The flies, fruit flies, mosquitoes, and moths are getting really annoying and the spiders in the house aren’t helping much, so we want to get some carnivorous plants to put around the house.

Our main concern is how to maintain them during the winter. They shouldn’t have too much trouble with the cold because the same ones grow wild in a bog in town, but there won’t be any bugs during the winter, so I’m not sure what they should/would eat.

I tried looking up information on wintering carnivorous plants, but didn’t find anything useful; most of it was just about temperature, not feeding.

How can we ensure that carnivorous plants survive through the winter? Should we feed them? If so, what and how often?

(I don’t know specifically which one(s) we would get until the stores get them in. Naturally, I’d like the usual Venus Fly Trap, but the varieties that grow wild here are Sarracenia purpurea, Sundews (Drosera rotundifolia, Drosera intermedia), and Utricularia, so I would think that they would be the ones most likely to be available and likely to survive here.)

  • Utricularia is an aquatic plant. It is meant to be quite common, but I have yet to see one - in other words it probably isn't very obvious. Trap sizes vary but they are often very small - catching water fleas and similar small aquatic insects. Go for the sarracenia and drosera instead.
    – winwaed
    Oct 15, 2012 at 18:08

4 Answers 4


You can grow carnivorous plants (CPs) without any bugs. Think of the bugs as a dietary supplement.

If you're growing local plants, then indoor climates might still pose problems. I don't know your outside climate or if you have a/c, but carnivorous plants generally like moist bog ground. That may require frequent watering in a dry indoor climate.

Although there are stories of greenhouse Sarracenia emptying entire ant nests (the first leaves a trail, and everyone else follows to their doom...), my experience is that they probably won't make a good fly control system, and the moist soil might encourage tiny harmless bugs like springtails. An interesting novelty? Yes definitely.

I see you are in Canada, so I assume your local plants are Drosera (sundews)? Many of the northern hemisphere sundews are quite easy to grow. I would recommend D. capensis as being particularly easy. You can grow it from seed, and it will seed itself (to the extent that the many of the expert CP-growsers consider it a weed). Don't take any from the wild - most CPs are protected and you may also introduce pests into your house / plant pots. Go to a reputable nursery or specialist which breeds them in 'captivity'.

Finding CPs in the wild is always cool - whether they are the giant S. alata in East Texas, or the diminuitive D. rotundifolia in the Scottish Highlands!

  • I’m not sure which ones we will/would get until the stores actually get them in (I called around a few months ago and they said that they don’t get them until ~Sep-Nov). I am using the fact that there are four varieties growing in a local bog as a general guideline of what may/should be available and survivable here. So CPs can survive on soil, water, sun, etc. like others and don’t need the meat? That’s a relief. I considered that they may not be too effective either, but I’ve always wanted one, so I’d be happy tending it even as just a novelty on my desk. :-)
    – Synetech
    Oct 4, 2012 at 17:17

My experience is limited to Venus flytrap plants in Scotland, but I found that through the winter the plants growth slowed right down along with the lack of insects.

There were a few bugs that we fed to the plants, but only around one a month, and the plants just picked up their activity in the spring as the insects started to increase in numbers.

  • 1
    They grow in the wild here and there aren’t too many bugs during the winter, so I guess it makes sense that they would essentially hibernate.
    – Synetech
    Oct 4, 2012 at 17:18

I love the idea of carnivorous plants for indoor pest control.

All of the temperate carnivorous plants that I am aware of require a winter dormancy. They will probably survive for a couple of years without this dormancy, but they won't really thrive. Sarracenia leaves can last for 2-3 years; so probably that long at least before it withers away. During the winter you will very likely have to cover them to survive inside, as the humidity will be low (assuming you have a furnace).

During the natural winter they will not need a lot of nitrogen / phosphorous and will not need to "eat" insects. If they aren't allowed to go dormant, then they would probably benefit from some food. I would suspect that anything you can feed to a tropical fish or a lizard you could feed to a plant, but i would go very easy as you probably have a better chance of poisoning your plant from too many nutrients than you do from the plant "starving".

  • Unfortunately, we have electric heaters, and Ontario started time-of-use billing this year, so it’s too expensive to have heating in the winter. It’s already getting cold (early spring, early winter I guess), but because there’s a bunch of plants indoors (she brought several palms, cacti, flowers, herbs, and small trees inside for the winter), it’s actually fairly humid upstairs—perhaps not bog-humid, but noticeably. What do you mean by dormancy? How would they do it on their own and how would she be preventing it/allow it? (they can sleep in the winter since there’s no bugs).
    – Synetech
    Oct 9, 2012 at 2:46
  • by dormancy, I mean a cold period, what each herbaceous plant does is different, some loose their leaves, some dont... Oct 9, 2012 at 20:11
  • Yes, but you implied that she would somehow be interfering with it. I’m asking how she would be interfering with it and how to allow it to happen.
    – Synetech
    Oct 9, 2012 at 21:08
  • by storing the plants in side you will be interfering with the normal dormancy. Oct 9, 2012 at 21:35
  • Okay, but what (typically) triggers the dormancy? Temperature? Humidity? Light? Surely it’s possible to encourage them to hibernate even indoors.
    – Synetech
    Oct 10, 2012 at 0:55

You don't have to feed carnivorous plants at all and for the winter they will just slow growth and eat less. For good health you will need to decrease the temperature of the plants if it is a flytrap or pitcher plant, but tropical sundews don't need any change. The same is true for nepenthes, also known as tropical pitcher plants, or the kings of carnivorous plants. Nepenthes can live hundreds of years and grow two feet across and some can eat mice. It's an amazing spectacle of nature. They are very easy to keep and I recommend them.

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