Fly Trap Plants and Winter Dormancy
So, your fly trap plants have been growing well for months since you bought them, and all of a sudden they have taken a turn for the worse. This is a very common problem and many questions arise from such a scenario. Some obvious ones include “did I feed it something bad”, “did I water it enough, or use the proper water”, and “what could I have done differently to keep my fly trap plants alive”? One question that is sometimes overlooked is whether or not your carnivorous plant (whether venus fly trap or another species altogether) could be entering a period of dormancy.
Some people will try to force their fly trap plants to avoid winter dormancy. This is typically done by continuing to keep the plant damp and providing bright light as one would in the middle of summer. Most experts agree that this is generally not a good idea. In the native habitat of the Carolinas, the these carnivorous plants would not grow throughout the winter. Like many perennials, they would become dormant and would eventually regrow in the spring. I understand the temptation to keep your plants looking great year round, but for some species of plants, a dormant period can be beneficial, so your Dionaea plants should be allowed to rest during the cooler months of the year.
When trying to decide whether or not your fly trap plants are entering dormancy, there are several traits to look out for. You can expect some of the traps (even most) to remain green. Others will die off and turn black. The growth rate of the plant will, however, definitely slow down to a halt. It will not be producing many (if any) new leaves throughout the dormant period. If your whole plant has turned black, and all the leaves have died, there is a good chance your venus fly trap has died, but you can still try to save it in case it actually is just dormant.
If you have confirmed that your fly trap plants have become dormant, you should consider changing the care you provide them. Overall they will be much less active, but will still have the basic needs of life. They should be kept moist, but not damp. They will also continue to require sunlight, though not as much as they would when they are actively growing. When growing carnivorous plants (especially venus fly traps) that are dormant, unless they are tropical species they will likely benefit from being kept somewhat cool. Try putting your plants near a cool winter window. If your weather patterns in the winter do not include much freezing or snow, fly trap plants should be safe outside in the winter.
In the spring, you can slowly revert to your regular level of care for your venus fly trap plants. Do this over a period of a few weeks so your plants do not become shocked by the change. They should adapt to the increased light, humidity, and dampness and will start to produce spring leaves again.