Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants, such as the Venus flytrap. Most carnivorous plants feed mainly on insects. The nearly 600 species of carnivorous plants fall into one of three categories; spring traps, pitfall traps and fly paper mechanisms. Pitcher plants are pitfall traps, with hollow leaves that collect rainwater that is used to trap insects. Under optimal conditions, and if you like insects, these plants can be grown indoors, where they will need some form of artificial lighting.
Pitcher plants require six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day. When carnivorous plants get adequate light, their leaves and veins will turn red to help attract insects. Bob McMahon, the Agricultural Technical Institute coordinator at Ohio State University, with over 30 years experience with carnivorous plants, recommends using a shop light containing two 40-watt fluorescent bulbs set a few inches above the plants. From May through September, the bulbs should be on 14 to 16 hours a day. Then gradually decrease the length of time to eight hours a day through March, gradually increasing back to 16 hours by May.
For pitcher plants grown in an aquarium, 50 percent Gro-Lux bulbs and 50 percent cool white bulbs can be alternated across the top of the aquarium. The bulbs should be located no more than 7 inches from the plants. Keep a thermometer in the tank to ensure the temperature does not exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Most species of carnivorous plants do best at a temperature of 77 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure the area has adequate air flow and regularly check the humidity with a hygrometer. Pitcher plants need humid conditions of 50 to 60 percent during the day and 80 to 90 percent at night.
Metal halide lights produce the heat that pitcher plants grow well in, but they should be used in large, open areas. Small enclosed areas will get too warm and increase the chance of burning the plants. Pitcher plants are taller than many carnivorous plants so metal halide makes a great choice for lighting. These intense lights can be placed farther away from the plants, allowing them to grow taller. If you will be attaching this type of light to a ballast, it is best to use an electric ballast that does not produce additional heat.