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Basic Carnivorous Plant Care Information

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Basic Carnivorous Plant Care Information:

Unpacking Your Plants: We take great care in the packing of your plants, to ensure your plant arrives in the same condition in which it was shipped; so please e-mail us within 24 hours of arrival with photographs of your plants if you believe they have been damaged in transit. When unpacking your plants, please cut through the tape first, and carefully separate the plastic wrap from the soil. Cut the tape, do not just pull, as the plant could be ripped out of the soil. If any soil has been dislodged and is sitting on TOP of the growing point(s) or leaves of the plant, use a spray bottle filled with pure water (see Watering section) to spray the soil fragments off. Also, remember that your new arrivals have been in a dark box in extremely high humidity conditions (stuck inside the plastic cup!) for several days; we recommend using the cups as a temporary humidity dome, placing them back over the pot(s) once the packing materials have been removed. gradually remove the cup from over the pot over the course of several days. The same holds true for lighting: start in low-light conditions, and gradually increase the intensity of the lighting over several days until they are being grown in normal conditions

Watering: All carnivorous plants require pure water of some sort, such as distilled, reverse osmosis (RO), or rain water. Humidity and watering frequency varies by plant variety, but the key requirement is to not use tap water or your plant will die over the course of time. Treated tap water contains chemicals and dissolved solids which build up in the soil and will certainly affect the health of your carnivorous plant. Also, never let your plants dry out; place them in a tray or a pot with a saucer and add ¼ to ½ inch of water to the saucer. Allow the water in the saucer to be absorbed by the soil before you add water to the saucer, so that moisture can be kept in the soil but the roots have a chance to 'breathe' in between waterings. The soil around the base of the plant should be damp to the touch. The only exception to this rule is for Nepenthes; they should not be left in standing water or their roots may begin to rot. Remember: Do NOT let the soil dry out!

Soil: Almost all carnivorous plants grow best in acidic nutrient deficient soil. With the exception of Nepenthes (which we have the most success growing in pure long-fiber Sphagnum), we pot our plants in a mixture of Canadian Sphagnum Peat and Perlite. The peat provides an acidic soil, allowing the plant to remain strong and healthy; while Perlite provides for good soil drainage. If peat is used without a means of drainage, the roots of the plant may begin to rot. Replacement soil mixes or Long-fiber Sphagnum can be purchased from PetFlyTrap.com in the Supplies section. Never use potting soil or any nutrients of any kind in the soil: compost, fertilizers, anything that guarantees big beautiful plants. These plants get nutrients exclusively through their leaves and traps.

Tampering: Many carnivorous plants are very delicate. You should refrain from tampering with them, as you may affect the plant's ability to feed and it may ultimately die. The leaves of a Venus Flytrap are designed to open and close a limited number of times (approximately 7-10). 'Tickling' the trigger hairs on the inside of a Venus Flytrap trap with your finger or a toothpick will cause the trap to close; while this will not kill the plant, it will weaken the traps, and possibly make them useless when a bug actually finds its way to the flytrap's beckoning “mouth.” Sundews and Butterworts produce a “dew” on their surface that attracts bugs; touching the leaves will cause the “dew” to stick to you and not on the plant, and may actually damage the leaves' ability to produce more. Sarracenia and Nepenthes are very tolerant of probing hands and fingers.

Humidity & Air Circulation: While some carnivorous plants can tolerate lower humidity, they all prefer high humidity environments, and will stop producing pitchers/traps/dew (or may even die) if they are grown without enough humidity. Humidity supports the growth of pitchers on Nepenthes and Sarracenia, traps on flytraps, and “dew” on Sundews and Butterworts. In addition to the humidity level, lower (but not stagnant) air circulation over the plant will aid in the production and maintenance of dew on the leaves. This climate is often acheived by placing the plant under a plastic or glass dome with air holes to allow for air transfer. If a dome or cover is not available, frequent misting may assist in dew production. Keep in mind that direct outdoor sunlight while under any cover or container may result in the plant's death, due to high temperatures; these covers can act like a miniature microwave oven! While Sarracenia do not require high humidity, it does encourage healthy leaf growth.

Food: Carnivorous plants obtain few nutrients from the soil, but instead get them through their leaves. Bugs are a dietary supplement (like a vitamin pill) that help the plant to grow faster, but are not required in large quantities for the health and survival of the plant; they still absorb and store energy from the sun, just like other green plants. Contrary to myth, do not feed your plant hamburger or any other people/pet food; it will kill the plant. Never use fertilizer on your carnivorous plants' soil.

Light: Almost all carnivorous plants enjoy 14 to 16 hours of bright filtered light, either from a nearby window or from a soft white fluorescent terrarium or desk lamp. If growing the plants indoors, we typically recommend bulbs in the 5500K to 6500K color range, and placed 12 to 18 inches from the plant(s). The amount of light will determine plant coloration. As the light increases, color intensifies in pitcher plants and various species of flytraps. While carnivorous plants like sunlight, flytraps, sundews, Nepenthes and butterworts should avoid full sun if grown outdoors in the southern U.S.; the intensity of the light can increase the soil temperature to unacceptable levels and kill new plant growth. Sarracenia are native southern U.S. plants, and take full sun in the wild; this makes them excellent plants for an outdoor container garden. Nepenthes are the most light sensitive of the carnivorous plants; while they can take bright indirect light it’s best to start in a low light environment and slowly increase the amount or intensity of the light gradually to allow the plant to adjust to the environment. As with other carnivorous plants, the color of the pitchers will be affected by the light levels.

Important Notes: 1) It is not uncommon to receive a plant with a dead or dying pitcher or trap, as this is a normal occurrence in nature; simply trim off the dead plant matter. The plants grow new leaves out from the center. 2) Remove all coverings using the unpacking instructions above 3) Water plant immediately upon receiving it, using the watering instructions above. 4) Due to the humidity requirements, butterworts are not recommended for large terrariums. 5) Pitcher plants / Nepenthes pitchers missing fluid should be filled with a small amount of distilled water.

Of course, please feel free to contact us via e-mail at service@petflytrap.com or 281-433-3290 if you have any specific questions. We're happy to help!

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