North American Carnivorous Plants
Venus Flytrap ( Dionaea muscipula )
American Pitcher Plant ( Sarracenia sp. )
These very colorful and exotic-looking plants are, believe it or not, found native to North America’s east coast! They can be found in regions ranging from Florida all the way up into Canada. Venus Flytraps are found in a small region between North and South Carolina.
They may look like they belong in a tropical jungle but, in fact, they very much prefer cooler temperatures where they can go dormant during winter. Without dormancy they’ll become weaker with age. In Portland, OR they can be grown outside year round with minimal protection during the winter. The easiest way to grow these plants is to keep them in pots and allow them to sit in a saucer of water.
Light: Full sun, as much sun as possible. These plants are naturally found in bogs where they receive many hours of sunlight. Their main source of “food” is chlorophyll from photosynthesis.
Water: Let your plant sit in water. Yes..SIT in water. If you live in Portland and Gresham, OR you should be able to use tap water. If you are not sure about your water quality you can use distilled, R.O., or rain water.
Soil Mix: ½ Sphagnum peat moss and ½ perlite would be the most common mix. Do not use potting soil or any soil with fertilizer or calcium- this will burn your plants.
Pot-Type: Plastic and glazed ceramic pots are best. Terra cotta and unglazed pots can leach salts and minerals into the soil and can cause root burn.
Feeding: You generally do not need to worry about feeding your plant if it’s growing outdoors, it will find and catch its own insects but if they’re kept in something that lacks insects (i.e. a pretty sealed-off greenhouse) you can feed your plant a couple of insects per month. Venus Flytraps only need about 3 insects per year. Insects, to carnivorous plants, are mainly to help fertilize their system- they do not 100% depend on constant insect feeding. Note: A Venus Flytrap’s trap will only open and close ~5 times before the trap dies off, this does not mean that the entire plant will die off, but just the spent single trap.
Winter Care: In Portland, OR- you just just leave them outside, they’re exceptionally hardy. Just make sure you have a little bit of water in the saucer. All of the N. American carnivorous plants will go into dormancy during winter and pitchers/traps will turn black and brown. Do not be too concerned because this is a completely natural process. Unfortunately this will look like the plant is dead but do not toss your plant out! Wait for their return in Spring! If the wind picks up while the air is below freezing, it is best to cover them with a simple covering such as a plastic bag, a bucket, anything that just protects them from the freezing wind.
Spring Care: Early spring you’ll start noticing the tips of the rhizomes turning more colorful and swelling a bit, this is a good time to trim the old pitchers off. Cut off all* of the old pitchers as close as you can to the rhizome, try not to cut into the rhizome (even though cutting into the rhizome won’t harm your plant.).
*”All” except Sarracenia purpurea and S. rosea. S. purpurea and rosea pitchers can last ~2 years, sometimes 3 years. It is best to pluck out as needed, but leave the healthy pitchers behind.