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Help - is my son's vft on it's deathbead?



My son purchased a VFT about one month ago. It seemed to be doing great until now. Last week it stopped eating, and the traps do not close even if the trigger hairs are stimulated. Three or four of the traps have died since this started.

The plant is in it's original 2" pot, which spends half of each day sitting in a pan of water. The clear plastic cover which came on the pot was kept on the plant for several days initially, but no longer fits without bending leaves. Also, my son was feeding it almost once/day in the first 1-2 weeks. Last, it sits on a desk approximately 4 feet from a window with a Northerly exposure (no direct sunlight on the VFT). And, my son doesn't "play" with the traps to see them close - He's read about six books on carniverous plants from the library, and he has gotten to see the traps close often with all those flies he put into them.

Is the VFT dieing? What should we do to return it to good health? Thanks!
Just my opinion, but feeding a VFT a lot of flies is the same thing as "playing" with the traps to see them close. The traps on the Dionaea muscipula only open and close a certain amount of times before they no longer work...kind of like if you took a credit card and bend it back and forth enough, the plastic is going to wear out and snap.

My diagnosis would be a little more light, you don't need the cup on top unless it is extremely dry in there. Should be enough humidity for it with it in a tray of water. I also wouldn't feed it so much, cut back to at least once every other week. Every day is way too much.

Should be fine after that, as long as there aren't any other problems.

Which books did your son read and how old is he?
I agree with Vertigo. It sounds like the plant is being greatly overfed. This often results in the material in the trap decaying, which leads to death of that trap. In this case, the trap turns black, but the rest of the leaf is green. If the entire leaf and trap dies at the same time, I would guess that you have some other problem. If the problem is simply overfeeding that is killing the traps, new leaves and traps will eventually emerge.

Also, a 2-inch pot is OK but rather small. The smaller the pot, the less "buffer" there is for over watering or over drying. If you carefully knock the soil and plant out of the 2-inch, you can easily put it into a larger pot without disturbing the plant. A good soil mix is milled sphagnum peat alone or a mixture of peat and silica sand and/or perlite. Never use the standard potting soil or fertilizer.
WOW!!! I was just about to write the same message.  I would really like to know what is going on too.

The only difference though is that some of the leaves to the trap are wrinlke as if they were not getting enough water and than overwater.  
yet, i am constant.  

The plants are sitting in a water tray. - Distill water.

The humdity level is a steady 70%.

I don't know how bright the light is but the tank is very bright.

What are they eating? I give the VFTs one Juicy Fat ant every two weeks.

Please - help the both of us.

Thank you for your reply in advance.
</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (aplantlover @ April 17 2003,2:18)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">WOW!!! I was just about to write the same message.  I would really like to know what is going on too.

The only difference though is that some of the leaves to the trap are wrinlke as if they were not getting enough water and than overwater.  
yet, i am constant.  The plants are sitting in a water tray. - Distill water.

Please - help the both of us.

Thank you for your reply in advance.[/QUOTE]<span id='postcolor'>
Where on the leaf is wrinkling? Is there any discoloration or color change?

How long ago did you receive it? Did you buy it at a store or was it shipped from a nursery?
They are wrinkle just below the trap.  Some of the traps that want close are red but they are suppose to be common VFTs.

One of them have a brown hole.  The other are green.  Now, up until two weeks ago the ones that turned black had replacemnet traps coming out.  Now,
I don't know what is going on.

I got the plants (6) in late February.

They were purchase at the nursey.  I got the best of the lot because I did not want to hear my wife complaining about me nursing plants back to life again.  

only rainwater that is clean, distilled or r.o. water.  Not tap water or mineral water.

Feeding a couple or three bugs a month is MORE than enough.
Definately would like to have some more light; if you put it in a sunny window; definately leave the top off so you won't steam cook your plant.

Feed only insects, not people food of any kind; hamburger, etc. WILL certainly at least kill the trap if not the whole plant.

Flies, small crickets, etc. work fine as long as the insects are no larger than say 2/3 of the trap size.

It is common for the trap to die after digesting a large meal; even if it's the first meal.  

Keep plant standing in a tray of water, especially if its in a real sunny location in this growing season.   Don't let the soil stay waterlogged on a long term basis, if growing indoors; occasionally, let the growing medium go to damp to help oxygenate the soil; but for the most part; keep medium damp to wet all the time for now.  your planting medium may be real compacted and root bound; so replant using Canadian Spaghnum peat moss, and half perlite or silica sand.

For a single plant; a 3 to 4 inch pot is more than large enough and I've experienced much more robust growth when in a smaller pot when the plant doesn't concentrate on root development.  You will get larger traps in a smaller pot.  Use a plastic or glazed ceramic pot, but not a shallow one.  Pot should be as deep as it is wide, as a GENERAL rule of thumb.

Don't tamp the soil at all after repotting; just tap the container on the table after your plant is repotted and that is all the tamping you need to do.  Peat is real dense. Forget all you learned about regular house plants; it doesn't apply to these unique plants.

Fertilizer will kill your plant;

Water good, and see if it snaps out of it.

Welcome to the CP club.

Poster 1: Make sure you are using distilled water. Otherwise, I think all your plants traps are worn out. It should recover np with some time to grow new traps. Just remove the dead leaves as they go.

