Carnivorous Plants/Venus flytrap

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after a week
after a week  
when i bought it
when i bought it  
QUESTION: Hello, i just bought a venus flytrap and i'm afraid that it is dying. First i repotted it in a globular glass pot that hasn't got any holes at the bottom. i put on the bottom of the pot some gravel, and then i've made a mixture of gravel and cactus soil. The third layer was the original soil i bought the plant in. I fed the plant right the next day and it's mouth closed quickly and and sealed nice. The plant has some new leaves (3 leaves)that are green and look healthy. It has light (west window) and temperature is 20 degrees Celsius (i'm keeping it inside).
But after a week i saw that the biggest leaves with mouth (4 of them from 9) are turning yellow and then black. what is happening?
and in winter does it have special needs? Please help me because i  dont want to see it dead.

ANSWER: Hello Cristi,

Venus Flytraps are North American temperate plants that require full sun. They are also bog plants that require high levels of mineral free water and nutrient poor soil.

The easiest pot to keep Venus Flytraps in are the usual house plant pots with holes in the bottom and a large tray under the pot to hold about 1/4 the pot depth in water.

Venus Flytrap soil should be a mixture of sphagnum peat moss and either silica sand (play sand) or perlite in a 50/50 mix. Virtually any other plant soil will have nitrogen and minerals that will kill Venus Flytraps in a few weeks. Venus Flytraps are unable to absorb much of the nutrients in soil, so all that happens is that any fertilizers simply burn or rot their roots away.

Do not feed the plant until it is healthy and established. Insects are fertilizer for these plants. They do not need them to survive, but they do need them like people use vitamin supplements for long term health. They will live without them for months.

Since these plants need full sunlight to survive, a west facing window is usually insufficient. They live in very bright, garden plant conditions under direct, full sun all day. Anything less results in weakening and eventual death in these plants. They can be raised indoors if you have a large number of cool white florescent lights; enough to equal at least 12000 to preferably 24000 or more, lumens of intensity.

Venus Flytraps do require a winter dormancy period of 3-4 months. They respond to shorter days in the fall by growing short petioles close to the ground and slowing in growth until they experience cold weather. When cold weather hits, they basically go to sleep until the weather warms up again.

What is happening to your plant is that it likely does not have enough light to digest insects. It is also possibly reacting to the soil you planted it in. It will die after a few weeks if you keep it in that soil.

Christopher

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QUESTION: Hi there
I changed the soil with green moss chopped to small pieces mixed with very littel soil that was with it. In a week the plant lost 2-3 more leaves but 3 new leaves emerged quite fast and after reaching 1 cm in lenght they started to grow slower. Beeing early december i moved the plant to a room with no direct sun light and with a temperature of 15-17 degrees C and watering it once every 2 weeks with dystilised water. This way i tried to get the plant to dormancy but it didn't work because new leaves are still emerging and a week ago a thick thing emerged from the center of the plant. The leaves are growing very big and the mouths are remaining small, this i belive because the plant has no direct sun light.
Long storry short, the plant is low on energy because of no direct sunlight, low temperature and low watering, but instead of going in to dormancy the plant grows new leaves continuosly and now a thing that i presume is the flower. I'm most affraid that it will die because the flower will starv it.
Please enlighten me, should i cut the flower after growing 1-2 cm? should i buy a fluorescent lamp to try to help it with some energy? should i forget about dormancy?

Answer
Hello Cristi,

Yes, go ahead and forget about dormancy until the plant is healthy. If it is growing a flower scape, go ahead an wait for the scape to reach about 3-4 centimeters tall, then clip it. If you cut it while it is too short, the plant might keep trying to flower. Cutting the flower scape will help conserve some of the plant's energy. Give the plant as much light as you can for now. It is probably completely unable to determine what season it is in now, so it just needs full sunlight and clean water for now.

If you are not able to provide the plant with enough sun, then you will need to supplement the window light with florescent light. You can try a 26 watt florescent bulb for just one plant and keep the light less than a foot from the plant. Keep it in the brightest window you can.

Once the plant is well established, after several months, you can initiate dormancy a bit late and then next year keep with your seasons and get the plant back into a normal pattern.

Dormancy must be started as a slow process over a month or two. The number of hours of light must be lessened by one hour a day each week until the plant is getting about 8 hours of light a day. At that time, the plant will be getting ready for dormancy by slowing in growth and producing hormones to keep its cells alive in cold weather. Once the plant is in 8 hour a day light, begin to cool it down to at least 60, but preferably 40 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. Provide some light (less than 8 hours a day) for the plant and just keep it moist for 3-4 months. Once past 3 months you can begin bringing the plant out of dormancy by warming it to room temperature and providing one to two hours a day more light. So if you start at about 8 hours a day after winter, give the plant 9-10 hours a day of light on the first week, then 10-12 hours the next week and so forth until it receives light all day, up to 16 hours. Keep the plant warm and in full sun all day in spring and summer, then start the process over in late fall.

Once you practice that kind of regimen for dormancy, you will find that the plant will survive year after year and reproduce.

Carnivorous Plants

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Christopher Littrell

Expertise

I am capable of answering questions about the most common carnivorous plants found in cultivation. I have no personal experience with Byblis, Drosophyllum, Aldrovanda, and Heliamphora. I have not cultivated gemmae forming pygmy sundews nor tuberous sundews. For information regarding those aforementioned species, I would suggest contacting other experts. I can answer questions regarding most species of Nepenthes, tropical and temperate Drosera, Mexican Pinguicula, Sarracenias, and Dionaea. I have some limited experience with growing Utricularia, Cephalotus, and Darlingtonia.

Experience

I have grown carnivorous plants off and on for about 27 years. I have made the same mistakes and suffered the same mishaps that many growers make as they attempt to separate the myths from the realities of growing these plants. Currently, I am successfully growing a variety of tropical sundews, a Nepenthes, several Venus Flytraps of varying ages, and Sarracenias. I have been successful in stratifying Sarracenia seeds and providing artificial dormancy requirements for my temperate plants when needed.

Education/Credentials
I hold a Master's degree in Educational Psychology. Over my lifetime, I have constantly read books involving the growing conditions of carnivorous plants. I hope to incorporate the educational aspects involved in psychology with teaching other people how to cultivate carnivorous plants.

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