Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is an herbaceous perennial native to the Southeastern United States. It is known for its carnivorous behavior. This plant is hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 5 through 10. While it is a high-maintenance plant, the Venus flytrap grows in pots, terrariums and in the perennial garden.
Venus flytrap grows up to 1 foot in height and 9 inches in width. In early spring, 12-inch stems sprout above the plant, producing clusters of white cup-like flowers. In midsummer, specialized leaves, or traps, develop. Each trap is 1 inch or more in length. As winter approaches, the leaves begin dying back in preparation for winter dormancy. In cooler, northern climates, a layer of pine needle mulch helps protect the plant during winter.
The Venus flytrap is a shallow-rooted, bog plant that prefers constantly moist, but not overly soggy, conditions. Best grown in full sun and high humidity, flytraps like acidic, nonfertilized soil that does not dry out. If wet or bog conditions are not easily available, grow Venus flytraps in pots outside in a sunny location. Keep the soil damp. Placing a tray of water under the pots maintains moisture. When watering, acidic rainwater or distilled water ensures the soil does not become alkaline.
From a rhizome, the Venus flytrap produces a low-growing rosette of up to eight leaves that develop into hinged lobes, or traps, edged with hairs. Inside the lobe are trigger hairs signaling when to close the trap. The inner surface of the traps may be dark red or green, depending on the amount of direct sunlight the plant receives. The Venus flytrap cultivar Akai Ryu has bright-red stems and traps. Propagation is best by dividing plants in the spring. Venus flytraps can grow from seed but take years to develop.
How it Works
The plant's nectar lures an insect into the trap. When the insect touches one of the triggering hairs, the trap quickly closes, locking the insect inside. Enzymes the trap produces digest the insect in one week. Once digested, the trap reopens. If falsely closed, the trap will not secrete the enzymes and reopens within eight hours. After it has consumed three insects, the leaf dies and falls off the plant.