Poster 2: Their are several things that could be your plants problems. They may be going crash dorment, one of mine did this recently. However, if I had to make a stab in the dark, I'd say your conditions are too wet. Terrarium VFT really shouldn't be kept in standing water, weekly tray watering to saturation should be effective in keeping the soil moist without letting the water become stagnent and yeild root rot.

It's hard to say exactly what the issue is, could you tell us a pattern of leaf death (how it spreds accross the leaf and what colors you get)?
  • #10
</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">However, if I had to make a stab in the dark, I'd say your conditions are too wet[/QUOTE]<span id='postcolor'>

Darcie, just to confuse things, what do you think of this: I keep all my VFT's on the tray method 24/7 in 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water....That's pretty wet. They all thrived. How wet is too wet? I know they do generally grow where it's not always waterlogged, but I find (in my limitted experience) that they are quite water-hardy (can you say "water-hardy?")

Things that make you go "hmmmmm."
  • #11
I keep my VFT's the same way as schloaty and all of them except for the 'Akai Ryu' don't really have a problem at all. Even though they do well like that, i'm still thinking of letting them 'drip-dry' for a day or two to allow more airation of the soil.
  • #12
That's what I do. About a week or two soaking in water, then let the pan dry out for a day or two.

The first poster has a ten year old. What's the chance that the kid doesn't play with the traps? None!!

Don't play with the traps, or they'll die.
  • #13
That's why i'm curious as to the books. One of six must have said this.
  • #14

His plant is not in a terrarium.

He was talking about the clear cover that comes with the plant that should be removed.

I do the same as above as far as the water issue.

You should have them always in water if in Sunny Conditions;
artificial lighting could cause rhyzome rot is left too long waterlogged.

I believe Darcie when she told him the traps are spent.

It will make new ones.
  • #15
Feeding: You should feed the vft 2 times a month something like a cricket but not a rolly polly , make sure the cricket is 3/4 or smaller then the trap or when te trap closes after a week or so it mite start to grow mold on th pray.

Lighting: A vft can have direct sunlight. If you use grow lights make sure they are turned on and over the plant for about 14-16 hours a day.

Watering: vft love water. Water when soil doesn't look moist.

Humidity: All vft's from my reserch love humidity and high temps in the higher 70's. Humidity should be aout 65% for a vft for it to grow.

Dont keep it in a platic cover thing throw that out and just take a fish bowl and cover it with that, so the oping of the fish bowl will be the base.

Have fun growing this plant. Hope it gets better and you are know going to love these plants. THE ARE ADDICATIVE. LOL--Phil
  • #16
The leafs are wrinkling because lack of light and to much Humdity. The leafs wrinkle and curl and become yellow and trhen the trap dies right. It happened to me whe i was a new bie to Cp's
Use only distilled or rain water.
  • #17
It seems like either of the following or could none of them
1. Not enough light
2. The soil is to moist or to dry
3. Never got its sleep (dormancy)
4. Sudden change of enviroment
5. Not humid enough (I doubt it)
6. Complications coming out of dormancy (not all vft's make it through dormancy due to conditions - know matter what you do sometimes they just die)

I would go with not enough light and possible waterlog. Lighting is really important to cps. As I would find a better lighting condition (east or west windowsills work the best).

Hope that helps,
  • #18
</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (Phil traper2 @ April 17 2003,8:14)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">Humidity: All vft's from my reserch love humidity and high temps in the higher 70's. Humidity should be aout 65% for a vft for it to grow.[/QUOTE]<span id='postcolor'>

Phil traper2, if done slowly, flytraps can be weaned off high humidity.  Mine grow in my south window in trays with ~¼" of water in the tray that is allowed to dry out for no longer than three and sometimes four days in the winter and never during the summer.  I have seven VFTs growing in an 18"L x 5'W x 5D window planter.  I water it when the surface looks dry.  The humidity is usually about 35% but it can be much lower.  The trick is to lower the humidity slowly so the leaves have time to adapt to the change.
  • #19
The traps are dying because of the frequency ofd the feedings. Your plant does not need to be fed at all. If you want to feed it, do it at a maximum of once every 2 weeks, and only one trap on the plant, not all of them. Give it a lot of light. I keep my green dragon fly traps in a nine inch pot, which sits in a large bowl of water, that way the soil just absorbs the water. Good luck, and your plant should revive withing a few weeks.
  • #20
</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (garth66 @ April 17 2003,10:49)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">Hi,
...my son was feeding it almost once/day in the first 1-2 weeks.[/QUOTE]<span id='postcolor'>
He wasn't by chance feeding it dead flies was he?  I ask because you either bought a nice big VFT with lots of traps or the traps were opening back up a day or so later and getting re-fed.
VFT traps need the trigger hairs stimulated at two different points in the trapping sequence.  First when the bug enters the trap and triggers it closed.  Then again after the trap is closed in order to activate the traps 'sealing' response.  The insect usually triggers the second response by continuously tripping the trigger hairs while moving around trying to get out.  Dead bugs just lay there and the trap reopens rather than waste energy on digesting something that could be junk such as a piece of leaf or twig that was blown into the trap by chance.
I put my VFTs outside during the summer and let them catch their own food. They do quite well