Growing a pitcher plant indoors

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Pitcher plants from the Nepenthes genus are one of the most interesting types of houseplants to be found in the hobby. They also have a certain air of mystery: how do you keep them alive? Luckily, pitcher plant care is not as difficult as some might think. That especially applies when you go for one of the easier species, one of which is Nepenthes ventrata.

  • How to Care for Carnivorous Plants
  • Cultivating Carnivorous Plants
  • How to grow and care for pitcher plants
  • How to Care for a Nepenthes Asian Pitcher Plant
  • Nepenthes Care
  • Carnivorous House Plants (No dormancy required!)
  • Pitcher Plants - Sarracenia
  • Do pitcher plants need direct sunlight?
  • Pitcher Plant Care: Learn To Grow The Carnivorous Nepenthes
WATCH RELATED VIDEO: HOW TO: Carnivorous Plant Bowl — Venus Fly Trap u0026 Pitcher Plants


Sarracenia are commonly known as Pitcher Plants or Trumpet Pitchers and can be long-lived and easy houseplants to grow and keep looking attractive from one year to the next. Or they can be challenging and short lived.

The difference between the two outcomes is whether you follow the basic fundamental rules see care instructions further into the guide. If you do, then things will go really well. If you don't, things will go really bad. Although the Pitcher Plant is more forgiving of poor treatment than their fellow Venus Flytrap cousin, they'll still die quickly and easily if you fail to give them what they need for any length of time on a frequent basis.

We won't lie and say they're simple houseplants to have around, but with some small adjustments to how you might treat and care for a "normal" indoor plant, you can certainly have a thriving Pitcher Plant indoors without too much hassle.

So why do they make good houseplants? There is no denying they're quite niche plants and don't appeal to everyone, they have a very carnivorous and "alive" look about them, with many varieties having blood red vein markings on the pitchers.

Insects, attracted by the colorful pitchers and nectar around the lip, will fall into the large hollow pitcher tubes and find it impossible to climb back out due to fine downward pointing hairs. Eventually, the insects will succumb and are then slowly digested by the plant to provide nutrients for further growth. If you want to learn more about the biology and science this is a great article. Some will think them gruesome, others fascinating or even beautiful.

Either way, they're highly interesting and make for unusual looking houseplants. So they've become popular simply because they're very different from the norm which creates huge interest and cultivates a passion for them.

When it comes to price and availability they're not cheap to buy or easy to find by any means but equally, they're not at the top end of the houseplant price spectrum or only purchasable from specialists.

A good looking Pitcher Plant should probably be around the price of an orchid. Sarracenia species are also starting to become much more common in the usual places you buy houseplants such as garden centres or even department stores. You'll usually find a compact hybrid of Sarracenia purpurea , which tends to be one of the easiest Pitcher Plants to grow.

Expect to find plants that look like the picture at the start of this article: lime green pitchers at the base rising towards the top the colours change to a shade between red and purple, some have veins or others might be lightly speckled instead. Do take care if purchasing from a garden centre or department stores because the care being provided while waiting to be sold might not be quite right.

Poorly treated plants will quickly start to look unattractive and could be priced up with huge discounts. It's the rhizome which sits just below and also above the soil that's important. A tatty looking plant can still come good if given the correct care and the rhizome is still reasonably healthy when you rescue it. If you're serious about these plants then the specialists are the way to go.

They'll label and name the variety clearly and will have grown them exceptionally well with expert knowledge and skill. It's easy to get the bug pun intended for these plants and so if you want to expand your collection with other varieties and hybrids then you'll eventually need to look for specialists selling or shipping to your area. If you do explore this route, then the colours and varieties on offer are huge. This is a sun-loving plant and it just can't get enough of it.

During the growing season April to October , your Pitcher Plant must get full sun , or at the bare minimum very bright light , for the pitchers to form and properly develop.

South facing windows with full exposure would be this plants first and prime choice. East and West may be suitable as a last resort, but it will need direct sun for at least a few hours a day. You may just scrape by with a bright location on a windowsill, but in almost all cases you'll need somewhere with direct sunlight exposure for a thriving plant. If you only have space in a North facing room then a long term relationship with this plant isn't going to work out and you should look for something else to go in that room.

Pay attention because you need to get this right. There are two simple rules to remember - Keep it permanently wet - This plant needs to be wet or at the very least moist almost all year round. Do not let it dry out at all. The only exception is during the resting period in the cold months of the year at which point you need to reduce watering to prevent the rhizome rotting.

You can water very heavily, so the bottom third, or even half of the pot stands in the excess water. The native home for these plants are bogs or marshes which are constantly damp and wet. Sarracenia tend to have a thirst and this combined with the hopefully sunny spot see above you're trying to grow it in will mean regular watering is a must.

