5 Venus Flytrap Facts Every Grower Should Know!

The Venus flytrap is the easily the most famous carnivorous plant, and is often the first plant in a new grower’s collection. It was mine! Over the years I’ve learned valuable lessons in growing these plants which make up the bulk of my collection. I’d like to share these Venus flytrap facts with you so you can potentially avoid the same mistakes that I did!

Venus Flytrap Meal 1. Feeding is not necessary and could potentially be harmful

I’m well aware one of the joys of getting a new flytrap is being able to feed it and watch the traps close. Occasionally, this is fine. But trying to feed every single trap can do more harm than good. Opening and closing their traps take a huge amount of energy for the plant. If all the traps on the plants get triggered often, this will not only stress the plant, but possibly leave no energy left for growth, and it may die. If a plant is kept outside, you’ll be amazed at how efficient it is at catching its own food. If you must feed it though, feed no more than two traps a week.  And please don’t trigger the traps without food just for fun. That is just cruel, unnecessary stress for the plant.

2. One species, many cultivars

FTS Crimson Sawtooth Venus Flytrap
FTS Crimson Sawtooth is an unregistered cultivar.

There is only one species of the Venus flytrap, Dionaea muscipula. However you may have seen flytraps that look very different from each other. Some hug the ground, some are very tall. Some form HUGE traps, some stay tiny. Some traps have long spikes on the ends, some have short, jagged edges. Flytraps are packed with many different traits in their DNA, and through selective breeding, some traits get expressed with beautiful results. Collectors will propagate these plants through divisions or tissue culture, so the genetic material stays identical throughout many different plants.

This is (in very basic terms) how cultivars are created. Some are official cultivars registered through the International Carnivorous Plant Society, but many more are unofficial. An official cultivar doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better or more attractive plant. An unregistered cultivar or even a non-cultivar (called typical) can be just as unique and special, if not more so than registered cultivars.

3. Venus flytraps take five years or more to reach adulthood

Young Venus FlytrapI see lots of enthusiasm among new growers for growing flytraps from seed. I don’t mean to put a damper on that, but it is definitely a long term commitment! It takes just as long to raise a human child from birth to grade-school! I personally have not yet attempted to grow flytraps some seed, but I plan to! Seed germination is a whole different field from raising adult plants. If you’re not yet ready to commit to seed-grown plants, an adult plant will produce several small divisions of itself in a single growing season. My collection has grown exponentially over the years just from divisions. So don’t worry! There are easier ways to get too many plants to handle.

4. Wild Venus Flytraps will soon become extinct

Venus flytraps currently have a Vulnerable conservation status according to the IUCN. There are only about 35,000 plants Wild Venus Flytrapremaining in the wild, compared to 3-6 million in cultivation. This is primarily due to habitat destruction and poaching. When looking to buy, never purchase Venus flytraps advertised as “wild”. No reputable nursery will ever sell plants taken from wild populations. It is illegal. Currently, flytrap poaching is a misdemeanor crime in most North Carolina counties, but some have already made it a felony.  It is also on the table for becoming a felony state wide. Please read my post on what you should know before buying Venus flytraps or ANY carnivorous plants.

DVENUS5. You can buy Venus Flytrap herbal extract (if you really want to)

This isn’t one of the Venus flytrap facts that you need to know, but I thought I’d throw in something odd and a bit lighthearted after fact #4. Venus flytrap extract is sold in capsule and liquid form as an “alternative medicine”. It claims to boost your immune system, provide antioxidants, release toxins, etc. There are no scientific studies to back up these claims, and they are not supported by the American Cancer Society. The ACS does say that it isn’t toxic or harmful, though. If I have money to burn and get the urge to know what Venus Flytrap tastes like, maybe I’ll buy a bottle. 😉

Thanks for reading! I know there are lots of Venus flytraps facts I didn’t mention, so I’ll be making a second post in the near future. What other facts should I cover? Leave a comment to let me know!

