None of the carnivorous plants out there is as iconic as the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula).
Sadly, this plant is so popular that poaching has led to it becoming an endangered species in the wild and is currently protected by law.
If you’ve bought one from a reputable seller who breeds these plants, congratulations!
But while these plants are generally easy to care for, there’s one important topic you need to understand before you settle in with your little Audrey II.
See, these plants are extremely sensitive to watering, and it’s easy to hurt or kill them if you’re not using the proper type of water and technique.
How To Water Your Venus Fly Trap?
There are two ways to water this plant safely, but you have to be careful of the water you use.
Here’s what you need to know about this amazing plant’s sensitivity and how to keep it perfectly watered.
Warning: Venus Flytraps Are Very Sensitive To Improper Watering
When you look at a Venus flytrap, one of the first things you’ll notice is how fragile they look.
Their iconic clamshell “mouths” are attached to a flattened petiole that sprouts from an underground bulb.
Both connections are very frail, and any type of rot or fungal infection can easily sever one of these points.
Additionally, getting the terminal lobes (AKA the mouth) or petiole wet can easily lead to infection or sunburn, making most overhead watering techniques dangerous.
This might sound contradictory for a plant that lives in often swampy areas, but overwatering can still lead to root rot and puddles may cause the base of the petioles to rot.
Meanwhile, underwatering can severely cripple the plant’s ability to function, since it needs higher humidity and has a very little surface area for photosynthesis.
NEVER Use Tap Water!
If there’s one thing you need to know about a Venus flytrap, it’s the fact that this plant is extremely sensitive to chemicals and mineral sediment.
The absolute best water for these plants is natural rainwater.
Distilled water or water through reverse osmosis comes second in terms of quality.
If you use any other water source, including spring water, you need to use a tester before watering.
The mineral content needs to be 50ppm or less to avoid harming the plant.
But what if your only option is tap water?
You will need to fill a container and let it sit for 12 to 24 hours so all the chlorine and fluoride gas can escape.
Then you will need to run it through a Zero Filter or similar quality filtration system to ensure there’s less than 50ppm in particles.
Giving your plant purified tap water can make it sick, and repeated use can easily kill it.
Why The Soak-And-Dry Method Will NOT Work On Venus Flytraps
While a single bulb will generally produce up to 7 petioles, they’ll spread and divide underground, often filling a pot with an entire colony of plants.
Once this happens, the soak and dry method becomes too risky since the plant is so sensitive to getting physically wet.
In theory, you could water a young plant using this method, but it’s best to stick with one of the two safer methods from the beginning, so you don’t slip up later on.
The Finger Trick
Even if you aren’t using the soak-and-dry method, the finger trick remains a great way to check if the plant needs water.
Just be warned, that you will need to be careful when sticking your finger close to the plant.
The plant itself is harmless (it can’t close around your finger), but you can easily damage it, and the leaves can only close a couple of times before dying, so triggering them is never a good idea.
Here are the following steps:
- Stick your finger straight down into the soil about 1” inch (this is around the first knuckle on an average adult’s index finger).
- You may need to check the distance by putting your finger on a ruler if you have smaller hands).
- If it feels dry 1” inch down, it’s time to water.
- You can use a bamboo chopstick or popsicle stick instead of your finger if there’s not enough room to test without bumping the plant safely.
- When using these tools, you’ll need to mark where an inch is, submerge them straight down to that mark, then leave them for 20 minutes.
- When you pull the tool out, it will be darker wherever moisture is present.
Method 1: The Bottom Method
We don’t talk much about this method, but it’s almost as foolproof as the soak and dry method when done correctly.
Sometimes called the tray or saucer method, it involved sitting your flytrap in a shallow bowl or tray, then filling that outer container with water.
Here’s how to do this method:
- Put about 1″ inch of water in the tray, and the soil will soak up the water through the pot’s drainage holes.
- If the tray empties out, you can add a little more water during this time, but don’t add more if there’s still water present.
- Some growers will leave the tray throughout the growing season, while others only use it for 20 minutes before returning the plant to its customary spot.
- You don’t want to leave the plant sitting in water for winter.
- If you’re letting it sit in the tray normally, you’ll have to switch to only watering as needed.
- Put the pot in its tray, wait 20 minutes, remove the pot from the tray and put your flytrap back in its usual spot.
Method 2: The Double Pot Method
This is a very uncommon method that can only be done if you’re using terra cotta pots.
You’ll want to put the terra cotta pot inside another slightly larger pot for this method.
The space between these pots is where you’ll be adding water, and the porous nature of terra cotta will allow moisture to pass through the walls into the soil as needed.
It also helps keep the humidity up and provides extra insulation for the plant.
However, just as with the bottom method, you’ll need to switch to periodic watering in the winter based on the soil’s moisture level.
The good news is that you can use the bottom method (with or without the outer pot, depending on whether the drainage holes overlap) for winter watering sessions.