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More interesting than a bog standard house plant!
Venus Fly Trap
Member Name: 85fiona
Venus Fly Trap
Date: 05/02/12, updated on 05/02/12 (37 review reads)
Advantages: something a bit different
Disadvantages: hard to look after
I was given a venus fly trap (Dionaea muscipula) as a gift at christmas and I have to admit I thought it was extremely cool but at the same time I was kinda creeped out by it at first! Its tiny mouth bits (around half an inch to an inch in size) with scary looking "teeth" gave me the heebie jeebies, especially when I knocked one accidently and it snapped shut! But after having looked up some information about the plant online and haven gotton over my initial creeped-outness, I feel in love with this freaky looking creature.
The plant itself at the moment has 6 mouth bits and looks like it is in the process of growing 2 more, which I am quite excited by :) I have heard these plants are quite hard to keep alive but its been over a month and it is still looking good, even with my notorious plant killing abilities.
It is advised that venus fly traps need quite a lot of light (a minimum of 4 hours direct sunlight a day is ideal) so I have it sitting on the windowsill, more difficult to get the light it needs in the winter but the days are getting longer. It is also advised that you should water it with distilled or rain water as tap water has lots of dissolved salts in it and can be bad for it, luckily I live in Scotland where there is rain a plenty! It is also important to use soil that is nutrient poor as nutrient rich soil can damage the roots (apparently the plants evolved to be carnivorous because they lived in nutrient poor soil and needed to supplement their diets with nutrient rich flies!), I haven't re-potted my plant at all so haven't had to find decent soil for it yet.
The plant catches flies and insects itself, when they crawl over the mouth parts they trigger them to shut by touching tiny hairs that are inside the mouth bit. It takes about a week for the plant to digest the insect and strangely enough if it doesn't like whatever it has caught, it will spit it out! At the end of the digestion process the mouth opens up and what is left is the exoskeleton of the insect, kind of ew but it only eats what it needs from them. These left over remains are also useful to the plant as they attract more insects to it.
As tempting as it is, it is NOT advisable to poke the mouth bits so you can see the plant snap shut as it is not good for it. I have to admit I did it a few times before I read that you are not supposed to, oops. As yet I haven't seen it eat a fly which would be quite interesting to see, I may try and feed it a fly if I find one which you can do if you are careful, just to see what happens.
All in all I am chuffed with this plant and even more chuffed that it is still alive. So if you are bored of your everyday kind of houseplants, then here's something with a bit more bite :)
Summary: a more interesting type of plant, bit of a conversation starter