How to Care for Carnivorous Plants

Venus fly traps are popular carnivorous plants. image by AICAD/Flickr.com

Overview

Carnivorous plants are a diverse group of plants that grow in poor soil and ingest insects to make up for the lack of nutrients. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and most have different methods of attracting food. The most common varieties of carnivorous plants are Venus fly traps and pitcher plants, both of which draw in their prey with an attractive scent. Carnivorous plants are native to swamps and marshes, and care must be taken to emulate their preferred environment.

Step 1

Plant carnivorous plants in plastic pots with drainage holes on the bottom. This will allow the plant to be adequately watered without becoming too wet. Use a potting soil made up of two parts peat moss and one part perlite. Place the plant in a bright windowsill where it can receive five to seven hours of direct sunlight each day.

Step 2

Water carnivorous plants using distilled water, as the chemicals in tap water can cause significant damage. Keep the soil consistently moist by watering about four times per week. Carnivorous plants are native to bogs and fens, resulting in high water needs.

Step 3

Place a humidifier near carnivorous plants to increase the local humidity. This will emulate their native environment and keep them from drying out. Mist outdoor plants with a spray bottle filled with distilled water twice per day for the best results.

Step 4

Feed carnivorous plants a small insect once per month to eliminate the need for fertilization. Outdoor plants will attract insects and do not require feeding. Place a gnat or fly into the carnivorous plant's receptacle and the plant will digest the food.

Step 5

Move carnivorous plants to a cool garage for two to three months during winter to provide a dormant period. During this period, the plant will rest and the root system will become more established. Carnivorous plants cannot survive without a rest period, and will eventually die.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never feed carnivorous plants hamburger or other ground meat products. It is not healthy and will damage the plant. Only feed them insects that they would normally ingest such as gnats or flies.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic pot
  • Peat moss
  • Perlite
  • Distilled water
  • Humidifier
  • Spray bottle (Optional)
  • Small insects

References

  • University of Vermont Department of Plant and Soil Science: Man-eating Plants?
  • University of Utah: Carnivorous Plants
  • University of Nebraska Extension: Care for Carnivorous Plants
Keywords: carnivorous plants, Venus fly traps, pitcher plants

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.

Photo by: AICAD/Flickr.com