How to Grow Venus Flytrap

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

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 a Venus flytrap.

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.

Feeding Venus Flytrap

What do Venus flytraps 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.

6 Comments

  1. Should I water my Venus Fly Trap during its forced dormancy?

  2. 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!

    1. Just in case it wasn’t clear, by “plants”, I meant ‘flytraps’. Thanks again!

  3. 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?

    1. As long as you are seeing new growth, the leaves turning black is not a dangerous to the plant. They can be sensitive to things like the wrong kind of water (use distilled), re-potting, or if they are fed something too big for them (if a bug/food sticks out, it can't digest properly and that particular stem will turn black and die). Sometimes, I have noticed they turn black when there just doesn't seem to be a reason. As long as you are seeing new growth (without that turning black), your plant should be fine.

    2. In my experience, dying leaves is usually caused by not enough sunlight, especially if it is inside. Maybe try putting it in a south or west facing window or outside, but make sure the soil is kept damp.

  4. 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)??

    1. If it is a seed still, it should be planted in moist soil. If mold starts to grow, you can spray it very lightly with rubbing alcohol diluted with water.

  5. 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

    1. It is ideal to feed it live flies, but if dead flies is working for and your plant, then keep doing what works : )

    2. We’ve been feeding dead flies too. We just take them in tweezers and move them around until the trap closes. Have had an issue where the fly has been too big and the trap doesn’t close all the way causing the plant to leak and either digest itself or mold growth such that the particular trap stalk died. Otherwise, so far so good feeding it dead flies!

  6. 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!

    1. It is ok to cut the worms in half. If you feed them whole Mealworms they will die because it is too big.



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