Sarracenia ( North American Pitcher Plant ) Introduction / Care & Growing Information:
The pitcher plant is a magnificent species that extends throughout the Gulf States and even up into Canada. There are only 8 species with numerous sub species and hybrids. The sad reality is that these plants are also on the verge of endangerment and at least two are almost extinct from the wild. Sad also is the fact that many people are currently using the pitchers in flower arrangements and thus it is perpetuating the poaching in the wild. These are under recognized plants that are truly wonderful and their flowers are even more astounding!
Watering Pitcher Plants:
Like every other Carnivorous Plant, these plants need to be watered with Distilled water only. Rain water or water from a reverse osmosis filter will be equally as good. NEVER use tap water, drinking water, mineral water, purified water. It is not the same and many of these still contain salts ( sometimes not listed! ) chemicals, and minerals that are harmful for the plants root system.
You should allow your plant to sit in standing water. One to two inches in fine. You can allow the soil to slightly dry between watering, but NEVER allow the soil to completely dry out. The plant will die.
The humidity for Sarracenia should be above 50%. Not really high considering the other CP’s. If the humidity is too low, the rim of the pitchers will dry out and you take a chance on killing the pitcher quicker than if the humidity was higher. This plant also grows well with the Venus Fly Trap as they require the same basic humidity.
Light Requirements for Sarracenia:
These are Southern US plants for the most part. So lighting should be strong. These plants can take full sun and they do so in the wild. The intensity of the light sometimes affects the color of the pitchers. More light, darker colors, less light, little color change. Bottom line is you can’t go wrong with giving this plant a good deal of light. As a matter of fact, this is a perfect plant to have outside in a big pot.
Since these plants are from the southern US, temperature isn’t a big issue as with other CP’s. These plants can take a range from mid 30’s to 100’s. During summers in the South, it isn’t uncommon to have several days in a row of temperatures into the high 90’s and low 100’s. During the winter, the plants should have a temperature of mid 30’s to 50’s to induce dormancy.
These plants will eat anything that will fall into the pitcher. Nothing is spared. However, as with all Carnivorous Plants, NEVER feed it people/pet food and NEVER fertilize your plant. Some people have experimented with Superthrive and have had mixed results. If you are going to use it, mix it at ¼ the strength, and only apply once monthly. Put it in the older pitchers first, so if you use too much you will not kill the newer pitchers.
The soil for these plants is a simple one. Sarracenia enjoy a soil that is loose and not compact. A good soil mix can be 50% peat moss and 50% perlite. Substituting Sand ( make sure it is silica sand ) for perlite is great as well.
Dormancy for Sarracenia:
Sarracenia require winter dormancy. The means cooler than normal temperatures and a shorter day that will allow for the plant to rest. For many this can be achieved where they live, but for others it will have to be induced. Rule of thumb for inducing dormancy: put into dormancy at Thanksgiving ( November 25 ) and pull out around Easter ( March 25 ). This will provide the plant with the rest that it needs.
If ordering your plants online or from mail order nurseries :
- It is not uncommon to receive your plant with a broken/dead pitcher.
- Remove all coverings form the plant and place in good lighting and water immediately.