The Venus Flytrap is a plant most fascinating.
Charles Darwin himself described them as “the most wonderful plant in the world,” and even the name ‘Venus’ honors the Roman goddess of beauty.
While they are a vastly popular and well-known species, the Venus Flytrap can be extremely difficult to care for.
Making a Venus Flytrap Terrarium an even greater challenge.
In fact, I would recommend a whole roster of carnivorous plants to try before the a Venus Flytrap. But then, I know why you’re here. I know what you want.
If you think you’ve got what it takes, put on your carnivorous cap and let’s get started!
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- The Venus Flytrap Terrarium – 5 Care Challenges
- 1 | Managing the Venus Flytrap Terrarium With Light (and Heat)
- 2 | Humidity – Should a Venus Flytrap Terrarium be Open or Closed?
- 3 | Getting the Right Venus Flytrap Terrarium Layers / Soil
- 4 | Do I Need to Feed my Venus Flytrap?
- 5 | How to Water a Venus Flytrap Terrarium?
- 6 | Dormancy – How to Care for a Venus Flytrap in Winter
- How to Build a Venus Flytrap Terrarium (Step-by-Step)
- Let’s Chew the Fat
The Venus Flytrap Terrarium – 5 Care Challenges
Look, if this is going to work you two really need to get to know each other.
The flytrap is a little high maintenance, to say the least, but with some understanding and active listening I really think this could work out.
The Venus Flytrap’s requirements for light, heat, humidity, water and soil are all very specific.
To better understand why, you need only ask it’s biological history. The Venus flytrap is naturally endemic solely to North and South Carolina, USA.
What’s more surprising is that it only grows within a 100-mile radius of Cape Fear. The narrow regionality of the species explains how the care requirements are so specific and so important.
So, let’s get to the meat of the issue.
I’ll take you through each care element specifically and explain why a terrarium makes actualizing a healthy Venus Flytrap a little trickier. But, I’ll also propose a solution to each problem.
1 | Managing the Venus Flytrap Terrarium With Light (and Heat)
Venus Flytraps require a strong amount of light throughout their active months.
An absolute bare minimum of 4 hours is required, with 10 hours a day being optimum for most species.
While it is possible to place a terrarium in direct sunlight, the magnified heat will most likely burn the plants (this is why general closed terrarium care is always for bright, indirect sunlight).
> Solution: Use strong artificial lights that can maintain a routine throughout the plants’ active months.
2 | Humidity – Should a Venus Flytrap Terrarium be Open or Closed?
There is a LOT of misleading information online regarding Venus Flytraps.
Contrary to popular belief, and unlike many other carnivorous plants, Flytraps do not prefer a high humidity environment constantly.
While able to tolerate humidity levels up to 70% they can adjust more comfortably around the 50% mark.
Again, we can see the terrarium issue. Closed glassware is going to regulate a high humidity level, possibly damaging the plants.
> Solution: Choose a dish-like open glass container with enough height to allow for proper drainage. You do not want a closed environment.
3 | Getting the Right Venus Flytrap Terrarium Layers / Soil
Venus Flytraps derive all of their nutrients from the food they digest. As their roots, or rhizomes, are not designed to absorb nutrients, the substrate used must be as close to nutrient-free as possible.
(Interestingly, the evolution of the Flytrap can be explained by the nutrient-devoid native soil. It had to develop a new system to obtain nutrients).
The issue with terrariums here is that soil more readily compacts over time inside a terrarium, and is more liable to develop mineral deposits.
In addition, the medium must be well-draining, yet have the ability to retain water. Venus Flytraps prefer constantly wet but not sodden substrate.
> Solution: Honestly, I’d recommend just picking up some specialist substrate. One point to mention, however, is that Flytrap soils often contain peat moss. Do your best to avoid these substrates, as the use of peat moss has a devastating effect on the environment.
Also, be prepared to re-pot your Venus Flytrap in the spring/early summer months each year after dormancy to make sure the soil is nutrient-free, aerated and adequately moist.
Just don’t repot the plant when it’s actively flowering.
4 | Do I Need to Feed my Venus Flytrap?
Strictly, a Flytrap can survive simply with water and sunlight.
However, it thrives when it has access to food. Locked inside a terrarium they are unlikely to enjoy a regular meal.
> Solution: As mentioned, use an open glass container.
Secondly, you can feed your flytrap small bugs like flies to keep the nutrient levels higher and ensure some growth. Simply insert the bug using a pair of tweezers.
I’ll make a quick note about false trap triggers, while we’re on the subject; due to the amount of energy used when a trap is triggered, it’s really important that you don’t set them off.
