Hey guys! Today I thought I would make a
video about my carnivorous plants. I only have these three, but I am totally
fascinated by them and I would love to add to my collection. These are my 3 –
two Venus flytraps and one pitcher plant. I’ll put links in the description to
websites that can give you more information about these plants, too. So the
Venus flytraps are native to North and South Carolina in the United States and
the pitcher plants – well, pitcher plants are native to a lot of places. They
belong to two genuses, or genera. This one is from the genus Nepenthes and they’re
called tropical pitcher plants. They’re native to tropical areas in mostly the
eastern hemisphere. But the other one is called – the other genus is called
Sarracenia and those are native to Canada and parts of North America. I
would really like to get my hands on one of those guys. See how these pitchers
hang down from each leaf? The leaf grows out and then grows a little stem like
this and forms a tiny pitcher at the end that hangs down, but in the North
American ones they radiate up from the center of the plant and stick up. Maybe one day I’ll have one of those, too. Okay, so why do these plants eat bugs?
Well, the soil they naturally grow in is missing important nutrients that they
need – specifically nitrogen and phosphorus – so they get their extra
nutrients from insects. Neither of these two plants would survive the winter
where I live so I keep them inside. The thing is, you can’t just treat them the
way you treat your other houseplants, so here’s how you take care of carnivorous
plants – at least these specific carnivorous plants. Before you can get
around to the fun of feeding them insects, you have to make sure they’re
happy. They need to be in well-draining soil, so that means you need something with a healthy dose of peat moss, finely ground
tree bark, sand, vermiculite, something like that that helps it drain. You can
even do what I did with the the succulents and put a layer of
coarse sand or gravel at the bottom, and then top it with soil mixed with whatever medium you’re using to help it drain. Watering is another really, really
important factor for these guys, because tap water is full of minerals and it
will totally fry their roots. You cannot give these guys tap water.
Even purified water is bad for them, so you really need to use either rainwater
or distilled water. I use distilled water You can see during the growing
season I’m watering them from the bottom. They’re sitting in distilled water. For
the same reason that the tap water is not good for them, you can’t ever add
fertilizer to the soil. Do not ever, ever, ever fertilize the soil of these guys. It
will kill them. So we know that these plants are adapted to poor soil but they
also are adapted to seasonal changes. So you have to kind of mimic those seasonal changes for them inside your house if you’re keeping them as houseplants. Right now it’s during the growing season and I have these in a really sunny spot
but also under a grow light, because during their growing season – which is
about between March and October – they need a lot of sun – full sun. They need a lot of water. So it’s best to keep their pot sitting in about 1/4 inch to 1/2
inch of water. Remember it has to be distilled water. And I just add a little
more each day or every other day just to keep them watered from the
bottom. If the water looks dirty or anything I just dump it and replace it
with clean water. They also like warmer temperatures.
They’re pretty tolerant to temperature changes but they do best above 60
degrees during their growing season. But in November everything will change.
Between November and February they go through a dormancy period. You’ll see the
leaves, especially on – I haven’t seen the pitcher plant yet during dormancy season,
but on the Venus flytrap the leaves – I thought it had at least one that was
turning brown – well, the leaves will turn black, turn brown and then they turn
black, and they die off. And you just clip those off, but some of the leaves they’ll
grow, these little leaves without any traps on the ends of them. Those will
last through the whole dormancy period. Those are just for photosynthesis.
They don’t trap things during their dormancy period because it just takes
too much energy. During their dormancy period they need colder
temperatures, because that’s what triggers them to go dormant. So at some
point in November or at the beginning of November or end of October I will take
them and move them to a colder spot. And they won’t need to be sitting in water.
