Taking care of carnivorous plants

Carnivorous Plant Care Guide

With specialized leaves to attract and trap insects and small animals, carnivorous plants are an intriguing variety of plants. These exotic plants are fun to have in the home, especially if you have kids. Watching them gobble up flies, mosquitoes, and even frogs is something not even the adults would want to miss out on.

There are more than 1000 different types of such plants that exist, with the most popular varieties being Venus flytrap, Pitcher plant, and Sundew. Are you exploring the opportunity to grow one of these charming plants in your home? Here are some tips on how to take care of them to make sure they continue thriving through the seasons. 

What kind of soil do Carnivorous Plant like

Carnivorous plants are adapted to low-nutrient soils. In fact, the lack of nutrients in the soil is what helped them evolve their trapping and killing mechanism over time. Unfertilized white peat is generally the best choice for growing them. High-moor peat is also a good option. Make sure the soil pH is low and mix it with some quart sand for better drainage. 

Pre-mixed soils specialized for carnivores are also a good option to grow these plants in. They save you from the trouble of mixing ingredients yourself. Do not use general-purpose potting soil for these plants since they can compromise the performance of these plants by giving too many nutrients. 

What’s the Best Light Environment for your Carnivorous Plant

Most carnivorous plant varieties are accustomed to growing in full sun. when growing outdoors, choose a sunny location to set the plant. When growing indoors, place the plant pot beside the sunniest window, preferably a south-facing one. However, make sure that the humidity is not compromised with full sun. 

However, not all carnivores like growing in full sun. Some prefer light shade. Research the specifications of the species you are growing to be sure. The pitcher plant, for instance, prefers bright indirect light.

How To Water Your Carnivorous Plant Properly

Carnivores are thirsty plants. Keep them well-watered, making sure the soil never dries out. Since they’re adapted to moors and humid regions, they’re typically hardy to waterlogged conditions. 

One thing you should remember is never to use tap water. Tap water is hard and can easily damage your carnivore. Rainwater is best for these varieties. You can leave buckets outdoors to fill up during the rain and use it to water the plant over the next couple of days. However, if rainwater is not available, distilled or filtered water may be used. Alternatively, you can boil water in a kettle and allow it to cool down before watering the plant with it. 

Do Carnivorous Plants Like Humidity and Misting?

Carnivores neither like it too wet or too dry. Don’t place it near radiators where it can get too dry for the plant. Neither should you place it near a window where it gets too hot that the surrounding air dries out. Interestingly, spraying the plants with water to increase humidity isn’t a good option either. That’s because it may make the air too humid and promote fungal growth on the foliage. When growing them outdoors, the level of humidity in most climates is generally suitable for carnivores. 

The pitcher plant has slightly different preferences in this regard. Originating from the tropics, it prefers humid conditions and will benefit from regular misting. You can also place a humidifier nearby or place a pebble tray filled with water under the plant pot to boost the humidity in the surrounding air. 

Do Carnivorous Plants Need Fertilization?

Carnivores are adapted to growing in low-nutrient soils and do not require fertilization. In fact, fertilizers can damage the plant. They get all the nutrients they need from the insects they trap and eat, so you won’t need to offer any supplements. Even if your carnivore can’t find any insects, they’ll survive and still don’t need to be fertilized. 

Don’t Tease the Carnivorous Plants

Though you might be enticed to feed the plant an insect or two or just to poke a finger in the trap, don’t do it! It takes a lot of energy for the plant to open and close the trap and teasing it might be damaging to its health. The traps on Venus flytrap are designed to open and close only 5 times in the plant’s lifetime! So if you tease the plant too often, the traps won’t move anymore. 

Keep off the Pests

You might think that the plant is resilient and will handle the pests on its own, but it’s not. Carnivores cannot kill all kinds of insects. Certain pests, including greenflies, aphids, and red spider mites, can harm them. Handpicking and sticky traps are good organic options to control pests without harming the plant. Avoid using insecticides as they may harm the plant. Good lighting and air circulation can prevent pest problems from occurring. 

Winter Care of Carnivorous Plants

Carnivores growing as houseplants don’t require much extra care for the winters. Just make sure they have ample light and reduce watering. Most carnivores, like Venus flytrap, go dormant during the winter season. The traps may turn black and die back, but the plant will come back once warm weather returns. 

The plants need protection from frost. Ideally, they should be placed in a cool, unheated greenhouse through the winters where they can spend their dormant before the next growing season. Keep the soil just moist through the winters, offering water at a reduced frequency. 

Takeaway

Growing a carnivorous plant can be an exciting experience and a favorite conversation starter for everyone in the family. As long as you cover their requirements well, they’re long-lasting plants, adding color to your garden with their bright and unique foliage. 

More about Carnivorous Plants

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Grow Your Own Venus Flytraps 

Gardening with Carnivorous Plants

Other plant Care Guides for Beginners

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