The first dormancy for new growers is nerve-wracking for good reason! It’s hard to tell if your Venus flytrap is dormant, sick, or dying. I’ll tell you straight out, there is no 100% sure way to tell unless you dig it up or wait until the following spring. When the weather warms and daylight hours increase, you will see either an explosion of growth, or more of the same decline.
Here are some things to consider, though. If you’ve covered these bases, there’s a good chance your Venus flytrap is simply dormant but healthy!
- Remember black traps are normal!
- You watered it with distilled, reverse osmosis, or rain water
- You kept it potted in non-fertilized peat moss, long-fibered sphagnum moss, and washed perlite or silica sand
- You gave it plenty of direct sunlight
- You didn’t overfeed the plants
- Make sure you’ve read the dormancy guide and applied it to your situation
- Don’t try to feed it. The traps will trigger very slowly, if at all. This will make it spend precious energy that it should be saving
- Don’t over-water. Check the plants once a week and water them only if the soil is dry.
- Patiently wait until spring!
- After freezing temperatures are gone, watch for new growth. If your plants were in a refrigerator or a cold room over winter, bring them outside and slowly acclimate them to direct sunlight.
- Transplant plants into fresh media. When you dig them up, check out the rhizome, the part between the leaves and the roots that sits just under the soil. If it’s white and firm, your plant is alive and well! If it’s black and mushy, you unfortunately have a dead plant on your hands. 🙁 But hey, it’s okay! We’ve all been there! There’s no reason you shouldn’t try again!
But I just got a Venus Flytrap! Does it have to go dormant?
Basically yes. If you got your first plant within the last 2-3 months, I would still recommend letting it go dormant now. I know it’s hard when you’ve only been able to enjoy it growing for a short time, but it is better for the longevity of the plant. Most likely, the plant has begun dormancy already, and bringing it out will cause it to become seasonally confused, will stress it out, and cause its health to decline. Don’t forget there are many other awesome carnivorous plants that will grow all year long!
I’m also going to mention a piece of advice you won’t read in any other care guide, but it’s the truth.
The best way to tell when a Venus flytrap is going dormant is through experience. As you grow your plants over several seasons, you’ll become more aware of their growth habits leading up to dormancy. You’ll learn to see the differences between heat stress, pest attacks, dormancy, etc.
Eventually, dormancy won’t even phase you. I’m trying to reassure you, kids! It’ll get easier as time goes on.
Most importantly, don’t worry! These plants have survived for millions of years without our help. They are resilient life forms that can handle quite a bit. A few freezes and low light over winter is not enough to kill a healthy plant.
If you have any further dormancy questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be sure to answer as best I can!