How to Grow
The Venus Flytrap

The Venus Flytrap Care Guide at FlytrapRanch.com

Grow Venus Flytraps from Seed

Flowering & Seed production in Venus Flytraps

Venus Flytraps grow a flowerstalk and produce seed once annually. The flowerstalk emerges from the center of the growing crown beginning in mid to late Spring. The flower buds develop in a cluster at the top of the flowerstalk during a period of several weeks as the flowerstalk itself grows to full height, then bloom one or several at a time, with the petals curling inward and browning after a few days as the seed pod swells with the developing seeds inside, which are tiny (about 1 millimeter in diameter) with a thin, shiny, smooth, black seed coat.

Young, weak or sickly plants, or those that have recently been transplanted, should not be allowed to flower because the flowering and seed-producing process uses up much of the stored food in the Venus Flytrap's rhizome. Such plants can become further weakened or even die as a result, so the emerging flower stalks should be cut from such weak or sick plants shortly after the flowerstalks appear in mid to late Spring. Only mature, healthy Venus Flytraps should be allowed to flower and set seed.

Venus Fly Traps in bloom
Venus Flytraps in bloom, mid-Spring to early Summer

When Venus Flytraps bloom, a flower begins to be receptive to pollen only 1 to 1.5 days after the flower opens, so older flowers (1-1.5 days old) need to be pollinated with the fresh pollen from a younger flower (preferably one that has just opened). It greatly increases the likelihood and yield of seed production to pollinate the flowers by hand. A small artist's brush or other instrument can be used to transfer the pollen from the anthers of a young flower to the stigma at the center of a slightly older flower (1-1.5 days older).

Venus Flytrap seed production

Venus Flytrap seed production

Once the seed pod has matured, dried and torn open to reveal the tiny, shiny black seeds, the pod can be cut from the flowerstalk and the seeds gently removed. They should be left in an open container to dry for a day or two (to help prevent fungal growth on or in the seeds) before storing the seeds in a small plastic bag or vial in a refrigerator until they are to be sowed. Keep the air around the seeds to a minimum during storage to prevent further drying of the seed which would reduce the germination rate. A small plastic zip-lock bag from which the air can be gently squeezed before sealing is a better storage container than a bottle or rigid plastic container.

The Importance of Seed Quality

Venus Flytraps produce seed only once per year. That means that by the time the new seeds are ready to be collected, the last annual harvest's seeds are already a year old. Older Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) seed has a lower germination rate (fewer of the seeds germinate or sprout) and longer germination time, which means that the first seed to germinate is likely to be delayed by at least several days, and the amount of time between the first and last seed to germinate will probably be several weeks longer than for fresh seed.

Fresh Dionaea Muscipula Seed

Fresh Venus Flytrap seed, only a few weeks to a few months old, will typically begin to germinate in 13-18 days when kept moist and warm, and germination will continue for several weeks (perhaps 2-5 weeks after the first seed germinates) until the majority of seeds have germinated, with a few waiting days or even weeks longer to germinate.

Older Dionaea Muscipula Seed

If stored well, Venus Flytrap seed that is one, two or even three years old can still germinate fairly well (a fairly high percentage of the seed will still germinate) or acceptably, but may require from 15-25 days for the first seeds to germinate, and an additional 3-8 weeks after that for the majority of seed to germinate (of those that actually will germinate). In general, the older the seed, the fewer seeds will germinate, the longer it will take for the first seed to germinate, and the longer the period of time will be for the seeds that will germinate to do so.

If Venus Flytrap seed is not stored well, the germination rate and speed can drop substantially or even drastically. Because the seeds of Venus Flytraps are so tiny with such a thin seed coat (outer surface) it's easier for them to dry than the larger seeds of other plants, and Venus Flytrap seeds that dry out too much won't germinate well or at all. (see "Soak Venus Flytrap Seeds" below).

