Venus fly trap question

Graham, NC(Zone 8a)

Hi ya'll

My son has a VFT (unsure of species) that has a problem. It's growing traps, but has soon as the trap matures, it turns black. It's sitting in a west facing window sill and we're using rainwater. What are we doing wrong or need to do? Thanks ya'll for any help.


Lots of people grow them inside with success. I doubt I can offer much help though because all of ours are outside year round and after the snow melts, they begin growing again. Your plant is a temperate species and is going to need a dormancy if you choose to grow it inside year round.

What mix is your son growing his VFT in?
Is your son trying to feed his VFTs pieces of hamburger meat or large bugs?

Graham, NC(Zone 8a)


Its in the original pot/soil and he is not feeding it anything. How do we give it a dormant period. Thanks


We grow ours outside so I can't really help you out there. I've never had to provide a dormancy because Mother Nature takes care of it for us. There are people who bareroot their plants, wrap them in damp LFS (long fibered sphagnum moss), place them in a zip lock baggie, and toss them in their refrigerators for a few months. These people do lose some of their plants this way. There's a guy named RedDragon out there who would know. Why don't you D-Mail him and send him a link to this thread and he'll share what he knows.

As far as the medium you are using, I suspect that may well be contributing to your issues. If you are in a position to purchase some Canadian Sphagnum Peat (they come in small shrink wrapped bundles about the size of a bread box at good nurseries or you can get a big shrink wrapped bale of the Canadian Sphagnum Peat from Home Depot or Lowes) mix it with some rinsed sand. I'd try a mix of about 2 parts Canadian Sphagnum Peat and 1 part rinsed sand. Repot your plant in a slightly larger pot and place it in a drip tray. Some people grow their VFTs in Afican Violet pots. When we order a VFT in the fall or winter we put them in African Violet pots until spring comes when we can plant them outside. There are people who are very much opposed to this for the long run but it has worked for us to make it through a few months until the ground is workable outside. Backing up to your medium again, if you are not in a position to purchase fresh medium, bareroot your plant and gently wrap the root ball in a moist paper towel and set it aside. Take your existing medium and put it in your microwave on high for about 5 minutes. Take it out and mix it up and stick it back in the microwave again. Let it cool down to room temps and repot your plant. As far as the little terrarium cup over the top, that could be part of the problem too. The plant does need some air circulation. These are just my thoughts but please remember that we do not grow our VFTs inside the home.

Here's hoping somebody who grows VFTs inside comes along and provides some insight as to how best to do so.

Culpeper, VA(Zone 7a)

I have my VFT growing outsideon my deck in full sun in a terra cotta pot in a mixture of half peat moss/half perlite with a light covering of spahgnum moss on top & it's doing very well. I keep the pot's saucer always filled with distilled or rainwater, & the plant does extremely well catching all sorts of insects.

From what I understand, once a trap has managed to capture & digest 4-5 insects tops, it will naturally turn black & die. I snip them off at this time. New traps are always emerging from the center of the plant.

Once the weather cools, the plant will go into natural dormancy, & aside from wrapping the pot if we should get really zero-type temps, I expect it to emerge unscathed next spring.

As far as growing them indoors - can't help you. VFT's really aren't indoor plants & before I realized that I murdered one after the other, although perhaps there is someone here who's had success.

Bristol, United Kingdom

I disagree about VFT's not being indoor plants, I have been sucessfully growing them on the windowsill for over a year. For the dormacy period I move outside or into the cold garage.
of course you shouldnt let them go dry during dormacy.
Advantage of growing inside is that VFT's will be free of pests like aphids, aphids and slugs keep going after my VFT's when they wrere outside and untill I used a systemic they wouldnt leave them alone.

There really is no need to wrap the pot to prevent it freezing, various VFT's and Sarrcenia have survived freezing temperatures here in the UK, they really are tough little things ;)

Culpeper, VA(Zone 7a)

Actually, I wrap the pot more to prevent it from cracking then anything else. While our winters here are relatively mild, we do get a lot of freezing rain followed by low temps - a combination that can easily crack terra cotta.

Graham, NC(Zone 8a)

Hi Ya'll :)

Thanks so much for all the info. Looks like its repotting time. RedDragon, what soil mix and plant food/fertilizer do you use. Also, how long do you keep the plant outside for the dormancy period? Thanks again for everything:)


No plant food for VFTs.
No fertilizer for VFTs.

The reason why we always rinse sand is to remove as many impurities as possible. The Canadian sphagnum peat should really be dumped in a bucket with water and allowed to sit for 24 hours too. Then pull out handfulls and squeeze out the water before you combine it with sand to create your potting medium. I leave sphagnum out in washtubs to let rain rinse it. I go through a lot of sohagnum around here.

There are many potting medium mixes out there for VFTs. Mine is but one. It will all come down to what works for you. Right now with all the black traps you are describing, you have a problem. Losing some after transplant is normal. Losing some if they catch a bug that is too big is normal. Losing traps that are "triggered" too many times is normal. Losing as many as what you are losing is indicitave of some sort of a pathogen in your potting medium. This is why I suggested repotting in fresh medium or "cooking" your existing medium. The little clear lid dome thingie over the top does keep up the humidity around the plant and it does retain moisture but it poses its own set of problems over the longrun. There are many ways to increase the relative humidity around the plant. Watering the plant regularly does this to a certain degree. That little lid is great to ship plants and get them on the shelves for people to buy. Wholesale nurseries know that retail nurseries often don't water well. Aside from that, the little domes protect the plants from being damaged in crates during shipping as well as from kids setting off the traps while they sit on the shelves being displayed. Kids love to set off the traps. Adults love to set off the traps. The trap can only be set off so many times with no prey in it before it dies. I really think the mini terrarium lids serve an initial purpose of protecting the plant but should be removed after you purchase it and take it home. If you are concerned about relative humidity, place the plant on a pebble tray although that is probably not necessary with regular watering.

big oops, editing for spelling.

This message was edited Sep 5, 2005 5:23 AM

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