If you’re a gardener and have been wondering about the best type of soil for your lovely Venus flytraps, wonder no more!
The short answer is that Venus flytraps do not like cactus or succulent soil. They prefer ordinary potting soil, which you can buy at any garden store. But if you want to know why that is, read on.
Because cactus and succulent soil are nutritious and will not dry out easily, they are often used as growing mediums for other plants. Most of the time, this works well. However, it is precisely for this reason that they are not good for Venus flytraps.
People usually don’t think of plants as being carnivorous, but carnivorous plants have been around for a long time. Scientists discovered a new species of carnivorous plant. The Venus flytrap is very small and can only grow in nutrient-poor soil, like that found in bogs and wetlands. This means that other plants wouldn’t be able to grow there, but the Venus flytrap can. It developed traps so it could catch insects and provide itself with nutrients from its bodies.
These plants are used to get nitrogen, potassium, and other nutrients from ants, flies, spiders, etc. If you use cactus soil, it will introduce elements Venus flytraps cannot deal with.
The most common situation in which Venus flytraps are bad at catching insects is when they already have an abundant supply of nitrogen in the soil. In this case, they have no need to catch insects because they already have enough nutrients coming into the system through their roots.
The worst thing that can happen in this situation is that the plant will not only have no need for the nutrients it would get if it captured insects but also too much nitrogen, which is actually not good for Venus flytraps or any carnivorous plant.
“The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula), pitcher plant, and sundew are carnivorous plants that are occasionally grown as houseplants. Carnivorous plants don’t survive solely by “eating” insects and other prey. Carnivorous plants, as all green plants, contain chlorophyll and manufacture food via photosynthesis. Insects and other small creatures are simply a supplemental food source for carnivorous plants”…..Horticulture and Home Pest News
Cactus Plants, Venus Flytrap Plants, and their Soil
Cacti are strange, prickly plants that live in the desert. They have no leaves or branches, and their stems aren’t green and juicy like those of other plants. But they are very much alive and growing; when you look closely at a cactus, you can see the tiny green points where new growth is happening. Their survival depends on how well they pull the essential nutrients from the soil where they live.
Fertile topsoil provides a good environment for germination by supplying nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Well, cactus plants get most of their protein (amino acids) from nitrogen and sulfur in the soil. Cacti take up these nutrients from the soil as required by their growing process. It’s a little like us eating our greens to boost our immune system and keep us healthy!
“Venus Flytraps come from bogs and marshes where the soil is very acidic and minerals and other nutrients are scarce. The vast majority of plants could never survive in an environment like this because they would not get all the vitamins and nutrients and energy sources they need from the soil to grow. But Venus Flytraps evolved”……..UCSB Science Line
What Happens to Venus Flytraps in Cactus Soil?
There are many types of cactus soil and Venus flytraps have different variants, but the effect is the same. The soil will weaken the plant and eventually kill it.
The intent of soil for cacti is to make sure that it drains well and retains as little water as possible. A Venus flytrap’s natural habitat is in an acidic bog or peaty soil with very little oxygen, which means that their soil needs to be the opposite.
Healthy Venus flytraps have a white bulb, green leaves, and reddish lobes (the trap interior). Its roots are firm and solid. When the plant begins to die, however, those colors begin to change. The white bulb becomes black and softens; the leaves turn yellow and wilt, and the red interior of the trap starts to fade.
Trap closure is a good example of how Venus flytraps are able to come back from dormancy, but they cannot come back from death. When a Venus flytrap is dying off, it will stop producing leaves and start to wither away and die.
Venus flytraps don’t grow in normal soil. That’s because the soil must be free of nutrients for the plant to thrive. You see, where these plants grow in nature (North Carolina and Florida), there isn’t much food available.
So, when a bug or spider happens upon the leaf or stem of a Venus flytrap, it snaps its leaves shut like a bear trap and feeds on its prey. This process is very slow—it takes about two weeks for a Venus flytrap to digest food through its stomach walls—but it’s a valuable survival skill for this particular species of the plant because nutrients from its prey will slowly build up in its system while it waits for more food.
It’s also why you need to simulate an environment without nutrients if you want your Venus flytrap to live long and happy
What Land to Use for Fly Traps?
For our carnivorous plants, especially for Venus flytraps, we need ” peat moss ” this substrate is the main base to plant them, this is a fibrous and totally organic material, coming from the degradation of sphagnum moss and that has an acidic pH (4.5-5.5).
Its main characteristic is its moisture retention, porosity, and lightness, as well as being free of additional additives (fertilizers, humus, etc.) since our carnivores do not tolerate fertilizers on their roots.
There are many mixtures recommended by large growers of carnivorous plants, but when making a consensus and the substrate, the perfect proportion is to mix 2 parts of peat moss for 1 part of agrolite or another agent that prevents compaction, such as the following:
Silica sand: Sand is a great component to improve the aeration of the soil. Sand has a neutral component to improve soil aeration. It must be washed very well with running water before being mixed into the substrate. Rather large-diameter sand is most suitable.
Sphagnum moss: It is a natural, organic product, which contains a lot of minerals and trace elements. The acidity it generates helps to break down the nutrients that are stored in the soil or substrate. It has excellent aeration properties and retains water at the same time. Sphagnum moss is used for plants that need to be protected from excessive moisture and soil that tends to dry out quickly.
Expanded clay: Arlita is an expanded clay product available in various diameters, used as a drainage layer, and to lighten the substrate. It is useful in the garden because it can hold moisture for a long time, which makes it perfect for growing water-loving plants. The product is made of clay that has been heated and expanded, so it has air pockets that improve the drainage capabilities of the mix. It should be washed very well before use because it may contain some minerals.
Coconut fibers: It is neutral and works very well to lighten the substrate. It is sold dehydrated in bricks or in bags already crumbled and can replace peat moss.
“The substrate must be porous enough to ensure air circulation and at the same time retain a considerable amount of water.”
- Light — Light should be of full sun quality and brightness.
- Soil — Sphagnum or peat moss usually makes the best soil. These can also be mixed with a little silica sand and/or orchid bark. Some growers add charcoal to remove salts that are present.
- Humidity — The Venus Fly Trap doesn’t require extremely high humidity, but above 50%.
- Temperature — Can range from 70° – 95° F (21° – 35° C) and down to 40° F (5° C) in the winter.
- Water — Rain water or distilled water is preferred. Keep the plant damp, but not soaking.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should I Water Venus Fly Trap?
The most important thing you’ll need for your Venus flytrap is a watering schedule. If you’re just starting out, you might be asking yourself: “how often should I water Venus flytraps?” The answer depends on the season and your soil. In the summer, one watering every two to three days is sufficient. In winter, that number goes up to four to five days.
The best way to keep your plant healthy is by using a water tray method. This entails keeping a shallow pan of water near the plant—just deep enough for the roots of your plant to sit in, but not so deep that the leaves can submerge. When this pan of water evaporates, you know it’s time to water your plant again. You can also check the soil yourself by sticking your finger an inch into the soil. If it feels slightly dry, then it’s time for another watering.