How to Revive a Dying Venus Fly Trap

Why is my venus fly trap dying

Is your Venus fly trap dying, and you don’t know why? Don’t worry; I have listed the most common reasons for dying Venus fly traps and found the solutions to save them!

In my experience, the most common cause for a sickly, dying Venus fly trap is insufficient direct sunlight. Venus fly traps grow in open areas in intense direct sunlight. If the plant is in the shade, the traps turn from red to green, and the plant starts drooping and dying.

However, I should note that most Venus fly traps can turn black and die back every year. If your Venus fly trap is turning black and dying, do not worry! This is a normal part of their seasonal cycle!

Here is a table summarizing the most common reasons that I see for dying Venus fly trap plants…

Symptoms of a Dying Venus Fly Trap:Reasons for a Venus Fly Trap Dying:
Venus fly traps turning black and dying:All the leaves/traps turn black and die before Winter dormancy when grown indoors. Individual traps also turn black and die back periodically as part of the plant’s life cycle.
Traps turning yellow:Tap water (rather than rainwater) causes yellowing leaves. Too much fertilizer and water stress also cause yellowing. Plants turn yellow after flowering due to the energy requirements when developing seeds after flowers.
Venus fly trap drooping (and losing its red color):Drooping is almost always not enough direct sunlight or underwatering combined with low humidity. Overwatering can also cause drooping Venus fly traps.
Venus fly trap not closing:Each individual fly trap only closes 4 or 5 times before dying back.

Keep reading to learn why your plant is dying and how to implement the solutions to save it…

Why is my Venus Fly Trap Turning Black and Dying?

If your Venus fly trap is turning black in Winter, with an all-around dying appearance, then there is nothing wrong with the plant as it is entering a state of Winter dormancy.

As the number of daylight hours reduces and the intensity of the sunlight decreases, the Venus fly trap naturally enters a state of dormancy as a survival strategy to preserve its resources. (Which is a pretty cool adaptation, I think!)

All the leaves and traps die back, but I can assure you that they return the following year in response to longer days and brighter light.

It should be noted that whilst a Venus fly trap turns black and appears to die back each Winter in its native environment of North and South Carolina, it does not necessarily have to die back indoors.

If you provide the plant with additional light to ensure it gets around 12 hours of light per day and keep it at room temperature, then the Venus fly trap can maintain its green and red healthy appearance all year long.

To do this, I use a grow light above my Venus fly trap to supplement the daylight so that it gets a solid 12 hours. of light per day, and since I have been doing this, my Venus fly traps do not go dormant or die back and actually stay green all year.

Individual traps may also turn black and die at anytime of the year, whilst the rest of the traps remain healthy. This is because each trap only lasts a few months, typically before dying back, which typically stimulates new growth.

Once the traps have turned black, they are no longer performing a function for the plant, and I would advise you to cut the trap back to the base of the plant, carefully with a sharp pair of pruners.

I should also note that whilst Venus fly traps need lots of sunlight, they can scorch if they are moved from a relatively shaded spot straight into intense sunlight. Venus fly traps can scorch yellow, black, or brown depending on the extent of the sunburn.

I find this typically happens when Venus fly traps have been stored indoors, in somewhat lower light, when for sale in stores and garden centers where they are forced to adapt to lower light levels, then brought home and placed in blazing sunshine in Spring or Summer without the chance to adjust to a sudden increase in light intensity.

In this scenario, I recommend gradually exposing your Venus fly trap to more hours of light over the course of 2 weeks, starting off with morning light and then leaving the plant in the sun a bit longer each day. This should give the plant the chance to acclimate to the bright light without scorching. The plant should be just fine and recover well.

Why is My Venus Fly Trap Turning Yellow?

From experience, the most common reason for Venus fly traps turning yellow is that they have been watered using tap water. In certain areas, tap water can be much harder than others, which can be harmful as hard tap water contains more minerals and potentially chlorine and fluoride.

Venus fly traps are more sensitive to tap water than most other houseplants.

What happens is these minerals can build up and prevent the roots from functioning properly, making it more difficult to draw up moisture, resulting in yellowing leaves.

Fertilizer in pre-made potting mixes can also result in the leaves turning yellow. Venus fly traps are native to areas with very low soil nutrients (which is why they have adapted to attain their nutrients from captured insects), and they prefer not to have any additional nutrients in their potting soil.

Houseplant fertilizer is also unnecessary for the same reasons.

Other common reasons I see for yelling leaves are overwatering poor drainage, and underwatering. Venus fly traps need a constant source of moisture, and if your soil dries out completely, the leaves turn yellow, or the traps can lose their red color and droop.

Whilst Venus fly traps need the soil to be moist, if it is saturated for too long, the leaves can also turn yellow and droop. (I know it can be a tricky balance, right?)

Venus fly traps do, of course, flower, but as indoor gardeners, it is in our interest to cut back any emerging flower stems as this causes the plant to redirect its energy into producing seeds.

I know it may seem harsh to cut back flowers, but this redirection of energy takes significant resources away from the plant and often causes the Venus fly trap to turn yellow as a result.

How to Save it…

The key to saving a yellow Venus fly trap is to water it with distilled water or rainwater, particularly if you live in a hardwater area. If you are unsure, I recommend you google whether your locality has hard or soft tap water.

