Create a Terrarium for Carnivorous Plants

Growing different or unique plants adds a certain challenge to your plant and garden areas. It’s also a learning experience as you learn about new plants, their care and often the history that surrounds the plant.  Children also learn from a plant terrarium as they care for a watch a living “plant” grow. Venus flytraps
Creative Commons License photo credit: Just chaos

A very interesting terrarium is one set up with carnivorous plants. Most carnivorous plants are native to the United States. With their tropical look this fact surprises many people. And they are one of the more difficult plant varieties to grow. But growing them in a terrarium creates an atmosphere they like and it is a fun project to try.

Supplies needed for your Carnivorous Plant terrarium

·    Activated charcoal
·    Distilled water
·    Glass container – fish tank or unique glass bowls make great terrariums
·    Gravel
·    Several carnivorous plants
·    Sphagnum peat moss
·    Insects such as crickets or flies

Choose a glass container for your terrarium. If you have a lot of plants you may want a fish tank. I pick up my glass containers at garage sales and auctions and I look for interesting shapes. Your Carnivorous plants will need a lot of humidity, so the container should have a lid.

Next add a layer of gravel of loose pebbles or gravel to the bottom of your terrarium. The layer should be an inch deep. Then top the gravel with about 1/2 inch of activated charcoal. This absorbs any odors in the tank. carnivorous plants
Creative Commons License photo credit: ljmacphee

Cover the gravel and charcoal with a layer of sphagnum peat moss. Next I add about three inches of unfertilized soil. My friend told me many years ago to using sphagnum peat moss with silica sand or medium grade orchid bark. This mix will create an acidic soil that carnivorous plants like.

Add distilled water to the peat moss and mix until it turns black.  Then you will want to mix in the sand or bark. This creates a bog type soil that the plants need to thrive.

Now comes the fun part. Adding the plants! These are a few carnivorous plants that you might select for the terrarium: Cobra Lily (Darlingtonia Californica); North American Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia); Australian Pitcher Plant (Cephalotus Follicularis); South American Sun Pitchers (Heliamphora); Sundew (Drosera); Bladderwort (Utricularia); Butterwort (Pinguicula); and the most well known carnivorous plant, the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). These plants can be ordered from garden suppliers or bought at larger garden centers or greenhouses.

Water your terrarium well with distilled water. This is important. The other types of water contain minerals and additives that could stunt plant growth or kill your plants.

You will want to place the terrarium in a spot with bright light where the temperature should average 65 to 75 degrees during the day and 55 to 65 degrees at night.

Tip: Carnivorous plants do not tolerate low light levels or high temperatures. The area also should not be drafty. Since carnivorous plants need plenty of light but will overheat if placed in direct sunlight, you may need to supplement lighting by using a good quality florescent light.

Your plants will need to be fed about once a month. They will eat either live or dead ants, flies or crickets. Children enjoy a carnivorous terrarium and will learn a lot from this project.

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2 responses to “Create a Terrarium for Carnivorous Plants”

  1. D S

    Yes Children do enjoy carnivorous terrariums! I can remember the one my Dad made for us as children like it was yesterday. This post made me want to start one for my daughter – Thanks!

    P.S. I think she will learn a lot from this project for sure!


    D S’s last blog post..Small Garden Design

  2. Denise

    Your daughter will love this project. The plants are fun to watch and fun to feed.

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