Venus flytrap – Dionaea muscipula
With its menacing teeth and snapping jaws, it’s no surprise that the Venus flytrap has become the poster-child of carnivorous plants. This famous plant’s animalistic appearance almost makes it feel as though it is a thinking, calculating predator. In fact, it even exhibits some fascinating “behaviors” that make it seem like a living beast. For example, when something touches the inside of the plant’s jaws, it can tell whether the object is a bug or merely a piece of debris. Like other predators, the flytrap is selective about its prey; its teeth are designed to allow tiny insects to escape so that it can save its energy for a heartier bug that will satisfy its appetite.
Flytraps are relatively easy to grow even if you’re a beginner, so use our tips below to cultivate the best Venus flytraps you possibly can!
Venus flytraps, Art, & Accessories for Sale
Biology of a Venus flytrap
The trap of a Venus flytrap is a highly-evolved leaf structure and one of the most fascinating mechanisms in the plant kingdom. It leverages a tripwire system, internal timer, and electrical impulses to force rapid movement. Traps are 1/2 inch to 3 inches long based on the flytrap variety. You’ll find them at the end of a leaf base called the petiole. Sometimes these petioles hug the ground – great at catching crawling insects, other times, they suspend traps in the air – great at catching flying insects.
The trap is a complex mechanism and the lifecycle can be broken down into 4 major steps:
Sub-soil biology and requirements
Perennials, flytraps die back during the winter months, enter dormancy, and rely on the few thick, black roots branching from the rhizome to survive cold climate. They return from the rhizome during spring, starting the season’s growth with a rosette of ground-hugging leaves and smaller traps.
Dionaea will clump, splitting growth points and sending up offshoots. You can separate individual plants as long as each one has a few roots to support the new plant. Use the water tray method to keep soil constantly moist (but not waterlogged) during growing months, and reduce watering during dormancy.
They take approximately four to five years to reach maturity, at which point they’ll be their maximum size, and send up flowering stalks in the spring.
Flytrap flowers will shoot up on stem about one foot tall in early spring as the plant awakens from dormancy. Each flowers immediately releasing pollen from the anthers upon opening, and stays open for a few days. The stigma only becomes receptive after two or three days when it starts to look fuzzy. At this point, you can gently collect the yellow pollen using a toothpick and apply it to the stigma. If multiple flowers are open at the same time and stigmas are receptive, rubbing them together is an easy pollination trick. Pedals will close and wither after pollination occurs.
After six weeks, you’ll notice clusters of small, black shiny seeds that can be collected and refrigerated for future sowing, or sowed immediately. Check out more info, below, for tips on germinating your Venus flytrap seed.
Where to find Venus flytraps in the wild
Venus flytraps are native to subtropical wetlands on the East Coast of the United States in North Carolina and South Carolina. Unfortunately, due to their fascinating nature, they have been illegally poached from native habitats where their conservation status is now “vulnerable.” As a conservation effort, Dionaea muscipula has been naturalized in the Florida panhandle, New Jersey and California. Do your part to preserve these wonderful plants in the wild by purchasing from reputable retailers who cultivate in greenhouses.