Too much energy lost will eventually cause the plants to perish.
5 | How to Water a Venus Flytrap Terrarium?
In line with the substrate medium, the water you use to hydrate the soil needs to be mineral-free.
Tap water often comes rife with particulates that can damage your plants, so you need to use either distilled water, reverse osmosis water or rainwater.
The total dissolved solids (TDS) measurement within the water needs to be less than 50 ppm – if you want to get technical.
Flytraps do best when bottom-watered.
And a terrarium doesn’t allow for bottom watering, nor does it allow for the substrate to drain as well as in an open pot.
> Solution: Keep a close eye on the water content of your soil. Make sure to not let it dry out, though the plants must also not be sitting in more water than the soil can readily absorb.
It’s a fine balance.
This is where a sizeable drainage layer can come in handy.
6 | Dormancy – How to Care for a Venus Flytrap in Winter
As if there weren’t enough issues to navigate, Venus Flytraps also go through a period of dormancy in the winter months – typically from October to February.
After all, being of Carloinian origin, they’ve evolved to withstand frosty winters.
The substrate of your plant still needs to be kept moist during these months, and the leaves are likely to die off, this is alright – just remove them.
Terrariums make it very tricky to bring the temperature down low enough.
> Solution: Make sure your container is an open one, and no matter where you are in the world you’ll need to find a very cool spot (between 0-10 degrees C) for the plant to rest each year.
I warned you it was challenging!
Now if you’re still up for it, let’s get to the good bit.
How to Build a Venus Flytrap Terrarium (Step-by-Step)
What Do You Need for a Venus Flytrap Terrarium?
- An open, dish-like container.
- Leca or gravel.
- Venus Flytrap potting mix.
- Venus Flytrap plant(s).
- Hardscape (optional).
- A paintbrush.
- A misting bottle.
- Distilled water.
- Artificial grow lights.
Step 1 – Get Clean
Before you begin, do a quick check on your glassware and chosen materials to make sure they’re nice and clean.
Ask yourself; are the materials you’re using devoid of any dust, dirt or minerals? If you’re not sure, thoroughly clean your glassware, drainage material and hardscape.
Step 2 – Drainage & Substrate Layers
Fill your container with a layer of your drainage component.
Roughly, you’ll need about an inch or two of this medium to ensure your substrate does not become waterlogged.
If you already know where you’re going to plant your Venus Flytraps, make sure to have a higher volume of your drainage layer in this area.
Then pour in your potting mix.
You can use a paintbrush to help create contours and grooves within your substrate to establish or more natural and organic look.
How much substrate you use will depend on the size of your container and the size of your plants, but at least 2 inches of height up the glass is a good average. Again, you can use less substrate in the areas where you won’t have plants.
At this stage, you can add any inorganic hardscape elements for decoration.
Step 3 – Plant ‘Em Up
Grab your misting bottle (filled with distilled water) and lightly spray the substrate until it is evenly moist.
This condition will allow you to insert your paintbrush’s wooden end to create a space for your Venus Flytraps. Then, take your Venus Flytraps out of their pots and gently remove the substrate surrounding their roots.
Next, place them into the holes you made with your paintbrush.
You must take as much care as possible not to set off the traps as you place in your plants.
Use your brush to sweep the soil up to the base of the plants to secure them in place.
Step 4 – Care Setup
Providing your Flytraps aren’t in dormancy, nor should they be, place your terrarium under artificial grow lights set to high intensity.
Set your lights, provided they’re on a timer, to remain on 8-10 hours a day.
Come winter, or for a period of 4 months a year, if you’re in a perpetually hot country (lucky!), you will need to move your terrarium somewhere much colder (between 0-10 degrees Celsius) if the plant is to properly rest.
And during the dormancy period, a much lower level of light is of course preferable.
Let’s Chew the Fat
So, do you see why I warned you? There’s a lot to consider.
And, okay, if you’ve got this far, I’ll let you in on a secret. The reason I’m being so picky is that I learned the hard way.
Being a professional terra-scaper (made that word up, what do you think?) I thought I could throw together my own potting soil, stick in some moss, keep the plant in a low level of light as the rest of my terrariums… but, alas.
My first attempt at a Venus Flytrap terrarium ended quite quickly and quite poorly.
I hadn’t educated myself properly and ended up wasting the life of a plant that is endangered in the wild.
Don’t make the same mistakes!
Is this your first foray into carnivorous plants, or are you a seasoned savage and have your own wisdom to impart? Let me know down below.