How to Bring That Store-bought VenusFlyTrap Back to Life!





Introduction: How to Bring That Store-bought VenusFlyTrap Back to Life!

I just wanted to help out all those people who have a dying VFT on their hands. They happen to be easy plants to grow, as long as the instructions that came with them are thrown in the fire. All you need is a sunny window, some distilled water, and a little understanding of how these plants grow in their natural habitats, North and South Carolina, and other places where they have been naturalized.

A sunny windowsill +
That poor, sad-looking VTF you got at -insertstorehere-
Some distilled or R.O. water**
A sacrificial Tupperware container

+ if you don't have this, these plants will be happy under a CFL with a 6-10 hour photo period.

** RO means Reverse osmosis, and filter units have gotten considerably cheaper over the years. Some of the better ones cost around $300 and can be installed under the sink or with a spigot in the backyard.
You usually won't need to get a RO unit unless you end up using more that a couple of gallons of pure water each week.

Ok, so you probably will never find these particular types of VFTs at the store, but these are two I set outside a week or so ago. The one on the left is Dionea muscipula "B52" selected by breeders for it's vigor and large trap size. The one on the right is my brother's VFT, and is Dionea muscipula "Dente"- called as such for it's short, tooth-like margin-hairs.

Step 1: Understanding the Plant

As many people know, these plants do eat bugs, thus having a "Cool" factor with little kids and Carnivorous Plant (CP) enthusiasts. But one misconception people have is that they are jungle plants. They aren't, and grow in low-mineral soils in N/S Carolina as mentioned earlier.
They require LOTS of water as well.
They have 3 basic requirements:

Lots of sun
Pure water w/o chlorine
Stuff to eat

They also have a winter "dormancy" during which they usually loose their leaves and turn into a small underground "bulb." This usually lasts from late September into early January, but sometimes earlier or later.

They can be fed any bugs you can find, as long as they are within 1/3 the trap's size. One or two small crickets a month from the pet-store is usually enough. Note: In order for the plant to actually eat the bug, it must be alive and moving. The continued struggle of the victim after the trap closes is what signals the digestive process to begin.

Here is a picture of a flower, but you will be lucky to see it until a couple of years after you buy the the plant, as the plants at the store are usually only a year or so old.

Step 2: Now Lets Put All That Knowledge to Use.

Here is a basic cultivating setup that I am currently using for my VFT and other CPs.

Ok, got that tupperware container? It has to be big enough to hold the VFT's pot in. This will be our "water tray" and will be used to supply the VFT with the water it needs.

Put the pot in the container, no lid please, and fill it up to about 1 to 1-1/2" of distilled or RO water.
Place the whole thing on that sunny windowsill, or under that nice desklamp. I recommend the "daylight-spectrum" CFL bulbs, they last longer and produce the light the plant needs. Be sure to turn it off at night!

Don't feed it until it has made it's first new, healthy trap, otherwise mold may set in and kill the poor thing.

Maintain that 1" or so of distilled water, but lower it to 1/2" around September, and if you are using a lamp-light be sure to shorten the time it is on. Eventually it will go dormant, be sure to put it outside if you live in a climate that rarely frosts or snows. If you get frost or snow often, put it in a cool, bright place like a garage window.

Be sure to keep that water level up, and when it starts making new leaves around the end of winter, move it back to where you had it.

One last hint: If you see a flower stalk developing, be sure to cut it off, as it has a weakening effect on the plant. But, be sure to congratulate yourself, as you have successfully grown a VFT to flowering size.

If you want more information on other Carnivorous plants, a Good book to have is Peter D'amato's Savage Garden - it is a wonderful book with lots of information on growing, breeding, and Keeping those plants happy! He also has a Greenhouse that you can visit.
You can also order plants from his website,

Hope this helps, and Happy Growing!!

CP enthusiast,
Chance H.



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    90 Discussions

    All Toys'R'Us' now carry Venus Fly Traps along with a few other carnivorous types... and as far as my knowledge goes, we have at least 2 stores in every state.

