Venus flytraps, with the scientific name Dionaea muscipula, are carnivorous perennial plants that are popular as houseplants. They capture and digest their prey, mostly insects and arachnids, using a trapping structure on their leaves which is triggered by tiny hairs on the inner surfaces. These plants are native to the subtropical wetlands on the East Coast of the United States in North and South Carolina. Like most plants, they are also prone to certain problems and diseases, and may even die without timely intervention.
How to save a dying Venus flytrap
Check your plant’s soil.
Venus flytraps thrive in poor soil and are intolerant of nutrients. This means they do not like standard soil that contains minerals and nutrients. If this is what you are using, you need to re-pot your plant at once, or it could cause the plant to die. Venus flytraps prefer nutrient-free carnivorous plant mixes. You can also make a DIY mix by mixing peat or long sphagnum moss and a draining agent like sand or perlite.
Check the water you use to water the plant.
While regular plants prefer tap or bottled water, avoid giving this to your Venus flytrap plants. Use nutrient-free, mineral-free water such as rainwater, distilled water, or water treated with reverse osmosis. If you have been using the wrong water, it is best to re-pot the plant in new soil moistened with the right kind of water. Continue watering the plant using nutrient-free water.
Review your watering schedule.
Venus flytraps are accustomed to moist soil and humid weather. These carnivorous plants need constantly wet soil to thrive. If the soil dries out between watering the plants may start to wilt. Make sure you water your plant as soon as the soil starts to dry out, to keep it moderately damp.
Continue to water during dormancy, but lower the rate and be sure to adapt to changing weather conditions. Adjust your watering schedule according to the season.
Check that the plant is receiving enough sunlight.
Venus flytraps adore the sunlight and they should have at least 12 hours of sunlight daily. If you cannot provide sufficient access to sunlight, you can also supplement natural sunlight with grow lights. If they are deprived of light their leaves become droopy and their color may fade. If this happens, either move the plant to a sunnier spot or introduce a grow light.
See to it that you are feeding the plant correctly.
You can help revive your dying Venus flytrap by feeding it correctly. Feed it with insects or arachnids only, and do not give it any kind of human food. You should only feed the plant if it does not have natural access to insects, such as if it is kept indoors.
Be sure not to overfeed the plant; one bug every four to six weeks is enough. You should also only feed one trap on the whole plant at one time. The bugs you feed your plant should be about one-third the size of the trap.
Check the plants for pests and diseases.
Examine the plants regularly for any signs of pests or diseases. Eradicate aphids with Pyrethrin, mites with a miticide, and apply a sulfur-based fungicide to treat a fungal infection.
While you are awaiting the full recovery of your Venus fly trap, do not fertilize it. Instead, focus on feeding it correctly. If the plant is recovering from a sickness, avoid repotting it until it has recovered, and wait before you change the soil.
Place the plant in areas where there is no constant movement to prevent stress. Keep the plants away from pets, as they can also cause stress. You may also have to skip the flowering process and cut off the flower stalks, as flowering can drain the plant’s energy if it is not healthy.
Venus flytraps are unique, carnivorous houseplants that love sunlight and are very easy to grow. Like most plants, however, they are also prone to problems and diseases, some of which could cause them to die. Make sure you use the correct soil, as Venus flytraps do not thrive in standard soil. Also ensure that you use the correct type of water, feed them correctly, and follow an appropriate watering schedule.
Image: istockphoto.com / de-kay