Pitcher Plant Feeding Guide


Pitcher plants belong to a genus of plants that obtain their energy by consuming animals rather than through photosynthesis. The pitcher plant does not actively capture its prey like the Venus flytrap. Rather, it uses a simple method of seduction to lure its prey in. There are several types of pitcher plants, many of which are native to the southeastern United States.

Natural Conditions

Coloration and fragrance are the key ways a pitcher plant lures in its prey. The "flower" of the pitcher plant is usually very brightly colored, attracting a lot of attention from potential meals. It also gives off a sweet fragrance that entices prey into its trap. The petals of the pitcher plant's flower are smooth and wet, so when an unsuspecting fly, bee or other bug happens by and tries to take a closer look, it simply slips into the liquid-filled flower, where the plant will begin to digest it. That being said, pitcher plants can fare quite well on their own if placed outside in the right conditions. Humidity and heat are both quite important for the pitcher plant's success and health. Pitchers will feed on common garden pests in a flower garden just as easily as they would in a bog or other natural waterway, and will actually help keep the bug population down if several are planted in the same area.

Indoor Feeding and Care

If outdoor conditions are not favorable, a pitcher plant can be kept and cared for indoors. Terrariums provide the best indoor environment due to the plant's humidity requirements. If you choose to keep your pitcher indoors, you will need to feed it. Pitcher plants enjoy a variety of natural prey, including ants, beetles, crickets, flies, moths and even the occasional frog. While it is not recommended to feed your pitcher a frog, you should offer it a few smaller insects weekly, or one larger one every other week in order to maintain the plant's health.

Dormant Period

Pitchers should be fed in this manner throughout the spring after the flower has bloomed, as well as in the summer and fall. In the winter months, however, the plant is naturally dormant. This seasonal dormancy should also be incorporated into your indoor routine. The leaves of the pitcher plant will begin to die sometime in November. It is at this time that you should stop feeding the plant until the new leaves and flowers bloom in the early spring.

Keywords: carnivorous plants, pitcher plant care, feeding pitcher plants

About this Author

Sandra Parker is a freelance writer. She is passionate about helping people help their pets live longer, happier lives and wants to strengthen the bond between owners and their pets by providing an insight into what certain behaviors mean. She has been published online through eHow and Associated Content, and is the local Dog Examiner for Knoxville, Tenn.

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