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Venus Fly Traps (Dionaea muscipula) are surprisingly hardy plants which makes them very easy to care for providing that their basic needs are met.
Where should you keep your Dionaea? There are many options available, some are better than others but all are achievable.
Dionaea can be kept as houseplants under certain conditions. They must be kept in a bright, warm window, ideally south facing. As Dionaea require a period of dormancy during winter they must be moved somewhere cold for 3-4 months each year to do this.
Where I live, in the Midlands, Dionaea do very well outside all year round. Although they can be kept in single pots, they do particularly well in bog gardens that hold more soil. A bog garden can be anything from a large pot or container to an outdoor trug or even a dug garden at the edge of a garden pond.
Whilst Dionaea can be kept in terrariums, they're not really the best habitat for them. Terrariums make it very difficult to offer Dionaea their essential winter dormancy unless you are prepared to only have them as a short term display.
This is the perfect place to grow your Dionaea! An unheated greenhouse offers an extended growing season compared to growing outside but also gets cold enough in the winter for proper plant dormancy.
Dionaea are temperate plants but they love baking in the sun throughout the summer. Wherever you keep your Dionaea make sure you give them as much sunlight as possible. Providing that their roots are cool and wet, they can take as much light and heat as you can give them.
By far the most commonly used soil for Sarracenia is sphagnum peat moss mixed with an aggregate to prevent compaction and anaerobic conditions. Peat can be mixed with perlite, pumice, vermiculite, sand or gravel. Most growers in the UK (in my experience) mix their peat with perlite with a favoured ratio of 50:50.
The use of peat as a soil might put some people off growing Sarracenia. There are some Sarracenia growers in the UK who have been experimenting with different growing media such as coir chunks and live moss. In fact, I do know some UK growers who exclusively have their mature plants in peat-free soil. You can join the Facebook group 'Peat Free Carnivorous Plants UK' for further information.
Sarracenia do not benefit from growing in oversized pots. New divisions are typically put into 9cm pots. Once the growing point of the plant reaches the edge of the pot it's time to re-pot. A 1 litre pot is ok for many Sarracenia but if you want to create a nice display you can move up to a 3 litre pot and allow it to become full.
Sit Sarracenia pots in 1-2cm of water throughout the growing season (Spring to Autumn). During the Winter season Sarracenia should just be kept damp.
It's crucial that you only use soft water with your Sarracenia. Soft water is low in minerals, typically below 20ppm (parts per million). You can get soft water
In cases of emergency, do not let your plants dry out even if you need to use hard tap water. You can, however, minimise any possible negative effects by flushing the pots with soft water as soon as possible.
Dionaea will catch their own food, there is no need to offer additional insects. But it won't do any harm either!
Sarracenia can be fed with supplements. Maxsea and Osmocote are brands commonly used by Sarracenia growers. Please do your own research for appropriate dosage rates.
NB: I do not feed my Sarracenia at all. They catch lots of insects in the greenhouse and do not appear to need any additional help.
Because Sarracenia grow from a rhizome it's incredibly easy to divide them. New growth points will emerge from the plant's rhizome as it grows. The rhizome can literally be snapped to create a separate division from the mother plant. Ideally each division should consist of at least one growth point along with a piece of rhizome ad some roots.
Seeds can be purchased online or collected from Dionaea flowers at home. Seeds must experience cold stratification order to germinate. Exposing the seeds to extreme cold makes them 'think' that they've experienced Winter and must get ready to germinate in the Spring/ Summer.
I sow mine in the greenhouse at the end of January so that they experience natural frosts. They are sown directly onto peat in a pot with a light dusting of fine peat on top. Then, the pots are placed in a tray of water.
After a few months the first signs of life start to emerge from the soil.
Any Dionaea pruning or re-potting should ideally be carried out during Winter or early Spring. This is because the plants are dormant at this time and so are totally unaffected by the disturbance. Although, any dead or decaying material can be cut of at any time.
Some Dionaea growers will cut all their plants (excluding S.purpurea, S. psittacina and their hybrids) back to a couple inches high every Winter so that the rhizome receives plenty of light and ventilation in the Spring. Personally, I prefer to just cut off dead plant material. This is to enable the Dionaea to photosynthesise as much as possible. I also keep the phyllodia (non-carnivorous leave) on my S. flava, S. leucophylla and S. oreophilla for the same reason.