How to Grow a Purple Pitcher Plant


The purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) is one of the hardiest of all carnivorous plants, and will grow even in cold winter climates. Purple pitcher plant is a striking but unusual plant, with purple and greenish pitchers that stand erect. The plant gains nutrients not only from boggy soil, but by dining on ants and other small insects. The hapless insect crawls into the pitcher and, unable to climb up the slippery insides of the plant, is trapped by fine hairs and slowly digested by the purple pitcher plant.

Step 1

Fill a planting container with equal parts peat moss and sand. Any container with drainage holes in the bottom will work. Press the purple pitcher plant seed lightly into the soil.

Step 2

Set the planting container in a shallow bowl of water, and seal the container and the bowl of water in clear plastic. Place the container bowl in bright light, but avoid direct light or hot sunshine, which will burn the purple pitcher plant seeds.

Step 3

Poke a few holes in the plastic as soon as you notice that the purple pitcher plant seeds have germinated. After two to three days, open the top of the plastic bag. When the seedlings are about 2 to 3 inches tall, transplant each seedling to a 3-inch pot or terrarium filled with peat moss.

Step 4

Place the pot or terrarium where it will be exposed to bright sunlight for at least six hours daily. Keep the soil soggy at all time. Water the purple pitcher plant with distilled water, as tap water contains salts that will be harmful to the plant.

Step 5

Feed the purple pitcher plant only if the plant hasn't caught an insect for a long period of time. A live maggot or fly can be placed into the pitcher. However, this is rarely necessary. Don't fertilize the purple pitcher plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Planting container with drainage holes
  • Peat moss
  • Sand
  • Shallow bowl
  • Clear plastic
  • 3-inch pot or terrarium
  • Peat moss


  • Texas A&M: Weird Plants
  • Sarracenia purpurea, Pitcher Plant
  • University of Illinois: Carnivorous Plants
Keywords: purple pitcher plant, carnivorous plant, pitcher plant

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.