How to Care for a Venus Flytrap (Because Those TikTok Videos Totally Influenced You)
Got bugs? Then you might want to get a Venus flytrap, a fascinating carnivorous (!) plant you can grow alongside all your other houseplants. This interesting little plant, native only to the bogs of the coastal Carolinas, is having a moment, being the second most popular plant on TikTok, according to Living Spaces research. (Google searches are also up 49 percent year over year.) So what makes it so fascinating, particularly on a platform known for video? Watching it in action, of course.
“The modified leaf traps crawling insects such as large ants and beetles, and less often, flying insects,” says Tony Avent, owner of Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Botanic Garden in Raleigh, North Carolina. “The plant has developed a series of trigger hairs, which require the insect to touch consecutively in order to close the trap. Typically, it stays closed about a week while its digestive enzymes dissolve the insect to obtain the nutrients.”
So, if TikTok influenced you to buy one—or you’re thinking about it but aren’t sure you’re ready for the commitment—here’s how to care for a Venus flytrap, from the environment it thrives in to how often you should water it.
What kind of light does my Venus flytrap need?
If you give the Venus flytrap conditions similar to its native habitat, it’s an easy plant to grow, says Avent. In the wild, Venus flytraps grow in full sun, so give them at least a few hours of bright sunlight outdoors or on a windowsill. In a pinch, you can try a full spectrum grow light indoors, too. If your plant isn’t getting sufficient light, it will develop long, spindly leaves, so you’ll need to move it to a new spot.
How do I care for my Venus flytrap?
When watering, use rain or distilled water, because tap water may contain too many chemicals or minerals that can damage the plant. Keep the soil consistently moist. A good way to do so is to place a saucer under the pot and fill it with water so it can absorb what it needs, but don’t let it stand in water all day long. If your plant isn’t producing traps, it may not be getting sufficient water, says Avent.
The Venus flytrap is tiny, maxing out between 2 inches and 6 inches tall, so it will likely never outgrow its original pot. However, if a pot does need upsized after a few years, use 1 part sand to 2 parts peat moss planting mixture. As the plant grows, you also can pinch off a stem with a trap on the end, and plunge it into pot full of moist peat moss to make a new baby plant.
One important note: Resist the urge to keep triggering a closure to watch the traps snap shut! Because closing requires a great deal of energy, your plant may become stressed and die.
How often does a Venus flytrap need to “eat”?
Venus flytraps can go up to a month or two without eating insects. Each trap dies after closing and opening about three to five times, while new traps emerge from underground stems. If grown indoors (where crawling insects are few!), feed your Venus flytrap about once a month during its growing season from spring to fall. You can buy crickets or dried blood worms from your local pet store to feed it; just make sure it’s no larger than one-third of the size of the trap itself, recommends the plant care pros at the New York Botanical Garden.
In general, Venus flytraps are sensitive to chemical fertilizers, so dilute any liquid food to about one-third to half strength, according to the package instructions.
What else should I know about Venus flytraps?
Venus flytraps can live for years. It’s hardy to USDA zones 7 to 10 and can stay outdoors in these areas. In cold climates, bring your plant inside if temperatures drop to 20 degrees F or below. These plants also require a winter dormancy period in order to survive long-term. Therefore, if grown as a houseplant, you’ll need to put your flytrap in the garage or even the fridge, where temps hover around 40 degrees F for a period during the winter. Keep your plant chilled from October to Valentine’s Day, then remove it from cold storage and put it back on a sunny windowsill.