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Pitcher Plant Care

pitcher plant image by Kho Guan Ann from

The North American pitcher plant (Sarracenia genus) is a carnivorous plant that can be grown indoors or outdoors. There are 11 species of the plant, and all are native to North America. These moisture-loving plants are commonly found growing in bogs and marshlands. Sarracenia plants contain a tube (called a pitcher) that fills partially with a sweet-smelling liquid that attracts, then digests, unsuspecting insects.

Growing Medium

Pitcher plants thrive in loose, sandy soil. Fill a plastic or ceramic container with equal amounts of peat moss and sterilized sand. Make sure the sand does not contain any salt, as this will kill the plant. Use a container that does not have drainage holes. In addition, make sure the container is not concrete nor terra cotta, as the minerals in those materials may harm the pitcher plant. Outdoor pitcher plants should be planted in sandy, wet soil.


Sarracenia is a moisture-loving plant. The growing medium should be kept consistently moist. Use lukewarm, distilled water with no added minerals. Bog plants such as the pitcher plant need an acid environment, and the minerals in tap water can upset this delicate balance and reduce the acidity of the growing medium. You really can't over-water pitcher plants. If they dry out, they will quickly die.


Pitcher plants need full sun exposure, which is defined as a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day. Eight or 12 hours is even better for these plants. Unlike some plants, pitcher plants can withstand direct sunlight without scorching and will do just fine even in the intense rays of afternoon sunlight.


Pitcher plants do not need fertilizing. They get all their nutrients from trapping insects. If your plant is indoors where it might not be able to trap any insects, feed it a tiny bug once a month by simply dropping the bug into the tube.


Sarracenia requires a period of dormancy, or rest, before it will grow again. This is called overwintering. To overwinter your potted pitcher plant, stop watering it when fall arrives and move it to a cool, dark location, such as a garage. Bring it back into the sunlight after about three months and resume watering. Outdoor pitcher plants should be covered with 3 inches of pine mulch for the winter. The mulch should be removed when spring arrives.

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