Many plants only need water and sunlight to survive — but not fly-eating plants. Unlike other plants, fly eating plants get some of their nutrients by consuming insect or animal matter.
The boggy, wet areas to which fly eating plant are native have extremely poor soil. As a result, they have evolved to get nutrients from other sources. Bugs, some small frogs, and mammals are just some creatures from which fly-eating plants get their protein.
The leaves of fly eating plants have sweet-smelling nectar, tiny hairs, and bright colors to lure their prey. When they manage to capture something, their digestive enzymes break down their prey’s flesh and extract the nutrients.
While most fly eating plant won’t survive indoors, some can work perfectly as houseplants. Given the right conditions and care, fly-eating plants won’t just serve as interesting decor. They can also lessen or rid your house of rogue flies, bugs, gnats, and other insects.
Caring for Fly Eating Plants
One of the most important things to consider when caring for fly eating plants is their natural habitat. Because they grow in bogs, they thrive best in damp soil that is low in nutrients. Keep in mind that most of their nutrients come from their prey. However, overfeeding should be avoided. While they’re carnivorous, their insides are still that of a delicate flower.
Here are some more specific guidelines you can refer to when caring for your fly eating plants:
Soil Needs for Fly Eating Plants
Keep in mind that most sphagnum peat moss sold in the U.S. comes from Canadian peat bogs. Unfortunately, it’s a non-renewable resource as it takes over several millennia for the moss to decompose. This process happens beneath the bog’s surface without the presence of air. Sphagnum peat moss is naturally acidic and is excellent at retaining water, making it excellent for fly-eating plants. However, it also releases a lot of carbon into the atmosphere when mined, so use this sparingly.
When using sand, preferably horticultural sand, make sure that it is clean and washed. Playbox sand is also a good alternative. Never use “contractor’s sand,” which contains silt, clay, fine dust, and other minerals. Also, avoid beach sand or limestone-based sand as their salt content will harm your fly eating plant. For pots, use plastic. These are preferred over terra cotta pots as they won’t stress out your plants or leach out minerals.
Moreover, avoid commercial potting mixes with fertilizers as fly eating plant will not survive in this kind of soil.
Watering Your Fly Eating Plants
Distilled water or rainwater work best for fly eating plants. Don’t use tap and spring water which contain too many minerals that will be detrimental to their health. In fact, avoid any water that contains minerals. While distilled water can be bought at the grocery store, avoid bottled drinking water.
Aside from rainwater, the condensation line from a heat pump or air conditioner is another source of mineral-free water. Additionally, water from reverse osmosis is also acceptable to use.
Tap water can be a temporary alternative when you don’t have mineral-free water. However, its mineral content can burn out or over-fertilize your fly eating plants, so use it sparingly.
To keep their roots from drying out, place your plant’s pot on top of a saucer filled with water.
Lighting Needs for Fly Eating Plants
An environment with bright sunlight, like a south-facing window, will let your fly eating plants flourish. With full sunlight, fly eating plants tend to show a brighter shade of their red pigmentation.
If you can’t find a sunny place for your fly eating plant indoors, artificial light can be an alternative. Fluorescent tubes specifically designed for plants work better than plain light bulbs. Set the timer for 12 to 14 hours.
Feeding Fly Eating Plants
As mentioned, fly eating plants subsist on bugs, flies, and other insects. Most of the time, they’ll be able to satisfy their own needs. But if they can’t, a jar of bloodworms from the pet store should do. Some freeze-dried insects or wingless fruit flies are also a good substitute. As a general rule, do not feed your plant more than one insect a week. If you can’t get any insects, a foliar spray every month at a tenth of its strength will suffice.
Avoid feeding your fly eating plant with cheese or raw meat. Keep in mind that they’re still flowers, so large pieces will kill the traps. Additionally, avoid overfeeding your plants. Instead, give them access to their natural prey.
Dormancy Needs of Fly Eating Plants
During wintertime, most fly eating plants will enter dormancy to protect themselves against the harshness of winter. If they are unable to enter into dormancy, they will exhaust their energy and die.
Some fly eating plants will show signs of dormancy, such as sundews forming winter buds. On the other hand, pitcher plants and Venus Flytraps will form winter leaves.
Once your fly eating plant shows signs of dormancy, water them less and leave the soil only slightly damp. For three to six months, reduce exposure to daylight and store them in a frost-free porch or basement.
Humidity Requirements for Fly Eating Plants
Since fly eating plants are native to humid bogs and swamps, they should be in an environment with increased humidity. Aside from keeping them wet at all times, a humidifier will also work wonders.
Growing them in an open terrarium will also mimic the condition of their natural habitat. Avoid placing the plants in a tightly closed container as this will cause mildew and fungus to develop.
