The subject of many jungle-based action movies, tropical warnings, and even a hit Broadway musical, the Venus fly trap plant isn’t your average houseplant. Unlike the pothos or ZZ plant, which rely on sunlight and water to thrive, Venus fly traps eat meat—well, flies—and take their nutrients from the insects to grow and stay healthy. All plants are living creatures, of course, but with their moving, spiky leaves there’s no way you can forget these carnivores are alive. That makes how to take care of a Venus fly trap a little unusual too—but thankfully it’s not complicated.
Venus fly traps are surprisingly low-maintenance houseplants. Because they’re so good at trapping pests, they make excellent kitchen companions, and they love bright, humid spaces like a sunny bathroom windowsill. Ahead, we walk through how to care for a Venus fly trap, including sunlight, water, and soil requirements. Read on to find out if you’re going to need to hit up a bait-and-tackle shop for flies.
You’re probably wondering whether you need to feed this living, fly-eating plant as if it were a pet. Short answer: yes. As we said, Venus fly traps are carnivorous. The good news is they can go for long periods (a month or two) without eating insects. If you grow one outdoors, it’ll get enough to eat naturally. If you’re growing a Venus flytrap indoors, you’ll need to feed it small bugs such as flies and beetles every so often. If you don’t have them in your house or yard, you can find them at a pet-supply shop or bait-and-tackle if you live on the coast or near a lake, pond, or river that’s popular for fishing.
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Feed a fly trap insects that are about a third of its size for ideal digestion. Despite their carnivorous eating habits, a Venus fly trap should not eat any type of meat or other human foods. Stick to small insects only.
Soil and Water
Venus fly traps are hardy and can thrive even in poor soil if it drains well. Instead of regular potting soil, opt for an acidic mix. (If you can’t find one, you can combine pearlite or sand with peat moss for a good alternative.) Unlike most houseplants whose soil needs to dry out completely between waterings, fly traps like their soil to be constantly moist.
Because of their tropical nature, Venus fly trap plants do best in temperatures between 70 and 95 degrees. They like to get six hours of direct sunlight per day along with plenty of humidity. If you’re using an LED grow lamp or other artificial light, keep the plant at least four inches away from the bulb so as not to scald it. If your plant’s traps don’t show a vibrantly pink interior (depending on the variety) or if the leaves look long and spindly rather than full, provide more light.
Kate McGregor is House Beautiful’s SEO Editor. She has covered everything from curated decor round-ups and shopping guides, to glimpses into the home lives of inspiring creatives, for publications such as ELLE Decor, Domino, and Architectural Digest’s Clever.