A look at the fascinating habits of carnivorous plants.
Carnivorous plants are also known as insectivorous plants. Their ability to trap and digest insects has evolved as an adaptation to a hostile environment – these plants often grow in thin soils that are nearly devoid of the nitrogen that most plant rely upon.
Carnivorous plants have various methods of attracting and catching their prey. One of the most familiar examples is the Venus fly trap. Its traps (or leaves) are a bright watermelon color on the inside, which attracts insects who are used to finding nectar in brightly colored flowers. Once inside, the insect is likely to brush up against a series of trigger hairs, which causes the trap to snap shut. Pitcher plants, on the other hand, drown their prey in the fluid that accumulates inside their cup-shaped leaves. Digestive enzymes excreted by the plants then allow them to digest their insect prey, which is rich in nitrates.
You can grow some carnivorous plants in a terrarium on a bright windowsill. The best candidates are pitcher plants, sundews and Venus flytraps. Keep the soil very moist, but not waterlogged, and water with distilled water – chlorine in tap water is toxic to most carnivorous plants. Though high humidity is necessary, so is air circulation, so keep the lid to the terrarium cracked a bit. Plants are available at some nurseries as novelties, or through mail order sources.