3-Step Care & More
Sarracenia are simple to keep. Place your plant in a tray of water outside in full sun and leave it there all year. That's it! Most of their care can be summed up in 3 steps:
1. Full sun - they like it bright and hot! Think outside near a beach in Florida.
2. Peat moss and perlite - nutrient free, well-aerated, and water retentive.
3. Low-mineral water - pure and free of nutrients and dissolved minerals.
Don't worry about food, they're built with self-delivery ;) Prey are naturally attracted to the plants, and the traps always catch adequate food over time.
Now that you've got the basics down for your pitcher plant, you can think about their long-term care season by season:
The growing season is spring through summer. In early spring, you can re-pot your plant into a larger container. This is when they grow new roots (excepting possibly S. purpurea ssp. purpurea), so early spring is when a repot makes the most difference. They are numb to root disturbance and enjoy growing through new soil. The general rule of thumb is if the growthpoint has less than 1 inch of space between it and the edge of the pot, your Sarracenia needs a new container (Sarracenia grow laterally, along a rhizome that sits at the surface of the soil).
Throughout summer, keep your plant sitting in a tray of water in full sun. Treat that tray like your gas tank and never let it dry out. Some varieties will produce different types of foliage at different times of spring and summer. When new foliage has almost opened, it is safe to remove old foliage on healthy plants. This provides the new growth with enough sun exposure to color up fully. In hot, arid climates, plants may brown at the edges to varying degrees. Do not worry, this is normal in their native habitat as well. Browning of the leaves is usually not a pathology if restricted to older foliage.
In fall, your plants will begin to go dormant. Leaves will get crispier, and some may fall over. You can expect this to process to begin between Halloween and Thanksgiving in most climate zones. Make sure you don't run out of water in their trays! Some species, such as S. leucophylla and many of its hybrids, put out a final flush of their giant fall-season traps in late-season. Just like spiders, some pitcher plants are biggest in fall!
During winter, your plants will not grow and all you will see is a dormant bud surrounded by dead leaves. Remove these leaves*. In the wild, most Sarracenia habitat naturally burns in late winter, which leaves Sarracenia growthpoints exposed to sun by spring. If you experience daytime temperatures below 20 for an extended period, consider placing your plants in a shed or other dark space until that weather passes. They are tolerant of snow and can freeze over. Keep your plants watered! Never let the tray dry out. If you treat your tray like your gas tank then you'll never let it go completely dry. Cold winter winds have dehydrating properties that can kill plants if they aren't kept in water trays.
*You can expect the leaves of only certain species and sometimes their hybrids to remain alive: S. leucophylla, S. minor, S. purpurea ssp. purpurea & ssp. venosa, S. psittacina, S. rosea, S. rubra ssp. rubra & ssp. gulfensis may retain their traps, but only S. purpurea and S. psittacina will not lose them the following spring. It is wise to remove the leaves of all Sarracenia in winter that will naturally die off by spring so that new growth will not be covered up.