Carnivorous Plants for Kids

Updated March 23, 2017

Carnivorous plants live in low-nutrient environments -- bogs or rock outcroppings, for example -- and receive nutrients through insects and vertebrates. The plants are either active or passive trappers and use five methods -- pitfall, flypaper, bladder snap and lobster traps -- to trap their food. As a result, the wide variety of plants, their habitats and food consumption methods make carnivorous plants for kids a learning experience.

Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula)

The Venus Fly Trap -- an active plant -- creates sweet-smelling nectar to attract small insects, according to BBC. The plant closes when an insect manipulates two hairs in a short space on the plant's leaves. This prevents the plant from expending energy on non-food items. The plant is relatively simple to grow but it requires indirect sunlight and distilled or rain water.

Children can grow the plant and learn about several scientific principles. For example, children can study the triggering mechanism to determine if the trigger varies based on the plant's age, timing or the season.

Waterwheel Plant (Aldrovanda vesiculosa)

The Waterwheel plant is an endangered species that lives in low-nutrient water and traps invertebrates using a method similar to the Venus Fly Trap. The Waterwheels' trap -- which is still not fully understood -- closes in 0.01 to 0.02 seconds, according to the International Carnivorous Plant Society. The plant survives cold months by sinking to the bottom of the habitat. The quick motion of the plant, its "hibernation" and the habitat make the Waterwheel an interesting project for kids.

The plant prefers to grow in less than 3 feet of water, which can be placed in a large outdoor bin. Children can learn about the plant's "hibernation," the best types of food and various methods of inducing entrapment.

Pitcher Plant

Pitcher plants use visual and odour techniques to attract insects. An insect is attracted to the smell or the promise of nectar and falls into the plant's cavity. Inside the cavity an insect is confronted by a waxy wall and a pool of water. Some pitcher plants -- Sarracenia, for example -- wet the insect's wings to prevent it from flying. When the insect falls into the liquid, the digestive process begins.

Pitcher plants do well in temperatures between 12.8 and 35 degrees Celsius. They prefer indirect sunlight and require purified, distilled or rain water, according to PitcherPlant. Kids can study the types of insects attracted to the plant and consider the statistics.

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About the Author

Peyton Brookes is a workforce development expert and has written professionally about technology, education and science since 2009. She spent several years developing technology and finance courses for social programs in the Washington, D.C. area. She studied computer and information science at the University of Maryland College Park.