Use the right type of water - carnivorous plants need acidic water and using neutral or alkaline water for long periods will kill your plant. Once or twice in an emergency will be okay because it's better to use the incorrect water than no water at all. The most commonly accessible source of acidic water is rainwater. You may be able to use tap water but only if you live in a very soft water area, hard water must be avoided as it contains too many minerals.

Bottled water might be okay, but if it's been collected from springs which run through limestone the water will be slightly alkaline and so this is a no-no. Mineral water shouldn't be used or water from fish tanks or ponds due to the high concentration of nitrates. If you water correctly there should, in theory, be a constant source of moisture around the plant which gives a natural buff to the surrounding humidity levels.

This means there is nothing additional you need do here unless you have a very dry home or place your plant in excessively dry air such as above a radiator. In this instance artificially raising the humidity level will be needed to prevent the tips of the pitchers from becoming crispy. Pay attention , because you need to get the care requirements right. No fertiliser of any kind should be provided to your Pitcher Plants. They're experts at dealing with nutrient-poor situations and this is why they've evolved to capture insects.

All the nutrients they'll need will come from their own ability to trap pray within the pitchers and you don't need to give them anything extra. If you never get any insets in your home lucky you! They like it warm to hot when in active growth so a typical home is perfect, and in Winter they like it cold. Really cold. Unlike almost every other houseplants they'll happily take mild frosts when dormant. You seldom need to repot a Sarracenia into a bigger pot unless the container you're starting with is very small.

As a base guide, consider potting on once every 2 to 3 years and this is primarily to refresh the growing medium to ensure it holds water correctly as well as removing any build up of minerals that have occurred over time. By this point in our article, you should know already that these plants are used to a lack of nutrients, and this extends to the type of growing medium they live in.

You must not use any normal houseplant compost or, as someone once asked, " dirt from the yard ". There are lots of different mixes you can use or create yourself, but if you're very new to these plants and don't want to spend a long time researching growing mediums, just pick up or order some compost that's labeled for carnivorous plants.

You can propagate Pitcher Plants from seed, but this requires two different plants to start with and then a large amount of time 3 to 5 years to grow the plant from seed to a large enough size to produce pitchers. Instead it's normally more efficient to use the rhizome , which is the most important part of a Pitcher plant and holds the key to successful easy propagation in most cases.

All you need to do is split a mature rhizome in half or even smaller if you want more than two plants. It's best to wait until early Spring when new growth is starting so it's easier to handle and gives you a good view of where all the bits and pieces are. Try to make sure each split of the rhizome has a few new leaves forming and some roots to give the plant the best chance of establishing.

Pot up using carnivorous plant compost and treat like you would an adult plant. With warm temperatures, excellent light levels and ample water these plants grow really fast. There are many varieties and hybrids which all have different growing traits. In general, your plant will be classed as either a tall or short growing variety. Given a Winter Rest see below come Spring the plant will come back to life and shortly after "waking up", it will often produce some interesting complex looking flowers that rise high above the plant and last for a few weeks.

These die down and are gradually replaced by the pitchers. On our own plants' flowers have also appeared in mid to late Summer if they've been treated well.

They're sometimes scented although at times the smell can be unpleasant. If you find it too overpowering then you can simply cut the flower stem off. Many houseplants benefit from a Winter rest but for Pitcher Plants, it's essential for them to stay healthy and long-lived. If you don't follow the resting process, over time your plant will become weaker and will eventually die. The good news is that the Winter rest is very easy to do:.

Warm Temperatures Normal to warm indoor room temperatures are required when it's growing. Feeding No fertiliser should be provided at any time - it creates its own by catching and digesting "prey"!.

The second and more likely cause is that you've allowed the soil to dry out too much during the growing season. No Sarracenia species is forgiving of its watering requirements. You must supply a constant source of water around the roots during the growing months.

In either case hopefully, you've spotted the damage and corrected the problem before it became too bad. If it's very disfiguring you can cut the damaged pitchers away and new growth will eventually fill the space.

If the light levels are poor then this could be the result - Move to a sunnier spot. If you're noticing this towards the end of Summer then it's probably normal. The plant knows the Winter dormancy is coming so it conserves its energy by creating more simple leaves rather than the more complex pitchers. Give it the Winter rest and the pitchers will be back next Spring. You must provide high levels of sunlight to keep the markings. If the light level is too low, over time existing pitchers will develop a washed out appearance and new pitchers will either be completely green or only mildly marked.

The plant is adapted to capturing live prey itself. And they can catch a lot over a growing season. If you feed the plant with dead insects then it could cause issues in the long term, for example, the insects might be dead because they were poisoned which you're now spreading into the plant. If you really do have an insect free home and no access to put your plant outdoors occasionally then a weak houseplant feed once or twice a year might be worth considering.

