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Ask questions about how to grow and care for Venus Flytraps

Moderator: Matt

By buggy213
I have several carnivorous plants- 3 venus fly traps, a doodlebug, a few cape sundews and a purple pitcher plant. They are pretty young plants. I bought them in August. I had them outside on my screened in porch until probably about the 2nd week in October. They had experienced temperatures into the 30s, causing them to go dormant or atleast semi dormant. They stopped growing and some of their leaves turned black and their traps no longer worked.
I had to bring them indoors b/c there was frost outside and temps were going below the 30s. The venuses are in 4 inch pots. The doodlebug and the pitcher lant are in 6 /12 inch pots. I tried to keep them cold. I was bringing them back and forth between my foyer and the outside. It got too warm in my foyer and as a result, they began to grow again. They were only getting north sun in my foyer, so I brought them into my dining room where they were getting east sun. They were getting east sun for a few weeks. It was getting cold in my house, so i had to put curtains up so I had to get them artificial light.
They (the doodlebug, venuses, pitcher plant and cape sundew) all have been under a 4' shoplight with 2- 40 watt florescent tubes for a month now. The doodlebug and venuses are not doing too well. One day overnight all of the leaves on the doodlebug shriveled up. There is still new growth, though. It grows very slowly once in awhile. The venuses refuse to make new traps. They are growing, but eventually the tip of leaf where the trap grows turns yellow and then brown. On only one of my vensues, the trap has gotten to the stage where it has teeth on it. It's been like this for a few weeks now. It has also started to turn yellow. Do you know why this is happening? Are they dying?
I originally had them (the venuses) 10 inches from the artificial light. A week ago I moved them closer. They are now 7 inches away from the light. I also do not have them in a terrarium, b/c I was told that they can adjust to low humidity. (house humidity) Should they be closer to the light?
I keep the florescent light on 12 hours a day. For 3 or 4 days I decreased the duration of the light to 10 hours. My purple pitcher plant began to fade, so I thought this meant not enough light, so I increased the duration of light to 12 hours again. Did I confuse them even more now? I want to try to get them to be dormant again. I've lowered the temp in my house to 63 degrees. Before I had it on 64- 65 degrees. Somedays it's drafty and cold in my house, other days it's warm. When I use the hot water in my house, it gets warm. Is this change in temp confusing them?
What triggers dormancy? Light or temp? I was going to decrese the light to 10 hours again and keep it at that to try to get them all to go dormant. Should I do this?
I also keep the top of their soil completely dry, b/c I was having a problem with mold. I keep the rest of the soil moist. I water them with distilled water every 5 days -once a week. They are in 50 peat moss and 50 perilite soil mix. I want to keep them on the drier side b/c I don't want mold or bugs and I don't want them to rot. Is this ok? I don't want to disturb them now, but I buried them alittle too deep- Their grow points are buried a little bit.
I've attached pictures of my plants. PLease help me!
Doodle Bug
Doodle Bug
doodlebug_a.jpg (128.23 KiB) Viewed 3328 times
Light Set Up, Purple PItcher Plant  and Cape Sundew Seeds (disregard the seeds in the pic)
Light Set Up, Purple PItcher Plant and Cape Sundew Seeds (disregard the seeds in the pic)
more_plants_a.jpg (94.87 KiB) Viewed 3328 times
Venus Fly Traps
Venus Fly Traps
venus_flytraps_a.jpg (145.71 KiB) Viewed 3326 times
By lemonlily
Sorry, I don't know about your plant BUT MINE IS SHRIVLED UP TOO! It doesn't repond to me moving the trigger hairs ( with the end of a pen.) Aaahhhhh!!!!!! :o
User avatar
By Matt
Hello buggy213 and welcome to!

Thanks for posting photos and the long description of your situation. Here are my impressions from your photos and what you've written:
1) It appears that you aren't watering your plants enough. In particular your pitcher plant (the one you call a doodlebug) looks like it's drying up from lack of water.
2) Your plants don't appear to be experiencing a proper dormancy, particularly the venus fly trap (I think you knew this though). It's definitely put up new growth and it's pretty obvious from the fact that the growth is long and spindly and the traps aren't properly formed that it is too far from the artificial lighting. Ideally, you want the plants no further away than 6 inches. When I grow plants under artificial lights, I keep them between 3 and 5 inches away.
3) 12 hours of light is way too much for dormancy. Here in Boulder, the sun is only up 9 hours a day. Of those 9 hours, the sun is really only high enough in the sky about 7 hours to light the plants. 10 hours is better, but 8 would probably be more realistic for dormancy.

What triggers dormancy? Light or temp?

The answer is both. Light seems to be the more dominant force, but temperatures need to stay cool as well. Think about how seasons change. It's a gradual series of changes. All of these changes cue the plant to go dormant. You really can't take a plant from the middle of summer growth and stick them in a place to go dormant. They have to be cued into dormancy. You can think of this like any other plant. They experience cooler temperatures and shorter days as fall approaches. Take a maple tree for example. As summer ends, the days get shorter and cooler. This tells the plant to start preparing for winter and it loses its leaves.

I'm not really sure what's going to be best for your plants at this point, but if it were me, I'd likely just put them out on the porch again or somewhere else that they can get natural light and cool temperatures. I wouldn't worry about having brought them out of dormancy prematurely. It's possible that it might kill them, but I doubt it.

