This Is Where to Find a Carnivorous Venus Flytrap Plant

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Light, love and a full diet of bugs keeps a carnivorous Venus flytrap happy and growing for spooky seasons to come!

You might think a Venus fly trap only exists in the movies. Unlike a cheerful pink succulent or just about any other houseplant, there’s something unbelievable about a plant that traps bugs!

The rather odd looking Venus flytrap has leaves that extend like arms from a soil-level rosette. Each is topped with a vicious looking hinged clamshell designed to trap and eat creatures that crawl or fly. It’s like dinner and a show, making it the perfect Halloween gift for the young and macabre at heart. Here’s everything you need to know about this unusual plant—just in time for spooky season.

What is a Venus Flytrap?

The perennial Venus flytrap, or Dionaea Muscipula, is among more than 600 plants worldwide that eat meat for nutrition. Most consume insects, but frogs and small mammals can be at risk from some larger varieties. Eek!

In real life, the Venus flytrap only grows on the boggy edges of North and South Carolina, spreading by seed or underground by rhizome. Moving creatures trigger little hairs in the trap that cause the hinge to close. Digestion can take 3 to 5 days and sometimes longer. The lifespan is believed to be up to 20 years.

Although the Venus flytrap flowers attract flies for pollination, the name turns out to be something of a misnomer. In the wild, the flytrap more often relies on creepy crawlers than tongues to catch flies. Despite their appetites, they won’t eat fingers or supersize to monster proportions like that infamous man-eater, Audrey, from the Little Shop of Horrors. But try to avoid poking the plant to help them preserve their energy for the meaty little snacks they need to grow.

How to Care for a Venus Flytrap

Want to add a Venus flytrap to your Halloween decor? We don’t blame you. So do we!

All houseplants require specific growing conditions to thrive, but the Venus flytrap is somewhat unique. Remember, their plant ancestors started in bogs. For optimal carnivorous plant care, you’ll want to:

  • Plant in a nutrient poor, acidic mix like peat moss and perlite.
  • Avoid introducing tap water which can have too many minerals. Rainwater, distilled water or reverse osmosis water are preferred. Water thoroughly and try to keep soil from drying out.
  • The plants grow best in a well draining plastic pot but those can easily fit inside a more attractive decorative container.
  • Pick a super sunny window. The Venus flytrap needs at least four hours of direct light and prefers more. In the winter it wants to go dormant so try to find a cool spot until new leaves emerge. Don’t worry if it drops some leaves. (Psst! Here’s how to save a houseplant.)
  • Feeding is the best part! Drop in small flies, bugs or ants, making sure to tickle those internal hairs to trigger the trap to close. The more food, the stronger the plant. Flytraps can’t be overfed.
  • Fertilizers are not recommended.

The Venus flytrap is also relatively easy to propagate. Just separate a newer leaf being careful to include some roots. Plant in a damp peat mix and give to a carnivorous curious friend. It’s a fun and unexpected gift, alongside these houseplant subscription boxes.

Where to Buy a Venus Flytrap

Venus Fly Trap Plant Via Etsyvia KillerPlantCompany/etsy.com

Shopping for Venus flytraps is as simple as collecting any other unique plant. Online retailers, like Walmart, Etsy and Amazon offer different sized options. Plants will be shipped bare root or in a domed container. On average, expect to spend $20-$25. Move over Jack-o’-lanterns, the Venus flytrap is the spookiest fall decor!

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Betsy Karetnick
Betsy Karetnick is a lifestyle and media expert. In 2004, she created The Portable Garden, a destination floral and event design company for corporate, nonprofit and personal events. Betsy is also an accomplished broadcaster, starting her career in financial journalism first at Dow Jones, then CBS Marketwatch and WNET. Hired by Martha Stewart for her expertise in food and flowers, Betsy worked exclusively as a host on the channel for its nearly eight-year tenure on SiriusXM. She writes about food, drink and the garden, including on dishtillery.substack.com, a newsletter she shares with her sister.