Primitive and predatory Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) are one of the world’s weirdest plants. They are incredibly rare in the wild, and grow only in a tiny, swampy area of the Carolinas. You can grow a carnivorous Venus flytrap at home, and feed it with bugs, provided that you care for it correctly.
Venus flytraps grow up to 8 inches across and grow as a pretty rosette of leaves, each with a clamshell-shaped trap at the end. The leaves can move fast enough to trap live insects, and are sophisticated enough to know the difference between live prey and accidental touches from raindrops.
It is easy to grow a Venus flytrap at home if you look after it carefully. To start with, choose the healthiest-looking Venus flytrap you can find. Pick one with healthy green leaves, red traps, and no brown patches. Try and get a plant from a nursery or specialist dealer. Plants sold in shops are often damaged, and may die within a few weeks even if you care for them.
Put your Venus flytrap on a bright windowsill, and keep its soil wet at all times. Put its pot on a dish of damp gravel to keep up humidity levels. Water your flytrap every time the surface of the soil starts to look dry, using rainwater or distilled water. Never water them with mineral water, or tap water, as it contains minerals which are toxic to flytraps.
A healthy Venus flytrap plant will produce a flower spike during the summer, and may even divide into two. Pot up individual plants once they are completely separate, using compost based on peat moss.
Use a pair of tweezers to put a just-dead bug into one of your plant’s traps. Touch the tiny hairs inside the trap a few times and its will slam shut. Never feed your plant with ham or meat as this will kill them very fast.
Only feed your Venus flytrap occasionally, and never feed more than one trap at a time. If you feed all the traps the plant gets overloaded, and may well rot and die. After a leaf has caught a bug it will digest it for a few weeks before opening again. Then you can feed it again!
Venus flytraps are fantastic plants to keep on a windowsill. They last for years as long as you keep them wet, and don’t over feed them. How many people can say that they have to rush home because their carnivorous plant is hungry?