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Ask questions about how to grow and care for Venus Flytraps

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By miscDelaneyous
Posts:  11
Joined:  Sat Oct 07, 2023 10:51 pm
#452758
Hey y'all! I was checking on my fly traps earlier this morning, and after seeing a trap on one of the newest growths starting to suddenly blacken, I am currently a very anxious plant mom. 😰

Here are some pictures of my girls from today:
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A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the traps that were present during dormancy were withering and taking on a sallow pallor. Because this withering was relegated to the older traps and coinciding with an explosion of dozens of green babies, I assumed this must be typical for the VFT life cycle. Seeing this today, I'm dreading the idea that I may have been terribly wrong.

FWIW, I'm in zone 10b. These lovely ladies spend all day on our Southwest-facing balcony, where they get full sun for at least ten hours a day. If it helps, I can also provide pictures of my plant charts where I track their daily weights and the weather!

Thank you so much in advance, and I hope you're all having a wonderful summer day! 🙏🏻
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By ChefDean
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Posts:  9782
Joined:  Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:44 am
#452765
Well, I see three potential issues.
First, the discoloration is somewhat indicative of mineral burn. However, either one of the other two could also be the cause.
Second, that sphagnum looks dry. Maybe the pic was taken between watering, but that appears too dry.
Third, they've settled down into the sphagnum, they're choking. They need to be raised up or have some of the top media taken away.
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By miscDelaneyous
Posts:  11
Joined:  Sat Oct 07, 2023 10:51 pm
#452807
Oh my goodness, thank you so much! This such incredibly helpful insight! 💜

ChefDean wrote: Mon Jun 17, 2024 11:19 pm Well, I see three potential issues.
First, the discoloration is somewhat indicative of mineral burn. However, either one of the other two could also be the cause.
Thankfully, I can say with 100% certainty that I only use distilled water to water my VFTs! 😁

ChefDean wrote: Mon Jun 17, 2024 11:19 pm Second, that sphagnum looks dry. Maybe the pic was taken between watering, but that appears too dry.
Third, they've settled down into the sphagnum, they're choking. They need to be raised up or have some of the top media taken away.
While I had suspicions about the sphagnum, your second and third points hadn’t crossed my mind at all, and I think you’re exactly right! This is my first time growing them in sphagnum, so I’m still learning what are healthy growing conditions when compared to growing in peat moss/perlite.

Would you be able to help me understand how to best remedy the situation?

For context, I’m still relatively new to growing carnivorous plants, and my past two VFTs died from what I’m pretty sure was crown rot from overwatering in an attempt to compensate for heat waves last summer. I received my current babies right at the start of dormancy, and they’ve survived the longest out of all my VFTs. In an effort to be more mindful to protect against crown rot, I started tracking their weight on a daily basis and water them when they start to get too light. I also try to measure if they need water by sticking a finger roughly knuckle-deep into the media to see if there’s enough moisture beneath the surface.

The VFTs settling into the media is something I’ve also noticed in the past with my peat moss-grown VFTs. While I don’t want to agitate them so much by repotting them more than once a year, I want to make sure that they’re getting enough water and not choking either. I primarily tray-water them, but whenever the sphagnum moss seems particularly dry, I’ve watered them from the top as well (about 1x/week). However, now that summer has arrived, the days are getting hotter, and they’re receiving more sunlight, I can imagine that method of care is proving ineffective now.

With all that said, how would you recommend I alleviate the issues with the moss? Do I need to carefully lift the VFTs up within the pot, wet the surface moss, and then try to compact some of that surface moss underneath them?

Regardless, thank you so, so much again for your insight! I’ve been trying to do everything right to care for my babies, and I already know that this precisely addresses the issues they’re facing. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

