have to worry about finding the right peat in shops somewhere.
Please note that handling peat does carry certain health risks. So make sure when you do so you wear a mask and gloves and don't breathe in the particles of dry peat. Wash hands after using and get it out from underneath your fingernails when you wash.
During dormancy there are some cultivars that may not produce small,flat, wide leaves and continue to produce the large upright "summer" leaves, this is because they have the genetics that only allow them to produce upright leaves.So in this case sighns of dormancy may simply be slower growth and sluggish traps when triggered.
Please remember this information should act as a guide only and what works for me may not work for my next door neighbour. Just keep it simple and do what works for you.
Remember dionea are very hardy plants when given the right conditions so you should have no problems growing them.
< < < Feel free to use this caresheet freely > > >
These links contain all the information necessary to be successful at growing these plants:
Interesting article with some observations about the plants growth cycles
Detailed dionaea information although can make the cultivation more difficult than it needs to be but well worth reading
Good overall dionaea information for beginners
Very detailed precise information on everything to do with dionaea care-especially dormancy and soil mix information
Good detailed information on the right media to use and the dangers of using coco/sedge peat
A must read article on dionaea for anyone interested in these plants
Site regarding Venus Flytrap Care
Interesting site based in US with mail order service
FlytTrapShop.com 's forum page
Carnivorous Plants UK forum page
Last edited by adnedarn; 06-24-2008 at 08:26 PM.
Lots of good stuff there. Maybe it would be worth posting this again in the sticky at the top of the VFT forum?
very detailed information. wish i had that a couple of months ago
Hope this caresheet helps new growers.
...or maybe you should just try it!...and see for yourself what the requierments are. I found that the caresheets are ,in general, a good thing but you don't have follow up every step....experiment and see what works best in your conditions
I always used to see dormancy as a negative, but now i see it as a great part of the plant because, even though this sounds stupid, causes more of a "bond" between you and the plant if you know what i mean, as you have to give it extra care to ensure it survives.And plus it's nice how they change with the seasons and make you feel connected to the environment.
vft are such incredible plants and so vulnerable with all their special requirements-i like nuturing and caring for them because it will be so rewarding to keep my current plants alive and this information will help new growers do so in any climate succesfully which makes me happy to know it's possible now for anyone to grow them using this caresheet.