Why is My Venus Fly Trap Turning Black?


The Venus Fly Trap is one of the most famously fascinating and well-documented species of carnivorous plant. It’s called the Dionaea Muscipula and most plant enthusiasts would be very proud to own one. And guess what? The Venus flytrap is quite easy, not to mention highly entertaining, to grow at home.  Why is My Venus Fly Trap Turning Black? Let’s find out.

The plant’s leaves are shaped like the open jaws of a predator. They’re sprayed with droplets of sweet nectar that is very attractive to insects. Inside the leaves, or the trap as they are called in this case, are small trigger hairs. When an insect brushes against two trigger hairs in quick succession, the trap descends upon its unwitting prey, its interlocking teeth forming an unforgiving cage. The trap will seal against the insect’s struggle to escape. And begin to secrete digestive enzymes which will kill and digest the insect over time. Within a week, having absorbed most of its prey, the trap will reopen. 

Although having this predator plant at home is the dream of every gardening enthusiast, the leaves are prone to turn black without proper care. 

Let’s see what can be done about this issue. 

Why is My Venus Fly Trap Turning Black? 

The traps on the Venus Fly Trap are short-lived; they’ll only survive for about three months. They’ll likely trap one to four insects during this time. After that, as they wither, they’ll turn a dramatic black color. Usually, this isn’t a reason for concern. You can simply remove the blackened trap once it’s dried, and another will grow in its stead. 

But, if too many traps on your plant are going black at the same time, or if they’re going black sooner than they’re expected to, there could be a number of reasons for it.

Let’s explore why your Venus flytrap is going black, and what you can do about it: 



Your plant might simply be overwhelmed by the number of insects it has fed on and the subsequent digestion it has to do. The Venus flytrap has to expend enormous amounts of energy and secretory enzymes simply to digest the food for each insect. This may lead to an overload of nitrogen, or the plant may lose its traps to redirect its energies towards photosynthesis. If you’ve kept your plant indoors, and are feeding it yourself, you might simply be overfeeding it. Leave the plant alone for a few weeks. Give it time to recover, and it might catch some of its own food. 

Once the traps have regrown, you can start feeding them. But only feed it once or twice a week at most. 


One fairly common mistake with carnivorous plants is to give them normal soil. Carnivorous plants grow best in nutrient-poor soil, so it’s a bad idea to grow them in regular fertilized soil. This will almost definitely cause a mineral burn. 

If your plant was potted in regular soil or soil with additives and you’re concerned that it’s going black, take it out of the soil. Soak it in distilled water until you can arrange a nutrient-poor medium like pure peat moss. Another factor could be the pot you’ve planted it in. Most clay pots will release nutrients in the soil over time, and these could be harmful to your plant. Try to use plastic or ceramic pots instead. 

Biting off More Than it Can Chew

We don’t mean that as a metaphor. Your Venus flytrap can close down on an insect that is far too big for it to consume. As the trap closes, a stray leg or wing might stick out preventing the trap from closing completely. As a result, the trap blackens and dies. 

While feeding, make sure the insect is less than 1/3rd the size of the trap. If you’re not feeding yours, and it has closed on its own, the best thing to do is leave it alone for a while. Fresh traps will grow on the plant soon. 

Repotting Stress

If you recently bought the plant, repotted it, or moved it from one place to another, it might simply be under some stress. Give it some time to adjust to its new environment. Dying traps on newly repotted plants are a fairly common occurrence. To reduce the stress on the plant during repotting, you can try to re-pot it at the end of its dormancy period, usually around February or March. 


One last reason the Venus Flytrap may be under stress is, again, overnutrition. Typically, water has a high Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) concentration, which is more than what normal carnivorous plants can take. A TDS concentration of fewer than 50 parts per million (ppm) is safe for the Venus Flytrap. If you don’t have very pure tap water, you might have to purchase distilled water. Alternatively, you could save rainwater and use that. 

Characteristics of the Venus Flytrap

Botanical NameDionaea muscipula
Common NameVenus flytrap
Plant TypeHerbaceous plant with a perennial life cycle
Mature Size6 to 12 inches tall by 6 to 9 inches wide
Sun ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Soil TypePoor, sandy soil kept constantly wet
Soil pHAcidic
Bloom TimeMay to June
Flower ColorWhite
Hardiness Zones5 to 8
Native AreaThe Carolinas

How to care for the Venus Flytrap? 

