The Venus flytrap is one of the most captivating plants around. Learn all about Venus flytrap plants—including how to care for them, feeding them, growing them indoors, and more.

By Deb Wiley
Updated June 19, 2019

When I was a kid, I thought Venus flytraps really did come from Venus. Their gaping bifold jaws with spiky fringed "teeth" seemed alien enough, but when an insect landed on that enticing pink center and the trap closed with lightning speed, well, that was exciting! Growing Venus flytraps indoors seemed like a superhuman feat. Luckily, it's not difficult if you know how to grow Venus flytrap.

Ginny Weiler
Ginny Weiler

Where Venus Flytraps Grow

Instead of originating one planet away from Earth, Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) are perennials native to boggy areas of coastal North and South Carolina. They grow in moist, acidic soils in full sun, but only survive winter outdoors in Zones 8-10. Gardeners in colder-winter climates should grow Venus flytraps in a moist environment, such as a terrarium, that can go indoors during winter.

Growing Venus Flytraps

Venus flytrap care is pretty simple. The carnivorous plant thrives in poor, acidic soil with good drainage. Avoid planting it in regular potting soil: A blend of one-third sand and two-thirds sphagnum peat moss provides the best drainage and moisture retention. Do not add lime to the soil and never fertilize the plant.

Venus flytraps do best in bright light but can live in partial shade. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight in summer, especially if they live under glass, as plants hit with direct sunlight may get too hot and burn up. When grown inside under artificial lights, keep flytraps 4 to 7 inches away from fluorescent lights. If your Venus flytraps don't show a pink interior or if the plants have long, spindly leaves, they are not getting enough sunlight.

For best Venus flytrap care, keep the environment humid and the soil moist but don't let the plants stand constantly in water. Grow them in a pot with drainage holes. If you have a Venus flytrap terrarium, place gravel below the soil for extra drainage. Good air circulation is also important in growing Venus flytrap. Use rain or distilled water to take care of your Venus flytrap, because tap water is often too alkaline or may contain too many added minerals.

Ginny Weiler
Ginny Weiler

Feeding Venus Flytrap

What do Venus flytrap plants eat? The name says it all: The Venus flytrap eats flies (or other small insects). The prey must be alive when caught. Dead flies won't work in Venus flytrap feeding; the insect must move around inside the trap or the trap cannot consume and digest it. The insect must be small enough to fit comfortably inside the trap so it can close tightly to keep out bacteria.

If you grow the plants in a closed terrarium, the easiest Venus flytrap feeding method is to release small flies inside the space. Eventually, the bugs will be attracted to the trap and be consumed. Although flytraps are carnivorous, they can go long periods—a month or two—without eating insects. If you grow them outdoors, they will get enough to eat naturally. If you're growing Venus flytrap indoors, you'll have to feed them dinner periodically.

Related: Growing Carnivorous Plants in the Garden

Winter Dormancy for Venus Flytraps

Venus flytraps, like many other plants, need a period of winter dormancy when they appear to be dead (the leaves may die back) but are merely resting. Keep the plant 35 to 50 degrees F. Don't let terrariums freeze; the plants may die and the glass may break. At about the spring equinox, when days start growing longer, begin to increase warmth and light.

Venus Flytrap Varieties

Plant breeders have been working with Venus flytraps and have come out with a few varieties, such as 'Akai Ryu', which has large burgundy-red traps. These special varieties are available from specialty garden centers or online retailers, like this Red Dragon Fly Trap, $21, Plant Delights Nursery.

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Comments (7)

Anonymous
March 20, 2019
I just bought a Venus flytrap from Lowe's, it was in a plastic thing should I've left the planter in it or is ok on my window shelf on a saucer?
Anonymous
January 15, 2019
Should I water my Venus Fly Trap during its forced dormancy? BHG Editors iheartterriers, you definitely want to keep your Venus fly traps moist during their dormancy. If they dry out at any point of the year, they’ll die off rather quickly. Be sure to use reverse osmosis, rainwater, or distilled water, however. Tap water contains minerals that’ll eventually weaken and kill your plants.
Anonymous
January 15, 2019
I live in South Carolina and I would like to get a few plants, and I was wondering if (1) I should have each plant in it’s own pot or can I plant several in a large planter box, sharing the same soil and (2) since I read the plants are native to these parts can I grab some wild soil from a particular area or should I use store bought. Thank you in advance for any info you can give! BHG Editors silvagto, you do live in an area with native Venus fly traps, however, not all soils are the same and you’ll want to be sure to use peat moss. Regular garden soil contains minerals and nutrients that will kill your fly traps. You can plant many together in one container. Living in your area, however, does allow you to leave them outdoors over the winter where they’ll naturally go dormant and come back in spring. Be sure to keep them moist throughout their dormancy with rain water or distilled water.
Anonymous
January 15, 2019
So I got a fly trip and it's leaves have turned black but it look like there's new growth and I can't figure out if it's dead or alive, It only needs like 3 thing and somehow I manged to [filtered] that up so can it be saved or do I got to get a newone and try again? BHG Editors cbeverly001, from the sound of it, your plant has gone dormant. Their old leaves from the growing season will start to die back and turn almost black while they produce smaller leaves in the center of the plant. These leaves will remain over the course of dormancy and then when it warms up or they’re taken out of the fridge or chiller, they’ll grow new leaves and traps. Be sure to only water with distilled water or rain water.
Anonymous
January 15, 2019
I just took my Venus fly trap out of an “induced winter” that was in my refrigerator, what do I do now??? (It is still a seed that has yet to sprout)?? BHG Editors syd2307, if you plant is dormant, it’ll begin to produce new leaves from the center of the plant within a week or so. Be sure to give it lots of moisture, light, and warmth for best growth. If you’re growing from seed, the process can take quite a bit longer (upwards of a month or two) but eventually, you’ll have small plants begin to appear under the right conditions.
Anonymous
January 15, 2019
Umm so I HAVE been feeding my Venus flytrap dead flys but they are acting fine. Is it ok if I keep doing this? Really need answers! -Courtney BHG Editors cdiaz84atgmail, you can feed your plant flies if you’d like, but rest assured, they’ll capture insects on their own. A word of caution as well, you can over-feed your plants if you continue to feed them each time a trap opens up. In the wild, they’re much more sporadic in the feeding and each trap can only feed a few times before it dies back, so you might just have a better looking plant with less feeding.
Anonymous
January 15, 2019
Question: I was instructed to feed my Venus flytrap "Mealworms"? Can I cut the worms in half, if they are too big for the pods? Thanks! BHG Editors sheridansh5017392, you can feed them mealworms, but you don’t necessarily have to if they’re in a location where they can feed on their own. Even in a regular home, they can capture insects without a problem—these often consist of flies and spiders. If you do feed them, just be sure to only feed insects and make sure the entire insect can fit into the trap. You can cut them in half, but this might also lead to rot if there is too much moisture within the trap prior to closing.