There are around 600 carnivorous plants, in which Venus Fly Trap- Dionaea muscipula and Sarracenia are the most common. Carnivorous plants are grown to create a healthy ecosystem with fewer insects and pests. These plants are efficient insect controllers and provide your garden with a variety of colors. They generally grow in warm, muddy areas which are deficient in nutrition because of which these plants have adapted to get alternative sources of food.
Native to North and South Carolina, the Venus Fly Trap loves growing in places with high moisture. It is best grown near muddy and marshy areas. The plant is prevalent but now rarely seen. Destruction of habitat and over-harvesting of the plant in its habitat has led to it being rare.
The soil this plant grows in is low in nitrogen, because of which the plants’ nutritional demands are not met. Ingestion of small mammals, insects, and pests fulfill the nitrogen requirement, enabling the plant to grow smoothly.
How a Venus Fly Trap Works?
The leaves of the plant grow in tandem, forming pairs. These leaves act as the mouth and stomach of the plant. Although the plant also photosynthesizes, absorption of nutrients via trapping them is imperative for its growth. The leaves secrete sweet nectar, which attracts insects. They open wide and entirely with stiff, sensitive, finger-like projections that are short and sturdy. This structure is known as cilia or trigger hair. Whenever something brushes up against the cilia and causes it to bend, the leaves’ dual lobes shut close as a reflex. The shutting of the leaves takes less than a second. The leaves do not close down fully at once; they allow small insects to crawl out because they aren’t enough for the energy the plant requires. In case the object trapped is not food but stone or dirt, the plant spits it out after around twelve hours.
Once the Trap closes, the hair-like projections interlock and create an air-tight space where digestive fluids and other enzymes break down the insect. This air-tight space causes bacteria to stay out and fluids to stay in. These digestive fluids break down the softer parts of the insect, leaving the hard, bony exoskeleton alone. This breakdown takes around five to twelve days, after which the fluids are reabsorbed in the lobes of the plant, and then the Trap reopens. Eventually, the wind blows off the leftover exoskeleton.
If the insect trapped is large, it disables the lobes to shut down, ultimately inviting bacteria to attack the insect. This forms mold around the leaves and turns the leaves black, after which the leaf eventually falls off.
Ideal Conditions for the Plant to Grow
The Venus Fly Trap is an elementary plant to grow. All it needs is direct sunlight. It is essential to keep it facing towards the sun, and if you plan to keep it indoors, it should be kept on a sunny window sill. This plant does well in artificial light as well, especially high-powered bulbs. If the sunlight received by the plant is not enough, the leaves become soft, watery, and floppy. The leaves also lose their red pigmentation and eventually fall off.
The optimal temperature for the plant to thrive in summers is 30⁰C and in winters slightly below 0⁰C. The plants can grow well in unheated greenhouses and will remain happy in conservatories.
The Venus Fly Trap appreciates high humidity ranging from about 50 to 60% in the daytime. The plant also needs slightly acidic soil to be planted in a mixture of moss and sand. This mixture maintains slight acidity and does not hold harmful amounts of water. Like most carnivorous plants, the flytrap requires pure water. The roots of the plant should be sufficiently wet but not soggy. To ensure that the plant gets these conditions, lime-free horticulture soil or perlite is used to plant the Venus Fly Trap. To make the general care of the plant easy, building a terrarium is a great choice. Old fish bowls or aquariums that are covered make a perfect house for the plant as they retain moisture and humidity. Allowing the cover to be removed and letting insects in provides rood to the plant too.
The plant is sensitive to toxic chemicals and heavy mineral contents, so tap water is harmful. It is best to give the plant distilled water or filtered rainwater.
How to open the Venus Fly Trap?
In most cases where you notice that your Fly Trap is not opening up, you should not worry. If your plant is young, it is possible for the traps not to develop enough to open. Give your plant time to grow. Venus Fly Traps are generally very slow at growing. They grow about the size of a penny or slightly more prominent in a year.
It is also possible that the life of your plants’ leaf is over. Like all living things, the Venus Fly Traps leaves also wither, dry, and die. They digest insects around five times, and then they fall off or just do not open and act as photosynthesizing surfaces.
The plant takes five to twelve days, depending on the insect’s size, trapped for the leaves to reopen. The digestion takes time, and the entire process is slow, so the traps will not open until fluids are absorbed, and the only thing remaining is the exoskeleton. Therefore, all you can do is be patient.
If you are not taking care of your plant correctly, your plant may stop responding. For instance, you have not provided enough sunlight, its reflexes become slow and leave sloppy. You need to check that the plant is in the best-suited conditions like you haven’t given the plant filtered, mineral-free water, the plant roots are clogged, and the plant cannot function correctly.
Usually, the reason behind the Trap not opening is the shock it goes through after getting tripped or transplanted. When the plant is moved from one place to another, it takes time to settle down and get used to its surroundings. Till then, it does not open up.
It is better not to force open the Trap and let the plant function according to its timeline. All we should do is provide the plant with the best possible conditions and then see how it thrives beautifully.
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