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Out of all the carnivorous plants that you can buy, the Venus Flytrap is perhaps one of the easiest to grow. The one thing to remember is that it does come from a specialist environment which is why it obtains its ‘nutrients’ in such a unique way. This does mean however, that Venus flytraps require water that has a very low mineral content otherwise these plants will almost certainly die.
WARNING, do not give you Venus flytraps water straight from the tap without being sure of its mineral content!
In their native habitat – which is only a small area of marshy coastal country straddling the border between North and South Carolina – Venus flytraps have evolved to survive in low nutrient environments, such as bogs or the wet savannas.
Their specialised physiology allows them to thrive in wet environments, and this needs to be mimicked when keeping Venus fly traps at home. The easiest way is to – presuming they are growing in a pot – is to keep the pot in a high sided saucer filled with water. They will need to be kept standing in water for most of the year, and this is where the science comes in because you can’t just use any old water
The Venus flytrap requires mineral-free water which is fine if your tap water is relatively pure (less than 50 parts per million in dissolved minerals), because then you can safely water your flytrap with it - the easiest way. If - like most of us - your tap water is unsuitable, use filtered rainwater, bottled distilled water or water that has passed through a reverse-osmosis unit. Do not use bottled mineral water.
As mentioned before, Venus fly traps come from a nutrient poor environment and this can leave the roots at risk from damage through ex-osmosis.
The definition of osmosis is:
'...osmosis is the diffusion of water through a semi-permeable membrane. More specifically, it is the movement of water across a semi-permeable membrane from an area of high water potential (low solute concentration) to an area of low water potential (high solute concentration)...'
Ex-osmosis occurs when the concentration of water soluble minerals in the root environment is greater than the concentration of soluble minerals within the actual root. When this happens water moves from the root cells to the soil causing a state of dehydration within the root. If ex-osmosis continues then the root cells eventually die causing a condition known commonly as 'root burn'.
While it is important to have your Venus flytraps standing in water during their active growing season, it is acceptable for the soil to be just moist or damp for short periods - although the soil should never be allowed to dry out completely. During their winter dormancy period it is better to keep the soil just damp and not let the plant sit in water as it would have done during the growing season.
It is also worth transplanting your Venus flytraps into fresh compost every few years as this will help to avoid an inevitable build up of nutrients and toxins within the root environment.
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