  • I recommend watering generously with rainwater to help dissolve any excess minerals and flush them out of the soil, which should help the roots function properly again.
  • If you have added any fertilizer or if you have repotted your Venus fly trap, check the label to see if they have added any fertilizer to the potting soil. If so, you need to repot the plant into new compost.
  • It is important to replicate the low-nutrient, slightly acidic soil conditions of the Venus fly traps native environment. My favorite potting mix to emulate the native soil of the Venus fly trap is mix 2 thirds ericaceous compost (peat moss, for example) with around 1 third inorganic matter such as perlite, horticultural grit, or sand.
  • The grit or sand keeps the soil mix well-draining to prevent any threat of root rot from boggy soil, and, as sand does not contribute nutrients to the soil, it reduces the fertility of the soil to a level similar to its native environment.
  • Venus fly traps are grown for interest in their carnivorous habits rather than flowering, so I always recommend trimming any emerging flowers as soon as you see them to preserve the plant’s energy, which should prevent it from turning yellow.

If you follow the steps early, then there is a good chance your Venus fly trap can recover from its yellow appearance, although I must caution that it does not recover quickly.

Keep the Venus fly trap happy, and it may show new signs of growth the following Spring. However, if it has severe root rot from boggy soil, then it is unlikely to recover.

Why is my Venus Fly Trap, not Red but Turning Green and Drooping?

The inside of each trap, you should see a deep red colour which functions as a way to draw in insects. If the inside of the trap is turning green and each trap is floppy and lying on the soil’s surface, then this indicates stress from overwatering, underwatering, low humidity, or a lack of direct sunlight.

Venus fly traps need as many hours of direct sunlight as you can possibly give them. If the Venus fly trap has enough intense sunlight then the interior of the trap should be nice and red and indicates the plant is healthy.

However, in low light, the traps turn green and droop due to a lack of energy.

If the Venus fly trap has enough direct sunlight, then I find the reason for green, drooping leaves is specifically the combination of underwatering and low humidity.

Venus fly traps grow near wetland areas, and their soil is usually evenly moist (but not saturated), and they live in consistently humid conditions.

The humidity indoors is typically much lower than in their native Carolina environment hence why this problem is so common. Where I live, the humidity is particularly low, so I have to increase the humidity to alleviate this problem.

However, I find it overwatering can cause this problem.

How to Save Your Drooping Venus Fly Trap

To save it, you must increase humidity by misting the entire plant and moving it into bright direct sunlight in a south-facing window. Misting the plant immediately alleviates some of the stress that caused the problem.

However, it is recommended to keep Venus fly traps on a saucer of water. The water consistently evaporates, which creates a humid microclimate that mimics the conditions of the Venus fly trap’s humid natural environment.

Place some pebbles in the water for the Venus fly trap’s pot to sit on so it sits just above the water to allow for drainage.

I personally locate my Venus fly traps in my steamy bathroom as it loves the added humidity!

However, I have also found success by using a plant humidifier (available online or from garden centers), which can increase the humidity with precision. Still, I only tend to recommend them if you have lots of houseplants requiring increased humidity in the same room.

Keep in mind that indoor heating, forced air, and air conditioning can all lower humidity, so locate your Venus fly trap away from any air currents.

Once the Venus fly trap is back in full sun then it can start to recover, however, if it is Summer (when sunlight is at its most intense) then I recommend gradually exposing the plant to strong sunshine as moving from shade to full sun can scorch the plant.

The morning sun is gentler than the afternoon sun, so place the plant in the sun for a bit longer each day over the course of around 2 weeks so that the plant can adjust to greater light intensity without burning.

In this scenario, I would also suggest placing your Venus fly trap on a sunny window sill, but use a sheer curtain to protect your plant from intense afternoon sun.

In terms of watering, it is essential to achieve a balance of consistent moisture without saturating the soil.

Suppose you have added some inorganic matter to the potting mix (sand, grit, or perlite). In that case, achieving the optimal balance of moisture is much easier as the potting mix is well-draining enough to mitigate the risk of root rot.

Personally, I think the best method is to just feel the soil with your finger, and as soon as the surface starts to feel as though it is drying out, give it water.

Check that excess water can drain efficiently from the pot’s base so that the soil does not become boggy, and the Venus fly trap should recover, although I find recovery takes much longer if damp soil is the cause.

Why are my Venus Fly Traps Not Closing?

In my experience, the reason for a trap not closing despite flies (or anything else) clearly moving around the trap is that it has shut too many times.

Each trap only shuts around 4 or 5 times in its life before dying back and being replaced by a new trap. If you have interfered with the trap too often, it can prevent it from closing again. (I know, this can be tempting but stop teasing your trap!).

By interfering with Venus fly traps too often, you can drain their energy and reduce the number of viable traps. If the plant has fewer traps ready to close in on prey, then it can be deprived of the nutrients it needs, which can cause the plant to die back.

You need to leave the plant alone or feed any remaining traps on the plant with blood worms (available from fishing stores) to give the plant energy and resist the temptation to cause the trap to close for entertainment!

(Read my article, How to Grow and Care for a Venus Fly Trap Indoors).

Key Takeaways:

  • Venus fly traps turn black and die back before their Winter dormancy every Fall. They grow back new traps in the Spring.
  • Occasionally, an individual trap turns black and dies, which is the normal part of the Venus fly trap life cycle.
  • Venus fly traps turn yellow when water with tap water. The plant does not tolerate hard tap water very well as it is sensitive to the mineral content. Always water with rainwater to avoid a yellowing plant.
  • If the inside of the traps turns red to green and the plant starts drooping, this indicates the Venus fly trap does not have enough direct sunlight. Venus fly traps need full sun for the traps to stay red and healthy.
  • Each individual trap only closes 4 or 5 times. If the trap has been provoked into closing unnecessarily too many times, then they do not open again, and the trap eventually dies back.
  • To revive a dying Venus fly trap, recreate the conditions of its natural habitat by locating the plant in full sun, increasing the humidity with regular misting, and keeping the potting soil evenly moist. Cut back any black, dying leaves to stimulate new growth.

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