Make a Venus Fly Trap or Carnivorous Plant Terrarium!
Over the years, one of the biggest questions I received as an exotic plant grower & seller was how to best put carnivorous plants in a terrarium!
So here are the tips that were generally used to help florists, hobbyists, and anyone interested in keeping their plants in a beautiful terrarium (without killing them!)
The first question you need to ask yourself is if you want a terrarium such as a large bowl or glass container as a centerpiece or a massive scale environment usually found built in oversized fish tanks also known as a vivarium. For the sake of this article we will refer to the smaller size terrariums often used as decor or small scale growing vessels for people who love to showcase their carnivorous plants under glass! After this article, we’ll give some links to great vivarium websites for large scale projects.
Most people want to know how to grow Venus Fly Traps in a Terrarium – here’s the scoop:
First – Which plants to use in a terrarium
Understanding the plants that live well together
When making a terrarium, it’s important to know which plants go well together if you plan on having the terrarium survive and thrive. Consider primarily the light requirements and the humidity necessary for various plants. For that reason we recommend planting Sarracenia (pitcher plants) and Dionea (venus fly traps) together as they require less humidity and similar light to thrive.
For a more tropical terrarium, Pinguicula (butterworts), Drosera (sundews) and often Nepenthes (tropical pitcher plants) can successfully grow in the same terrarium as they require a higher level of humidity and not quite as much light as the other plants. Additionally growing small ferns and other tropicals are easy and make a terrarium look even better!
Second – What to use for a terrarium
Depending on what you choose above will determine which terrarium type is best for your project.
Considering the growing conditions required for these various carnivorous plants, it’s important to choose the right vessel! Fly Traps and Pitcher Plants require quite a bit of sun to be successfully grown in a container, so having a closed top terrarium is a bad idea as the required sun will essentially cook the plants and there will be limited air flow which will cause the plants to become moldy and rapidly die. So for these plants, a large bowl style terrarium or open top style terrarium is best. This allows enough air flow for when the terrarium is in full sun as required for the plants.
For a more tropical terrarium with butterworts, sundews, nepenthes, etc a more traditional decorative terrarium with smaller openings can be used, as they are not required to be in full sun and the accumulated humidity assists the plants in producing the dew on their leaves.
A few of our favorite traditional style terrariums are made by the manufacturer H. Potter and can be found on Amazon (HERE)
One of the reasons we love these style terrariums is the base of the terrarium is solid hiding the layers of soil.
So many choices from this brand, it’s insane!
Selecting your terrarium materials:
The materials needed for a carnivorous plant terrarium are simple but specific.
- Your terrarium of choice
- Soil material (50% perlite + 50% sphagnum mix)
- pebbles (preferably artificial like glass rocks)
- long fiber sphagnum moss
- plants of choice
Assembly of the carnivorous plant terrarium is straight forward and simple – but certain steps are necessary for the plants to grow successfully.
Because these plants live in boggy environments, the soil is generally always moist. However in a terrarium it is possible for roots of all carnivorous plants to get waterlogged and rot. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to line the bottom of your terrarium with pebbles, rocks, etc. I usually recommend artificial (glass) pebbles because natural stone or pebbles can leech into water with impurities like calcium which will kill plants quickly.
After the pebbles, I generally use a very thin layer of long fiber sphagnum moss to act as a wick between the standing water in the pebbles and the soil (next layer) – this layer also helps from having all of the shredded moss and perlite falling into the rock layer making sure it is actually a
The third layer is a mix of shredded sphagnum moss and perlite (50/50 mix). Make sure this layer is put in the terrarium already wet. It should be a mud like consistency.
Place the chosen plants in the terrarium and top the dirt off with another layer of moist long fiber sphagnum moss to retain moisture and prevent the soil from rapidly drying.
So the layers should be from top to bottom :
a) long fiber moss (moist)
b) wet mix of perlite and shredded sphagnum
c) very thin layer of long fiber moss to act as a wick & filter
d) glass pebbles
*always use reverse osmosis water or distilled water!
*never use fertilizer
*never use potting soil, sand or anything other than sphagnum
DIY Terrarium Instructions