Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:24 pm
It is really fascinating what unusual mechanisms carnivorous plants use to hunt insects. The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) from the sundew family (Droseraceae) is one of them. The fancier plant is definitely an attraction for the sunny windowsill and offers a great natural spectacle.
Growth and appearance
The Venus flytrap originates from the USA, namely from the North American states of North and South Carolina. It is a carnivorous plant that forms small rosettes with weak roots. The leaves have been converted into trapping organs.
Among other things, nutrient-poor soils have led to the plants developing the special ability to catch insects. In this way, they secured an additional source of nutrients.
Flowers and leaves of the Venus flytrap
After three to four years, white filigree flowers appear in spring. These stand on a stem up to 50 centimetres high. This ensures that the plant does not accidentally catch pollinating insects.
But what is special about the Venus flytrap are definitely the yellowish green leaves, its trapping organs. The sophisticated folding or catching leaves have stiff filling bristles. These hairs of the Venus flytrap are mechanical fine sensors.
If a fly brushes the hairs on the inside, the leaf trap snaps shut like a leghold trap, crushing and “digesting” it. The carnivorous plant needs one to two weeks to do this. Only then does it open its leaves again to wait again. After only three digestion processes per trap, it dies.
By the way: Apart from flies, spiders, ants and even bees and wasps are also caught and digested. However, “feeding” with dead insects does not work. Since the movement of the snatched flies is absent, the digestive juices do not set in. After a day, the flap is opened again and the undigested animal is still inside.
The Venus flytrap needs a draught-free, cool, damp, very bright and sunny place in the room. The sunnier the location, the better the plant develops. The green leaves, for example, only turn bright red in full sunlight. A sheltered place outdoors in full sun is possible from the end of May to the end of August. In winter, when it is dormant, it should be kept at five to ten degrees Celsius and also in a bright location.
It is important for the exotic insect hunter to ensure even soil moisture as well as high humidity. It is therefore best to place the Venus flytrap in a glass jar, a mini-greenhouse or on a saucer filled with water.
The Venus flytrap has only low requirements for the substrate. It is best to use peat, bog or carnivorous soil that is low in nutrients and free of lime, but has good water retention.
Care of the Venus flytrap
Watering is the most important measure when caring for the Venus flytrap. The Venus flytrap is originally a swamp dweller. Therefore, the substrate must always be kept slightly moist. Use soft water, i.e. water with a low lime content, or even rainwater at room temperature. The plant should be able to feed itself from below, for example by standing on a saucer with water. Do not water the plant from above to avoid rotting. In winter, keep the substrate only moderately moist and water about once a month. In principle, the Venus flytrap provides its own nutrition by eating insects. Therefore you do not need to fertilise at all.
Repot the Venus flytrap every spring. The roots should not be damaged in the process. Avoid opening and closing the leaves unnecessarily, as this damages the plant. Dead leaves and flower stalks should be removed.
Use of the Venus flytrap
The plant with an unusual appetite is best kept on a sunny windowsill and in a glass container or mini-greenhouse – there the soil and air humidity is better maintained.