Sarracenia Care
[USDA Zone 4-8]

Simply put: Full sun. Poor soil. Clean water. Keep em’ wet. Let em’ rest.
In actuality – they really aren’t that hard to grow, as long as you adhere to the basics.

A little background on the Sarracenia:

It’s helpful to understand where these things are from for one to grow them successfully.  I’ve run into many people who had thought that these magnificent carnivores are tropical plants from the most remote jungles of the world and they needed all sorts of special care like terrarium or something.  Eh… Nope.  Sarracenias are native to North America and can be found growing in bogs all throughout the South East, eastern seaboard, and up throughout Canada.  Bogs are wet and nutrient deficient, and they get plenty of sun. Think about where they are from to help you grow them where you’re at.

FULL SUN. [Need I say more? Give em sun and lots of it.]
I give my Sarracenia as much light as I can for as long as I can. They love the direct light and it brings out strong growth and vivid coloration.  If you can’t give your Sarracenia full sun all day, try to give them as much as you can.  Bright light works too, but your plant will not be as strong and colors will not be as vivid. It is best if you grow your plants outdoors, in full sun.

Yes. Outdoors. Like, NOT inside, but OUTSIDE! I know there are some photos where you can see that I grow  select few plants in a greenhouse but that’s just because of my strong wind issues and raccoons.  I do keep the vents and the doors open however they are covered in a screen to prevent raccoons from coming in.  I do grow quite a few outdoors too!

POOR SOIL. [1:1 ratio of Sphagnum peat moss and perlite]
Bogs are naturally nutrient deficient, and acidic in nature. These plants have adapted in such a unique way by capturing their nutrients with the leaves.  In cultivation, that means you can’t use your average all purpose potting mix and fertilize with wonder-dung. Oh no. That will kill em.  It’s best to use sphagnum peat moss as  your media. (NOT the brand that uses fertilizer since that will kill them.)  Don’t use green moss or any other types of moss that these companies put out there, but use good ol’ sphagnum.  A general mix for Sarracenia would be a 1:1 ratio of sphagnum peat moss and perlite. You can also use a silica based sand, coarse grit, or pumice and mix it all in with the peat. If you use sand, do NOT use beach sand as it contains salts and it will kill your plant.  If you use perlite and will be mixing, be sure you wear a mask you don’t breath the dust. That’s no good for ya.

CLEAN WATER. [Keep it clean. No weird minerally-nutrientiey stuff, k?]
Carnivores are sensitive to the mineral content in the water;  (Keep in mind where they come from. Mineral free, nutrient free soils) so be sure to use pure/clean water. This can include distilled, rain, reverse osmosis filtered water.   I live in the Bay Area and we draw our water from a water system that is relatively clean. When I do a water test with my handy water meter, the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)  are 100 ppm (Parts Per Million) so I am able to use my tap. I just have to change the media every couple years to prevent any excessive mineral build up in the soil.

KEEP IT WET. [Like… not dry.]
So let’s go back to their natural habitat. Bogs are wet.  That means you’d want to keep your plants wet too.  I keep my potted plants in a tray and keep the tray filled up with water for most of the time. I don’t grow allow them to be completely like… drowning in water, but maybe something like a 3 or four inch pot in an inch of water. I do allow the tray to dry out now and then to allow air circulation to the roots, but I don’t allow the soil to get completely dry. Now when the plants go dormant for the winter, I ease up a bit and just keep the soil slightly moist and I don’t really have them sit in standing water. I just keep it moist during dormancy.

LET EM REST. [They need sleep too,  ya know!]
Sarracenias will go through a dormant period. Think of it like a period of rest. In the fall/late fall pitcher production will slow down/cease and the existing pitchers will start to brown and get dry. Nothing to be alarmed over, this is completely natural.  The plant is entering a period of rest.  It goes through a dormancy period during the winter months and comes back in the spring.  During this time period you can let the plant rest and cut off any dead pitchers.  Some pitchers will produce non carnivorous leaves that it uses for photosynthesis.  While dormant, you don’t have to worry about overnight frosts as they can take that with minimal protection. I just would be cautious say, if there was a deep freeze or something and would take precaution by moving the plants to an unheated garage/indoor area and or heavy mulching/covering.  They will be dormant form about 2-3 month or more depending on your area.

Hope these few general guidelines help. If you have any other questions, concerns, jokes, or metaphors you want to share, you can always feel free to drop me a line at sarraceniadude [at] gmail dot com. Happy Growing!