The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 11.5
- courtesy of -
The International Carnivorous Plant Society

Q: I goofed by using bad soil or water. What should I do now?

A: The soil that your plant should be in must be something like a 50:50 mix of peat moss and sand. Other acceptable mixes are some other combination of peat moss, washed sand, washed gravel, washed perlite, or Sphagnum.

If you replanted your Venus flytrap in something really dreadful like "potting soil," or anything with fertilizers, you have messed up big-time. Left alone, your plant is almost certainly going to die. It will produce a few distorted leaves, probably without any traps on them, and will rot. To avoid this, you must replant your plant, regardless of the season. Prepare a 50:50 mix of peat moss and horticultural sand. Then don't replant any of your carnivores again until you have learned more.

If you have been watering your plant with impure water a few times (so the exposure has only been for a few weeks), the situation isn't too bad. First, get some pure water. Put your plant in the sink, and pour enough water into the pot so the water drains out the bottom of the pot. Pour enough water into the pot so the planting medium flushes entirely. Maybe you should do this a few times. That's all the situation merits. But in the future, use better water. I remember that once I accidentally watered my entire collection of Nepenthes with saltwater! Actual saltwater intended for a tropical fish aquarium! I flushed the pots as I describe above, and the plants were fine.

If you've been watering your plant with bad water for several months, and the plant is clearly declining, things are bad. Often the soil itself will be collapsing upon itself as it degrades. In this case, you must change the potting soil, as I described above. Use better water in the future.

If you've been watering your plant with bad water for several months and the plant is doing just fine, your water is probably just fine after all. The municipal water that comes to your house is acceptable for carnivorous plants for some lucky people. I don't know if you're one of them.

If you applied a water soluble fertilizer to your plant's soil, a good water drenching should probably fix the situation. Don't do that again, OK?

Page citations: Rice, B.A. 2006a; personal observation.

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Revised: January 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005