Dionaea muscipula: Venus’s Fly-trap

Those who like the odd and unusual will surely add this Garnivorous plant to their collection, and will not regret having done so.

Though in older books dionaea is generally described as a very sensitive plant, this is not true. It can be grown in a room for many years if its basic requirements are met.

Dionaea is indigenous to North America, more precisely to the swamplands of Carolina and Florida. Its only special requirement is constant high humidity throughout the whole year. For this reason it should be grown either in a demijohn or aquater-rarium, or by the waterside in a paludarium. The compost must be acidic, not too rich, best of all a mixture of cut up green sphagnum moss, some beech litter, including leaves that have not yet decayed, charcoal and sand. The surface should be covered with green sphagnum moss. Though it is recommended to reduce the temperature in winter, if the plant is put in a well-lit spot (such as a southern window) in an enclosed, moist environment, then it may be overwintered even in warm conditions.

Dionaea is loveliest in late spring and early summer when it flowers and the leaves begin to turn a deep red. The greenish-white flowers are attractive and, in relation to the plant’s size, large. In gardening catalogues they are often described as pink, but unfortunately this is only a promotional trick, and quite an unnecessary one at that, for the plant is very decorative as it is.

The leaf blade serves as a trap to catch insects which provide the necessary nutrients that the plant is unable to obtain in the nitrogen-poor peat bogs where it grows. The fly that alights on the red surface of the leaf irritates one of the four sensitive hairs on either half of the trap, thus causing it to snap shut (within 2 to 3 seconds). The imprisoned insect is then digested by the enzymes secreted by the leaf. If you grow this plant you need not capture flies to feed it; it will get hold of them by itself, and if not it will do well even without this supplementary diet.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, House Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dionaea muscipula: Venus’s Fly-trap

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