Episode 32: the venus flytrap

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"I've given you sunshine

I've given you dirt.

You've given me nothing

But heartache and hurt.

I'm beggin' you sweetly.

I'm down on my knees.

Oh, please-grow for me!"

I love the film Little Shop of Horrors, and although Audrey II (the monstrous creation that terrorises flower shop assistant Seymour after it gets a taste for human flesh) bears little resemblance to the real life venus flytrap, Seymour’s lament about his struggle to keep his plant happy is pretty close the truth when it comes to how I feel about my own attempts to look after this plant.

Many of us have bought a flytrap on impulse on a visit to a garden centre or big box store, and brought it home in great excitement, expecting our children to be enthralled and to be granted many years of entertainment from this fascinating species, only to find death and destruction comes in its wake. So in this episode I find out how to keep your venus flytrap, with help of carnivorous plant expert Tom Bennet of Tom's Carnivores.

A mass of flytraps. Photograph by  incidencematrix  on  Flickr .

A mass of flytraps. Photograph by incidencematrix on Flickr.

The venus flytrap - latin name Dionea muscipula, is found in the wild in only a small patch of land in North and South Carolina in the US, but like other carnivorous plants form around the world, it’s found an ingenious way of coping with life anchored in soil that’s naturally low in nutrients, Capturing its own food between two toothed leaves that form the perfect trap for flies and spiders that are attracted to the nectar it oozes out as a bait. Sadly, this plant is in danger in its native habitat, threatened by flytrap smugglers who can nab hundreds of plants at a time. Find out more about this side of the flytrap story by listening to the Criminal podcast episode Dropping Like Flies

Where to buy your venus flytrap

As Tom points out in this episode, it's worth buying from a carnivorous plant specialist to ensure the best quality specimens: in the UK, there are many carnivorous plant nurseries, including:

Venus flytrap 'Red Dragon' aka 'Akai Ryu'. Photograph by  The World Through Athene's Eyes  on  Flickr

Venus flytrap 'Red Dragon' aka 'Akai Ryu'. Photograph by The World Through Athene's Eyes on Flickr

In the US, try:

Know of a great nursery for carnivorous plants that I haven't mentioned? Add a comment below and fill me in!

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Credits

This week's show featured Roll Jordan Roll by the Joy Drops, licensed under Creative Commons, and Hot Lips by Bill Brown and His Brownies.