Venus Flytrap Dormancy: Everything You Need To Know

As the days become shorter and the temperature goes down, it’s time for your Venus flytrap to go dormant. Dormancy is actually very important for this carnivorous plant. Therefore, if you ignore their dormancy, there is a big chance that they will become weak. Now let’s get straight to the point…

In its natural habitat, the Venus flytrap undergoes dormancy during the winter. The dormancy phase will prepare the soft tissues for freezing temperatures, dry weather, or water, and nutrient shortage. In order for the Venus flytrap to survive long-term, they must have a dormancy period every year that lasts three to five months.

The article abolishes many misconceptions about Venus Flytrap plants. You will learn how to make these plants dormant. What are the best zones for their dormancy? If you belong to the zone which is not convenient for their dormancy, what should you do? Want to know the answers? Please keep reading this article…

Venus Flytrap Dormancy

The best growing and blooming time of Venus flytraps is spring and summer. They die to a minor rosette by winter. In the spring, they grow back from their reserved energy in the rhizome. They go dormant in the fall when you grow them outdoors. The plants can bear up light freezes and frost. However, long-lasting freezing can kill Venus flytraps.

For surviving a long term period, Venus Flytraps must have a dormancy period each year. The period lasts from three to five months. So the dormancy period of Venus Flytraps should be at least 10 weeks for the best growth.

During dormancy, you should try to provide them as much light as possible to keep them healthy. You shouldn’t place them in a dark or low-light setting unless they are in tremendously cool conditions. We will discuss how to make them dormant in the upcoming section in-detail.

Importance of Venus Flytrap Dormancy

Before we dive deeper and discuss how to make Venus Flytrap dormant, you must know the importance of dormancy. Dormancy is quite similar to hibernation in animals. They store their energy for the growing season in the rhizome (bulb). Without dormancy, they will become weak as they are forced to grow year-round without rest. They can still grow without dormancy. But if you skip it, they will die within 2 to 3 years.

How to make Venus Flytrap Go Dormant?

Depending on which zone you live in, you can make your Venus flytrap go dormant in three different ways, by either keeping it outside, bring it inside, or put the plant in a refrigerator.

First and foremost, you need to find the hardiness zone of your area in case you don’t know. This information is very helpful that tells you what is the minimum temperature a plant can tolerate. So you should grow plants that are hardy to that zone.

If you live anywhere between zone 8 to 11, that’s excellent! In these zones, there is no need to do anything for dormancy. In these zones, you can grow your Venus flytraps outdoors with no problems. Plus, you can keep them outside all winter. Because the winter temperature of your region is enough to trigger a natural dormancy. This temperature is appropriate for dormancy and won’t harm your plants.

If you belong to zone 7 and below, or zone 12 and above, you need to do extra work for dormancy. Below are some options:

1. Protected Outside Dormancy

If you live in a zone between 4 to 7, you can still keep Venus Flytraps outside. All you need to insulate them properly. For this purpose, you can bury your potted plants in the ground similar to bog garden. Once the temperature goes down to the freezing point, you should cover the plants with shade cloth or burlap. This method keeps the moisture in and prevents your plants from freezing.

What to do if you get snow in your region? There is no need to worry at all! Because snow will be a great insulator and protect your Venus flytrap if you keep it outdoors!

If you are unable to make a bog garden, you can buy or build a cold frame (see picture below). It is an alternative and a better option if you have a smaller collection. Similarly, if you have young plants in small pots, a mini-greenhouse or a cold frame can be a great solution. For extra protection of your plants, you can place them against an outside wall.

Photo by: Ofer El-Hashahar (cold frame)

2. Cold Inside Dormancy

If you belong to zone 3 or lower, you should bring your plants inside to a cold room. For example, you can bring them into a basement or a garage. The temperature should stay above from freezing point and below 55°F (or 12°C).

Try to place your plants beside a window where they can get natural light during dormancy. I don’t recommend keeping plants inside your house unless the temperature is too hot or too cold for dormancy.

If you live in a zone 12 or higher, the warmer temperatures outdoors a house can keep your plant from going dormant, which you don’t want. As a result, the plant will become weak. In this case – you want to follow step 3 (refrigerator dormancy) below to make sure that the plant goes dormant every year.

3. Refrigerator Dormancy

What if you live in a tropical region (zone 12 or higher)? These regions are not appropriate for the plant’s dormancy. So the methods listed above will not work in this situation. Refrigerator dormancy can be handy for you!

Refrigerators can’t simulate a full natural winter dormancy because it provides constant low temperatures with no lights. As a result of there being no light in the refrigerator, you may lose some of your plants. So, keep this point in mind…

For refrigerator dormancy, you should gradually decrease the photoperiod (hours of light per day) before putting the plants in the fridge. In this way, the Venus flytrap will have time to acclimate and the plants will have a better chance to survive.

You can keep your plants inside the fridge with their pots or uproot them. If you want to place them in the fridge in pots – wrap the entire pot inside a plastic bag and spray the plant with a mild solution of fungicide. Regularly check your plants for fungus and mold every couple of weeks. Leave the plants there for at least 3 months and give them a little bit of distilled water every two weeks.

If you want to uproot your plants, follow the steps below:

  1. Rinse off all the potting material around the roots to make them bare.
  2. Remove any dead or dying growth.
  3. Fill a small container with a lid to about 2/3 with clean vermiculite.
  4. Take the healthy plants and lay them on top of the vermiculite.
  5. Spray the bare Venus flytraps with distilled water and top the container off with vermiculite.
  6. Lastly, sprinkle the top layer of vermiculate again with distilled water so everything is moist.
  7. Close the container with the lid and leave it in the refrigerator for at least 3 months for completing the dormancy period.
  8. After this dormancy phase is over, you can repot the plants in regular carnivorous plant soil mix (1:1 perlite and peat moss) and watch them grow big again.

Some Useful Tips!

Here are some useful tips you should keep in mind during dormancy:

  • Gradually decrease temperature and light before placing them in the fridge. Similarly, gradually increase the temperature and light before bringing them out of dormancy.
  • In order for the plant to go into dormancy, the temperature must be between 32°F and 55°F (0°C and 12°C).
  • During the dormancy phase, the plants don’t need a lot of water. So don’t water them frequently. You can water them slightly every two weeks. It is better to water them when you check for mold!
  • Try to provide the light as much as possible when plants are in a window or outside. It enhances the photosynthesize process. Further, plants store that energy and utilize it in the growing season.

Wrapping Up

Beginner growers can find dormancy a very complicated process. Though it seems so, it is not that difficult. All you need is to follow the above-listed instructions. Many growers fail because they are unable to follow these instructions according to their hardiness zone. First, find out your zone, then follow the instructions accordingly. You will get amazing results even in your first attempt!