Venus Flytrap: Basics Of Care, Watering And Feeding

Like a Venus, she dresses in red, exudes an attractive fragrance and spreads her leafy arms. All insects are welcome to her on it. And then she lives up to the second part of the name. The trap snaps shut, the fly is at its mercy and is consumed along with its wings. Would you also like to experience this drama up close? But what scenery does this diva need?


The Venus flytrap, bot. Dionaea muscipula, is originally a southern beauty from North and South Carolina. It thrives wild there in barren swamps. Because of its fascinating hunger for insects, it is now allowed to demonstrate its hunting skills in living rooms all over the world.

Growth and trapping mechanism

The Venus flytrap is small and grows slowly and herbaceous. It flowers only after several years. In spring, it grows a stem about 30 cm long, on which several white flowers develop. But it does not attract its prey with the scent of the flowers. Their leaves, which are about 4 cm long, look like tentacles, and that’s how they work. As soon as they feel touches on their surface, they snap in a fraction of a second. The red color of the leaf surface and a sophisticated mixture of scents attract the victim. It is digested over a period of days until there is hardly anything left of it. Each trap leaf can only trigger this trapping mechanism a few times. However, new traps are constantly waking up.


Venusfliegenfalle - Dionaea muscipula

Plenty of light and sun are existential for the Venus flytrap. Only when it gets enough of it, its trap leaves turn red. The red coloring pretends a flower and thus attracts the nutrient-rich insects. In partial shade, the plant grew, but its leaves remained green. The ideal location has the following characteristics:

  • very sunny
  • flooded with light
  • south window is ideal
  • with humidity above 50%
  • no drafts
  • temperature from 22 degrees Celsius
  • no high temperature fluctuations

Venus flytrap is welcome to spend a long summer vacation outdoors. It tolerates the fresh air and the blazing sun excellently. However, it must be gradually accustomed to the new location beforehand. In milder areas, it can also be planted out. A good living environment for the Venus flytrap is the terrarium. If you can provide it with that, it will thank you with a good development.


Ordinary potting soil and the home soil of this carnivore do not have much in common. Therefore, spare the Venus flytrap this one-size-fits-all mixture and give it a special, lime-free substrate from a specialty store. Alternatively, you can make your own mixture of peat and sand. Fertilizer, humus and other nutrients should not get lost in it.


Venusfliegenfalle - Dionaea muscipula

As a hunter of swamps, Venus flytrap must naturally have its roots in wet soil, even as a houseplant. Since the potting soil in closed walls is not kept moist by nature, the owner must regularly act as a water bringer. This task is quite a challenge, because the Venus flytrap can react like a mimosa if mistakes are made in the process. In any case, you should not do this:

  • give her calcareous water, this will kill her in no time at all
  • water it from above, as rotting is imminent
  • let the soil dry out
  • When watering, adhere to the following rules:
  • the substrate should always be moist
  • rainwater is ideal
  • alternatively use decalcified water
  • pour directly into the saucer
  • in summer there should always be water in the saucer, about 2 cm
  • in winter the substrate should be only moderately moist
  • in winter it is enough to water once a month


Not only their feet want to stand wet, but also the leaves like to stick out into a humid air. According to experts, this should be at least 50% high. Except for rainy days, the
Venus flytrap will not encounter such high humidity in our climate, unless its owner takes pity on it and helps it out.

  • Indoor fountains provide better indoor climate
  • Place glass bowls with water nearby
  • Cultivation in glass containers
  • hang humidifiers on the radiator
  • spray with water in summer, but without lime!

Tip: Humidity meters can be bought cheaply, so you do not have to estimate the humidity felt, but play it safe.


The Venus flytrap is originally accustomed to poor soils. And because there their roots hardly find nutrients in the soil, evolution has found a solution with a lot of ingenuity. The Venus flytrap gets the nutrients it needs from the air by attracting insects flying nearby and digesting them. Since it is a so-called weak consumer, these nutrients of animal origin are sufficient for it. It does not need additional fertilization.


An untypical question for plants really suggests itself with this peculiar plant. Does the Venus flytrap need to be fed? And if so, with what? What is its favorite food? Does it need variety in its diet? Before any more questions arise in this regard, it should be clearly stated: The Venus flytrap is absolutely capable of making enough prey to take care of itself.

When hunting insects, the green huntress can snap her trap blades shut in a fraction of a second. This is a fascinating performance and one of the main reasons why this carnivore is kept. Only unfortunately, no one can wait next to her around the clock so as not to miss this moment. Therefore, an extra feeding is tempting for any owner. There is nothing against it, if you pay attention to the following.

  • feed them occasionally and not regularly
  • only with live animals
  • do not feed prey larger than one third of the size of the catch leaf
  • feed spiders, flies, beetles, wasps or ants

Note: Dead animals are not digested due to the lack of animal movement as a trigger for digestion. The mechanism of the tentacles exhausts after a few attempts to catch them, so new tentacles must be formed. Do not waste the energy of the Venus flytrap senselessly!

