|Venus' flytrap in bloom|
cool plants. I looked back through the blog, and, while I had written about carnivorous plants a lot, I hadn't written a how-to guide on growing them. If you want to read all the other posts about the various carnivorous plants I've written about, they are here:
Much to everyone's amazement, Venus' flytraps are not some strange, exotic plant. It is native only to the Carolinas, and, according to Wikipedia, probably within a 60-mile radius of Wilmington, North Carolina. They are found mostly around crater-like formations known as Carolina Bays, which are located mostly in the same area. Connections to these bays, which are thought to be caused by meteors, only help theories of their alien origins. Now, how to grow them.
One of the first mistakes that people make with these plants is that they put them on their windowsill. Flytraps need full sun to thrive. Their soil needs to stay moist all the time as well. Some people use a low-nutrient mixture of half peat and half sand. Some people use a 50:50 mixture of peat and perlite, but I found that mixture too hard to manage when I was repotting mine. I potted mine in all peat and they have done fine. I used the finely ground peat, not the long-fibered sphagnum peat moss that you can get at garden centers. You shouldn't use garden soil or potting soil, or anything with added nutrients or fertilizer. Flytraps will get most of their nutrients from the flies that they catch.
Another thing they need is a dormancy period during the winter. Not letting them rest will cause them to weaken and possibly die. When flytraps are dormant, they don't die back completely, at least where I live. There will be some green and the traps will be smaller, but it doesn't put a lot of energy into producing traps when there are few insects.
There are any number of opinions about when Venus' flytraps should be repotted. Some say ever spring, around February, before they begin putting out new growth in the spring. This can be good, because it freshens up their growing medium, but if you repot only every two years, like I do, you'll be fine. In fact, I'm not sure when I repotted mine, but it's been probably no more than two years.
If you'd like to read more about flytraps and other carnivorous plants, I recommend the book, The Savage Garden. It has good information and great photos of every carnivorous plant imaginable. I hope this has given everyone that wants to grow Venus' flytraps hope that they too can do this as well. Once their basic growing conditions are met, just sit back and enjoy them after that.