For reference, here are their tracking sheets from the past few weeks!
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By ChefDean
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Joined:  Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:44 am
#452810
You're overthinking it, breathe.
Simply remove some of the moss on the surface, about to the level where the rhizome starts to turn white. Now they're not too deep.
You said you're tray watering, don't worry about weighing them. Put 1/2 to 1 inch of water in the tray, let the tray dry, then do it again. If it's hot, you may do this every day or two. If it's not too hot, you may do it a couple times per week. As long as the media doesn't dry completely, they'll likely be fine. Looking at your charts, you're probably fine with the couple times a week watering.
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By miscDelaneyous
Posts:  11
Joined:  Sat Oct 07, 2023 10:51 pm
#452907
ChefDean wrote: Wed Jun 19, 2024 1:29 am You're overthinking it, breathe.
Simply remove some of the moss on the surface, about to the level where the rhizome starts to turn white. Now they're not too deep.
You said you're tray watering, don't worry about weighing them. Put 1/2 to 1 inch of water in the tray, let the tray dry, then do it again. If it's hot, you may do this every day or two. If it's not too hot, you may do it a couple times per week. As long as the media doesn't dry completely, they'll likely be fine. Looking at your charts, you're probably fine with the couple times a week watering.
Apologies for the overthinking. I think I was just panicking because they’ve been doing so well up and to this point.

I’ve followed your instructions. This is how they look now. Is this how I should expect them to look?
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Thank you so much again for all your insight, Chef!
By Jade
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Posts:  257
Joined:  Mon Feb 05, 2024 6:57 pm
#452935
I’m an extreme newbie when it comes to carnivorous plants, so I will say it may be helpful to wait for another answer as a veteran grower will likely have better advice or I may be wrong about a thing, but to me that media still looks a bit dry. While you don’t want to overwater, you also don’t want the plant to completely dry out. A good rule of thumb is to keep the medium moist but not wet.

I would maybe think about pruning those dead black traps as well so your new growth is able to get all the sun.

Just out of curiosity how deep are your pots? This is an example of something someone else might want to pipe up about with regards to timeframe (maybe next year? Or maybe not at all, it’s hard to tell how deep yours are by angle and this is just a thing I would personally find of interest) you might consider getting some nice deep plastic pots for those. A lot of sites say different numbers, so I personally went with 5 1/2” deep, but as it gets more mature I may step that up to 6”, but it’s not anything I’m worried about right now.This is more like future advice for overthinking folks who want to plan ahead. You could probably get away with a shorter pot, but I’m one of those people that figures extra room is better than less.

This is a great beginner’s guide for requirements and has a link in it to a dormancy FAQ as well as more in depth care tips.

https://www.flytrapcare.com/amp/

You probably know this stuff so I hope it’s redundant. I hope this hasn’t been too long or wrong or unhelpful lol. :shock:
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By LazyDaisy
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Posts:  33
Joined:  Thu Apr 04, 2024 2:57 am
#453089
I hope I'm wrong, but some of your stems are looking "dusty" which could be a sign of mites. If you wet a cotton swab with distilled water and swipe it on the stems (especially on new growth and the underside of them), it's an easy way to see if that's part of your problem.
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By miscDelaneyous
Posts:  11
Joined:  Sat Oct 07, 2023 10:51 pm
#453169
Jade wrote: Sun Jun 23, 2024 8:19 pm I’m an extreme newbie when it comes to carnivorous plants, so I will say it may be helpful to wait for another answer as a veteran grower will likely have better advice or I may be wrong about a thing, but to me that media still looks a bit dry. While you don’t want to overwater, you also don’t want the plant to completely dry out. A good rule of thumb is to keep the medium moist but not wet.

I would maybe think about pruning those dead black traps as well so your new growth is able to get all the sun.

Just out of curiosity how deep are your pots? This is an example of something someone else might want to pipe up about with regards to timeframe (maybe next year? Or maybe not at all, it’s hard to tell how deep yours are by angle and this is just a thing I would personally find of interest) you might consider getting some nice deep plastic pots for those. A lot of sites say different numbers, so I personally went with 5 1/2” deep, but as it gets more mature I may step that up to 6”, but it’s not anything I’m worried about right now.This is more like future advice for overthinking folks who want to plan ahead. You could probably get away with a shorter pot, but I’m one of those people that figures extra room is better than less.

This is a great beginner’s guide for requirements and has a link in it to a dormancy FAQ as well as more in depth care tips.

https://www.flytrapcare.com/amp/

You probably know this stuff so I hope it’s redundant. I hope this hasn’t been too long or wrong or unhelpful lol. :shock:
Thank you so much for the reply! You’re almost certainly correct about the dry media. I can’t be 100% certain, but I’m almost positive that my first two VFTs died due to rot. I think I was overcorrecting here. I’m definitely going to take your advice and prune back the older traps so the baby growth can get all that tasty sunlight!

