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Even when nourished with insects, sunlight and water, Venus flytraps will not survive if you do not use the right type of soil. If you are having thoughts about using cactus or succulent soil for your carnivorous plants, this guide is for you.
Cactus soil should not be used on Venus flytraps because it contains substances that will harm the plant. The best soil for Venus flytraps is a 1:1 mix of peat moss and perlite.
Why Cactus Soil is Bad For Venus Flytraps
Cactus soil and succulent soil are suitable for jade, aloe vera, orchids and other plants because they are nutritious. But it is precisely for this reason why they are not good for Venus flytraps or any carnivorous plant for that matter.
Venus flytraps cannot grow in nutrient rich or fertilized ground like cactus soil. Nutrients that benefit other plants will slow the growth of Venus flytraps, make them susceptible to infection and even kill them.
Scientists have determined that Venus flytraps can only grow in nutrient poor soil such as Rio Hamza Trading Soil Mix. This would kill other plants, but Venus flytraps developed traps so they can catch insects. These bugs provide the plants nutrients they cannot obtain from the ground.
These plants are used to getting nitrogen, potassium and other nutrients from ants, flies, spiders, etc. If you use cactus soil, it will introduce elements Venus flytraps cannot deal with.
When Venus flytraps catch a gnat for instance, they dissolve the bug and absorb the nutrients. It takes each plant 1 to 2 weeks to process those nutrients.
If nitrogen is already present in the soil, there is no reason for the traps to capture insects. The worst thing that can happen is an overabundance of nutrients, from captured bugs and the soil. This is not good for Venus flytraps or any carnivorous plant.
Venus flytraps consume up to five insects a month on average, so they do not need a lot to meet their nutritional requirements. Cactus soil supplies them with too much and will disrupt the plant’s natural rhythm.
In fact, Venus flytraps do not need bugs to live. As long as they are exposed to sunlight and have water and air, they will survive. Bugs provide additional sustenance and stimulate growth, but it is not necessary for them to live. Using cactus soil will not provide any benefits.
What Happens to Venus Flytraps in Cactus Soil?
There are many types of cactus soil and Venus flytraps have different variants, but the effect is the same. The soil will weaken the plant and eventually kill it.
You can keep Venus flytraps healthy by feeding it bug, freeze dried worms or fish food, but it will not live as long as it is in cactus soil. It might take a few days or weeks, but the plant will show signs of weakness.
The most common symptom is discoloration. Healthy Venus flytraps have a white bulb, green leaves and reddish lobes (the trap interior). Its roots are firm and solid.
After some time, the traps turn black and die. It is normal for individual traps to wither and be replaced. A Venus flytrap in cactus soil will not be able to replace these traps because it will be too weak.
The rest of its leaves turn black and it loses the ability to bloom during its growth period. The plant starts drooping and the traps do not close even with live prey.
Venus flytraps on the verge of death usually give up quickly. Leaves are discarded and the plant withers and dies. While Venus flytraps come back from dormancy, they cannot come back from death.
The negative effects of cactus oil underscores the difference between Venus flytraps and regular plants. Cactus soil or any regular potting soil will kill Venus flytraps. This is one of the most common mistakes people make and why they think it is a difficult plant to grow.
Venus flytraps in nature only grow in nutrition poor soil, so you have to simulate that environment in your home. Whether the plant is indoors or outdoors the soil must be free from nutrients.
Doing this allows Venus flytraps to grow in their natural habitat. Once planted, the plant will grow traps to lure insects and obtain its nutrients there.
What is the Best Soil Mix For Venus Flytraps?
There are many types of soil mix that work with Venus flytraps. Among the best combinations are the following.
- Sphagnum moss and sand 2:1
- Sphagnum moss and perlite 1:1
- Peat moss and sand 2:1 or 1:1
- Pure peat or long fiber sphagnum moss
Do not use compost, fertilizer or any nutrient rich soil. When shopping for these products, make sure they do not contain any elements that could harm Venus flytraps.
Plant your Venus flytrap once the soil is ready. Mixing these ingredients is easy enough as the ratio is either 1:1 or 2:1. Buy pure sphagnum moss or peat if you do not want to do any mixing.
Once your Venus flytrap is in a container, you can place it indoors or outdoors. Whichever you choose, position the pot so it receives indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sun as it could burn the plant during summer. You can also use indoor lighting like Barrina Plant Grow Lights
Outdoor Venus flytraps have access to all kinds of bugs. If yours is indoors, feed them dead bugs, freeze dried mealworms or fish food..
The combination of sunlight, water, good soil and bugs are all your Venus flytrap needs to grow. The lack of nutrients in the soil provides the impetus for the plant to grow bigger traps to attract insects.
Repotting every year is going to produce the best results, preferably early spring. Replace the soil, but use the same mixture for consistency.
Water the soil so it is consistently damp but not soaked. If you touch the soil and water does not seep through, you are doing it right.
Venus Flytrap Soil Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use Diluted Fertilizer?
A lot of advanced cultivators use diluted fertilizers on Venus flytraps. Small amounts are applied on the leaves and they say it does not harm the plant.
While a very diluted fertilizer might not harm Venus flytraps, it is still dangerous for beginners. It is easy for a new grower to use too much and kill the plant. You can try this when you are experienced enough. For new flytrap owners, just let the plant get nutrients from insects.
What Container Size Should I Use?
A 4 to 6 inch deep pot is going to be sufficient. You can use a deeper pot, as it gives the roots more room to grow. Some growers use 2 inch pots, but the best is at least 4 inches.
How Much Water Does the Soil Need?
The easiest solution is to use the tray method. Basically you place the pot in a tray filled with an inch of water. Once the container absorbs the water, refill the tray.
First you need to use a pot with drainage holes. Second you need to check the tray to see if there is water left. But usually an inch will last throughout the day. During summer you might have to do this twice daily though.
Will Regular Potting Soil Cause Root Rot?
It is very likely. The problem with regular potting soil is it weakens Venus flytraps, and weak plants are vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections.
Are Cactus Soil and Succulent Soil the Same?
They are used interchangeably. No matter which term you use, this soil is bad for Venus flytraps. Any nutrient rich soil should be avoided.
Can Nutrient Rich Soil be Used Instead of Insects?
No. Venus flytraps eat insects because they grow in nutrient poor grounds. But planting them in rich soil and not feeding them will kill the plant.
It cannot be stressed how important it is to use the right soil for Venus flytraps. It can literally mean the difference between a living healthy plant and a dead one. By using the right soil mix, a lot of potential problems are eliminated.
My fascination with carnivorous plants began many, many years ago with Venus Fly Traps. Now I am more than happy to impart what I know with other enthusiasts and those who are curious about meat eating plants.