Feeding your flytraps is fun, but should be done with proper care and technique to ensure the plant is not damaged or stressed out. If you read my Five Venus Flytrap Facts post, you know that feeding is not a necessary part of flytrap care. However, I know some folks really get a kick out of watching the traps go, so I’ve put together this guide on Venus fly trap food and proper feeding techniques. When done properly with young flytraps, feeding can boost their growth significantly!
Quick reminder: Don’t overfeed. Only feed 2 traps per plant once a week at the most!
Quick tips: I recommend using a toothpick or a pair of tweezers to feed your plants. Flytraps in particular need to feel live prey struggling after the trap snaps shut. This will further stimulate the trigger hairs and signal the trap to create a seal. Once the seal is made, the plant releases digestive juices and takes nourishment from the food. You can simulate the struggle of live prey by gently (GENTLY!) pressing against the two sides of the trap with your toothpicks or tweezers.
On to the menu!
Live insects such as spiders, ants, and flies are the obvious first choice. Anything that crawls or flies with six legs will make a fine meal for your plant. These are high in nitrogen, which is exactly what carnivores need as nourishment. However this is the feeding choice that takes the most effort, obviously! You will have to catch the prey yourself in order to hand-feed your plants. It’s much easier to just let the plants do the work. 😉 There is also no need to press against the sides of the trap since the struggle of live prey is there!
Betta fish pellets are my personal preference for Venus fly trap food. It may seem like an unusual choice, but there is lengthy discussion on various forums about the benefits of betta fish food for nearly all carnivorous plants. They have provided fantastic results for me! I fed these to my sundews grown from seeds and was so overwhelmed by plants within a year, I had to give away at least half of them! Pellets can be crushed to feed seedlings or young plants. They do need a few drops of water before feeding them to plants. I recommend pellets over flakes mainly for convenience. It’s hard to get a flake on a toothpick! Flakes are also messier and get everywhere. Pellet form is simply easier. or you can get them at any pet food or fish supply store. One container will certainly last you forever, or at least a year! In my humble opinion, this is definitely the way to go for feeding your plants.
Bloodworms are a lot like betta fish pellets in that they are sold everywhere as fish food and have many of the same nutrients. They are often sold freeze-dried and you will need to get them wet before feeding them to your plants. Again, they are or your local pet food store. I have no personal experience with using bloodworms as food, but many carnivorous plant growers swear by them. They appear to be a bit more expensive than Betta pellets, but the choice is completely up to you. I’m sure neither feeding method has any significant advantage over the other. It’s just personal preference.
Mealworms can be either fed live or freeze-dried to your plants. Like with the other foods mentioned above, freeze-dried mealworms should be rehydrated in water. Live mealworms can be kept in a refrigerator, and can be fed kitchen scrap veggies to keep them alive. Keeping them at room temperature will cause them to pupate and turn into beetles, so keep them at your own risk! Some growers who also have reptiles or birds as pets will breed mealworms to keep an abundant food supply. I have read some accounts of mealworms digging and chewing their way out of traps after being fed. Some growers sever the head or put the worm under boiling water for a few seconds to combat this issue. I’m not a squeamish person, but torturing insects is not something I’d personally want to do!
IMPORTANT final tips!
- Make sure your Venus fly trap food is no bigger that 1/3 of the trap you’re feeding. Food that is too big will not create a proper seal and the trap may die or re-open without digesting its meal.
- Do not feed your Venus flytraps during dormancy. During this time, the plant is resting and saving all of its energy for the next growing season. The trap will close very slowly, or may not close at all. Save the feeding for the growing season!