Best Carnivorous Plants for Indoors

Best Carnivorous Plants for Indoors

Carnivorous plants seem to have a bit of the mystic in them. They’re so different. After all, who would have imagined a plant that eats insects. It sounds so SciFi that horror movies have even been made about them. Despite what you may believe, they’re not that hard to grow, especially if you choose one from our list of the best carnivorous plants for indoors.

Unlike the villain horror movies have made them out to be, carnivorous or insectivorous plants are quite friendly once you get to know them. Well, that is … unless you happen to be the insect that ventured into their clutches.

What Are Carnivorous Plants?

Carnivorous/insectivorous plants, just like carnivorous animals, capture and eat prey … just on a smaller scale. They eat insects and arachnids. Like spiders, they lay a trap for the insect. Once their prey is captured, the carnivorous/insectivorous plant extracts vital nutrients from the insect’s body with the help of digestive enzymes. Some larger plants, such as the pitcher plant, will even eat small rodents if given the opportunity.

For ease of reading, we’ll use the term “carnivorous plants” instead of constantly saying “carnivorous/insectivorous plants.” However, because of what they eat, the plants are considered to be both carnivores and insectivores.

Carnivorous plants are native to boggy environments which have very little soil from which to extract the nutrients they need to survive. They have evolved to fulfill their needs by trapping and consuming insects.

Carnivorous plants attract their next meal with bright colors and/or sweet-smelling nectar. Then they trap them inside specialized leaves. Next, it’s time to eat.

So, have they trapped you emotionally? Are you ready to begin growing your very own carnivorous plant? Great! It’s time then to look at the best carnivorous plants for indoors, so you can decide which one or ones you’d like to add to your indoor plant collection.

Related: Are Carnivorous Plants Dangerous to Humans?

Best Carnivorous Plants for Indoors

So, you want to add an exotic plant to your indoor plant collection. Let’s look at four of the best carnivorous plants for indoors.

Venus Flytrap

Venus flytrap: the best carnivorous plants for indoors
The Venus Flytrap, the most commonly known carnivorous plant, is easy to grow and care for.

The Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is one of the most well-known and popular carnivorous plants. It has strange-looking mouth-like traps that consist of modified leaves that contain nectar to attract their next meal. Thin eyelash-looking growths along the edges of the trap are trigger hairs that alert the plant that dinner has arrived.

When an insect touches one of the trigger hairs, the “mouth” clamps shut, trapping its prey. The Venus Flytrap then begins to excrete enzymes that digest its prey in five to twelve days. The typical diet of the Venus Flytrap includes ants, flying insects, spiders, grasshoppers and beetles. It may go months between feedings.

Although Dionaea muscipula is the typical genus species, other cultivars exist such as:

  • Dionaea ‘Red Dragon’ or ‘Akai Ryu’ stays red throughout its lifetime.
  • Dionaea ‘Justina Davis’ stays green and only green, no matter how much sun it gets.
  • Dionaea ‘Petite Dragon’ is a smaller plant with traps that are only about half an inch in length
  • Dionaea ‘Ginormous,’ has traps measuring slightly more than two inches.

Growing Tips for the Venus Flytrap

  • A young plant only needs to eat a couple of insects a month, more as it grows bigger.
  • The Venus Flytrap does best near a window that gets filtered sunlight.
  • Keep soil evenly moist. Deionized water, reverse osmosis water or rainwater you have collected is best.


Spoonleaf sundew: best carnivorous plants for indoors
Many Sundews are vinelike, growing to a height of approximately ten inches. Other types, such as this Spoonleaf, lay low to the ground.

The Sundew (Drosera sp.) appears to be adorned with the morning dew hanging from hairy protrusions lined up along the edges of its leaves. Instead, however, the drops are filled with sticky digestive enzymes that will first entice and then dissolve the insects that stumble into them.  

The Sundew has mutated into a plant that catches and holds its prey when it comes into contact with any part of the plant. The leaves themselves are sticky pads lined with even stickier tentacle-like hairs which secrete drops of a sticky substance hanging from each hair’s bulbous end. The sweet-smelling digestive enzyme first attracts its prey and then digests it after the Sundew wraps its tentacles and leaf in on itself, encapsulating the insect with digestive enzymes. The Sundew’s diet consists mainly of small flying insects such as gnats, flies and mosquitos. Some describe the plant as “living flypaper.” After about a week, when the Sundew had finished its meal, it uncoils itself and prepares to catch another meal.

