Venus’ flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) are famed for their trap-like leaves that snap around prey such as flies. Although rare in the wild and confined to a small patch of North Carolina, Venus’ flytraps are widely cultivated and potted specimens can be picked for a few dollars in most garden centers.
Venus’ flytraps must be watered with deionized water or rainwater. You can buy deionized water from aquarium shops, where it’s used to make up artificial seawater. If you want to collect rainwater, garden centers sell the equipment you need.
Drinking water and bottled water shouldn’t be used, and neither should water from a domestic water softener. Using the wrong type of water will kill the roots and eventually the whole plant.
Venus’ flytraps come potted in peat. Put the pot into a dish an inch or two deep, and keep the dish filled with water. This will keep the peat constantly wet and it will also maintain a high level of humidity around the plant. This is important, because dry leaves become sunburned and turn brown at the edges.
Most people like to keep their Venus’ flytraps indoors. If you want to do this, you’ll need a sunny windowsill because these plants need a lot of light. Ideally, use a south-facing windowsill.
If you don’t have a sunny windowsill, then that’s only going to be a problem during the summer months when your Venus’ flytrap is actively growing. Putting the plant outdoors will solve this problem. After the last frosts, take the plant outside and put it somewhere sunny. Make sure its dish of water doesn’t dry out though, because Venus’ flytraps are bog plants and cannot tolerate dry soil for long.
In terms of temperature, Venus’ flytraps like warm summers and cool winters. During summer the main thing is to keep the peat moist so the leaves don’t burn. During the winter the Venus’ flytrap needs to be cool, 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit (5-10 degrees Celsius) being ideal. A windowsill in an unheated room is ideal. Since the plant will be dormant between November and March, lighting isn’t much of an issue. In fact, your Venus’ flytrap will probably die back, shedding its big summer leaves and replacing them with shorter-stemmed winter leaves with smaller traps.
Get these things right, and your Venus’ flytrap should thrive. There are a few other tips worth mentioning though. First, don’t use houseplant fertilizer when watering your plant. All it needs is to catch a housefly once every couple of weeks to get all the “fertilizer” it needs. Secondly, don’t let people (especially children!) trigger the traps.
Each leaf only works a few times, and resetting empty traps and growing replacement traps will weaken and kill a plant before long. Finally, while healthy plants flower readily, it’s best to cut off the flowering stems when they appear. If the Venus’ flytrap is at all stressed, producing flowers seems to weaken them still further.
If your plant is happy, you should find after 3-4 years it will have divided into two rosettes of leaves instead of one. At that point, you can separate them if you want, and put one rosette into another pot filled with a 50/50 mix of peat and silica sand. Healthy plants can live for up to 30 years.