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  3. Guide to Caring for Venus Fly Trap Plants

Guide to Caring for Venus Fly Trap Plants

With their recent feature in the John Lewis Christmas Advert of 2023, Venus Fly Trap plants have captured the curiosity of many. This guide aims to provide insights into what these plants are, how they function, and the best ways to care for them. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of Venus Fly Traps.

What is a Venus Fly Trap?

Originating from North and South Carolina, the Venus Fly Trap, named after the Roman goddess Venus, boasts beautiful white flowers. Its species name, muscipula (Latin for ‘mousetrap’), hints at its unique appearance resembling a mouse trap.

Venus Fly Traps, the most well-known carnivorous plants, use sweet nectar to lure flies into their jaw-like leaves. Upon contact with the trigger hairs inside, a rapid response is triggered, causing the trap to snap shut, ensnaring the insect. The interlocking teeth on the edges tighten the grip, making escape challenging for the captured prey. The entire process must occur within 20 seconds for the trap to close successfully.

Do Venus Fly Traps Actually Eat Flies?

Once caught, Venus Fly Traps utilize digestive enzymes to break down the soft tissue of the fly, absorbing it as a nutritious meal. The trap reopens a week later, ready for another catch, using the remnants of the fly to attract new prey. While effective, Venus Fly Traps may not always succeed, especially with larger insects like spiders, which can chew through the plant to escape, potentially causing harm.

Can a Venus Fly Trap Hurt a Person?

Contrary to its menacing appearance, a Venus Fly Trap is not potent enough to harm humans or animals. Inserting a finger into the trap poses more risk to the plant than the individual, as it expends unnecessary energy.

Can You Feed a Venus Fly Trap Dead Bugs?

Venus Fly Traps naturally consume flies, but those kept indoors may require feeding with dead insects. Feeding is essential for their strength, and it’s recommended to feed one leaf at a time. Feeding intervals can take up to 10 days, and moving the insect inside the leaves may help stimulate trigger hairs.

How Long Do Venus Fly Traps Live?

While it’s believed that a well-cared-for Venus Fly Trap can live for 20 years or more, individual traps have a limited lifespan before new ones emerge. Regular care and proper conditions contribute to their longevity.

Growing a Venus Fly Trap

To foster a thriving Venus Fly Trap, place it on a sunny windowsill with ample direct sunlight. Mimic their natural bog environment with acidic, moisture-retentive compost. We recommend the Carnivorous Plant Compost. Use distilled or rainwater, keeping the soil moist with good drainage. In summer, move the plant outside, but ensure to bring it indoors in autumn.

Venus Fly Trap Care Instructions

Elevate your Venus Fly Trap care game with these dynamic steps crafted for gardening novices:

  1. Selecting the Right Spot:

    Light: Ensure your Venus Fly Trap gets 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily, preferably on a sunny windowsill.
    Temperature: Keep it comfortable between 21°C and 35°C during the day, and above 10°C at night.

  2. Watering

    Frequency: Keep the soil consistently moist, avoiding waterlogging. Regularly check the soil’s moisture level.
    Type of Water: Opt for rainwater, distilled water, or reverse osmosis water to prevent mineral buildup. Avoid tap water.

  3. Soil and Potting

    Soil: Use a mix of sphagnum peat moss and perlite in equal parts for a well-draining blend.
    Pot: Choose a pot with good drainage—plastic or glazed ceramic pots work well.

  4. Feeding

    Frequency: Feed your Venus Fly Trap insects like flies or spiders every 2-4 weeks. Be cautious not to overfeed.
    Method: If natural prey is scarce, consider manually feeding small insects.

  5. Dormancy Period

    When: Provide a winter dormancy period of 3-4 months with reduced light and temperatures between 2°C and 10°C.
    Care During Dormancy: Reduce watering, keeping the soil slightly moist.

  6. General Maintenance

    Trimming: Trim blackened traps gently with sterilised scissors. It’s normal for traps to die after closing multiple times.
    Repotting: Refresh the soil by repotting every one to two years.

  7. Avoid Common Mistakes

    Touching the Traps: Minimise unnecessary triggerings to conserve the plant’s energy.
    Fertiliser: Refrain from using fertilisers as they may harm the Venus Fly Trap.
    Watering on the Leaves: Direct water to the soil, not the plant itself.

  8. Monitoring Plant Health

    Healthy Signs: Look for bright green leaves, vibrant red interiors on traps, and steady growth.
    Warning Signs: Watch out for yellowing leaves, a lack of new growth, or mouldy soil.

  9. Troubleshooting

    If traps don’t close: Evaluate light exposure and soil moisture.
    If leaves turn black: Investigate feeding practices and water management, as overfeeding or hydration issues could be the culprits.

Do Venus Fly Traps Go Dormant in Autumn and Winter?

Yes, as daylight hours decrease, Venus Fly Traps enter dormancy in autumn. It’s crucial not to mistake this for plant demise. Place the plant in a cool room, reduce watering, and bring it back to a brighter, warmer spot in spring for new growth.

How Big Do Venus Fly Traps Get?

Despite the expectations raised by the John Lewis Christmas Advert (2023), most Venus Fly Traps grow to a maximum of 5 inches tall or wide when fully mature. While not giants, they remain captivating additions to your plant collection.

Image Credit: John Lewis

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

Achieving success with Venus Fly Traps involves steering clear of common pitfalls. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

  • Overfeeding: While it’s tempting to provide regular meals, overfeeding can stress the plant. Stick to a reasonable feeding schedule, allowing the plant time to digest between catches.
  • Watering Woes: Venus Fly Traps prefer moist but well-draining soil. Avoid waterlogged conditions, as this can lead to root rot. Use distilled or rainwater, as tap water may contain minerals that are harmful to these plants.
  • Improper Lighting: Ensure your Venus Fly Trap receives adequate sunlight. While they can tolerate partial shade, providing bright, indirect light or direct sunlight for several hours a day is ideal.


Venus Fly Traps, showcased in the recent John Lewis Christmas Advert of 2023, have piqued widespread interest for their captivating and unique characteristics. Despite their menacing appearance, these plants pose no harm to humans or pets, making them intriguing additions to any plant collection. Nurturing these carnivorous wonders requires careful attention to factors like soil type, watering, and lighting. Dispelling myths around their feeding habits, a balanced approach to feeding and an understanding of their natural dormancy period contribute to their overall health. As enthusiasts delve into the world of Venus Fly Traps, avoiding common pitfalls becomes crucial, ensuring a rewarding and educational experience in plant care. So, whether you’re a seasoned plant enthusiast or a novice gardener, the journey with Venus Fly Traps promises a fascinating exploration into the wonders of nature within the confines of your own home.

Updated on November 10, 2023

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