How to Make a Carnivorous Terrarium


Some early naturalists, such as Carl Linnaeus, refused to accept the idea that a plant would purposefully eat an insect. However, according to National Geographic Magazine, a carnivorous plant called the Venus Fly Trap can sense an insect landing on it and will snap its leaves shut on the bug in approximately 1/10 of a second. Pitcher plants have a less dramatic trap; bugs fall into the tube-like leaves and the surface is too gooey to climb back out. To witness these plant marvels for yourself, build your own carnivorous terrarium.

Step 1

Place loose pebbles or small pieces of gravel on the bottom of the glass tank. Do not use alkali stones (such as marble or limestone). The Gardener's Rake recommends using a gravel layer an inch deep. On top of the gravel, add a ½ inch layer of activated charcoal.

Step 2

Add a layer of sphagnum moss (about an inch deep). If you are planting sundews, Botanique recommends avoiding live sphagnum moss, as it may bury the sundews.

Step 3

Place a three-inch-thick layer of soil on top of the sphagnum moss. Only use unfertilized soils. Ideally, the soil should contain perlite and about 40 percent sand, according to Botanique.

Step 4

Add enough distilled water to the terrarium to create a bog-like environment. A bog is an example of a wetland area. It is characterized by marshy, wet terrain and waterlogged debris.

Step 5

Plant a selection of carnivorous plants in your terrarium. Some common examples of carnivorous plants include the Venus Fly Trap, pitcher plant, Cobra Lily and sundew. Dig a hole in the terrarium that is just large enough to accommodate the plant's root system. Place the plant in the hole and cover it up.

Step 6

Situate your carnivorous terrarium in a sunny, warm location. According to The Gardener's Rake, carnivorous plants tend to do best in daytime temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees F and nighttime temperatures between 55 to 65 degrees F.

Step 7

Water with only distilled water or rainwater. Tap water and bottled water often contain minerals that can damage the roots of your plants. Water often enough to maintain a bog-like environment, or a marshy, waterlogged area. The plants do not need to be floating in the terrarium, but the soil and moss should be thoroughly wet.

Step 8

Feed your carnivorous plants about once per month, as recommended by The Gardener's Rake. Feed them dead or live bugs, such as flies, ants and crickets.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never fertilize your carnivorous plants. This could damage the roots.

Things You'll Need

  • Pebbles
  • Gravel
  • Glass tank
  • Activated charcoal
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Soil
  • Distilled water
  • Plants
  • Bugs


  • The Gardener's Rake: Create a Terrarium for Carnivorous Plants
  • Botanique: Making an Indoor Terrarium
  • National Geographic Magazine: Fatal Attraction

Who Can Help

  • The Garden Helper: A Guide to Growing Carnivorous Plants
Keywords: carnivorous plants, carnivorous terrarium, pitcher plant, Venus Fly Trap, gardening

About this Author

Emory Street has been a freelancer writer specializing in history and health topics for eHow since 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American studies from Skidmore College.

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