Venus Flytrap Seeds are easy to germinate and grow, and Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) seeds can be shipped from the U.S. and many countries to anywhere else in the world (so long as the destination country has no law against it).
In the northern hemisphere, the Venus Flytrap flowering and seed-producing season is generally about April to June. So by late June or early July fresh new seed should be available from many growers for sharing (free), trade or sale at reasonable prices.
Seed production in Venus Flytraps
When Venus Flytraps bloom, a flower begins to be receptive to pollen only 1 to 1.5 days after the flower opens, so older flowers (1-1.5 days old) need to be pollinated with the fresh pollen from a younger flower (preferably one that has just opened). It greatly increases the likelihood and yield of seed production to pollinate the flowers by hand. A small artist's brush or other instrument can be used to transfer the pollen from the anthers of a young flower to the stigma at the center of a slightly older flower (1-1.5 days older). To see a photo, a composite of the various stages of Venus Flytrap flowering and seed production, click the following link, which will open in a new browser window (click on the photo to magnify it to full size): Flowering and Seed Production in Dionaea muscipula
Germination of Venus Flytrap Seeds
To germinate Venus Flytrap seeds, there are a few things to consider and remember:
- Stratification or no? -- No, not for Venus Flytrap seed. Stratification is the process of keeping seeds cold and damp for several weeks or months, and for Fall-blooming plants stratification can simulate a winter for the seeds, which are used to germinating the following Spring. But Venus Flytraps bloom in the Spring, not the Fall, and their seeds do not need to be stratified. Instead Venus Flytrap seeds are accustomed to germinate within days (usually 13-25 days) after they fall to the ground during the summer, the rate and speed of germination increasing with warm temperatures. Therefore, Venus Flytrap seeds should not be stratifed, although if they are not sowed immediately they can be stored in the refrigerator to help them remain fresh longer and increase germination when sowed at a later date.
- What kind of soil? The "soil" should be the same as growing media for adult Venus Flytraps: a very low-nutrient mix based on sphagnum peat moss, with other ingredients such as silica sand or perlite optionally added. No "potting soil" (usually has nutrients added) and no Miracle-Gro brand because they enrich their sphagnum peat moss and perlite with plant food.
- Bury the seed? -- Don't bury the seed, but it's OK to sift a little fine dust of sphagnum peat moss (ground between the fingers, for example) onto the surface of the germination/growing medium to settle around the seeds to help retain moisture and keep the emerging root from drying out and becoming calloused and stunted. This also helps give the seed something to push against as the root emerges and seeks to dig itself into the medium instead of merely pushing itself along the soil surface, but it is not strictly necessary.
- Water -- Use only rain water or distilled water (or reverse-osmosis water). To water the seeds, use a spray bottle to gently wet the soil surface or continue to spray to saturate the medium until some water drains out, or water from below, allowing the soil to suck water upward through the drain holes from a tray or bowl of water. While germinating seed the soil should be fairly moist. Later when the plants begin to grow well the water content should be lowered and the plants allowed to have more air and less water in the soil. Venus Flytraps, once they are past the tiny seedling stage, grow very healthy in just moist rather than soggy or saturated soil, although care must be taken so that the soil never completely dries out.
- Heat -- Yes, keep the seeds and growing container warm. A temperature above 78 degrees Fahrenheit or fluctuating up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (24-32 or more degrees Celsius/Centigrade) will greatly help to stimulate more rapid germination and early healthy growth.
- Keep moist -- Don't allow the soil surface to dry out completely, and try to keep humidity high during germination, although it can be lowered once the plants are growing. If you live in a dry climate, it helps to germinate Venus Flytraps in a covered container. A disposable plastic food storage container makes a fine germination chamber. Cut or punch holes in the top for heat escape and air circulation, and poke some tiny holes in the bottom of the container to drain excess water. Lift the lid of the container at least once a day and fan the air for a change of fresh air. The germination chamber should not be placed in direct sunlight because it will overheat both the air and soil inside and may damage or kill the seeds and germinating plants. Bright indirect light is best. Alternatively, the seeds may be sown in any regular pot or planting container, and temporarily covered with a clear plastic bag in indirect light. As with the germination chamber mentioned above, it is important to keep any covered container out of direct sunlight because of the rapid buildup of heat inside or beneath the covering, which can literally bake and kill seeds and seedlings. Once most of the seeds have germinated (within 4-6 weeks) the covering can be permanently removed and the seedlings then placed in direct sunlight.
- Transplant -- If grown in a germination container, Flytraps can be transplanted after germination to a more permanent home, uncovered. The best stage to transplant them (this is merely my own preference) is after 2-3 weeks of growth in the germination container, when the cotyledons (the two first leaves, the "seed leaves") are almost fully extended out of the seed and the first tiny true trap leaf is forming. At this stage the plant has a base and tiny root that can be transplanted, which helps to anchor the plant in its new growing medium and helps it to adapt to conditions of lesser humidity and more light. An easy way to transplant is to use a moist wooden toothpick. Poke a tiny hole in the new home of the plant, gently dig the plant with the tip of the toothpick, transfer the plant to the tiny hole in its new growing container and gently orient it properly (leaves up, base and root down) then very gently settle it into the new hole with the toothpick or a very light touch of a finger.
- How long to wait? Warmth greatly increases the speed of germination of Venus Flytrap seeds. When the growing medium and air around the seeds are somewhat warmer than most humans find comfortable, seeds can often begin to germinate in 13-15 days. But in normal room temperature or cooler, it might be 3-5 weeks before any germination occurs. Don't give up though, and don't let the soil surface dry and kill a newly emerging root from a just-germinated seed!
- Storing seeds -- To store excess seed for later germination, place them in a small plastic bag or--if very fresh--in a paper envelope inside a plastic bag, and store them in the refrigerator. Keeping them cold helps prevent them from trying to germinate prematurely (warmth stimulates germination) and helps keep them fresh, and keeping them from drying out too much keeps them fresh longer and keeps their germination rate (percentage) higher. Placing them in a plastic bag and squeezing out most of the excess air keeps the seeds from drying out too much, and placing them in a paper envelope helps overly-moist fresh seed to dry just a little and keeps them from developing mold in long term storage. The plastic bag enclosing the paper envelope keeps them from drying out too much. If harvesting your own seed, allow them to dry in a small open container for 2-3 days before storage in the refrigerator.
- Anything else? HAVE FUN! Venus Flytraps are very interesting to watch grow from seed. Most Venus Flytraps that are available for sale are tissue cultured (micropropagated) or are natural divisions of known cultivars or clones, but seed grown plants are all different: each is genetically unique, each is one of a kind.