If your fly eating plant is near a vent, keep it protected from drafts or hot, dry air.
Temperature Recommendations for Fly Eating Plants
Average room temperature will work for most fly eating plant unless otherwise required by their species. Be aware of your fly eating plants’ needs so you can provide them with the right environment.
Fly Eating Plants for Indoors
Now that you know how to care for fly eating plant indoors, here are some that you can try growing:
Venus Flytraps are perhaps the most popular fly eating plant. They’re well-known for their clamps that resemble a coin purse with teeth. Sweet-smelling nectar is what lures a Venus Flytrap’s prey to land on the teeth-like fibers on their leaves. When touched, the fibers trigger an electric charge that closes the jaws, trapping flies, arachnids, and other small insects. Then, the plant’s digestive enzymes break down the trapped insects. Through this process, the plant absorbs nitrogen and other nutrients not found in its soil.
Interestingly, a Venus Flytrap is such an advanced plant that it can tell the difference between living and non-living stimuli. Moreover, its jaws can close in as fast as 0.1 seconds.
While the Venus Flytrap is a popular plant, it’s not ideal for beginners because they enter dormancy every year. If they don’t hibernate, they will die in two to three years.
During winter, gradually introduce them into dormancy by providing a little bit of sunlight. A cool area with temperatures of around 33 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit will let your Venus Flytrap thrive during winter.
Pitcher Plants can come in a variety of shades, such as pink, yellow, and purple. Their leaves are often tubular and upright, serving as traps for unlucky insects who fall into their depths. Like the Venus Flytrap, Pitcher Plants also use bright colors and sweet-smelling nectar to lure their prey. Also, they don’t have much of an appetite, and one bug a month can keep them satisfied.
Pitcher Plants need to be in a location with bright light. Put them under a grow light if you don’t have a suitable place for this at home. However, keep in mind that Pitcher Plants are unlikely to flourish in terrariums.
Monkey Cups are a kind of Pitcher Plant with a pouch of sticky sap used to trap insects. Small spiders, lizards, and worms can also fall prey to this plant. Monkey Cups live in tropical areas such as Malaysia, Borneo, or Sumatra. They are named as such because their vines produce a leaf called a pitcher. These pitchers can hold more than a liter of water, and rainforest monkeys often drink from them.
Unlike the first two fly-eating plants, Butterworts are the least suspicious-looking carnivorous plant. They are small, growing between 1 and 6 inches, and have soft yellow-greenish leaves. During spring, they bear flowers that resemble orchids. These come in a variety of shades, such as pink, purple, yellow, and white.
However, don’t be deceived by a Butterwort’s appearance. Like Venus Flytraps and Pitcher Plants, Butterworts are just as deadly to insects. Their leaves have a sticky resin that traps these unassuming creatures, preventing them from escaping. They are particularly fond of gnats and have 80 varieties in the southeastern U.S. However, if you don’t have tons of bugs flying around your house, you may have to resort to supplemental feeding.
Butterworts thrive in well-draining soil and indirect sunlight. Unlike other carnivorous plants, your potting soil should be a mix of ¼ peat and ¾ sand or lava rock. Also, make sure that they don’t get too wet.
While there are over 200 species of Sundews, most have tentacles or orange hair-like filaments with sticky tips. These tips are what both trap and digest insects. Once it traps its prey, a Sundew’s arms fold in on themselves, suffocating insects until the digestion is complete. They prefer mosquitoes, but spiders, crickets, ants, and flies will also satisfy them. You can feed them every two or three weeks if they don’t manage to catch prey by themselves.
Sundews love bright light but can also thrive under a little bit of shade. They prefer clean water, as well as moist, humid environments. Since they grow like vines, make sure they have some space to spread out. Additionally, they don’t require a dormancy period, which makes them a low-maintenance plant.
Fly Eating Plants: 100% Organic Pest Killers
If you have a lot of bugs in your home, fly eating plant will be the perfect houseplant. Not only are they beautiful, but they also eat all sorts of insects and bugs. With the proper care and attention, fly eating plant can be a great indoor plant that’s not just for show.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fly Eating Plants
Not all fly eating plants can live well indoors, but the following are good options:
- Venus Flytrap
- Pitcher Plants
Sphagnum peat moss and sand is the best potting mixture for fly eating plants. Avoid mineral-rich soil as they’re native to places that have poor soil conditions.
Feeding your fly eating plant raw meat is a bad idea, as large pieces will destroy their traps.
Most most fly eating plants experience a dormancy period during the winter. However, some don’t, such as Sundews.
The amount of light suited to fly eating plants will depend on the kind of species you get. However, most fly eating plants thrive well in bright environments. If you can’t find a bright space in your home, putting them under artificial grow lights can work.