Venus flytrap - Dionaena muscipula

Venus flytrap - Dionaena muscipula

Generality

The very particular name indicates a plant of American origin, cultivated for a long time, both as a houseplant and as a plant for particular collections; it is a carnivorous plant, which particularly attracts fans of these species. The name Dionaea derives from one of the attributes of Aphrodite, daughter of Dione; it was attributed to her by one of the first scholars who took an interest in this small plant, who found it so beautiful and graceful that it was assimilated to the goddess of love and beauty.

Dionee are in fact very particular plants, producing small rosettes of pale leaves, generally low on the ground; together with the leaves, long stems develop, prostrate or erect, which lead to the extremities of particular circular conformations, divided in the center by a depression, with thin filaments on the external margin: they are real traps, which, at the slightest touch, they snap, closing firmly.

In spring a cylindrical stem rises from the center of the rosette, leading to some buds at the apex, which will produce small white star-shaped flowers.

The plant originates from a short rhizome, which produces a small root system.


Plants

The dionea, as happens with many other similar plants, is a carnivorous plant: it obtains the mineral salts it needs from small insects, such as mosquitoes or flies, which are trapped between the leaves. The plant has the ability to digest insects, and exploit them to obtain nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, and other microelements, or the minerals that we generally add to the soil of our potted plants.

Thanks to this stratagem, carnivorous plants can survive in places completely devoid of mineral salts, in soils where other plants can hardly survive.

In reality, therefore, these are not real carnivorous plants, it would be better to call them insectivorous; each of these plants generally needs about 2-3 small insects per month, to meet the mineral salt needs of the whole plant.

Remember that the plant takes a lot of energy to trigger and close the traps; it is therefore a good idea to avoid triggering the traps with your finger or inserting small objects, because it could lead the plant to spend an excessive amount of energy. Over time leading to the deterioration of the entire plant.


How to grow them

Dionee generally do not have an excessive development, they are small plants, which find a place in a small vase; the soil must be very acidic, poor, free of fertilizer. Since the plant draws the mineral salts it needs from insects, it is not necessary to fertilize it, but it is also harmful to plant it in a rich and fertile soil, as the root system does not like the presence of mineral salts in the cultivation substrate, which can quickly lead to the death of the plant.

By planting our dionea then we try to reproduce the soil it finds in nature: we mix sphagnum with acid peat and a little perlite, in order to obtain a very acid, soft and light soil.

In nature these plants live in places saturated with water, with perpetually high humidity.

We therefore remember to always keep the soil humid, but not soaked with water; the best way is to keep the pot in a saucer, where we will constantly keep a few centimeters of water. When we water we avoid wetting the plant, but add water to the saucer. If the soil were to dry out, we can also periodically immerse the whole pot in water, and remove it when the substrate is completely wet, up to the surface.

Dionea plants love very bright places, even with direct sunlight, even for many hours a day, at any time of the year; remember that sunlight, especially in summer, causes rapid evaporation of the water, and therefore forces us to water very frequently in the hottest months of the year.

During the winter months these plants enter a period of semi-vegetative rest, during which they produce few leaves and few traps; with the arrival of cold weather, let's reduce watering and try to keep the soil slightly damp.


Where to keep them

Dionee tolerate summer heat quite well, and from spring to autumn they love to be grown outdoors, exposed to bad weather, rainwater, and sun.

They can also withstand the cold, as long as it is not intense and prolonged frost, so in autumn they can stay outdoors, while in winter they should be stored in a cold greenhouse, or in a sheltered place, such as a window sill or the corner of a terrace. , where they receive the sun and rain, but are not completely exposed to frost.

The specimens grown indoors are unlikely to vegetate at their best, first of all due to the constantly warm climate, as if spring were eternal; secondly for the scarce presence of ambient humidity, since domestic heating and summer air conditioners dry the air a lot, making the climate very unsuitable for growing a dionea.

If desired, it is possible to cultivate the dionee in a terrarium, as many enthusiasts often do, where it is possible to control the ambient humidity; in any case, our terrarium will be exposed outdoors for most of the year; in winter we can place the terrarium in a non-heated area of ​​the house, or on the terrace.


Venus flytrap - Dionaena muscipula: Water

Carnivorous plants do not like the presence of mineral salts in the growing substrate; even small traces of mineral salts can lead to plant decay, where an excess leads to the rapid death of the root system.

We therefore exclude the possibility of watering our carnivores with water from the aqueduct, often rich in limestone.

We can water these plants with low mineral content water, remembering however that in the saucer, with evaporation, especially in summer, the mineral salts tend to concentrate

The ideal is to use rainwater, or demineralized water which is used for aquariums or irons, completely free of mineral salts.

In any case, we avoid increasing the mineral salts present in the pot, so we avoid providing fertilizers of any kind, and we also avoid repotting the plant using universal nursery soil, which is generally enriched with fertilizers.




Video: Unboxing Oddities: Flytraps from California Carnivores