I have mine in a 5 1/2” plastic pot!

All of your thoughts have been wonderfully helpful! Fresh eyes on a problem are usually good, in my view. The fundamentals done accidentally get overlooked or bypassed. 🥰

LazyDaisy wrote: Tue Jun 25, 2024 7:58 pm I hope I'm wrong, but some of your stems are looking "dusty" which could be a sign of mites. If you wet a cotton swab with distilled water and swipe it on the stems (especially on new growth and the underside of them), it's an easy way to see if that's part of your problem.
Oh, yikes. I hope you’re wrong, too! However, better to know now than once it’s too late. I’ll give them a thorough once-over as I’m pruning back the old growth.

(I love your username, btw!)
By Fishkeeper
Posts:  875
Joined:  Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:59 pm
#453175
If you stick your finger into the media, it should be moist- not soggy, not dry. For comparison, wet a sponge, then wring it out, and feel how wet it is. Tangibly moist, but if you were to squeeze a handful, it wouldn't release more than a couple of drops of water. If you give them that, proper media, good air flow, and enough light, they should bounce back just fine.
By LazyDaisy
Location: 
Posts:  33
Joined:  Thu Apr 04, 2024 2:57 am
#453184
miscDelaneyous wrote:
LazyDaisy wrote: Tue Jun 25, 2024 7:58 pm I hope I'm wrong, but some of your stems are looking "dusty" which could be a sign of mites. If you wet a cotton swab with distilled water and swipe it on the stems (especially on new growth and the underside of them), it's an easy way to see if that's part of your problem.
Oh, yikes. I hope you’re wrong, too! However, better to know now than once it’s too late. I’ll give them a thorough once-over as I’m pruning back the old growth.

(I love your username, btw!)
Yeah, it's one of those things you unfortunately learn from experience. :? I had taken pictures of my plants and realized they didn't look as smooth as pictures I had seen online, which led to the discovery of mites.

(thank you! I haven't done any embroidery in a long while but maybe I should combine interests and try some flytrap embroidery! :D)
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By miscDelaneyous
Posts:  11
Joined:  Sat Oct 07, 2023 10:51 pm
#453552
Hi everyone! I wanted to give you all a brief update on my girls!

Given how hot it’s getting now, I’ve working on keeping them much more hydrated than I was previously. To counteract the moss near the surface being much dryer than the moss deeper within the pot, I’ve begun to supplement some of the tray watering with top watering. I also gave the moss a rinse for any potential mineral buildup.

In addition to keeping them more consistently hydrated, noticed the most improvement when I trimmed back more of the older growth that was blackening. As soon as I did that, the growth of new babies seemed to explode as soon as the older traps weren't hogging all the sun. My partner helped give them a haircut the other day, and in the process, she noticed a couple of things I wanted to share with y’all here.

First, it seems that for one of the flytraps, many of the new babies were growing from part of the rhizome that seemed to be growing downward into the pot. While I’m not entirely sure why that is, if I were to guess, I think it’s because it was growing in the direction of where there was more moisture— even if that meant less sunlight. Second, on that same line of thinking, my partner thought she may have caught some early stages of root rot where some strands of LSF were tangled in the roots near the base of the rhizome. After seeing those two factors, she carefully excised the moss and rot and trimmed back some flytrap babies that were already starting to blacken (😥). She finished by trying to tilt the rhizome a bit so the downward growing portion is more level with the surface, and finished by making sure the roots and rhizome were effectively covered with LSF.

So with all that said, here's what they look like now! They’re not looking as vigorous as they were at the start of the season, but my hope is that I’ve begun to take the correct steps to help them recover over the next few weeks.

Roxie, the one who was growing lopsided:
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Edith, Roxie’s li’l sister:
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Thank you all so much— especially @ChefDean, @Jade, @LazyDaisy, and @Fishkeeper— for the advice y’all have provided throughout this process! I’m growing through my green, anxious plant-mom stage of carnivorous plant gardening, and your replies have been greatly helpful and reassuring. ❤️🪴
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