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

Q: It is possible to overfeed a Venus flytrap?

Dionaea
Ooh! help, help!
A: I think so. First off, remember you must only feed them bugs and not meat from cows, horses, goats, etc. But even if you restrict yourselves to bugs and insects, you may overfeed your plants.

The bugs should not be too large. Meals much bigger than about 1/3 the length of a trap can be too big, causing the trap to blacken and die. Feed your plants small bugs.

Do not exceed about one bug per week. If you want to get your ghoulish pleasures more often, either buy more plants or eat the bugs yourself.

Once, in a strange experiment, I deprived a Venus flytrap of any prey for about a year. It grew alright, although slowly. Then, in the middle of summer, I put a bug in each of its traps. Within two weeks, nearly every trap blackened and rotted. The plant became a strange shade of very deep green, and stopped growing. Only after two months did the plant resume growth and the traps on the subsequent two or three leaves were distorted. So yes, I think you can overfeed a plant.

I think that plants grown in intense light are more successful at digesting prey without suffering leaf damage. But I don't have proof of this. But my hypothesis would explain why plants in terraria very often suffer leaf damage after being fed.

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

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Revised: January 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005