Carnivorous Plants in Terrariums

Carnivorous plants don't get the nitrogen they need through their roots. Instead they trap prey, digest it and absorb the nitrogen in the prey. Carnivorous plants thrive in moist aquariums with the proper conditions for individual species. Larger carnivores, like some pitcher plants, don't do well in terrariums simply because of their size.


Over 180 varieties exist of this flypaper-type carnivorous trap worldwide. They're found on every continent with the exception of Antarctica. Plant types range from rosettes on the ground to vines and taller plants with flower spikes. The plant gets its name from the sticky gel that coats the hairy leaves and the white or pink flowers. It sparkles in the light like dew. Insects get stuck in the gel and their bodies are broken down by digestive enzymes, providing nutrients for the plant. In some species, the entire leaf coils around the prey. This process can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. Some sundews hibernate during the winter. Flowers vary from type to type.


Bladderworts, members of the largest genus of insect eating plants are found on every continent except Antarctica. The plant is named for the small bladders it grows underwater. They are unique in that they are the only carnivorous plants that use suction traps. Prey is captured underwater or in very moist soil. The bladder empties itself of water so the water pressure is lower inside the bladder. When small organisms touch the bladder, a trap door opens and the organism is sucked inside as the water pressure equalizes. Digestive enzymes are released and the prey is broken down into nutrients for the plant. The process takes hours or days, depending on the size of the organism. The flowers of the plant are small and have a wide variety of colors.


Butterworts are flypaper traps. The plants have a rosette of fleshy leaves close to the ground. Flowers grow on a stalk that sticks up from the rosette. The leaves are covered with a sticky substance that traps insects. Sometimes an indentation in the leaf forms around the insect. This may be to concentrate more of the digestive fluid in one place. Butterworts that are native to warmer climates also curl their leaves after prey is captured. The flowers are on a stalk so that the insects that pollinate the plant don't get stuck to the leaves. The leaves have a smell that is attractive to insects the plant digests but unpleasant to pollinators.

Keywords: carnivorous plants, terrarium carnivores, bladderwort

About this Author

Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than three decades. She specializes in home improvement, cooking and interior decorating articles for online venues like Webs, eHow and Photosharingnuggets. Her offline credits include copy editing two full-length books and creating marketing copy for non-profit organizations. Jernigan attended the George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.