The easiest and most obvious way to feed carnivorous plants is to let them do what they’re designed for and that’s to catch bugs! But what if your carnivorous plants are indoors and don’t have a chance to take part in the bug buffet outside or you don’t have time to collect bugs for them? In this article, we’ll cover some alternative food sources safe for many types of carnivorous plants so they don’t miss out on important nutrients.


Alternative food sources

Fish Flakes & Crushed Pellets

Fish flakes or crushed pellets are a great alternative to bugs for carnivorous plants. They contain several nutrients that can be easily absorbed by the plant. We have used both TetraFin Goldfish Flakes and TetraFin Floating Pellets (crushed) with good success.


Freeze dried Bloodworms are another good food source for carnivorous plants and they may even boost disease resistance. Bloodworms contain a polymer called chitin in their exoskeletons; a polymer also found in the cell walls of fungi. Carnivorous plants (along with most plants) have the ability to detect chitin fragments from fungal infections, triggering a defense mechanism that protects the plant. The extra chitin in bloodworms helps activate the plants defenses without introducing actual fungus. This immunity can be important for helping prevent infections in plants like Mexican Pinguicula (Butterworts) which are prone to browning heart disease.


Fertilizers like Maxsea and Oscomote are another option for carnivorous plants, but use them sparingly. Sarracenia and Heliamphora both appreciate small amounts of fertilizer in their soil or pitchers and often Nepenthes can benefit from pitcher-fed fertilizer. If you notice pitcher or leaf burn, this is a sign the fertilizer may be too strong and needs to be diluted further.

Pitcher Plant with Food

Fertilizer in a Nepenthes pitcher

The ICPS has some good information on using fertilizer for Heliamphora and Sarracenia.

The Carnivore Girl also has a great article that explores fertilizer for carnivorous plants in more depth.

Carnivorous plants and meat

Despite the name, carnivorous plants rarely eat meat in the wild. (Except for some Nepenthes which have been known to snack on rodents). While meat contains some of the nutrients carnivorous plants need, it also invites harmful bacteria to start growing, so it’s usually best to stick with one of the food sources mentioned above.


Now who’s hungry?

This article covered several alternatives when it comes to feeding carnivorous plants. Hopefully you found it useful but please check out some of the linked resources throughout the article for more specifics. Also visit our guide; How To Feed Carnivorous Plants, for an overview of feeding techniques. Thanks for reading!