Proctor's Garden: How to make a Halloween-themed terrarium

Helping Venus Flytraps flourish in Colorado.

KUSA - Halloween is right around the corner and one way to get into the spirit is to create a Halloween-themed terrarium.

Up the cool factor by including carnivorous plants, such as Venus fly traps in your creation.  Many people shy away from carnivorous plants because they think they can’t survive in our climate, but if you spend a little time creating the right environment for them, carnivorous plants can do very well in Colorado.

The following rules apply to Venus fly traps, but also apply to many other types of carnivorous plants:

Container: Fly traps are native to North and South Carolina, and therefore, like a lot of moisture and humidity. A closed terrarium is a great choice. A closed terrarium traps the moisture to keep the humidity around the plants high. If you don’t want to put your plants in a closed terrarium, you can increase the humidity around your plants by placing their pot in a shallow watertight tray. Fill the tray with distilled water and the evaporation will increase the humidity around your fly traps.

Soil/Planting Medium: Unlike most potted plants, carnivorous plants require soil with very few nutrients. Plain sphagnum moss or a  mixture of two parts peat moss and one part sand or perlite works well.  If using peat moss or perlite, make sure they do not contain added fertilizers.

Water: Normal tap water usually contains too many minerals and salts for carnivorous plants to thrive; therefore, they should only be watered with distilled water or rainwater. The soil should always be kept very moist and should never be allowed to dry out.

Light: Your plants should receive bright light for at least 4 hours per day. The Colorado sun is very intense, so morning sunlight, bright indirect sun, or filtered light is best.

Food: Venus fly traps get their nutrients from eating bugs. They only require a few insects per year. If your plants are in a closed terrarium and cannot catch bugs on their own, you can feed them. Use tweezers to drop small bugs into the traps and watch them close up to digest the bug. Live bugs work best, because the movement helps the trap seal tight.

Dormancy: In the winter months, you should let your Venus fly traps go dormant, so they can rest and come back healthier in the spring. One way to let your plant go dormant is to cut back the leaves, put the plant in an open ziptop bag, and put the bag in the refrigerator. Leave the plant in the refrigerator for 6-10 weeks. In the spring, take the plant out and place it on a warm, sunny windowsill. It should sprout in about two weeks. If you allow your plants to go dormant in the winter, they will live longer.

After you create the perfect environment for you plants, it is now time to have some fun. Plant several carnivorous plants in your terrarium and then embellish it with miniature pumpkins, skeletons, or other creepy accessories. Many garden centers carry holiday or seasonal fairy garden accessories which are ideal for creating a theme. You can even create a graveyard theme by painting plant tags to look like mini headstones.

Don’t shy away from carnivorous plants! Take advantage of their creepy, scary look to create a fun Halloween-themed planting!

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