It's not known for certain exactly what triggers Pitcher Plant dormancy, the general view is that it's the combination of lower light levels with falling temperatures. So in most cases, if your plant fails to stop growing as you approach Winter then it's likely because it's too warm in your home still.

How to Care for Carnivorous Plants

Carnivorous plants make great houseplants but their care requirements are a bit different to regular houseplants. This post contains affiliate links. Please read the disclosure for more info. They usually eat flies and other small insects but some species can even trap small frogs, lizards and rats.

Pitcher plants can grow in soggy soil with the water level in the saucer as deep as half the pot, but most carnivorous plants prefer damp to wet soil.

Cultivating Carnivorous Plants

A fascinating plant for its strange appearance and its carnivorous activity. Native to lowland wet regions of Sri Lanka. A true specimen plant. Fun and educational for kids to grow. Perfectly suited to hanging baskets to display the pitchers to best advantage. A single plant on a plant stand would also allow the pitchers to dangle freely. Thrives in hot humid conditions and would do well near a bright bathroom or kitchen window. If the plant was purchased in a pot, then it is probably already in a quality potting soil and requires little more than watering and grooming for a while. If potting a flowering plant to bring indoors or to give as a gift plant, start with a good quality, commercial potting soil. These are usually lighter in weight than topsoil, sterile and pest-free.

How to grow and care for pitcher plants

Plant Care Today. Nepenthes tends to be a bit of a challenge to grow. There are over 70 species of Nepenthes plants 23 lowlands, 48 cool highlands. They are native to parts of the Philippines, northern Australia, and Malaysia.

They're visually striking and—surprise!

How to Care for a Nepenthes Asian Pitcher Plant

Need the answer to a specific plant query? Book a 1-to-1 video call with Joe Bagley, the website's friendly author, to overcome and address your niggling problem! To get the most out your specimen and this article, learning about how a Pitcher Plant functions is an excellent place to start. Many people will have a vague idea of how the mechanics of the plant works; however, the science behind this is much more enjoyable. The insect is lured into the hollow chamber via its smells of sweet nectar and bright colours.

Nepenthes Care

Carnivorous plants can be an excellent addition in your houseplant collection, as these insects eating plants are unique and beautiful and act as a repellant too. Apart from the appearance, they also grab attention with their surprising way of trapping insects! Carnivorous plants are native to the boggy environment, where the soil is thin and lacks essential nutrients. To fulfill their needs, these plants trap and consume insects. They attract their prey through sweet-smelling nectar and bright colors and trap them inside in specialized leaves. After trapping the prey, they extract vital nutrients by breaking down the body through their digestive enzymes. To learn how to grow carnivorous plants in pots, read this growing guide here.

The Pitcher Plant is an easy to grow carnivorous plant and a striking conversation starter in the garden (or indoors).

Carnivorous House Plants (No dormancy required!)

Carnivorous plants fascinate with how they lure, catch, kill and digest insects. There are more than species of carnivorous plants, many with astounding adaptations to inhospitable habitats. Popular carnivorous plants by genera include Byblis rainbow plant , Cephalotus Australian pitcher plant , Darlingtonia cobra lily , Dionaea Venus flytrap , Drosera sundews , Nepenthes tropical pitcher plants , Pinguicula butterworts , Sarracenia American pitcher plants and Utricularia bladderworts.

Pitcher Plants - Sarracenia

Happy Holidays! Nepenthes are typically very tolerant of bare-root shipping in moss our preferred method. We have found that transit times of less than a week produce minimal transplant shock. When you first receive your plant, we recommend removing it from the packing moss by running it under a gentle stream of water or letting it soak in a bowl of water.

A woody-stemmed climbing vine, the leaves of which develop a tendril at the tip.

Do pitcher plants need direct sunlight?

Many species of carnivorous plants can be grown in the home but they are somewhat more difficult to grow than most house plants as you will need to duplicate the extreme conditions that these plants grow under in the wild and this is not easy. The two most important parameters to consider are light and humidity. Most carnivorous plants grow in full sun in their natural habitat, so you need to locate your indoor plants close to a sunny east or south-facing window. West-facing windows may get too hot in the afternoon and north-facing windows should be avoided. If you are using a terrarium then it should be located a foot or so back from the window so that the interior does not get too hot. Carnivorous plants can also be grown under lights. The air in most private houses is too dry for carnivorous plants to grow well so you will need some way of increasing the humidity around your plants.

Pitcher Plant Care: Learn To Grow The Carnivorous Nepenthes

Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! The nepenthes genus of Asian pitcher plants consists of two main varieties: highland and lowland. Most highland varieties are fairly easy to grow indoors without the aid of a terrarium.

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