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Venus Flytrap

My daughter brought home a Venus Flytrap but all its leaves have closed up and have not reopened. Are there any special care instructions? Do they die if they do not have any flies to catch/eat?


The Venus Flytrap uses the prey it captures as a natural fertiliser, increasing its growth and size over the growing season. It only eats every now and again, but yes, it does need feeding!

The trap constricts tightly around the insect and secretes digestive juices, much like those in your stomach. At the end of the digestive process, which takes from five to 12 days, the trap reabsorbs the digestive fluid and then reopens.

The leftover parts of the insect blow away in the wind or are washed away by rain. The time it takes for the trap to reopen depends on the size of the insect, temperature, the age of the trap, and the number of times it has gone through this process.

If you feed a Venus Flytrap something that doesn't move, e.g. a dead insect, it will not close tightly over it. You need to move the food around so it imitates the action of a live insect.

If an insect is too large it will stick out of the trap. This allows bacteria and moulds on the insect to thrive. Eventually the trap turns black, rots and falls off.

The flytrap does require a few special considerations, including purified/distilled water, full light, and a constant source of moisture. If these few rules are followed, the Venus Flytrap will grow for many years, provided it is given dormancy during the winter.

UnitecAdvice by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor of Resource Management.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: June 27, 2005