Sarracenia is one of the most fascinating of several North American pitcher plants, and isn't difficult to grow in your own garden. As unsuspecting insects land on the brightly colored surface, they enjoy the sweet substance on the slippery surface, then fall into the "pitcher"; its small, hairlike structure prevents the insects from crawling to freedom. Some varieties of wasps have learned to take advantage of the safe shelter of the pitcher plant by laying their eggs in the pitcher. Unfortunately, if the pitcher is blocked by the eggs and unable to catch food, it will often die.
Growing Sarracenia Pitcher Plants in Your Garden
Purchase a Sarracenia pitcher plant from a reputable nursery, greenhouse or florist that specializes in carnivorous plants. Look for a tag that indicates that the plant is "cultivated stock," or "nursery propagated."
Plant Sarracenia where it will be exposed to at least two hours of sunlight every day. Keep the soil damp to a depth of 4 inches, but don't flood the plant.
Remove dead pitchers and foliage during the growing season to keep the Sarracenia tidy. However, dead leaves should be left on the plant during the winter to provide protection from the cold.
Cover Sarracenia pitcher plants with a 4-to-6-inch layer of organic mulch such as straw, shredded bark or pine needles if you live in a climate where the nights get frosty. Sarracenia can tolerate hard freezes down to 10 degrees F as long as the plant is properly protected by a thick layer of mulch. Remove the mulch as soon as the weather warms in spring.
Growing Sarracenia Pitcher Plants in Containers
Plant Sarracenia plant in a container filled with sphagnum moss or peat moss. Be sure the container has a drainage hole in the bottom. Keep the moss wet at all times, but never fertilize the Sarracenia pitcher plant.
Keep the Sarracenia pitcher plant outdoors in a sunny spot as long as the temperatures remain above 60 degrees F. Bring the Sarracenia pitcher plant indoors when the weather turns cold, and place the plant in a warm room.
Move the Sarracenia pitcher plant into a cool room in late autumn when you notice that growth has stopped, as pitcher plants require a dormancy period. Move the pitcher plant into a room where the temperature will be maintained between 40 and 45 degrees F.
Move the Sarracenia pitcher plant back to a warm, sunny room when you see new growth in early spring. Move the plant outdoors as soon as the temperature reaches 60 degrees F.
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.