North American pitcher plants (Sarracenia sp.) are native to the eastern parts of America. Most natural populations are found in the southeastern parts of the country. These carnivorous plants trap and digest insects in their "pitchers," which are modified leaves. The pitcher plant's habitat is vital to its growth, especially the amount of water in the soil.
Wild pitcher plants grow in boggy areas, including marshes, along streams, and even in man-made culverts and ditches--anywhere that water collects and the ground remains soggy. These plants usually grow in soil that is low in nutrients. Instead of getting all of their nutrients from the ground, pitcher plants get some of them from the insects that fall into their traps. Pitcher plants also prefer soil that is not salty and has a low pH level.
Pitcher plants are often found growing in partial shade, however, they prefer full sunlight. A minimum of six hours of sunlight will keep these plants healthy, but eight to 12 hours of sunlight per day is even more beneficial.
Sarracenia grows best in warm climates, where it thrives as a perennial. It is treated as an annual in colder areas, or grown as a potted plant. Pitcher plants are hardy to USDA growing zone 5.
Pitcher plants can be found growing in the United States from eastern Canada all the way south to the coast of Florida. Those in the northern climates die in the cold winters unless protected from heavy freezing. Bring potted plants indoors or bury the pot in soil to the rim in a sunny location. Pitcher plants in the warmer south stay green all year long.
Indigenous populations of Sarracenia are endangered, according to horticulturist Christy Matasick from the University of California. As wetlands are drained and dried, the habitats of pitcher plants are destroyed. An estimate from The Nature Conservancy states that the current loss of the pitcher plant's natural habitat could be as high as 97 percent.