Carnivorous Plants: 5 Cool Bug-Eating Plants That You Can Grow 

Carnivorous plants defined in simple terms are plants that eat bugs. These insect-eating plants are built for trapping and hence capturing and digesting tiny insects or small animals to survive. 

Carnivorous Plants

Not all carnivorous flowers or plants need to eat insects to survive. In fact, the reason they eat insects or small animals is that they often grow in areas with poor soil conditions. 

Types of Carnivorous Plants You Can Grow

There are a lot of carnivorous plant species with over 700 species in counting and these plants are spread out amongst numerous orders and families. 

Here are a few of the coolest carnivorous plants you can grow. 

1. Cobra Lily 

Cobra Lily 

The Darlingtonia californica or Cobra Lily is known for its cobra-looking leaves from where it gets its name. It is a carnivorous plant with a large appetite and a craving for flying insects and small animals. 

These bug-catching plants can be found in the United States, growing in Oregon and California. Irrespective of their fierce look, Cobra Lilies are stunning plants and can be easy to maintain. They require sufficient full sunlight exposure and frequent watering with chemical-free water. 

Botanical Name Darlingtonia californica 
Common Names Cobra Lily 
Origin North America
Family  Sarraceniaceae
Full Size Ranges from 3 feet to 4 feet tall
Plant Type Carnivorous
Soil Type Well-draining, moist soil

2. Purple Pitcher Plant 

Purple Pitcher Plant 

Purple pitcher plant or Sarracenia purpurea is an unusual plant, in the sense that it kills its prey by drowning them in water. It grows in North America, in water-logged locations like the side of a swamp or a pond.

It is a pretty plant that features burgundy hues and blooms in the late spring to produce eye-catching flowers that grow as long as 8 inches. They are of average difficulty to grow as they require full sun and frequent watering but hate soggy soil.    

Botanical Name Sarracenia purpurea
Common Names Purple Pitcher Plant
Origin North America 
Family  Sarraceniaceae
Full Size Ranges from 6 to 18 inches tall 
Plant Type Carnivorous herbaceous perennial  
Soil Type Always Moist, rich soil 

3. Venus Fly Trap 

Venus Fly Trap 

Venus Fly Trap is another cool plant that eats insects.  Also known as the Dionaea muscipula, the plant is popular for its trap ability. 

It features a tall light green stalk that carries a lip-like head. This lip-like head stays open and attracts unsuspecting insects like flies into it by producing sweet-smelling nectar.  

Once the fly goes in and makes contact with any of the plant hairs, it shuts and digests the fly. It is a simple plant that requires direct sunlight, and little watering (use distilled or rainwater)  to grow. 

Botanical Name Dionaea muscipula
Common Names Venus Fly Trap
Origin North America
Family  Droseraceae
Full Size From 6 to 12 inches tall 
Plant Type Carnivorous Perennial  
Soil Type Moist, sandy soil

4. Butterworts


Another cool trapping plant is the Pinguicula or the butterwort plant. Butterworts can lay unnoticed and are often regarded as passive trappers. They feature light greenish-yellowish leaves that have a buttery feel to them and bloom at the start of spring, producing flowers that range from white to yellow, to purple. 

This buttery coating is what is used in trapping insects like gnats that are unfortunate to perch on them. They are average maintenance as they require full sunlight or partial shade, regular watering, and a well-draining but moist, alkaline soil to thrive. 

Botanical Name Pinguicula L
Common Names Butterworts
Origin Central America
Family  Lentibulariaceae
Full Size Ranges from 5 to 8 inches tall
Plant Type Carnivorous Perennial flowering plant
Soil Type Well-draining, Moist soil

5. Monkey Cups 

Monkey Cups 

Nepenthes which is also called the Monkey Cup or tropical pitcher plant is native to tropical regions of Asian countries like Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.  It features green leaves that produce a mid-size pitcher which produces sweet-smelling nectar. 

Flies are attracted to this nectar which traps them and digests them over time. The plant gets its name from monkeys drinking the nectar found in these cup-like pitchers. These predatory plants are average maintenance, as they require direct sunlight, frequent watering, and well-draining, moist soil.  

Botanical Name Nepenthes
Common Names Tropical Pitcher Plant, Monkey Cups
Origin East Asia 
Family  Nepenthaceae
Full Size Can grow as long as 3 m
Plant Type Carnivorous, trailing Perennial plant
Soil Type Well-aerated, Well-draining soil 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most popular carnivorous plants?

The most popular carnivorous plants are the Venus flytrap and the purple pitcher plants. 

Is the vampire queen plant carnivorous?

Yes, the Vampire queen plant is known to kill and eat bugs and other small animals.

What can you feed a venus fly trap besides bugs?

Nothing else, the plant’s digestive system is built to only digest insects, anything else would be harmful to the plant. 

How many carnivorous plants are there?

There are a little over 700 different carnivorous plants known to scientists. 

Why do carnivorous plants eat insects?

Most carnivorous plants are exposed to poor soils lacking proper nutrients, they eat insects to help gain the needed nutrients.

Marijke Puts
About Marijke Puts
Marijke Puts has Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Science and is from The Netherlands. She has a certified master gardener and loves everything about houseplants and gardening.

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