How to Fertilize Carnivorous Plants

Overview

Carnivorous plants do not need supplemental fertilization with organic or commercial fertilizers. This is because they have evolved to thrive in nutrient poor soils using insects as their primary source of nutrients. Carnivorous plants still use photosynthesis to produce energy and need moisture retentive soil for optimum growth. Fertilizers applied to the roots of carnivorous plants will cause the roots to "burn"; that is, the nitrogen contained in the fertilizers will kill the roots. Carnivorous plants only need one to two insects per month to thrive.

Step 1

Select one to two freeze-dried insects or wingless fruit flies or small crickets to feed to your carnivorous plant. The insects should be one-third the size of the trap.

Step 2

Use tweezers to either drop the insect in the trap (pitfall, fly paper) or carefully place the insect inside the trap (snap) or outside the trap (bladder). As you maneuver the insect into position you will touch the trigger hairs that activate the trap.

Step 3

Use one insect per trap and no more than two insects in one month.

Step 4

Use live wingless fruit flies or small crickets for lobster traps. Place the insect just inside the opening with tweezers. Guard hairs will force the insect further into the trap.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not feed carnivorous plants pieces of hamburger or cheese. Carnivorous plants are not able to digest these protein rich items and will eventually die if fed these items. Do not feed your carnivorous plant more than once a month. One or two insects a month is all the supplemental fertilization your plant needs. Never use insects that were killed with pesticides. Do not fertilize the roots of carnivorous plants as most commercial and organic fertilizers will burn the roots, which generally causes plant death.

Things You'll Need

  • Freeze-dried insects (available from pet stores)
  • Wingless fruit flies or small crickets (available from pet stores)
  • Tweezers

References

  • The gardener's network; information about caring for carnivorous plants
  • Carnivorous plant nursery; carnivorous plant cultivation
  • Pitcher plant.com; making habitat for carnivorous plants

Who Can Help

  • International carnivorous plant society; facts on carnivorous plants and plants/books for sale
Keywords: Fertilizing carnivorous plants, How to fertilize carnivorous plants, Carnivorous plants, Venus flytraps