Experiment: Growing a Cursed Plant

From Unlocking Science with Roger Patterson

by Roger Patterson on April 1, 2022

Many varieties of carnivorous plants eat bugs. Pitcher plants set a pit trap with their sweet nectar. Sundews offer a sweet treat that traps unsuspecting flies. Venus flytraps lure insects right into their leafy jaws and suck the life out of them.

God made the original plant kinds on day three of creation week as described in Genesis 1:11–13.

But when they were originally created in God’s perfect creation, these plants didn’t eat other creatures, since that would have involved death. Carnivorous behavior must have risen in plants and animals sometime after God cursed the earth.

If you have ever tried to keep one of these plants, you know they are tricky to grow. This activity will help you properly care for your little green friend. You may not grow Venus fly traps big enough to eat the neighbor’s cat, but even small traps can be beautiful and entertaining.

Repotting Supplies

  • Venus flytrap or other carnivorous plant
  • 4-inch or larger plastic pot
  • Sphagnum peat moss with no fertilizers or additives
  • Perlite
  • Water (distilled, reverse osmosis, or rain)
  • Gallon zipper bag
  • Deep saucer or bowl
  • Optional: waterproof gloves (latex, vinyl, rubber)

Repotting Procedures

  1. Add about 3 cups of sphagnum peat moss and 3 cups of perlite to the baggie. Seal and shake until evenly mixed.
  2. Add about 3 cups of water, seal, and knead gently until the contents feel somewhat like cookie dough. (Add a bit more water as needed.) You want the mixture to be thoroughly damp but not sopping wet.
  3. Fill the new pot with the moistened soil mixture and use your finger to poke a hole about two inches deep in the center.
  4. Carefully remove the potted plant from the package. Turn the potted flytrap on its side and gently squeeze the sides of the pot, rotating as you do so. This will loosen the soil from the pot. You can tap it on your palm as well. Don’t worry if your flytrap snaps shut in the process. It will reopen later.
  5. Pop out the entire ball of soil with the plant, then widen and deepen the hole you’ve poked in the soil in the new pot so the plant will easily drop in.
  6. Press the soil along the edges inward until the plant is snugly in place.
  7. Add more soil until the pot is filled to the brim around the plant.
  8. Place the newly potted plant in a saucer or bowl and keep the water level one-fourth to one-third of the way up the side of the pot at all times. Keep the plant in an area with lots of sunlight.
  9. Because flytraps go through a dormant period during the winter months, the plant should be brought into a garage or similar area so it can “sleep.” Water it slightly every few weeks.
  10. Flytraps should be repotted every 2–3 years.

Managing Misconceptions

The plants that you buy from a typical garden store usually come packaged in pots that are too small and will overheat the plant.

Flytraps should be grown only in sphagnum peat moss, the soil in which they grow naturally in the Carolinas. This soil is acidic and low in nitrogen, which is toxic to Venus flytraps. Avoid using brands with added fertilizers when potting Venus flytraps because these products are enriched with toxic nutrients.

It’s helpful to add perlite to the sphagnum peat moss. Perlite is made from a porous volcanic glass. It adds no nutrients to the soil but holds water and helps oxygen to penetrate the sphagnum peat moss and retain moisture.

To help the plant flourish, you can give it a new home with lots of space, nourishing soil, fresh air, sunshine, and pure water.

Did You Know . . .

People have long been fascinated with these bug-eating plants. They were a favorite subject of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution. However, unlike his evolutionary ideas, his descriptions of carnivorous plants were beneficial to scientific study.

Roger Patterson, affectionately known as Mr. P, helps kids understand science from a biblical perspective through experiments and hands-on activities in his Answers TV show Unlocking Science.

This article was taken from Answers magazine, July–September, 2021, 30–31.