Home > Plant care and Growing Guides > Venus Fly Trap 'Big Mouth'

Venus Fly Trap 'Big Mouth'

Botanical name: Dionaea musipula
Origin: Carolina, USA

How does it work?
The leaf tip of this plant has developed to form two halves of a trap which, once shut, is capable of holding a wide variety of insects which are often larger than the trap itself. The inner surface of the trap is lined with hairs. The hair is a clever trigger mechanism that must be touched at least twice to activate
the trap. (This is the measure which stops the trap from closing when rubbish or rain drops fall into the leaves).
Once triggered, a healthy trap will shut in a fraction of a second to trap the insect. If the triggering of the hairs continues once the trap is shut, the leaves are held together tighter & the digestive process begins by the plant releasing an enzymes into the insect. This enzyme slowly dissolves the internal tissue of the insect which then supplies the plant with food.
If the hair triggers are not touched after the trap is shut, the trap re-opens within a few hours & be ready for the next insect.

Feeding your trap: We recommend not fertilising your VFTs (Venus Fly Trap).

VFTs do not actually need insects for food. They simply use them as an additional source of food to supplement the meagre nutrients found in the soils of their natural habitat. You actually should take care not to overfeed your VFT. Although over-feeding will not kill the plant, it makes it very soft & weak (from rapid growth). Over feeding also reduces the size of the trap produces.
Ideal position: An open, sunny position in a nutrient-poor soil. VFTs occur naturally as a ground cover in open forests areas of Carolina (USA) & the plants rely on regular natural fires to clear undergrowth which then allows these plants to get sufficient sunlight to survive.
Note: If grown in the shade, the red pigment of 'Big Mouth' is much reduced.
Climates: VFTs naturally like a cold winter with temperatures below 80C. (Ideal winter minimums are from 0C to 50C.)
In tropical areas it is recommended to refrigerate the VFT for up to 6 weeks in the vegetable crisper every Winter to help induce dormancy.
Frost tolerance: Fully hardy.
Ideal aspect: Full sun. Since VFTs do not grow in caves, they are not ideally suited to growing inside the house except on a sunny window sill or in a very well lit terrarium. In areas of low light, the traps will grow fast & produce long leaves but only small traps.
Growing cycle of a VFT:

  • Late Winter:The plant grows new leaves, each bigger than the previous. Mature plants will develop a flower spike. (Remove the flower).
  • Mid Spring: By the 4th week of Spring, the plant is growing rapidly withleaves already over 3 time the size of those porduced in Winter.
  • Mid Summer: The plant has reached its maximum size for the year & willcontinue to produce leaves.
  • Mid-Autumn: The new leaves being produced will begin to get progressivelysmaller & many of the early leaves will begin to die.
  • Mid Winter: All large leaves have died off & the plant will now beproducing smaller leaves again. In very cold climates, the plant is likely to go completely dormant.

This information has been collated with the help of Collector's Corner nursery.

Last Reviewed: 13/02/2004 11:30:43 AM
Keywords: Venus Fly Trap 'Big Mouth', plant care, garden care, garden tip, plant guide, garden guide, perennial, flower bulb, spring bulb

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