Venus Flytrap is the most well known species of carnivorous plants. It is a low growing perennial herb native to coastal bogs of North and South Carolina.
The trap of the Venus Flytrap is one of Nature's most amazing marvels. The outer edges of the two clamshell-like halves are lined with nectar glands and stout bristles. They are normally held open at about a 60ø angle. When an insect is attracted to the sweet nectar and enters the interior of the trap, it brushes against sensitive trigger hairs causing the two halves to close rapidly; the plant reacts within 1/30 of a second. The plant then secretes an enzyme which essentially dissolves the insect, turning it into a digestible dinner. Depending on air temperature and the size of the meal, it is digested and absorbed in 3-5 days. Then, the trap reopens for another dinner guest.
The traps have a limited number of false alarms too, so don't stimulate them too often. Artificially springing the trap drains the plant's energy, if no insect is caught, the energy expenditure is wasted and the plant can soon deteriorate. The closed trap will remain closed for many days afterwards, denying the plant the opportunity to catch further prey, adding to its troubles. After about a 10 false closures they will no longer respond. If you are growing your Venus Flytrap in an area where it does not get anything to eat, you can give it one or two flies or wild caught crickets every month. Never feed your Dionaea hamburger, the fat content in burger will be fatal to your plant.
The perennial Venus Flytrap blooms in May and June with white, five-petaled blossoms which are held a few inches above the foliage. The added bonus of letting them flower is that they will set seeds. About 6-8 weeks after flowering, the ovoid fruiting capsules mature, each releasing many tiny black seeds.
The leaves will reach up to 13 cm long with flat, winged petioles. Dionaea continually renews its leaves; old ones die off, and new ones are produced to replace them. Always keep dead leaves and heads cut off to prevent fungal infections. Dead leaves and heads are a part of this plant's life cycle, and doesn't necessarily mean that the plant is unhealthy.
Hardiness zones 6-8, (-10øC/15øF, -20øC/-5øF) in Winter. Venus Flytraps are quite easy to grow, as long as they are given the proper conditions, the plants have been know to live for more than 20 years.
Use a soil mix consisting of 70% peat moss or sphagnum moss and 30% perlite. You can also pot them in pure peat moss, it's what it grows in in its habitat. Flytraps do not need fertilizer or this will damage the plants; if they live, they will not produce traps, the insects which they consume provide them with all the nutrients they need.
Venus Flytraps need a humid atmosphere with a moist soil. It is a good idea to place a pie pan or large saucer, with about an inch of water in it, under the pot. Elevate the pot by placing pebbles under it so that the base of the pot is barely in contact with the water, not submerged; the growing medium must stay moist, but never soggy. This will keep the humidity around the plant higher and it will ensure that the plant has a constant source of moisture. The humidity should be between 60-80%.
Water must be distilled or rain water because they do not tolerate city or hard water. Venus Flytraps have an active growing and feeding season, from May through October. During this period the soil should be kept constantly damp. During the Winter, keep it just barely moist.
They require seasons in order to survive long term. Venus Flytraps need a dormant period of about 3 months in the Winter. The typical heated home is too warm in the Winter. The entire planter may be moved to an area where the temperature will remain between 2øC/35øF and 5øC/40øF. It can be the salad crisper compartment of your refrigerator. Or the bulb may be removed, sprayed with fungicide, wrapped in damp live sphagnum moss, placed in a plastic bag, and moved to a cool area. Then you should check them every few weeks to make sure that there is no fungus starting to grow. When a Venus Flytrap is entering its dormant period, all the tall big growth will die back to a few small leaves or back to just its bulb and root system.
It should be grown in very bright light, the leaves grow much stouter and the traps colour up beautifully, but with protection from full midday sun. Temperatures should be kept between 21øC/70øF, 27øC/80øF.