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Carnivorous Plants/Is dormancy necessary? How to put a plant in dormancy?

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Question
Hello, I bought a Venus flytrap last summer and it seems to be doing well, but I did not put it in dormancy last winter. I read that if you skip a year you must put it in dormancy the following year. Is that true and how do you put it in dormancy? I read articles online but got inconsistent information. One article said simply don't water it and another said to refrigerate it. I live in Florida, if that matters, and it is an outdoor plant (I only bring it in if there is a freeze warning). I know it's not winter yet, and won't be for a while, but I wanted to know. Thanks!

Answer
Hello Ilona,

Venus Flytraps require a dormancy to ensure that they will maintain health and vigor. Since your plant is outside, the  plant will feel the differences in the seasons and get ready for dormancy naturally with the lessening hours of sunlight each day as the seasons progress towards winter. If it gets cold in winter where you live, at least 60 degrees or lower, you can leave the plant outside for the winter and it should be fine.

Recently I conducted an experiment with some of my North American carnivorous plants and found that dormancy can be skipped for years, however; the plants fail to flower and require a very high level of light for 16 hours a day. Basically, 30,000 or more lumens of artificial light all day long. I have grown some of my Venus Flytraps in this manner for the last three years and they are still alive and active. I do not recommend anyone trying this with their Venus Flytraps if they want them to survive as the chances of plant death are definitely present. I am merely elaborating that Venus Flytraps can survive without dormancy to a degree and that it is not a death sentence for your plant. For long term North American plant care, ensure they receive dormancy.

There are ways to artificially induce dormancy in plants, however; you likely will not require them. If you left the plant outside last year, it probably went into a light dormancy anyways and is probably just fine. There is a colony of Venus Flytraps that had been transplanted in Florida by a carnivorous plant grower some decades back. That colony of Venus Flytraps is surviving in zone 10 Florida weather, so I think yours will be good to go.

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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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