What's new
TerraForums Venus Flytrap, Nepenthes, Drosera and more talk

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Okay, it's the seson for supermarket VFTs which means lots of people are going to show up here with 90% dead plants.  Rather then re-write the same thing 50 times, I'm posting this!  It's a quick key to help give Newbies a handle on what caused their plants problem.  I request Oldbies (is that a term) to add any tips or tricks to the thred for specific problems.

Edit: Proofed it a bit more

Edit Again:  Clarified stuff, Pointed out all over the place that care if for healthy plants, hopefully people won't misread as normal growing conditions.  Added notes about minority opinions other then my own that I forgot about etc etc.

VFT Health Key:
Copyright Darcie Clements 2003

1.  My plant is turning yellow/brown/black.
A) Yes, go to 2
B) No, go to 7

2.  What part of the plant is turning yellow/brown/black?
A)  Just the trap, go to 3
B)  The edges of everything, See III. Burn
C)  the part of the leaf closest to the plants center, go to 5

3.  I have recently fed this trap.
A) Yes, go to 4
B) No, see II. Age or III. Burn

4.  Did the trap reopen?
A) Yes, see II. Age
B) No, see I. Food Rot

5.  Your plant has crown rot, which was triggered because you...
A) Have been using tap water, see IV. Mineral Poisoning
B) Repotted the plant in nice black soil, see V. Nutrient Poisoning
C) Fertilized the plant, see V. Nutrient Poisoning
D) Kept the plant well watered and in not to much light, see VI. Stagnant Water
E) Kept the plastic cup on the plant and gave it lots of water, go to 6
F) Didn't do any of these things?, see XI. Ask

6.  How much light did you give your plant?
A) Tons of it, nice and sunny! see VII. Cooked Plant
B) I kept it in okay light, I guess. see VI.  Stagnant Water

7.  My plant's traps don't work.
A) Yes, see VIII. Dormancy or II. Age
B) No, go to 8

8.  My plant is not growing as much as it used to/is smaller.
A) Yes, see VIII. Dormancy
B) No, go to 9

9.  A funny stalk is sticking up out of the middle of my plant.
A) Yes, see IX. Flowering
B) No, go to 10

10.  There is a moldy insect in one of my traps.
A) Yes, see X. Moldy Insects
B) No, see XI. Ask

I.  Food Rot:  Your trap is mushy yellow and/or black.  Whatever your plant tried to eat was either too big for it, or to high in fat.  In the future, try to limit meals to 1/3 the size of the trap.  To treat this, simply wait until the entire trap turns black and pull it off at the thin connection between the petiole(bladelike part of a VFT leaf) and the trap.  This way the plant can still use the rest of the leaf for making food.  Do not remove the trap by force, it should naturally pull away on its own.  Do not cut into living tissue, you may introduce a pathogen to the plant.

II.  Age:  Your plant's trap may be turning yellow then brown and dry, or perhaps it's stretched wide open and does not respond to stimuli.  Both are signs of an old trap.  Traps only work a few times befor the wear out, so if you have been playing with them, please stop.  When traps become warn out or very old wait until the entire leaf turns brown/black on it's own and then remove it with a light tug.  You can also remove the trap alone and just leave the rest of the leaf if the browness bothers you(see I for trap removal).  Do not remove the leaf by force, it should naturally pull away on it's own.  Do not cut into living tissue, you may introduce a pathogen to the plant.

III.  Burn:  Sometimes people confuse Burn with Cooked Plants(VII), so be sure you check both descriptions befor treatment. Your plant has yellow and/or crisp brown areas along the edges of the trap and other parts of the leaf.  Larger traps are more affected.  Immature traps may have black heads.  These are all symptoms of burn.  Burn is caused by sudden changes in lighting, and by letting the soil dry out.  It is not caused directly by heat (that's VII cooked plant), although heat can lead to water evaporation and soil drying.  Treat by correcting growing problems, prevent by slowly introducing plants to stronger light.

IV.  Mineral Poisoning:  It's any easy enough mistake to make, most plants don't require distilled water.  Be sure to use a pure water source in the future.  Begin by getting some distilled water and slowly pouring it over the plant so that the water drains out the holes in the bottom for a while.  This is called "flushing out" the pot.  Then proceed to general recovery information at the bottom of the page.

