A couple months ago I was participating in my school's course fair to advertise the robotics class I'll be teaching in the Fall. I wanted to have as many examples of different types of robotics as I could and I found this Venus Flytrap Hack in one of my Make magazine editions. I decided that of course, I had to make this project.
But the planter the VFT came in wasn't good enough. I was struck with the brilliant idea to put the VFT in a container like Audrey II from Little Shop Of Horrors. You can actually still buy those Maxwell House coffee cans on eBay, but they're a little pricey.
So I made my own container out of a plastic food container from the grocery store and painted/decorated it to look like Audrey II's can.
While I was making the planter and preparing for my course fair demo, I came across a lot of useful information for keeping VTF's that I'll share in this Instructable.
Gesso/other substance that will help paint adhere to plastic
Venus Flytrap Plant
Step 1: Paint
The first thing I did was to paint the container with gesso/bonding medium to help the acrylic paint stay on the plastic. I let the gesso dry and then I added a couple layers of blue acrylic paint that I thought matched the Audrey II tin pretty well, it actually dried out a little darker than I expected.
Then I used puff/dimensional paint to add the coffee can to write out the "Maxwell House" logo.
When all of that was dry, I used a black sharpie to give the letters a shadowy look. I tried to add white as well, but my hand kept slipping and I gave up.
Step 2: Fill
Inside the planter are fish pebbles, peat moss, and sphagnum moss, in that order. About 1-1/2" of pebbles, 1-2" of peat poss, and 1-2" of sphagnum moss.
Step 3: Transfer VFT
Once the planter is filled, remove the VFT from its packaging and put it in it's new planter. Fill around with peat and sphagnum moss.
Step 4: Care
VFT's only need about 12 hours of sunlight and their soil must be kept moist. Use only distilled water or rain water, not tap water or other bottled waters.
Try not to intentionally set the traps off, doing so without food causes problems for the plant that could lead to the trap dying.
Do not feed or give the plant fertilizer, the bugs it catches supplies all the nutrients the VFT needs. If you're concerned your plant isn't eating, you can put small bugs into the trap (with tweezers)---but try not to touch the plant itself. Note: VFTs will not eat dead bugs. Bugs need to be living.
Traps close with the little teeth-looking things are stimulated by bugs moving around. If you keep your VFT outside, you don't need to worry about feeding it---it'll get enough food on its own. But if you're keeping it indoors, you may need to help it out once in a while. VFTs can go as long as 2 months without eating bugs.
In the winter, VFTs go through a period of hibernation and will appear dead--but they're not. They will come back!
Honestly, it's like you're supposed to do the exact opposite of good plant care in order to keep VFT's alive.
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