Why Do Venus Flytraps Turn Black After Feeding?

Venus flytraps are very picky about their preferred environment. Everything—from their preferred type of water to the soil they need—has to meet particular conditions. If their conditions are not up to par, you might notice their traps turning black.

Venus flytraps usually turn black because the traps have reached the end of their natural lifespan. However, some turn black after consuming their prey because of an improper diet or overfeeding. If your traps turn black immediately after eating, check what you feed them and how often you feed them.

In the rest of this article, I’ll explain why Venus flytraps turn black and whether it’s something to cause concern. I’ll also discuss caring for your Venus flytraps to avoid these problems.

Reasons Why the Traps Turn Black

The truth is, there are many reasons why Venus flytraps turn black. Sometimes it’s nothing to worry about. Other times, it could indicate a problem.

So let’s look at some of the most common reasons why Venus flytraps turn black.

1. The Flytraps Have Reached the End of Their Lifespan

The most common reason Venus flytraps turn black is that the traps have reached the end of their natural lifespan. Venus flytraps produce multiple traps, which eventually grow old. When that happens, they turn black and fall off.

Sometimes, this might happen after they eat while they’re still digesting the meal. In that case, it’s not because there was anything wrong with the food. It’s simply because the trap is old.

If your traps turn black one at a time and fall off, then it’s likely because of old age. This process is a natural part of the flytraps life cycle—there is no cause for alarm. Your Venus flytrap will produce new traps to replace the old ones soon.

2. The Plant Is Going Dormant for Winter

Like many other plants, Venus flytraps aren’t tolerant of extremely cold weather. They tend to go dormant in the winter and produce new traps once the weather warms up.

If your plant’s leaves are turning black as it gets colder, it’s likely because it’s going dormant. This dormancy is nothing to worry about as long as you’ve correctly taken care of your plant. Just trim off the black leaves.

3. You’re Feeding Your Plant Too Much

Contrary to popular belief, Venus flytraps don’t need a lot of food. Generally, most wild Venus flytraps eat only once a week or two. So, you don’t need to feed your plants more than that.

Feed your flytraps once every 1-2 weeks at most. Also, take care not to feed them too much. A couple of worms or insects at a time is more than enough. Venus flytraps take a long time to digest that meal, so a decent worm or two will be more than enough for a couple of weeks.

4. You’re Using the Wrong Food

Another common mistake many new owners make is using the wrong food. Movies and stories have made it seem like Venus flytraps eat meat. However, they have a preferred type of food.

Venus flytraps usually eat insects or worms—you should never feed them meat. Some people feed Venus flytraps hamburger meat, which is too heavy for them. Giving them this meat will make the traps die before their time.

According to the New York Botanical Garden, Venus flytraps prefer a diet of:

  • Live crickets
  • Flies
  • Spiders
  • Slugs

If these aren’t available, you can also feed them worms, which are available in regular fishing shops.

5. You Have Incorrect Watering Practices

As I mentioned earlier, Venus flytraps are picky in every aspect, which extends to their watering requirements.

Venus flytraps require distilled water, rainwater, or reverse osmosis (RO) filtered water. You cannot use tap water to water your Venus flytraps because they contain too many minerals.

Another common mistake is watering them too often. Although Venus flytraps prefer moist soil, they are still susceptible to damage because of overwatering.

It’s best to bottom water them by placing the pots in a shallow dish of distilled or purified water and remove them after 10-30 minutes when the soil’s surface feels moist using the finger test. Allow the excess to drain out of the hole at the bottom of the pot.

Repeat the process when the upper inch (2.5 cm) of the soil is dry. Don’t let the soil dry out completely.

6. The Plants Aren’t Getting Enough Sunlight

Like many other plants, Venus flytraps thrive with enough sunlight exposure. They can manage 6 hours of sunlight but prefer at least 10 hours daily.

If your Venus flytraps aren’t getting enough sunlight, place them outdoors. This arrangement is also helpful in reducing the need to feed them constantly. If they’re outside, they can catch insects freely.

Otherwise, keep them near the windows and doors. If that isn’t feasible, you might have to invest in an LED grow light.

7. The Soil Is Too Nutrient Heavy

The last reason why Venus flytraps sometimes turn black is an overabundance of nutrients in the soil. Usually, this would be a good thing for plants. But the Venus flytrap prefers soil with a much smaller amount of nutrients.

As a result, traditional potting soil doesn’t work well for Venus flytraps. Instead, you have to use a well-draining mix that lacks nutrients. A mixture of sphagnum peat moss and perlite is perfect for Venus flytraps.

You can get the Rio Hamza Carnivorous Plant Mix for an easy solution from Amazon. This soil mix contains peat moss and perlite—the same ingredients I mentioned earlier. They’re well-draining and make the perfect medium for growing Venus flytraps.

How to Revive a Dying Venus Flytrap

If your Venus flytrap’s traps turn black, there’s no way to turn them green again. If it’s simply because the traps have reached the end of their natural lifespan, you don’t need to take any extra measures to prevent it.

However, if your flytraps are blackening from something else, you’ll need to adjust the environment and care routine so the new traps live longer.

Luckily, reviving it is simply a matter of figuring out the right way to care for it.

So, let’s see what you should do to prevent your Venus Flytrap’s traps from turning black:

  • Use the correct potting mix. Carnivorous plant soil mixes and peat moss mixed with perlite are suitable.
  • Set up a proper watering schedule. Keep the soil moist without flooding it.
  • Distilled water, rainwater, or RO water are the only sufficient water for Venus flytraps. 
  • Feed your Venus Flytrap only when necessary. One insect in a week or two is more than enough. For outdoor plants, avoid feeding since they’ll catch their prey.
  • Feed only one trap at a time. Using multiple traps simultaneously will drain them of energy.
  • Ensure they get enough light. Place them outdoors, near a window or door, or use LED lights.
  • Repot the plant at least once a year. Repotting it will allow the soil mix to remain fresh and give more room for the roots to grow.

Cutting Back Dying Trap Leaves

You can trim the black traps without harming the plant. Cutting off black leaves doesn’t hurt the plant and leaves enough room for new traps to grow. However, do so only when you’re sure the plants are healthy. Cutting them off will not eliminate any underlying problems.

Trimming the black leaves will also improve its aesthetic. As long as you believe your plant is healthy, you can cut the traps as they turn black. However, if multiple traps turn black simultaneously or frequently, you’ll have to check for an underlying cause.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why Venus flytraps turn black. Some are harmless and natural, such as the trap becoming old or the plant going dormant. However, it can also turn black for other reasons like overfeeding and using improper water sources.

If your Venus flytraps are turning black frequently, there might be an underlying cause. However, you must learn how to care for your plant to fix it properly—after all, they are such fascinating plants!

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the founder of TheGrowingLeaf.com and its lead content writer. He created the website in 2022 as a resource for horticulture lovers and beginners alike, compiling all the gardening tips he discovered over the years. Alex has a passion for caring for plants, turning backyards into feel-good places, and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world.

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