Venus flytraps belong to a family of plants called sundews. Scientists using DNA research have been able to determine that the Venus flytrap and another member of the same family, the waterwheel plant, split from their parent plant some 65 million years ago and are the two plants responsible for the family of carnivorous plants that exists today.
The leaves of the Venus flytrap open as if they were hinged. The leaves contain soft thin hairs, and when an insect touches one of them, the two halves of the leaf snap shut. The trap secretes digestive juices and consumes all but the exoskeleton of the insect, which blows away once the trap opens.
The natural environment of the Venus flytrap is the bogs of North and South Carolina. The soil is poor and cannot provide the nutrients the plants need, so they adapted to eating insects to get the missing nutrients. The environment you create for your Venus flytrap needs to have water so the roots can stay wet, high humidity, full sunlight and poor, acidic soil. The best way to replicate the proper environment is to plant the Venus flytrap in a terrarium.
Venus flytraps are sold as a bulb or rhizome. Plant one so that the part with the roots is facing down and the top is just level with the soil line. Use a soil that is a combination of sphagnum moss and sand. Regular potting soil will burn the roots. It should not have any fertilizer or lime. The Venus flytrap needs to be replanted every few years. Use only pure filtered water for a Venus flytrap. Regular tap water has chemicals and salts that are not healthy for the plant.
You can feed the Venus flytrap a dead insect, but you have to trick the plant into thinking it was alive or the trap will not fully close over it. Move the insect around while you gently squeeze the trap shut. Do not feed the Venus flytrap meat such as hamburger. The plant can get indigestion, rot and die. Feed it only insects. It does not have to be much, just a couple of flies or slugs a month during the growing season. Do not leave the terrarium out in the sun for more than two hours in the summer. The plant can wilt. In the winter, move the plant away from the window and cover it at night to keep it warm and moist. From Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day, the plant will go dormant and needs cooler temperatures and less daylight.
A mature plant will send up tall stalks with flowers on top. Each flower will produce seeds about the size of a period. Take the seeds and plant them right away or store them in the refrigerator. Count the leaves on the plant. If there are more than seven, a new plant has grown from the rhizome. Pull off a leaf and replant it. The leaf will die, but a new plant will grow.