    6 replies

    Ah, yes. The mass market is now going for other carnivores thanks to Tissue Culture technology. A common one is "Sarracina Pupera" the purple pitcher plant. It's kind of squat with a ruffled collar around the mouth of the trap. I might do an instructable on those and any other store-bough CP's. I heard they were even putting rare Asian pitcherplants in stores like Home-depot and Lowes.

    Ok, I bought my VFT and my Monkey Cup at Home Depot because I would never have even heard of them if I hadn’t seen them there. Is there some secret place to get crazy healthy rare plants like this? Did I miss a memo?

    I got mine PPP from the store completely green, but I got a dish for it and my fly traps and they are beginning to become purple in color.

    Yep, our WalMart has had two different species of Nepenthes for sale in the last six months. The first batch arrived in the summer and went from magnificent (and $19) to pathetic (and $5) in a matter of weeks; I "rescued" one at the clearance price and it's recovering nicely. The second batch has only been there a couple of weeks. However, these can be BIG plants and I'm not sure I have the room for more than one!

    wow, neps at wal-mart? that's a sight Nice to see that you are growing them successfully.

    Just to re-post: Yes, they get HUGE if you don't trim them. I have one going in the bathroom that has a vine like 4 feet long.

    I have my Venus fly trap underneath a 9watt LED plant grow light and they started laying flat! What is happening?

    For what it's worth and for the library enthusiasts that want to read but not buy the book :

    ISBN-10: 1607744104
    ISBN-13: 978-1607744108

    The info was and is readily available, but for convenience's sake, I figured it should be listed here as well

    Thank you for this info! My gf and I have been wanting to buy some and see how they grow, and now we have some info to begin with ;) Thanks!

    Should it sit in a container of water like that all the time? And if your house is around 78 in November because of fireplace is this too hot? Good idea to put in colder window 30's outside when it is hot? Bought mine at the grocery store where I am a produce manager and they sent these to me to sell in Oregon.

    1 reply

    Wow, its always funny to see replies so far downstream from the original post. Brought a smile to my face :)

    To answer your question: Yes, it makes keeping the proper soil hydration levels much easier. However, you do not want the "outside" dish to be full at all times. You should fill the dish to full then allow the water level to drop to empty, then re-fill while the soil is still damp.

    I do not have much experience with hibernating flytraps outdoors; if I remember correctly they shouldn't be exposed to freezing conditions for long periods of time.. Either way, you definitely do not want it sitting around in 70's conditions during the hibernation period. A healthy flytrap might survive "missing" hibernation, but it will always be worse for wear afterwards.

    Unfortunately it has been a rather long time since I've grown a flytrap myself so I can't offer much advice from personal experience. This site should give you all the specifics you need, however:

    Good luck, dude :)

    Hello. I have VFT trap, and it was small during it's dormancy, but started to grow beginning of January(i was back from almost 2 month abroad too:)and since I live in Norway - it's CHALLENGE to get ANY sun for the plant, other than lamp light. Now, all the tips/edge of the plants' leaves and the 'brach'(flower to be) has black tip, or edge. I ordered 6500 Kelvin lamps from coming next week. My question-is there any way those black marks will leave the plant once they get the light needed?? pls answer me soon, im desperate..tnx!

    1 reply

    Hello. Unfortunately, the black parts will not go away or heal. Old leaves will naturally rot away with time. All you can do is make sure to give it the best conditions possible. With good light and pure water it will grow healthy new leaves to replace the old ones.
    best of luck :)

    IM having another problem...i bought a very weak venus fly trap, and it is growing very slow (almost nothing) and wont close the traps (some of them are turning black and dying). Any ideia what it is, perhaps dormancy? and what i can do to save it?

    1 reply

    Sorry for the late reply; I need to check my email more often. It sounds like it MIGHT still be in dormancy. Otherwise, check your water purity, sunlight exposure or for pest infestation. I hope I'm not replying too late :<

    Very helpfull. i had a dying VFT on my hand. Not anymore =) Hugs from brazil.

    yep, distilled water is the key! here in australia they wont last more than a couple of weeks off our mains water.