This is the first winter for my fly traps and, since it gets below 25F frequently (inland NC), I brought them inside to avoid being frozen. They seem to be doing fine - good color and growing new shoots - but now that I've found this site, I realize that letting them go dormant is probably best. As it's already Dec 29, is it too late to set them up in an environment to foster dormancy? I have a garage with windows that should be 45F during the winter, so it should be suitable for dormancy. And if the answer is to allow them to go dormant, will they go through shock going from indoor 68F to 45F in the garage?
As you've already realized, it's best to leave your flytraps outside as fall progresses into winter so they can experience the shortening days and cooler temperatures. This time of year the days are already getting longer. Your plants could go dormant now, but to be honest I'm not sure what would happen if you put them in cooler temps with shorter days. They might get a brief rest or they might simply stall growth and then resume again in a few months.
Whatever you decide to do, you should definitely leave them outside next year until the first frost comes and then move them somewhere that they can experience a proper dormancy.
Thanks for the quick reply, Matt. The traps were outside for the first few frosts up until early Nov but I had to pull them inside before leaving the country for a couple of weeks. Next year I'll be sure to leave them outside until they go dormant and will pull them into my garage, which averages around 46 degrees and has 3 west-facing windows for direct sunlight. At this point in the season, I may wait for the new growth to subside and then allow them to go dormant for 2 to 2.5 months before putting them outside again. If you think I should avoid dormancy, please let me know.
Your garage sounds like a great place to put them for the winter. You could probably get away with moving them out there for the rest of the winter and then move them outside in the spring. Or you could just leave them where they are now and then move them outside in the spring. Honestly, I'm not sure what the best option is. If they were my plants, I'd probably just leave them where they are now and see what happens when they go outside in the spring and through next growing season.