Growing Tips for the Sundew

  • Sundews always require temperatures above 50° F.
  • Sundews must be grown in humid conditions and in moist soil at all times.
  • Sundews should be grown in sandy, acidic soil.

Although the round-leafed Sundew is the most common, there are several other types from which to choose, ranging in heights between one and ten inches.

Floating Bladderwort

For those who enjoy aquariums, floating bladderwort (Utricularia) could make the perfect carnivorous plant choice. Bladderworts are definitely a newbie-friendly carnivorous plant. They are quick-growing and easy to grow plants.

Floating bladderwort is a rootless aquatic plant that has tiny hairs which when triggered by its prey, opening a trap door to the bladder where the prey is pulled in, captured and digested. It has been called the fastest plant in the world because of how quickly it captures its prey. The bladders are lined with a substance that attracts a variety of water insects such as water fleas and mosquito larvae.

Floating bladderwort typically grows in ditches, lakes, marshes, shallow ponds, and slow-moving streams or rivers. It has long, leafless stems which extend conspicuously above the water. Its flowers grow on top of these stems throughout the summer months and come in a multitude of colors.

Bladderworts are easily grown in an aquarium. In the wild, the plants provide critical habitat and food for many small aquatic creatures; therefore, in an aquarium, the plant may be consumed by fish. But beware, the bladderwort may also consume some smaller creatures in your aquarium as well. Raising guppies that multiply quickly could provide the visual appeal of fish while also feeding your bladderwort.

Floating bladderwort feeds differently, than say, the Venus Flytrap, but it can be fascinating to watch it feed. You’ll need to have a food source established in the aquarium before introducing the bladderwort. This can be accomplished by collecting some pond water and introducing it into the aquarium. Once the small creatures (water bugs and other microorganisms) you have introduced are established, you can then bring in the bladderwort.

Growing Tips for the Bladderwort

  • Best grown in a shallow tub or aquarium.
  • The tank must be cycled because the plant relies on dissolved oxygen in the water.
  • If changing the aquarium water, be sure to retain enough water to keep a population of water creatures established in the tank for your bladderwort to eat.

Pitcher Plants

Pitcher plant: best carnivorous plants for indoors
Pitcher plants attract and drown their prey in cup-shaped leaves filled with nectar.

The unusual pitcher plant (Nepenthes) can be a little more difficult to grow than some other carnivorous plants. It is, however, worth the effort. With its elegant and bright-colored leaves, a pitcher plant will dominate and liven up a space. Because it has cup-shaped leaves forming pockets (pitchers) that dangle from the ends of tendrils, the pitcher plant makes an attractive hanging basket specimen. These cups also have given the plant the nickname Monkey Cups.

It’s in these dangling pockets or cups that the pitcher plant attracts, catches and dissolves its meals. The cups are specialized leaves filled with nectar that first attract, then drown and digest its prey. Insects are drawn to the bright colors of the plant as well as the sweet-smelling nectar. As they land on the slippery rim of the cups, they fall into the trap and the rest is history. In the wild, small animals may also fall victim.

The pitcher plant grows naturally in the eastern and southern parts of Canada and the US.

There are several types of pitcher plants, having different methods for attracting and catching prey. They all have a fascinating appearance with various colors and pitcher styles. Of all the different families of pitcher plants from which to choose, Nepenthes is the most forgiving.

Growing Tips for the Pitcher Plant

  • Pitcher plants prefer bright indirect sunlight, especially morning light.
  • The perfect potting mix for the pitcher plant is made up of one part lava rock, pumice or perlite and three parts sphagnum moss.
  • Pitcher plants prefer acidic, sandy soils that have very few nutrients.

Growing Carnivorous Plants Indoors

See … growing carnivorous plants indoors is not hard. Whether you want to grow your own plants from seeds (it takes patience but provides a lot of satisfaction) or buy plants in pots, you’re sure to enjoy your carnivorous/insectivorous plant journey. Each step of the way will bring wonder and excitement in ways that other houseplants just can’t. You’ll wonder why it took you so long to begin the journey.