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Carnivorous Plants/Deformed Leaves on VFTs coming out of dormancy


QUESTION: My VFTs are coming out of dormancy and many of the leaves are deformed. I've attached pictures to show what I mean. Last year I had the same problem and followed some advise and sprayed the plants with Bayer Advanced Rose and Flower Insect Killer. About a week later many of the plants turned black and some died. Those that did not die are just little nubs of green sticking up out of the soil. Who know if they'll come back this spring. Two weeks ago I sprayed some of the plants in the picture with need oil, but I haven't noticed any improvement. Perhaps once the leaves are damaged they will stay that way, I imagine. In the morning, I do notice some small webbing around some of the plants on the soil surface. Could that be spider mites?

Any suggestions? And thank you for your help on this!

ANSWER: Hello kirk

First, bayer = dionaea killer. So that where a very bad advice.

Try touching the lil insects in your soil with your finger. If they jump, its springtails. In fact, springtails are good for the plants. These lil guys eat dead leaves and prevent mold.

Spider mites are another story. Its a real pest for your plants.
These little insects are kind of red/ligh brown, and you can solve the problem with neem oil. The neem is a tree from india, 100% organic, and harmless for your venus fly trap.

From here, im pretty sure that your problem is overwatering. It happen often after dormancy.
But i need more informations.

-How is your watering frequency, or in standing water?
-what type of soil, water and what is the relative humidity and ventilation around your plant.

The symptoms of overwatering are curved new leaves and some new leaves abort before opening.
They turn yellow/black very fast also.

So here my advice: repot the plant in a very airy mix, like 50% peatmoss and 50% perlite.
And water the plant from the top, once or twice a week.

Dry kills. Too much water kills. Overwatering often leads to sudden death; therefore it is best to keep the soil moist, but never wet. No water should be visible if you happen to press on the soil.

Larger pots allow for more mistakes, and beginners make mistakes, so I recommend a 4-6 inch pot. The six inchers can accomodate even the most mature flytraps.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: first, thank you for the fast reply! Second, let me add some additional info: I grow the plants in bog gardens I made from large wooden boxes that I lined with plastic sheeting. I drilled 1-inch holes in the bottom for drainage. There is a mix of sarracenia and sundews along with the VTFs. The soil is about 3/4 sphagnum peat to play sand/pearlite. They are grown outside, uncovered, and I use RO water from a unit I installed in the kitchen.

It can pretty warm very sunny here in san diego, so I tend to water them a lot. Since I wrote you today, I snipped off some deformed leaves and looked at them under a microscope. I saw a few aphid skeletons and two little mites, possible spider mites. I have sprayed with neem oil before, but not much success it seems.

And you're totally sure about the Bayer product? I hope not, as I sprayed some of VFTs after that first email to you. I'm going out to drench them with RO water! I hope they don't die now. Damn.

Thanks again.

Hello again Kirk :)

Of course i speak from my experience, bayer products kills many of my rare vfts last year, even if its a systemic product. Neem oil have to be sprayed everydays, and you have to water your plant with it.
The product will be 'in' the plant, and aphids will kill themselves by suckin the juice from the plant tissues.

If you saw aphids skeletons, its because you have aphids. The eggs can easily survive even the worst winter.

What i suggest you, is the drowned method.
Submerge your plants(even the drosera) bareroots in water for 72hrs. All the lil monsters and their eggs will be drowned. Same for spider mites.
And by doing this, have a look to the roots. They are supposed to be brown with white ends.
Maybe you will found some mold or rotted parts.

Hope this help!

(Sorry for my bad english, im learning right now!)  

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Francois Boulianne


I can answer many questions about carnivorous/protocarnivorous plants. How to grow them, how make them thrive in perfect growing conditions. I will answer english and french questions.


I grow carnivorous plants for many years. Right now i have 27 species and subspecies in cultivation. Its a passion for me.

Botanix laval(mtl) Hydromax Que-pousse Laval

Guide botanix (french guide to our gardening center) Jardin d'interieurs(french magazine about gardening tips)

I work as warehouse director in a big gardening center in Montreal, Canada.

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