How to Grow and Care for a Venus Flytrap

This carnivorous plant is entertaining to grow, but it requires a little special care. These tips will help you keep yours happy indoors.

close up of venus fly trap plant

Evgeniya Vlasova / BHG

One look at a Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) and they might seem like something from another planet. Their little bifold jaws with spiky fringed "teeth" seem almost alien, but when an insect lands on that enticing pink center and the trap closes around the victim, that's completely out of this world! You can make these fascinating carnivorous plants part of your world by growing them indoors or even outdoors in some areas. Venus flytraps need different care than other houseplants you're probably used to growing, but these tips will help guide you through its requirements to thrive.

Where to Grow Venus Flytrap

Instead of originating one planet away from Earth, Venus flytraps 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 an open terrarium that can go indoors during winter.

overhead shot of venus fly trap plant
Evgeniya Vlasova / BHG.

Venus Flytrap Care Tips


Venus flytraps do best in at least 6 hours of bright sunlight per day. When grown inside under artificial lights, keep flytraps 4 to 7 inches away from fluorescent lights. If your plant's traps don't show a pink interior or the leaves look long and spindly, provide more light.

Soil and Water

Venus flytrap thrives in poor, acidic soil that stays damp but still has good drainage. Avoid using regular potting soil, some of which may have added fertilizers. A blend of one-third sand and two-thirds sphagnum peat moss provides the best drainage and moisture retention.

Keep the soil constantly moist. One way to do this is to place your flytrap's pot in a saucer or tray of water, kept about an inch deep. Never give your plants what comes out of your tap; it's usually too alkaline or might have too many minerals. Instead, rely on rain water or use distilled water.

Temperature and Humidity

Venus flytrap prefers a temperature of 70°F-95°F, although it can survive 40°F in the winter with protection. For the best Venus flytrap care, keep the environment humid. Good air circulation is also important in growing Venus flytrap plants, so turn on a fan in the room where you keep them.


Don't add lime to the soil of Venus flytrap plants, and never add fertilizer. These plants get the nutrients they need from their prey.

insect inside venus fly trap plant

Evgeniya Vlasova / BHG

How to Propagate Venus Flytrap

You can propagate Venus flytrap by division, leaf cuttings, or seeds. The best time for division is late winter to spring. Each division must contain a portion of the root system. Make leaf cuttings in early summer and place them in a well-draining mix with a plastic bag covering them. Most people choose division or leaf cuttings to propagate their Venus flytraps. Propagating from seed is possible but complicated.

Types of Venus Flytraps

Plant breeders have been working with Venus flytraps and have come out with a few varieties with large burgundy-red traps. These unusual varieties are available from specialty garden centers or online retailers, like this Red Dragon Fly Trap.

Many types of carnivorous plants including the Venus flytrap are Federally endangered or threatened because of habitat loss and overcollection. Make sure to purchase your plants from a reputable source that doesn't collect from wild populations.

What to Feed a Venus Flytrap

Although flytraps are carnivorous, they can go for long periods (a month or two) without eating insects. If you grow them outdoors, they'll get enough to eat naturally. If you're growing Venus flytraps indoors, you'll have to feed them small bugs such as flies and beetles periodically. If you're feeding your flytrap, don't give it any insects that are larger than a third of the size of the trap. Otherwise the trap won't be able to fully close and begin digesting the food.

It doesn't matter if the bug is alive or not, but the trap needs to be triggered by movement before it will close. For dead prey, after placing the bug in an open trap, gently touch a small paintbrush to the inside of trap until you see the trap start to close. Only trigger traps to close when there is food for the plant. Playing with the traps just to make them close wastes the plant's energy, which can lead to its decline.

close up of Venus fly trap plant

Evgeniya Vlasova / BHG

Winter Dormancy for Venus Flytraps

Like many other plants, Venus flytraps need a period of winter dormancy when they appear to be dead (the leaves may die back) but are merely resting. Keep the plant at 35°F to 50°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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can a Venus flytrap hurt me?

    A Venus flytrap isn't strong enough to "bite" you with any power. If you stick your finger in the plant, it is more likely to be damaged than you are.

  • How big do Venus flytraps get?

    Most Venus flytraps reach no more than 5 inches tall or wide when fully grown.

  • Do Venus flytraps have any predators?

    In the home, the plant is susceptible to spider mites and aphids. Outside, squirrels, birds, and raccoons have been known to snack on them.

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