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Seasonal Carnivorous Plant Care Guide

Why is my Venus flytrap not growing? Why are my Venus flytraps leaves turning black? Why are my pitcher plants looking shabby? Just what do you mean by dormancy?

These are just a few of the questions I receive each fall and winter regarding my customers carnivorous plants. With this is mind I have provided brief care instructions designed to allay everyone's fears about their favorite plants during this time of year. Hopefully for many it will mean they begin seeing their plants resting and dormancy as a natural and beneficial process for keeping and maintaining healthy carnivorous plants. I also hope to convey that it is usually not your fault when your plant stops growing and hibernates for a few months.

Venus Flytraps

I put them first on my list because they are often the most misunderstood of all carnivorous plants. Venus flytraps are NOT jungle plants. They are not found in some dense and steamy jungle in some remote part of the world. They are indeed native only to a narrow stretch of coastal area along the Carolina's, mainly within a 100-mile radius of Wilmington, North Carolina. The natural environment of the Venus flytrap includes relatively low winter temperatures that never quite reach below freezing.

Q. So how can you give your Venus flytrap a healthy dormancy?
A. Well, if you live in an area with chilly, but not freezing, winters (similar to Venus flytraps' natural habitat in North Carolina), they can be placed outside in a cool area protected from frost. One must keep the soil slightly moist and ensure that the plant still receives a small amount of sunlight. Those who live in areas with extremely cold winters should place their Venus flytraps in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for two to three months, starting in autumn. You can either place them bare rooted wrapped in moist sphagnum moss or just place the whole pot and plant in a sealed zip-lock type bag. As a general rule of thumb, you can do this in early or mid November and then take them out by mid February. Of course you can start this process earlier or latter depending on your needs. One thing is for certain, if you try and bypass a Venus flytraps natural dormancy cycle for more that one year they will eventually "revolt" in the form of weak and stunted growth. So for those of you growing Venus flytraps under artificial lights take heed, a little dormancy education will go along way in keeping your Venus flytrap collection looking stellar.

Q. What kind of Venus flytrap will I recieve from BugBitingPlants if I make a purchase in the fall and winter months?
A. We will endeavor to always send the best looking and healthiest Venus flytraps that are in stock. We will never send a bulb only unless specifically ordered. We keep a stock of Venus flytraps for sale under artificial lights throughout the winter months to ensure you receive a good looking plant. However we cannot guarantee that we will always have enough of our Venus flytraps growing under lights to keep up with demand. In that case we will substitute those for plants that are in dormancy which means you may receive drab looking plants.. Some customers think they are dead but are not dead but merely resting. As a general rule of thumb, don't expect vigorous leaf and trap growth in the middle of winter.

Pitcher Plants

The first important thing to remember about Pitcher plants is that they are perennials. What are perennial plants? Simply put, a perennial plant or perennial (Latin per, "through", annus, "year") is a plant that lives for more than two years.

Here is how the typical growth cycle of a Pitcher plant goes:
Flowers are produced early in spring and are dramatic, consisting of an umbrella-like five-pointed style, over which five long yellow or red petals dangle. The flowers are held up to three feet above the base of the plant, which helps avoid trapping pollinators in the leaves. This is further avoided by the fact that the first pitchers of the year generally open only after flowering is completed.

Pitcher production begins at the end of the flowering period in spring, and lasts until late autumn. At the end of autumn, the pitchers begin to wither and the plants produce non-carnivorous leaves called phyllodia, which have a role to play in the economics of carnivory in these species.

Q. What kind of Pitcher plant will I receive from BugBitingPlants if I make a purchase in the fall and winter months?
A. During the fall you will receive a whole intact plant, but with drab looking pitchers. Eventually for the health of our pitcher plants and to prevent rotting and fungus growth, we cut off all the pitchers in winter. If you receive pitcher plant from us in the winter without traps it is still a live and healthy plant. You can plant the rhizome in a pot and depending on the time of year or light level it should start to grow anew.


Some Sundews require a Winter dormant period which varies with the species. They will die back, forming a rosette of small non-sticky leaves. During this time, keep your Drosera a little drier (but still damp) and in a cool location. For example our Drosera Rotundifolia die back a bit in winter as well a Drosera Spathulta. However, most of out warmer weather sundews, like Drosera Binata, Alicea, and Adelae ship year round looking very good.

Cobra Lily

Cobra lilies are among the most difficult carnivorous plants to keep in captivity. The problem is that cobra lilies typically grow in bogs or stream banks that are fed by cold mountain water, and grow best when the roots are kept cooler than the rest of the plant. Watering is by far the most important aspect of keeping your Cobra Lily healthy. It's natural habitat is in boggy areas, near mountain streams where it stays relatively cool and constantly has cool water running over the root system. Duplicating this natural environment as closely as possible is extremely important to it's cultivation as a house plant. This can be best accomplished by flushing fresh water (distilled or rain water) through it's pot every day. This simulates the cool water that is constantly running over their roots in their natural habitat. Your Darlingtonia plant must never be allowed to completely dry out. Cobra Lilies are fairly hardy, and in nature can survive being buried in snow during the winter. Our Cobra lilies are shipped looking very good all fall and winter.


Butterworts will naturally go into a dormant period (like many of the sundews). When this happens, the plant will take on a new appearance, forming many new, small leaves around the head called a hibernaculum.


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