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!
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
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
I 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 remaining 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.
5. 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!