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A mix of pitcher plants and Venus flytraps. (Jeffrey Cross / Sunset Magazine)

Tired of gnats around the kitchen sink? Or just feeling adventurous? Grow carnivorous plants and never struggle with flies again.

The stick pads of a sundew (Drosera intermedia) (Trui Alink/ Buiten-beeld / Getty Images)

1. Sundews

How they make the kill: The fuzzy stems of sundews (Drosera) are coated in drops of dew, which are actually digestive enzymes that attract and dissolve prey.

Keep them happy: As houseplants, they need bright light and warm (above 40°) temps. Your best bet is a sunny windowsill. Pot them in a mixture of ½ peat moss and ½ sand or 2 parts peat moss to 1 part perlite. Set the container in a deep tray, and keep the tray filled with (collected rain, distilled, reverse osmosis, or de-ionized) water.

(sakhorn38 / Getty Images)

2. Monkey cups

How they make the kill: Native to nutrient poor soils, monkey cups have dangling pouches that capture and dissolve insects for food. Monkey are known to drink from them, hence the name.

Keep them happy: Grow monkey cups in 3 parts sphagnum moss to one part of a course material, such as perlite, orchid bark, pumice, or lava rock. Their pendulous nature makes them ideal for hanging baskets. Be sure the container has drainage. Unlike most other carnivorous plants, they don't like sitting in water at all times, so be sure to let the plant drain freely. Keep them in a spot with bright indirect light.

Photo: Aya Brackett

3. Venus flytraps

How they make the kill: When the plant’s trigger hairs inside are touched, its elegant eyelashes turn into teeth that snap shut—even emitting a slight electrical current as they close.

Keep them happy: Plant flytraps (Dionaea muscipulain) a mix of 1 part horticultural sand to 1 part peat moss. Just like sundews, place containers of flytraps in trays, and keep the soil wet year round with (collected rain, distilled, reverse osmosis, or de-ionized) water.  Flytraps will thrive in a sunny window.

(Coke Whitworth / Getty Images)

4. Pitcher plants

How they make the kill: The elegant long throats on these pitcher plants (Sarracenia) have a deadly purpose: to swallow bugs after luring them in with a liquid in the top flaps. “Bugs get so drunk off the nectar that you can just watch them fall right in,” says Rob Co, a Northern California carnivorous-plant collector. "Look inside a pitcher plants and you'll see downward hairs that prevent anyone from crawling back out.

Keep them happy: Grow pitchers in a mix of 2 parts peat moss to one part perlite; or one part peat to one part sand. Use the tray method, listed above (with the same types of distilled water), and keep these guys moist! They cannot get enough water. Or, for that matter, sunshine. Keep them in your sunniest window.

 

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