Carnivorous plants are called insectivores and there are three basic groups: flytraps, which have spiny edged, hinged leaves; sticky leaved plants, with hairy leaves that secrete insect-catching fluid; and pitcher plants, with leaves that form water-filled funnels. These plants have roots that cannot obtain sufficient nutrients, so they have adapted and evolved to gain nourishment from the insects in their environment. They are tricky to grow indoors and have short life spans as houseplants, but are always interesting conversation pieces.
Carnivorous plants grow naturally in tropical environments. Compost should be kept constantly moist, with rain water, and surrounding air should be humid. Humidity can be increased by placing a tray filled with pebbles beneath the pot, misting frequently, and enclosing plants in glass or plastic.
For various reasons, carnivorous plants have found themselves in situations where adequate nutrients could not be obtained through their roots, as other plants do. They obtain nutrients through the consumption of insects from the environment, but for a houseplant, this may not be very efficient, especially if enclosed to maintain humidity. In caring for your carnivorous plant, occasional feedings of tiny bits of meat or dead flies are required.
The most popular carnivorous plant are Venus flytraps (Dionea muscipula). This insectivore is fascinating to view in action. It has heart-shaped leaves, edged with fringed teeth that snap shut as soon as an insect comes into contact with them. When feeding these plants, meat or dead flies must be placed in contact with the hinged leaves.
Sticky Leaved Plants
Sundew (Drosera) plants have rosette leaves covered in red, sticky hairs. The hairs secrete juices that both trap and digest insects. Feed these hairy plants by sprinkling the meat or flies over the leaves, so that it sticks.
Pitcher plants come in lidded and hooded varieties. Insects are attracted to the brightly colored pitchers, but once inside they are unable to escape and they drown in the pepsin solution contained within. Food for these plants must be placed directly within the pitcher.