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Carnivorous Plants

Mind your fingers!

Carnivorous plants are a fascinating plant group; who hasn’t, at least once, tentatively poked their finger into a Venus fly trap to watch its jaws snap together or pitied the poor flies caught in the lethal liquid at the base of a pitcher plant?

Sadly, many carnivorous plants don’t survive for long in the home as their growing conditions are quite specific, but if you can create the environment for them they will thrive – and keep your insect population in check.

Carnivorous Care

The three most important factors to keep your carnivorous plant happy is high humidity, damp conditions and lots of light.

Temperature: Warm/hot. 15-27°C.

Watering: They are acid loving plants, so use distilled or rainwater, never tap water. Keep the compost moist at all times. Do not overwater however, the roots shouldn’t be waterlogged.

Light: They need lots of sunlight, at least 4-6 hours a day.

Feeding: Obviously, they are quite capable of feeding themselves but there is no harm in throwing the occasional dead fly in their direction, they will also eat meal worms, crickets and ants. Do not however, feed them with human food, such as meat, they are not able to digest it!

Compost: Ordinary potting compost is too rich for these plants, instead, use peat free, ericaceous or specialist compost which is readily available from garden centres.

Temperate carnivorous plants, such as the Venus fly trap or the pitcher plant need a period of dormancy every year. In the summer months they can go outside, as long as they are kept watered and shaded from the hot sun.

Do not feed them with human food such as meat, they are not able to digest it!

Popular Carnivorous Plants

Venus Fly Trap Dionaea muscipula

The Venus fly trap is native to the wetlands of the East American coast and widely cultivated across the world. Avoid the temptation to unnecessarily ‘spring’ the finely toothed traps as this uses up the plants energy. In winter, the plant dies back and loses most of it leaves as it begins its hibernation period. Move it to a cool, bright room and keep the compost moist, but not wet, and it will revive in the spring.

Sundew Plant Drosera binata

The sundew lures, traps and digests insects by having a sticky, mucous-like substance on tiny stalks covering their leaf surfaces. Their natural habitats are bogs and marshes, so for your sundew to thrive try to recreate these conditions with an acidic growing medium such as sphagnum moss. Standing them in a tray of water will ensure the plant never dries out.


With their pendulous, jug-shaped cups, these plants are excellent candidates for hanging baskets. It’s important that they are not allowed to dry out, and although they like a lot of bright, indirect light during the day, they appreciate cooler night temperatures. They can be fed by hand, dropping insects into the cups which are then digested by the plant.

Images thejoyofplants, Envato Elements


Su Whale is a florist and freelance writer with over twenty-five years' experience in the floristry industry. She is the author and publisher of three best-selling books: Cut Flowers, 4th edition (2020) Cut Foliage, 2nd Edition, (2021) and Houseplants (2019), all bookshelf essentials for the professional florist.


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