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Dionaea

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  • Indoor Plants
Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)

Onglets

Botany

Origin and description

This small, rosette-shaped insectivorous plant, only 15 to 20 centimetres tall, is native to peat bogs in North and South Carolina, in the United States. It grows in moist, nutrient-poor soil. Venus flytrap has a rosette of two-lobed leaves, edged with soft trigger hairs, which form a trap that catches insects to provide the plant with extra nutrients. The trap has three fine sensitive hairs on the inside edge of each leaf. When the hairs are touched, the two lobes close up like a jaw, often snapping shut. This trap mechanism is very demanding for the plant and the leaves respond to such stimuli only three to five times. Avoid activating the mechanism needlessly, as it could eventually kill the plant. Flower stalks with small white flowers form in late spring.

Species, cultivars and related plants

Dionaea is a monotypic genus (with only one species). This means that Dionaea muscipula has no close relatives. There are some cultivars with bright red or burgundy traps, mottled foliage or modified trigger hairs. They are difficult to obtain, however.

Common name

Dionaea / Venus flytrap

Latin name (genus)

Dionaea muscipula

French common name

Botanical family

  • Droseraceae
Horticulture

Growing conditions

Venus flytrap requires bright sunlight and very high humidity. Place this plant in a sunny spot, like a south-facing window, for instance. Temperatures must be fairly cool, however, ideally between 13 and 18ºC, with a minimum of 10ºC. You can also gradually move it outdoors in summer, into full sun, after an acclimatization period, but you will have to keep a very close eye on watering. In winter, it absolutely must have a dormancy period at 4ºC. Venus flytrap also needs very high humidity (60 to 85%). It does well in a terrarium, or you can set the pot on a saucer filled with gravel and water, kept moist up at all times.

Easy to grow?

Venus flytrap is difficult to grow because its growing conditions (poor, acidic and moist habitat, with cool temperatures especially in winter) are very far removed from those naturally found in our homes. You will have a better chance of succeeding if you grow it in a terrarium and use soft water. Avoid activating the trap unnecessarily if you want to keep your Venus flytrap healthy.

Watering and fertilizer

Keep the substrate moist during the growing season (March to October). The pot can sometimes rest in a little water, but never for longer than three or four days in a row. Cut back on watering slightly in winter, keeping the substrate barely moist. Do not fertilize your Venus flytrap. If the potting mix is adequate, it will provide everything the plant needs to grow. Neither do you need to feed it insects! Because Venus flytrap is very sensitive to mineral salts, you should use soft water like rainwater, distilled water, natural spring water, boiled water, melted snow or tap water left to rest for 24 to 48 hours.

Pruning and maintenance

Remove the flower stalk after blooming. This plant is often sold in a terrarium that is much too small for the leaves to fully develop. In that case, repot it quickly and remove any damaged leaves.

Repotting

Several plants can be grown together in a pot filled with pure sphagnum moss or a mix of equal parts sphagnum moss and coarse sand. Venus flytrap should be repotted in spring, but only when necessary, because it prefers to be potbound.

Pests and diseases

Given good growing conditions, this plant is actually not very susceptible to pests and diseases.

Physiological disorders

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