The Venus flytrap might seem like a vicious, self-funding plant. And it is, mostly. But there are some things you’ll need to take care of for the plant to really bloom. The Venus Flytrap usually grows in a sunny environment, with wet, acidic, nutrient-poor soil. 


The Venus flytrap needs abundant sunshine. If you’re going to place it indoors, place it near a window where it can receive a lot of direct sun (or a stray insect too). Try to aim for at least 12 hours of direct sunlight. Beginning in fall, the Flytrap goes through a period of dormancy, when the sunlight decreases. You can compensate for this by giving it plenty of artificial light. You must know How Much Light Does Your Plant Need?


Remember, the Venus Flytrap is a carnivorous plant. It requires nutrient-poor soil. You can go for a mix of peat moss and horticultural sand. 


It’s better to water the Venus Flytrap with rainwater rather than tap water. Remember that lesson on Total Dissolved Solids? You can set up a rain barrel to collect the water, and use whatever you’ve saved whenever you need it. 


Fertilizer is a big no for the Venus Flytrap as it will kill it.

Temperature and Humidity

In the Flytrap’s native Carolinas, the temperature frequently reaches 30C during the summer and falls below zero in the winters. Ideally, this is the temperature range you should try to provide for your plant. It can grow quite well in conservatories, unheated greenhouses, and terrariums.

Read this article on What is High Humidity and How to Increase Humidity for Your Houseplants for more information.


The plant will flower occasionally, but flowering will only divert energy away from the plant. Ideally, you should pick off the flowers to prevent seed production. The plant will grow much better in summer if its flowers are picked off. 

Do you want to propagate your Venus flytrap? Well, if you’re not an experienced grower, it’s not recommended to harvest the seed. Here’s what we suggest instead:


Generally, it is easiest to propagate your plant by dividing in the Spring. It is best to divide your flytrap after it blooms. Otherwise, you can do it in early Spring, as it emerges from dormancy. 

Where do I keep my Venus Flytrap?

The Venus Flytrap is usually not grown as an ornamental plant. Place it somewhere you can easily interact with it, feed it bugs, and watch it snap. Preferably near a window in the living room, where it receives lots of direct suns. But wait, here’s a better idea:


Make a Terrarium

Because the Flytrap comes from the humid bogs of the Carolinas, a terrarium will give it a nice, warm, moist environment. Not to mention, terrariums display your plant collection beautifully! Even a closed terrarium works with the Dionaea, but beware of fungus formation. 

Common Diseases

Although the Venus Flytrap is an insect eater, it is susceptible to some common pests like aphids and mealybugs. This is because these insects are too small to trip the trigger hairs on the traps, ad usually attack the plant’s stem, rather than the nectar. A little neem oil always does the job in such cases. 


The Venus Flytrap is non-toxic to humans and animals. If you’re concerned the trap might close around someone’s finger, it’s alright. The trap isn’t tough enough to cause an injury, although you might want to discourage everyone from poking it unnecessarily. The tripping of the trap can really drain the plant of its energy.


What happens when a Venus flytrap bites you?

You might think a Venus flytrap biting you is harmless or even kind of cute, but it’s actually kind of dangerous. Venus flytraps are equipped with tiny hairs that can cause an extremely painful rash and itching. Plus, they secrete a toxin that can be dangerous to humans.

Keep your hands out of the plant’s reach if you don’t want to experience these unpleasant symptoms.

Should I buy the Venus Flytrap? 

If you’re not already a carnivore plant collector, you might be having second thoughts about getting the Venus Flytrap. In that case, you can check out other flowering and ornamental house plants on our website

However, let me tell you that the Venus Flytrap is quite easy to care for if you can get the soil and water right. Not to mention, it’s one of the most entertaining plant species on the planet; Charles Darwin famously called it “the most wonderful plant in the world”. It’s a very rare species, and definitely something to show the guests, so if your climate allows it, why not give it a try? 

How hard is it to keep a Venus flytrap plant alive?

They are both difficult and easy to maintain. Firstly, flytraps require a lot of sun and humidity, which most people don’t have in their homes, therefore they are difficult to keep alive. If you can provide these conditions though, they are easy to maintain.

All you need to do is water them 1-2 times a week and feed them with plant food every 2 months. In addition, you may need to trim the flytrap’s leaves if they are getting too long. That is all there is to it!

Written by Chris Buckland

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