V.  Nutrient Poisoning:  Whoops, no one told you that VFTs require nutrient-poor soil?   Fertilizer and normal soil are loaded with nutrients and they have already burned your poor plants roots.  To save your plant, you must first get the correct soil.  A popular mix is 1 part pure sphagnum peat to 1 part perlite(or silica sand).  You can't buy the mix premade, but you can buy both ingredients as soil additives at most garden shops.  Microwaving the ingredients will help reduce the change of unwanted guest appearing in the new pot.  Once mixed, fill the pot with the soil and run distilled water through it to help flush out any nutrients the mix may still have in it.  Now remove your plant from its toxic pot and carefully rinse off its roots with pure water, place in the center of the pot and lightly cover with soil.  Proceed to general recovery information at the bottom of the page.

VI.  Stagnant Water:  VFTs may be bog plants, but a pot is not the same as a bog.  Because of this, water left sitting in the tray and in the plant's soil may become host to nasty anaerobic or slow growing organisms that can quickly take over a pot once astablished.  'Red Dragon' VFT's are particularly susceptible to this form of crown rot.  To prevent this problem, only leave water in the tray if the plant is in full sunlight and not in an unventalated terrarium.  If the plant is not in full sunlight (or intence artificial light), allow the pot to soak up as much water as it can for a few days (try to get a feel for how long an inch of water lasts to make a scedual) and then drain away the rest (once you know when it will run out of water in the tray you can just let it run dry for 1 day between waterings) and let sit for a day or two before rewatering, just like some Butterwarts.  Be sure the soil remains wet at all times, just don't let it become waterlogged for too long.  If your plant is in a cealed terrarium, set the pot in water for a day (or slowly add water untill the pot stops absorbing it) and then place in the terrarium.  It should only need occasional rewaterings done in this same method from this point on (once every weak or two).  To treat rot, start practicing good water management as was just explained.  Severe cases may require the soil to completely dry out for a day, but this should be avoided unless absolutely nothing else has helped and the plant is likely to die anyway.  While some disagrea with this last statement, I've saved two plants with advanced crown rot this way.

VII.  Cooked Plant:  You know how you steam veggies with hot water vapor, well, a wet terrarium in direct sunlight is sort of like a mini solar-powered veggie steamer.  Cooked Plants look a lot like the veggies you forgot about on the stove.  Sometimes people confuse Burn(III) with Cooked Plants, so be sure you check both descriptions befor treatment.  If your plant got cooked, you can hope it survives and take care of it according to the general recovery information at the bottom of the page.  As a first step however, remove it from the terrarium and into indirect or filterd sunlight.

VIII.  Dormancy:  VFTs require several months of a cool winter each year.  If your plant shows such decline and you have not had it on a normal dormancy schedule, this is probably the cause.  If you live in a cold region, you may keep your plant on a cool windowsill (or outside if you don't have freezes) for the winter.  Allow the pot to be saturated with water and then remove it from the tray and set on the windowsill (or learn how much water will be soaked up at a given time and give the plant that every few days).  Repeat as often as needed to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged (winters are drier for VFTs then summers).  If you live where it is warm all year, or you don't have a cool windowsill you can create a false "hard winter" and make your flytrap shut down enough to not need light.  Do this by first saturating the soil with water.  Remove the plant from the water and place in a sealed plastic bag.  Now place the plastic bag in a paper bag and the paper bag in the refrigerator.  Make sure your family knows it is there so they don't take it to lunch by mistake
 If you can check on your plant at least once a month, you do not need to use fungicide.  However, if you have a very large collection, have had problems in the past, or can't keep an eye on your plant, it may be advisable to put a small amount of fungicide on the plant.  Most VFTs are dormant from USA's Thanksgiving Day(November) to Valentines Day(February) because it's easy to remember that way.

IX.  Flowering:  A mature VFT will often try to flower.  However, it should be noted that this does place stress on the plant and reduces it's growth for the season.  While it is rare for flowering to kill a plant, it does make them more susceptible to illness, so unless you feel you can handle unexpected problems, it may be best to remove the stalks as soon as you notice them.  VFT do not self pollinate particularly well and plants grown from seed take 5-7 years to reach flowering size.  These are all things to consider before deciding to let your plant flower.

X.  Moldy Insects:  So you have a fuzzy fly skeleton in a VFT trap and you don't know what to do.  Thankfully, the most common type of mold on insect skeletons seldom spreads to the plant and isn't cause for alarm.  If the bug is bugging you however, you can try blowing it out, or if worse comes to worse trip the trap while you use tweezers to pull it out.  Should the mold actually spread to the trap, remove the infected leaf.  Opinyons varry on the danger of lightly molded insects.  Some feel it is safer to trip the trap (thus reducing the traps life) and removing the insect while others feel the plant will be more upset by having the trap tripped then havinging a risky fungi sitting by it.  This is a personal dission to make.