They won’t need as much water. I’ll just keep the soil damp all the time. And the
moss on top here really helps with that because it keeps the water from
evaporating between waterings. I’ll still give them distilled water, just not as
much. But they need to be in a cold place. So if I had a garage or a shed, that’s
where I would put them during the winter but I don’t because I live in an
apartment, so they will just sit next to a drafty window in my apartment during
the winter. I’m sure you noticed that one of my Venus flytraps has much bigger leaf
traps than the other. I’m not sure… just for perspective,,, you can see these leaf
traps are about half the size of those. This is what happens when you don’t give
your plant a cold place to be dormant for for the winter, for the
dormant season. It looks a lot better now. It’s got a lot more traps on it than it
did, but for a while it was really struggling. I wasn’t sure it was gonna
make it. So they really do need that dormancy period between November and
February. Okay now for the fun part! Let’s feed these guy! Now, while it would be
great to give them live bugs every week and I’m sure they would love it, I do not
have time to catch house flies and wrangle them into the traps. So instead I
am going to feed them freeze-dried insects that are sold at pet stores for
pets like lizards and turtles. I have mealworms here but also blood
worms or small crickets will all work. But the crickets would be too big for my
plants right now. Maybe they might fit into the pictures, but I went ahead and
went with mealworms because they’re smaller and easier to handle. For
the pitcher plant if I went ahead and bought the crickets and they were too
big, obviously if it was too big it just wouldn’t go into the pitcher and
wouldn’t hurt the plant. But for the Venus flytrap if you put something in
here that’s too big, if it gets prey in there that’s too big and it tries to
close around it, it’ll close but it won’t seal properly. And if it doesn’t seal
properly then it’s very vulnerable during digestion, so that allows bacteria
to get in there, inside the trap and then into your plant, and that can really harm
your plant. So you should make sure not to put anything that’s bigger than about
one-third the size of the trap into the trap for a Venus flytrap.
So here’s what I have. I have mealworms and we can use a full mealworm for this largest pitcher over here but for the Venus flytraps I have them
cut into pieces already. You’ll notice that I also have here, I have tweezers so
that I can put them into the traps without using my fingers. I try to keep
all my tools clean so as not to introduce any unnecessary bacteria into their traps. And then I also have this little toothpick here. I’m not gonna use
the floss for anything with them, but for the fly traps, there are these external
hairs on the traps. You can see along the outside that kind of close up and keep
things from getting out – larger insects from getting out – but
inside the trap are little hairs, too, and if the inside trap hairs -looking here
you can see some in here – if the inner hairs are not triggered by the prey then
it won’t seal. It’ll open back up to let to let go, because it doesn’t want to
expend all that energy to digest something if it’s not a living thing. For example, that keeps it from wasting its digestive energy on a little twig
that happened to fall into the trap. We’ll have to kind of tickle those hairs
with the end of our toothpick to get it to seal properly. For this big trap right
here I’m going to pick up this larger piece of mealworm and just – oh I just
dropped it, okay, all right, I’m having trouble doing the video and the feeding
at the same time. I’m going to put that in there and then I will get my
little toothpick, push it to the middle, and then tickle these hairs just a
little bit try to get it to close. This one doesn’t want to close. Mm here’s an open one maybe we’ll try
this one. Alright, let me try to move
this mealworm to a different trap. One thing to keep in mind is that, yes,
these are really fun to trigger and watch them close, but each trap can only
close about two to four times before it exhausts its energy for that leaf, and
then the leaf will die off and your plant has to grow a new leaf. It takes a lot
of energy to close these traps and then another, you know, a whole a lot more
energy to digest what’s in them. So you don’t want to make them close any more
than they really have to. This guy does not seem to want to close on my
mealworms today. I’m gonna have to work on
him later. I’m gonna take this extra small piece and put it in one of these
traps. Let’s try this one. I need to kind of center it so that I know that
the the trap can close properly. There it goes. Closing… okay so now it’s closed but it needs to know – to think that there’s a
living thing in there so that it will seal so I’m kind of reaching between its
little little fingers of the trap and moving the mealworm around so that it
will go ahead and seal around it. Hopefully that one will
seal properly and then it will digest that little mealworm inside there. I want to take a full mealworm and put it inside one of these pitchers. The
pitchers are not as exciting to watch eat of course because they don’t snap
shut. But this one… can you see it inside there? This one has something
still inside it, actually. Probably the leftovers of its last meal which was a
roly-poly bug. So I’m going to try this pitcher – oh, this one’s easier to see
anyway. With this one I won’t need the – I shouldn’t need the toothpick.
I’ll just take this mealworm and put it right down… drop it down into the bottom.
The pitchers are kind of cool because if you hold them up to the light
you can see kind of the digestive liquid in the bottom. It’s kind of hard to see,
but it sloshes around a little bit. It actually is full of liquid all the time
and now this mealworm is just down in the bottom there and it will be digested.
These guys like to be fed about once a week. Not more than that, because they
would expend too much energy. I’m going to keep trying to feed this one,
see if I can feed him, but I may have to just wait until all the other traps open
back up. It can take them several days to open back up after you’ve closed
them, unless they realize right away that there’s nothing inside. He also
has some little baby leaves growing there,
new little baby traps, so soon those will be big enough to feed, too. I hope you
liked my video and you learned something new about carnivorous plants. Thanks for
watching! Please like and subscribe.