Why Do Venus Flytraps Need Distilled Water?

Carnivorous plants like the Venus Flytrap are fast becoming household favorites. However, they require a completely different type of care from regular plants. The biggest difference is that Venus Flytraps must be watered with distilled water.

Venus Flytraps need distilled water because they cannot handle water with a higher level of dissolved solids. They grow in acidic, often mineral-deficient soil. Adding more minerals can cause diseases like root rot or upset the soil’s pH balance.

In the rest of this article, I’ll explain why Venus Flytraps need distilled water and how to make distilled water. I’ll also give you a few alternatives and explain what kind of water you should not use for your Venus Flytrap.

Why Venus Flytraps Need Distilled Water

Venus Flytraps are beautiful and fascinating plants. Obviously, they’re different from regular plants because they’re carnivorous. But did you know that they also differ from regular plants in another way?

The main difference is the environment they grow in. Venus Flytraps have adapted to an environment with very acidic, mineral-deficient soil. Because they don’t get the necessary nutrients from the soil, they’ve adapted by trapping and eating live insects and grub. Thus, they get most of their nutrients from their prey instead of the soil.

That’s why you have to use distilled water for your Venus Flytrap to avoid adding to the soil’s nutrient content. Distilled water is pure water with no minerals, making it perfect for Venus Flytraps.

In contrast, other water sources like tap water or mineral water have more Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), which will add to the soil’s nutrients. In excess, these nutrients can make your Venus Flytrap more susceptible to root rot or slightly alter the pH.

What Kind of Water Is Suitable for Venus Flytraps?

As I mentioned earlier, Venus Flytraps need water that contains little to no minerals. Tap water or bottled mineral water will slowly kill your Venus Flytraps.

Let’s see which kinds of water you can use for your Venus Flytrap.

Distilled Water

The best option for a Venus Flytrap is distilled water. This kind of water is pure water with no dissolved solids. It’s often used in laboratories where any impurities could ruin an experiment. It’s also sometimes used in suspension medicines that need pure water to avoid impurities and risks of contamination.

Distilled water is made by boiling water to form water vapor and then condensing that vapor into water in a separate container. The condensed water doesn’t have any impurities of the original water.

You can buy distilled water from local pharmacies, supermarkets, or online.

Precipitation (Rain and Snow)

Another easy source of water for Venus Flytraps is precipitation. Rain and snow have a much lower mineral content than tap water because they fall from the sky instead of coming up from the ground.

Precipitation is nature’s way of distilling water. Water vapor rises into the air and condenses in the clouds to fall back in the form of rain or snow. So you can install a rainwater harvesting system or just put buckets outside to catch it. That water can be used for your Venus Flytraps.

However, if you live near the sea, you may want to avoid using rainwater directly on your Venus Flytrap, as it might contain too much salt. You can let rainwater sit for at least 24 hours to let the harmful content settle or dissipate before using it on your Venus Flytrap. 

To learn more about about how long you must let water sit before using it on your plants, you can read my other article here: How Long Should Water Sit Before Using It On Plants?

Reverse Osmosis Water (RO)

If you can’t use regular distilled water or rainwater, there’s one more option: reverse osmosis (RO) water. This water is distilled and purified by passing water through a semipermeable membrane. This membrane allows water molecules to pass through but filters out larger particulate matter and molecules.

Thus, water run through an RO system is usually around 90-99% pure. This makes it suitable for a Venus Flytrap.

Many conventional drinking water filters use RO to filter the water. So, if you have an RO filter at home, you can use the water from that to water your Venus Flytraps.

Difference Between Distilled Water, Tap Water, and RO Water

Here’s a quick look at some key differences between distilled water, tap water, and RO water. In the table below, I’ll list some of the main differences to show why distilled water and RO water are suitable for Venus Flytraps while tap water isn’t.

Note: The level of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is measured in parts per million (ppm).

Tap WaterDistilled WaterRO Water
TDS Level ppm (Average)50-1000 ppm~10 ppm~25 ppm
Purification processBoiling removes bacteriaDistilling removes minerals, toxins, and bacteriaRO removes minerals, toxins, and bacteria
Suitable for DrinkingSuitable if TDS level is below 300 ppmSuitable for drinkingSuitable for drinking

As you can see above, there is a big difference between the level of dissolved solids in distilled water and RO water versus tap water. Distilled water made at home typically has a TDS level of less than 10 ppm. Professionally distilled water for laboratory or medicinal use generally has a TDS level below 0.5 ppm.

Boiling is the most common form of water purification for tap water. However, boiling does nothing for dissolved minerals or toxins in the water. This is why even boiled tap water isn’t suitable for watering a Venus Flytrap.

Can Venus Flytraps Survive With Tap Water?

Venus Flytraps can survive on tap water for a very short while. However, using tap water on them routinely will kill them. If you’ve accidentally used tap water, you should drain the water and immediately switch to distilled water. If they’re wilting, you’ll have to repot them immediately.

If you don’t have alternative water sources and only have tap water for your plants, you can still use it on your Venus Flytrap. Tap water causes a slow build-up of minerals, so it won’t kill your Venus Flytrap immediately. 

However, if the build-up continues for a few weeks, it can kill your plant. The good part is that you have a little time to try to fix the mistake and revive your plant.

How To Make Distilled Water

Since we’ve established that distilled water is the best for watering a Venus Flytrap, let’s move on to obtaining some. It might seem impossible to obtain such pure water. However, there are ways to make some at home.

Let me explain the easiest and cheapest way to make distilled water at home.

You will need the following materials to make distilled water:

  • A stove
  • A large stainless steel or aluminum container
  • A smaller glass or metal bowl (lightweight)
  • A lid to cover the large container
  • A sterilized container to store the distilled water

Distilled water is made by boiling impure water and then condensing the water vapor to collect pure water.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Fill the large container halfway with tap water.
  2. Place the smaller bowl inside, making sure it floats on the water.
  3. Put the lid upside down on the large container.
  4. Place the entire setup on the stove and heat it until the water is boiling.
  5. The water vapor will condense on the upside-down lid and fall into the smaller bowl.
  6. When there’s enough water in the smaller bowl for it to start sinking, remove it.
  7. Store the distilled water in a sterilized container.

Alternatively, you can buy a water distiller to regularly make distilled water at home. I’d recommend the Mophorn Pure Water Distiller (available on Amazon.com), which comes with a timer, a one-switch system, and a container to store your distilled water. You can easily set it up, leave it to work, and return later to a container full of pure water.

Final Thoughts

Venus Flytraps are picky about the environment they can grow in. They’ve adapted to nutrient-deficient, acidic, and moist soil, so you have to provide those conditions for your houseplants as well.

Tap water contains many nutrients, which would be good for normal plants. However, the same minerals in the water can kill your Venus Flytrap. To avoid that, you should use distilled water to water them. Alternatively, reverse osmosis water is also acceptable if you can’t use distilled water.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of TheGrowingLeaf.com, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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