16 comments

  1. Linda Meadows says:

    I live in southern Canada (BC). Our house can get pretty cold in the winter, especially if we go away and turn off the heat.
    Will a Venus Fly Trap survive a winter here? Or is it not such a good idea?

    • Maria says:

      Hi Linda! A Venus flytrap in dormancy can tolerate light freezes in the winter pretty easily. 0 C to about -5 is fine occasionally, but not all the time. Ideally you want to keep it between 0 and 10 C. As long as your house isn’t below freezing, it should be fine! A cool room like a garage or basement with a window will be fine. Some people in very cold winter climates will keep dormant plants in the refrigerator over the winter. I’ll be writing more about this soon. I hope that answered your question, Linda!

  2. Hayden says:

    Is there any special precautions I should take for moving my VFT from a windowsill to a fluorescent light setup? As well, what are the signs of a VFT not getting enough light?

    • Maria says:

      I don’t think there is anything special you need to do. Florescent is not nearly as strong as sunlight. Observe how the plant responds to how long the light is on and how close it is. You’ll find a sweet spot with some experimentation!

      The most common sign of inadequate light is long, skinny leaves with under-developed traps at the end.

    • Maria says:

      I highly recommend flytrapstore.com! They have excellent plants and I’ve been ordering from them for years.

  3. Debra Fabro says:

    I need to know more about watering. I’m want to plant in moss. Do I use a water tray or overhead watering?

    • Maria says:

      Hi Debra! It’s really personal preference. When top watering, just make sure you pour gently over the soil and try to avoid triggering traps that are close to the ground. If tray watering, let the tray dry before filling it again.

  4. Dennis says:

    I ordered VFT seeds from Amazon
    here is what I did
    I sowed 20 or more in a pot and put a humidity dome on the pot with the vent open for air and put it in a tray of distilled water
    this morning there is white on the soil, I can no longer see the seeds(I guess they are making roots)
    Is this white stuff a threat to the seeds?
    Upon seeing the white I took it out of the tray,removed the dome and put it under my LED light
    is there something I overlooked?

  5. Dennis says:

    I can only find a company that delivers a VFT Plant to Canada
    I ordered from this place(Amazon)before for VFT’s they were in a box until I got them about a week and a half!
    they were in a 2 inch plastic pot and were in moist LFS and still had green traps
    some of the mouths had yellow or black on them so I cut it off
    then the whole plant died on me(Amazon rushed me a replacement plant when I told them)
    was this because it was in the dark in a taped box?
    I am considering getting another this spring, what needs to be done before it goes outside?
    It comes in a 2 inch pot how log can it stay in the pot it comes in?
    the traps are about a inch long so I am guessing its about 2 or 3 years old.

  6. Nicolas says:

    Hello!

    I live in the amazonian jungle in Brazil and I would like to know if Venus Flytraps would survive in a hot and humid weather. Thanks!

    • Maria says:

      Yes, they would. But they still need a cool, winter dormancy. If you don’t get winter, you may have to put them in a refrigerator for about 3 months.

  7. Gretchen says:

    I saw where you mentioned you had found VFT “juice” for sale. Yesterday, I also came across Sundew “juice” available for sale, as well as Sundew powder! EWWWW!

  8. Gretchen says:

    I also have a question:
    my VFTs all have long stems on their traps. What are the low-growing ones that stay near the potting media? Don’t get me wrong, I love my long-legged VFTs, but I would also like a low-grower.
    I have read that lack of sunlight will cause the long stems on the traps, but mine are outside in full sun all the time, so that cannot be it!

    • Maria says:

      Hi, Gretchen!

      Many flytraps will form low, ground-hugging traps right before dormancy. Aside from that, it just depends on genetics. You never really know if you’re going to get it in a typical flytrap or not.

      Some varieties such as Gremlin, Clumping Cultivar, and Low Giant are known for growing in clustered rosettes throughout the season.

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