Buy Seeds from a Knowledgeable, Reputable Source

Many people who sell Venus Flytrap seeds are only dealers, not growers. They merely bought the seed from someone else in order to divide those seeds into smaller lots and sell them at a higher price. Many of these dealers may not even know how to grow Venus Flytraps or how to encourage the germination of the seed they sell. In addition, they may have no idea how to store the seed successfully for maximum germination rate, to keep the seed as fresh as possible for the longest time. The Venus Flytrap seed you buy from these vendors may be several to many years old, and few of them might germinate.

If you can't produce your own Venus Flytrap seed or don't want to do so, fresh seed can be bought from commercial vendors online. For a better chance of success, buy seed from people who actually grow the Venus Flytraps from which the seed is harvested, people who know how to grow and care for Venus Flytraps whether adult or seedling. One source for accurately labeled, well-stored, hand-pollinated Venus Flytrap seed harvested from superior cloned and seed-grown parent plants, direct from the grower and breeder, is FlytrapRanch.com.

How to Prepare Dionaea Muscipula Seed

No Stratification

Stratification can help the seeds of fall-blooming plants to germinate (but not Venus Flytraps). The seeds of many plants that bloom in the Fall are accustomed to wait through a cool or cold winter season before germinating in Spring. When grown in artificial conditions, such seeds are often prepared for germination by stratifying them, which is the process of simulating a winter by placing the seeds in moist and cold conditions, such as folded inside a wet paper towel that is placed inside a plastic bag, and then storing the seeds inside the refrigerator for some weeks (usually 5-10 weeks or more).

However, Venus Flytraps are not fall-blooming plants and Venus Flytrap seeds do not need to be stratified. Venus Flytraps bloom in Spring and produce their seed in early to mid Summer. The seed is accustomed to germinate within days after it falls from the plant in nature, during the Summer of the same year, without waiting through an intervening cool or cold winter season before sprouting. Stratification therefore is not necessary nor desirable for the seeds of Dionaea muscipula, the Venus Flytrap.

Soak Venus Flytrap Seed

Although very fresh Venus Flytrap seeds need no special preparation and can be sown immediately, seed that is more than a few weeks or months old, or the age of which is unknown, should be soaked first in pure water, which helps to rehydrate the seed and improve its potential for germination. This is especially important for seed that is more than one year old. Simply soak the seed in water for up to several days, until most of the seeds sink when the water is stirred (older, dry seed often floats). The seeds can be removed from the water either by using an eyedropper, or by emptying most of the water, then pouring the seeds and remaining water onto an absorbent surface such as a folded paper towel, or pouring it through a porous material through which the water will pass but the seeds will not (again, a folded paper towel works well for this).

When to Plant Venus Flytrap Seed

Many people ask whether it's alright to plant Venus Flytrap seed during the colder months of the year when most Venus Flytraps are resting in their yearly dormancy, and in artificial conditions of controlled temperature and light (indoors or in a greenhouse). The answer is yes. Venus Flytrap seedlings can wait for eight months to a year and a half before synching with the seasons and expecting or wanting to lapse into their first dormancy, so it's alright and even advantageous, for the plants, to begin to grow Venus Flytrap seedlings in the Fall, Winter or early Spring. Because Venus Flytrap seedlings grow so slowly, sowing and germinating the seed early allows them to grow and develop to a greater extent than they would normally be able to achieve during their first season in their natural environment. So it's alright to sow Venus Flytrap seeds at any time of the year, if conditions can be controlled enough to prevent freezing, keep the seeds and seedlings warm enough to grow well, and provide enough light.

Germination of Venus Flytrap Seeds

Although the seeds of Venus Flytraps are very tiny (about 1 millimeter, less than 1/16 inch in length), Venus Flytraps are easy to germinate and grow from seed. A seed will germinate in as few as 10-13 days (in warm, moist conditions) to as long as 2-4 weeks or more in cooler or more variable conditions. A Venus Flytrap can grow from seed to maturity in 2-4 years. During the first year the plant will be tiny, but although the traps will be typically only 1-4 millimeters in length at that time, they are fully functional, often catching very small insects such as fungus gnats that emerge from the soil.

venus fly trap seedlings

To germinate Venus Flytrap seeds, there are a few things to consider and remember:

Stephen Doonan, FlytrapRanch.com