A carnivorous plant, the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) grows from a fleshy rhizome. A rounded rosette of reclining leaves grow from this root, growing about 4 to 6 inches tall and wide at maturity. Each leaf includes a stem topped with a trap-shaped, hinged leaf fringed with eyelash-like spines. When an insect triggers tiny hair-like sensors on the trap surface, this leaf snaps shut, trapping the bug and then digesting it through enzyme secretions. This plant produce tiny white flowers in late spring, following by tiny black seeds.
The Venus flytrap is native to the sandy bogs of eastern North and South Carolina in the United States. Its range extends from the Santee River to Beaufort County, North Carolina. Floridata calls its natural habitat "natural bogs and seepage areas of longleaf pine and shrub savannas."
Even though Venus flytraps are frequently sold as houseplants, they are not tropical plants that require year round humidity and warmth. The Carolina Carnivores website mentions Venus flytraps naturally endure winter temperatures around 32 degrees F in the wild, and will survive temps as low as -10 degrees. It translates well to growing in garden locations in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 7 through 9. It also tolerates cool to hot summers. According to online resource Floridata, Venus flytraps must sustain exposure to temperatures below 40 degrees in the winter dormancy to survive; ideal summertime temperatures are just under 80 degrees.
This carnivorous plant is adapted to growing on sandy, moist, nutrient-poor soils. In fact, the low mineral content of the bogs and sandy seepage ground is a reason why this plant "eats" insects--to supply nutrients the roots cannot retrieve from the soil. The soil must be acidic (pH between 4.0 and 6.0). A moist soil also helps keep the ambient humidity around Venus flytraps between 50 to 80 percent. According to Carolina Carnivores, these plants also successfully grow in loam or without soil, sending roots down into moist, porous peat.
Although looking delicate and tiny, Venus flytrap must receive abundant sunlight exposure to prosper. In the wild, these carnivorous herbs grow in nearly full sun (over 10 hours exposures) in bogs and other areas not shaded by woodland trees. They do succeed in partially shaded locations, such as the edges of woodlands as long as the shade occurs during the head of midday. Inadequate light levels makes growth of leaves even slower than usual, and flowering in late spring can be delayed or prevented. If soil is too dry when exposed to intense sunlight, Venus flytrap plants suffer, with yellowed or dried leaves, potentially resulting in death.
Within the Carolina bog ecosystems, Venus flytrap grows near pine woodlands in sandy, boggy conditions where various grasses and acid soil-loving shrubs. As tree seedling or shrubs get too tall and cause excessive shading, Venus flytrap numbers can diminish across the habitat. According to Floridata, natural fires caused from lightning strikes act to purge the ecosystem of excessive bio-fuel from trees and shrubs. Thus, the soil remains exposed to sun with occasional increases of nutrients from the burned plant tissues, maintaining areas for the flytrap to grow from seed and increase numbers.