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Nature's Bug Catchers

Carnivorous plants are unusual specimens, thriving in swampy, acidic environments. Venus flytraps use a trapping technique with little "mouths" at the edge of their leaves, which shut on unsuspecting prey. Cape sundew have long tentacles, with a sticky substance that snags insects then wraps inwards. Pitchers are the most passive, with a sweet liquid sitting in their bells, that bugs slip and fall into. While all these plants are different, they generally require the same kind of care

Planting

Make a soil mix of half sphagnum moss and half perlite. The perlite helps the soil to retain moisture. Carnivorous plants like acidic soil, so the mix should be a pH range of around a 5. Never use ordinary or organic potting soil as this will kill the plant, as well as fertilizing. These plants have little tolerance for excessive nutrients so avoid adding sand or compost. Choose a pot with plenty of vertical space. These plants have long roots, so they need lots of room.

Placement

If you're keeping them inside, place them at a south facing window. They need plenty of airflow, so if you put them in a terrarium then leave an opening- but do not let them stand in an open draft.The air shouldn't be stagnant, but they also shouldn’t be feeling a breeze either. Keep them in a humid environment or they will stop producing leaves when the air gets too dry. They need at least twelve hours of light a day, or at least four hours of direct light.

If you're using fluorescent lighting, make sure the light is at least eighteen inches away. Use a bulb around the 6000K color range.The plants’ foliage will turn a brighter red the more light they get.

Watering

Only give carnivorous plants distilled, filtered water. The added minerals and chemicals like chlorine in tap water will kill the plant. The soil should never go completely dry during the growing season, which runs from about April to October. Keep the soil moist, but not completely soaked.

Dormancy

In November, carnivorous plants tend to enter a state of dormancy. During this stage, you'll have to care for them differently. The soil should by dryer, and you'll only need to water them about every two weeks. Still never let the soil dry out. You can test the moisture by placing your finger into the soil, and judge whether it needs more, but don't overwater or it can cause a fungal infection. Water the plant before noon, so the soil has time to dry a little before cold nights

They will still require light, so keep them in bright sun whenever you can. If the plant lives outside and temperatures drop below 30F/-1C, cover them in a thick mulch to protect them from the harsh weather. If it gets to cold then you should transfer them to a pot and bring them indoors.

Insect Feeding

Feeding thembugs isn't really necessary, but if want to feed the plant yourself, only do it when the plant is at its healthiest. They like small flies or other insects, and prefer them alive. For flytraps, their sensors, or long hairs at the edge of the mouths, sense vibration and will close. For the sundew, set the insect on the tentacle gently and do not force the tentacles to shut. Pitchers are the easiest, and you can just drop them into the opening. Do not tamper with the plants or try to force feed them, these plants are delicate and should be handled gently. Never feed them anything other than small insects.

Trimming

To encourage steady growth, pinch off dead or dying parts of the plant. If a leaf turns black you can snip it off at the base, which will help the plant focus its energy on growing better leaves.