Carnivorous plants are... EASY?!

     Many of us have experienced the novelty of a Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) joining us at our desks, on our windowsill, or somewhere a small child can enjoy poking their fingers in the traps and looking to be "bitten". The plant probably fell victim to one of several beginner carnivore grower mistakes. I want to share with you the basic rules of keeping carnivorous plants. Please keep in mind this is an umbrella post. Not every single thing will apply to every carnivorous plant, but the majority will. At first, the amount of "rules" that apply to carnivorous plants can definitely be intimidating, but once you look at them, most rules don't apply unless you're repotting the plant. Once you know the guidelines, it's actually really easy! It's true, let's take a look!

     Water

     This is the most important part of carnivorous plant care, as they LOVE the stuff. Carnivorous plants grow in bogs or in the crooks of trees in rain forests. These areas don't have a lot of nutrients in the soils. Keeping this in mind, tap and bottled water with "Minerals added for taste" are off limits for these buggers. They should only be watered with rain or distilled water. These sources of water lack nutrients that can be sucked out of your pipes and the earth itself. If you have a dehumidifier in your basement to keep the mold and mildew risk down, that water is perfect for carnivorous plants, as well! Just be sure you are not adding minerals to your plants, as a buildup will burn the roots.

     Most carnivorous plants people start out with are of the bog variety (Venus Flytraps, Sundews, American Pitcher Plants), so they will want to live in standing water. You can see in the photo for this post the size of the dish vs the size of the pot. That is what I recommend for beginners and seasoned growers alike because if a hot day comes by, you don't want your plants drying out too much.

Light

     This is one that doesn't apply to all carnivorous plants. If you have a tropical pitcher plant (Nepenthes), the rules are different. For most carnivorous plants, they want as much sun as they can possibly get. This will not only produce beautiful coloration, but will allow the plant to photosynthesize properly. I keep my plants in an area where they get full, direct sun from sunup to sundown and they love it!

     The plants should be grown outside. They will attract their own food and feeding is not required.

Growing Medium and Pots

     MiracleGro is off limits. Put it down. This company infuses fertilizer into all of their products, which is great for most plants, just not carnivorous ones. When in doubt, use plain sphagnum moss. I, personally, prefer the brand SpagMoss, but everyone is a little different here. I think it looks better and I like the fact that it is farmed, so we aren't destroying more habitats than necessary. Otherwise, these plants also love a mix of peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, and a bit of sphagnum moss. Different recipes for different proportions are available online. I tend to do mine by eye. Whatever "looks right." You want it to be mostly peat, about even parts vermiculite and perlite, and I add sphagnum for water retention if I can't get to them on a hot day. Safe pots include plastic, glass, and fully glazed ceramic. That means glazed on the inside, too. Other materials for pots like terra cotta, metal, and unglazed ceramics will leech minerals into the soil and slowly kill your plants. You don't often need to repot carnivorous plants very quickly as their roots are very fine and "underdeveloped" compared to typical plant roots. This is because they don't use them to absorb nutrients.

     There you have it! Those are the basic rules that apply to almost every carnivorous plant. See? Easy!

     Happy growing!

     <3 Gina

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