XI.  Ask:  Obviously this FAQ Key is just a starting point and it can't possibly cover every scenario out there.  If you have any questions not answered by this FAQ, by all means, ask for help!  That's what this forum is for!

VFTs grow well in several types of set ups, but my experience has taught me that one in particular is very good for weakened plants.  Find a sunny windowsill or spot, if the plant is recovering from burn it shouldn't be direct sun, only indirect or filtered.  Alternatively, a 50-100 watt bulb 1-2 feet away will work okay.  Instead of keeping your plant in a tray of water, let the pot soak up water and then drain the tray (or learn how much water it will soak up per watering and give it that).  Repeat this daily to help maintain ideal moisture levels for growing in medium - low light.  I believe the way this works is that lighter water levels help reduce pathogenic organism populations in the soil, but I am not certain.  All I really know is just about any plant can pull out of a health decline in these conditions.  Plants that are recovering from burn or a health problem caused by something other than root/crown rot will do even better if the saturated pot is placed in a sealed terrarium.  They also benefit by not having to be rewaterd as often (once a week).  However, this growing method is not an acceptable long term growing method(except for red dragons if you have a good memory and don't mind the extra work).  Your plant will do better if slowly introduced to higher light and moisture levels after it's recovery is complete.  Good luck with your plant and don't forget to ask for help if you need it!

The information in this guid is ment to be treated as a guid-line for treating weakend and ill plants.  It is not ment to be used for general growing.  While I would like to cover the various meathoids used in cultivating VFTs, it would double the size of this FAQ so I will ensted leave that for another time.
</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (lil_flytrap_boy @ May 24 2003,6:35)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">That's good!
 Moderators, Please pin this topic!
[/QUOTE]<span id='postcolor'>
Thanks LFB
It took me a long time to write the blasted thing, but I think it was worth it

You have obviously worked very hard on this!

My comments are as follows.

Regarding the watering of the VFT's: established healthy plants of Doinaea are very happy sitting in water trays, inside terraria or outside of them. In my collection they are just about semi aquatic. In fact, if they are established, there is more to lose by allowing them to dry out than to remain wet, although it is a good idea to change the water in the tray from time to time.

My concern is that if one is constantly putting the plants in and out of water, at some point a mistake will happen. "Oops I forgot to but it back in the water tray, and it dried out!" I am sure that you have had problems with plants that rotted sitting in tray water, but you are generalizing a specific case, likely an unhealthy individual. Most growers have no problems with keeping healthy plants in tray watering throughout the growing season and in reproducing them using virtually hydroponic methods, so I can't endorse this part of your work. Use of a clean medium, pure water and airy medium to plant them in will discourage anaerobic processes, and is a lot less work, and much safer in the long run, especially for beginners or old folk with poor memories :)

Many of the problems associated with VFT's can be avoided by just letting them BE. Once the plant is growing, let it grow. Nothing further need be done. Don't poke at the medium to see if it is wet enough: this can break the fragile roots which are quite close to the surface on the rhizomes. Don't trigger the traps all the time since this too depletes the energy reserves of the plant.

My other comment is regarding the fungus that forms on old prey. This certainly should be removed! If you haven't had the problem of massive fungal infections in your collection you are lucky! Especially in terraria mold and fungus can destroy a collection in short order, and you can't be clean enough. Also it isn't very pretty. Fungus is not your friend.
Tamlin, your conserns are noted, but I'm not using generalisations.  The whole point of the thing above was to cover as many angles on growing the plants as possible.  However, most of your complaints seem to come from misreading the FAQ, which means I oviously need to clarify.  And please remember, Growing in pure water is an all together different process and can't be conpaired to water in a pot.  Water issues are heavly dependent on light levels, and the FAQ is ment to be used for ill plants, not healthy ones.  I'll fix it up a bit to clarify some things you conplained about (but to my knowledge where not said, lol).

Edit: Okay, I can kinda-sorta see how some stuff had double meanings so I put lots of little side notes all over and rewrote some stuff. Hopefully it clears up your conserns/misunderstandings. Let me know if something is still dramatically ant-Tamlin style and I'll rework in your methiod (since this was sapost to be a conglomerent of everything people here have said on given issues, I better be inclueding yours LOL) ...That goes for everyone, if you see something you dramtically disagrea with, please say so and I'll work on it.