Cutting blossoms

The formation of the blossoms ties up a lot of energy. If you are not particularly concerned about this, you can cut off the flower stalks as soon as they appear. Then more energy remains for the formation of the trap leaves, which are much more interesting for most people anyway. However, if you want to propagate Venus flytrap from
Propagate from seed, you will need to leave a few flowers to allow the seeds to mature.
Propagation by cuttings
Do you need more beautiful flycatchers? No problem, propagation by leaf cuttings is easy and the chances of success are excellent.

  1. select a healthy, strong leaf.
  2. Cut the leaf close to the base with a sharp, clean knife. There should be a few roots on it.
  3. Fill a pot with suitable substrate. 4.
  4. Moisten the substrate well.
  5. Insert the leaf cuttings into the substrate.
  6. keep the substrate moist.

Until a new plantlet develops, you still need to contribute plenty of patience. Because it takes months to get to this point.

Propagation by division

Venusfliegenfalle - Dionaea muscipula

Repotting after the winter break is a good opportunity to provide offspring.

  • remove the Venus flytrap from the pot.
  • Free the root ball from the substrate.
  • divide the rhizome with a sharp and clean knife. Roots and leaves should remain on each section.
  • plant the new sections in separate pots.
  • keep the substrate well moist so that the roots grow quickly.

Tip: Until the roots are well established, the young Venus flytrap should be protected from excessive sunlight.

Propagation by seed

The last propagation variant is, in view of the well-functioning cuttings propagation and propagation by division, rather something for those who like to experiment and have an extra depot of patience. Many years can pass before the Venus flytrap hatched from seeds blooms and catches flies. The seeds are cold germinators, which requires a long procedure for sowing.

  1. put the seeds in a closed container that protects the seeds from mold.
  2. put the container with the seeds in the refrigerator for about a month.
  3. choose a shallow pot that is evenly perforated from the bottom.
  4. add peat and sand and place the pot in a bowl filled with water.
  5. when the mixture is full, let the excess water drip off.
  6. spread the seeds on the substrate, a few centimeters apart. Do not cover the seeds!
  7. stretch cling film over the pot and poke a few holes in it.
  8. place the pot in a bright place.
  9. In about 2-4 weeks the first seedlings will appear. Remove the foil now.
  10. If it gets too crowded for the plantlets, give each one its own pot.

Tip: Crush the large pieces of peat so that they do not form insurmountable obstacles for the still tender roots.


Venusfliegenfalle - Dionaea muscipula

It takes about a year for the Venus flytrap to fully fill its pot with roots and begin to grow over the edge. It is then time to give it a new pot.

  • Pot may be flat, as the roots grow flat
  • use suitable substrate
  • ideal time is February/March after winter dormancy
  • immediately before moving to a warmer location
  • dead root parts must be removed
  • use a clean knife or scissors
  • do not bury the root ball too deep
  • Water well


The Venus flytrap needs a rest in winter. In time in autumn it makes its need for rest clear by forming smaller leaves. The trap leaves also no longer open and do not turn red. Find suitable quarters for her now. It should be very bright, with temperatures of 5 to 10 degrees. Draughts and strong temperature fluctuations should be avoided as far as possible. Unheated stairwells, bright attics or basement rooms with daylight can be considered.
The resting period reduces the care effort to a minimum:

  • no fertilizer or feed
  • little water, only about 1-2 times a month
  • no waterlogging

Note: Young plants do not hibernate and should therefore be kept in their usual warm place during the winter.

Wintering in the refrigerator

A somewhat strange solution for a lack of winter quarters is your own refrigerator. But don’t worry, the Venus trap can handle it and your food won’t be harmed either. Because of the confines of the refrigerator, the Venus flytrap can move in there without the pot or substrate.

  1. completely free the plant from the substrate.
  2. cut off all parts growing above ground
  3. rinse the root ball with lukewarm water.
  4. wrap the root ball with several damp layers of kitchen paper.
  5. place this “package” in a clear bag and seal it tightly.
  6. store the bag in the refrigerator until April.
  7. remove any roots that have rotted.
  8. replant the Venus flytrap.

Tip: Be slow to acclimate the plant back to full sun.

Overwintering outdoors

Venusfliegenfalle - Dionaea muscipula

The Venus flytrap is conditionally hardy and could survive the winter outside in milder areas. Where the emphasis is on “could”. There can be no certainty, so this possibility of overwintering wants to be well considered. Older, well-developed specimens have the greatest chance of survival. But even they need a sheltered place and additional cover.

Diseases and pests

With good care, Venus flytraps are not very susceptible to disease. On rare occasions, they do face some challenges. If the air is dry and warm in the winter quarters, the Venus flytrap can become infested with spider mites. Spider webs will be visible on the underside of the leaf, and the upper surface will have silvery spots. Humidity should be increased, this helps well.

Aphid infestations follow low light, so usually in the low-growth winter season. Check your carnivores regularly for aphids. They are easy to rinse off, that is usually enough as a first measure.

Gray coating that looks like mold is the so-called gray mold. Remove all the infested parts of the plant. If that is not enough, you may need to follow up with a fungicide or abandon the plant.

Tip: If the vitality of the Venus flytrap has suffered, its natural defenses can be well rebuilt with a plant tonic.