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 (¼ to ½ inch deep) of standing water so that moisture can be kept in the soil. 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 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 extremely high acid content, 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.
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. Humidity supports the growth of pitchers on Nepenthes, as well as, “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 minimal air holes. If a dome or cover is not available, frequent misting may assist in dew production. Keep in mind that direct 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 and flytraps do not require high humidity, it does encourage healthy leaf growth.
Food: Carnivorous plants obtain little nutrients from the soil. Bugs are a dietary supplement that help the plant to grow faster, but are not required 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 bright filtered light, either from a nearby window or from a soft white fluorescent terrarium or desk lamp. 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, and butterworts should avoid full sun 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 the bright 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 flytrap; simply trim off the dead plant matter. The plants grow new leaves out from the center. 2) Remove all coverings and water plant immediately upon receiving it. 3) Due to the humidity requirements, butterworts are not recommended for large terrariums. 4) Pitcher plants / Nepenthes pitchers missing fluid should be filled ¼ way with distilled water.