Good luck and let us know what you decide to do!
By buggy213
Thank you all for replying to my post. I am still having problems with my plants. I keep the top of the soil completely dry, but 1/4 down into the soil is moist. Is it ok for the top of the soil to be completely dry, but have the rest of soil moist? I did this b/c I was having a mold issue before. I think I was having a mold issue, though b/c I kept giving plants more water. I don't know what's wrong with my plants! The venuses and cape sundews grow very sowly. Then eventually the leaves turn yellow and then brown. On my sundews, the tips of new growth turned yellow and then brown. (only tips) I am lucky if the sundew has one leaf. This has been happening since I have them under my florescent light. They are not getting any natural sunlight. I have them 6 -7 inches away from the light. Maybe my house temp/humidity is the problem. My heat temp is set to 64 degrees. There's all windows around my plants. I have curtains over the windows, but there's still a cold draft. Sometimes it's warm in my house when I use the hot water. My heating system goes on more when hot water is used. The plants are on my dinig room table. Underneath the windows are my heating vents. Also, my roomate puts a portable heater on in my kitchen (the room next to where my pants are) at night time and they put it on for a few hours on the weekend. ould this be why the tips of new growth on my plants are yellow and brown. The tips of new growth are also this way on my bonsai plant too. I have cape sundew seedings which I cover their pots with plastic wrap. They are the only plants doing well. They even have dew on them. They are getting 100 percent humidity. The only problem is that they have algae in their soil. Is algae harmful to htem? It doesn't appear to have harmed them, yet? I was thining that sonce they are doing so well, I was thinking that maybe I should cover the vensues and sundews pots with plastic wrap or a sandwich bag. I don't have room for a terrarium where they are. I think the bag will be good b/c it will maintain a constant temp/humidity for them. Do you think I should do this? If yes, can I keep the bag completely closed at 100 percent humidity, or shoould I make holes i it. I thought to keep it completely closed, so that no drafts could get to them and therefore affect their growing. Would the bag work, if the top of their soil is completely dry? Please help my plants.
By buggy213
I forgot to mention a few more things...I have my florescent light on 10 hours a day. I had it on for 12 hours, but decreased the light duration to try to trigger dormancy. This didn't work. They are still trying to grow. All that it did was make the leaves on my pitcher plant fade and I think my sundew doesn't have dew anymore b/c of this. I guess I can't go back to 12 hours again. I have attached new pics of my light setup and my plants. I have a few questions about my purple pitcher plant....She is actually doing pretty well too. She is growing new leaves (you can see the new leaf on left in photo) It is almost developed but hasn't opened yet. I see more leaves on bottom growing. Shouldn't the first leaf have opened before more leaves are growing? Does this mean she is also struggling to make leaves? The leaf was green. Now it appears to slowly be gettng red on it? Does it take this long for one leaf to grow on a pitcher plant? I also was wondering why one of the leaves always stands up in the air. I thought that this wa b/c there's new leaves growing underneath. Then I ahd a thought that maybe this is b/c she's not getting enough light and is moving towards the light??? One last thing about her....I noticed that she is producing dew. Should I have been feeding her. I haven't fed her for 3 months now or is it ok to wait until I put her outside in spring to feed her?
plants.jpg (250.01 KiB) Viewed 3243 times
User avatar
Dont worry about the tips, I only have 1 Trap, and i have no idea if it will close or not, [dont want to tease it]
all the others are just leaves with what looks like it SHuold have been a trap but it being tiny..

If ur plants are still like this is march-april time then worry.
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By Matt
A few things that jumped out at me from all the stuff you wrote:
1) I don't think it's possible for the top of peat moss to be dry but moist underneath. I've never seen this. Usually peat moss soaks up water like a sponge. If it's wet underneath, it's wet on top. It still looks to me like your plants aren't getting enough water. I don't see water in any of the trays. I always have standing water in my trays, even in the winter. Most people just keep the soil moist. To me, your soil looks completely dry on top.
2) Venus Fly Traps still grow during dormancy. They just grow slowly. Don't expect growth to completely stop.
3) You never need to feed your carnivorous plants. Just put them outside when it's warm enough and let them catch their own food.
4) The heater could definitely have something to do with why the tips of the new growth is brown and/or yellow.
5) Don't try to over think things. Keep it simple. Usually Venus Fly Traps do best if they're put in a location with good lighting and left alone other than watering them.

Hope that helps!
By Aging_Bourbon
well, any carnivorous plant soil is suppose to be wet or moist. Sarraceina's love to be in water.. same goes for sundew's humidity is not a big factor in there growth they can still thrive in low humidity the only three main things are
1) water (rain or distilled)
2) soil ( peat an perlite)
3) sunlight ( lots of sunlight)
the cape sundew (Drosera Capensis) leave's will turn black when they get old.. or when they experience a BIG change in the enviorment yes its a tropical plant it dont need dormancy.. but the other ones you have the sarraceina an venus flytraps need to go through dormancy its like a resting period for them.. if you keep them from it they well surely get weak an soon later die.. in the wild venus flytraps and sarraceina experience temps below freezing this time of year (winter) also artificial light is only necessary if you can't supplement them with natural sun light

By Aging_Bourbon
also in the wild the venus flytrap an sarracina get natural cool spring water.. which is sometimes cold.. an your sundew seems to be lacking water an sunlight
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