Plants require different things to ensure that they stay alive and well. While most plants require sunlight, water, and nutrients in their soil, different kinds of plants’ life cycles present themselves very differently. In the instance of the Venus flytrap, should you cut off black traps?
You should cut off black Venus flytraps because it’s beneficial for the plant. Black traps have died either due to their natural lifecycle or from another factor. Cutting off the black trap, assuming it died naturally, prevents the plant from wasting energy maintaining them.
Venus flytraps are incredibly interesting plants and are very common houseplants. Understanding how to take care of them is very important for any plant owner. Read on to learn more about why Venus flytraps turn black, how to take care of them, what to do if your plant looks like it is dying, and more.
The Life Cycle of Venus Flytraps
Venus flytraps are incredibly different from most other plants. Most plants create all of the energy they need to survive using a cycle known as photosynthesis, in which sunlight and carbon dioxide are converted into oxygen and glucose to power the plant’s growth.
Venus flytraps, conversely, fall within the category of carnivorous plants. These plants supplement their energy source by consuming living insects to absorb the nutrients such insects provide.
This unique adaptation has allowed Venus flytraps to survive for centuries, letting each individual plant live upward of 20 years when properly cared for. These plants have an incredibly unique lifecycle that evolves rapidly and explains why they change in appearance on an annual basis.
As part of their lifecycle, individual traps can only survive for a few cycles of consuming insects before they turn black and eventually die. Once this happens, another trap sprouts in its place.
Typically, each trap can close and reopen about five times before it can no longer support itself and die. This is a completely normal process, and you shouldn’t be worried if you see a few of your flytraps beginning to blacken and wither.
If you’re interested in learning more about the lifecycle of Venus flytraps check out: Do Venus Flytraps Die After They Eat?
Why Cut Black Traps
If you do see the trap starting to blacken, you should prune the plant by cutting it from the stem. Similar to a tree with a dead branch, eventually the stem would completely wither and die on its own.
However, the plant’s instinct is to keep itself alive, so it will continue to send nutrients to that part of the plant. Cutting off the black stem will prevent your plant from wasting these nutrients.
Use sterile and sharp scissors or hand pruners to make clean cuts and prevent the spread of infection in case the darkening of the traps is due to pests or diseases.
How to Keep the Traps From Turning Black
Venus flytraps aren’t necessarily the hardest plant to care for, but they certainly aren’t the easiest either. Although the traps will naturally turn black eventually, you can delay it by caring for your plant properly and preventing it from wasting valuable energy.
Venus flytraps are native to only a very small area full of marshes in North and South Carolina. This small area makes the conditions Venus flytraps need to survive somewhat specific. Fortunately, the climate these plants require can be relatively easily replicated.
Let’s take a deeper look at how to care for your Venus flytraps:
Keep the Soil Moist, but Not Wet
Venus flytraps love to stay moist, but they don’t like to drown either. Keep the soil moist, but don’t ever let the plants’ roots sit in water.
Venus flytraps still use photosynthesis to create some energy. However, if the plant has too much water, it can’t effectively break down the carbon dioxide or absorb any air, causing it to suffocate and die.
Additionally, when watering the plant, don’t use tap water because it contains minerals that can harm your plant. Use distilled or filtered water as much as possible.
You can learn more about their water requirements in this article: Why Do Venus Flytraps Need Distilled Water?
Allow the Plant to Rest During the Winter
Similar to people, many plants, including Venus flytraps, require time to rest. While some plants are native to tropical regions that constantly have warm weather and rain, many plants, particularly in North America and Europe are perennial.
It means that while they’ll come back year after year, they need to enter into their own version of hibernation during the winter time. If the plants don’t get time to relax, like humans, they can overwork themselves and die.
If you live in a climate that is comparable to the marshy areas of North and South Carolina, you might be able to grow your Venus flytrap outside. If you decide to grow your flytrap outside, there is generally very little work required in caring for your plant.
The humidity and moisture in your climate should be enough to sustain your plant, just make sure the plants are not in direct sunlight.
However, if you live in other regions with largely fluctuating daytime and nighttime temperatures, you’ll need to bring your plant indoors during winter, such as in the garage. This will allow your plant to refrain from feeding on insects and help preserve energy.
Avoid Touching the Traps
Despite being incredibly cool to watch, unless your plant has reached a decent level of maturity, try to avoid touching it. It isn’t at all dangerous to touch the plant, but it takes a lot of energy for a Venus flytrap to close.
Touching it compels the plant to close unnecessarily, accelerating the trap’s age. If you want each of the traps on your plant to live as long as possible, try to avoid touching them.
Caring for a Sick Venus Flytrap
While it’s normal for a couple of your Venus flytrap’s actual “traps” to turn black or wither, sometimes, too many of your traps can turn black at one point, reflecting that your plant might be sick from an infection or that it isn’t getting the nutrients it needs to survive.
If you notice the plant is beginning to yellow, blacken, wither, or feel squishy, your plant is probably having issues and needs to be cared for.
Here are some tips to care for your sick plant:
Water Your Plant Regularly
The best way to care for a dying Venus flytrap is to make sure that it gets the water and nutrients it needs. Give the plant distilled water and make sure that the excess water drains adequately from the soil so as not to sit at the bottom of the plot.
Run a Soil Test
The goal of a soil test is to see if the soil has suitable pH and avoid an excess of nutrients. Flytraps thrive in acidic soil with scarce nutrients, so it’s crucial to maintain the soil pH at around 5.0 for optimum plant health.
Too many nutrients can harm your Venus flytraps because the roots are not accustomed to absorbing them, resulting in root rot or fertilizer burn. Instead, these carnivorous plants supplement their nutritional requirement from their insect prey.
Ensure It’s Getting Enough Sun
You’ll also want to make sure that your plant is getting plenty of sunlight. Venus flytraps grow best when they receive at least six hours of bright but indirect sunlight daily. Place your pot near a curtained eastern or southern window and rotate the pot by 45-90° every time you water your plant.
Don’t Overfeed the Plant
If the plant captures an insect by itself, this is acceptable. However, indoor flytraps are less likely to capture insects. In this case, you can feed them flies, ants, or crickets. Feeding one trap at a time every 1-2 weeks is usually enough. Avoid feeding multiple traps simultaneously.
You can remove the exoskeleton of the dead insects before feeding another trap. To learn more about how to do it, you can read my article: Should You Remove Dead Flies From a Venus Flytrap?
Check the Condition of Your Other Plants
If none of these tips work, try to identify if any of your plants are still in decent condition. If so, cut off the healthy leaves and replant them in a separate pot. This smaller plant will eventually grow into a full plant.
If your original plant doesn’t recover, your new plant might survive the infection that killed your original plant.
A Venus flytrap can somewhat be needy in terms of requiring care. Due to the fact they only enjoy a very particular climate, you must replicate that climate if you want the plant to survive. Try to keep your plant’s soil moist and out of direct sunlight, and allow your plant to rest in the winter.
If you ever see any part of your plant turning black, you should prune it. While a few black traps don’t mean the plant is in bad condition, it’s important to prevent the plant from wasting energy trying to maintain the spent traps.