3-Step Care & Seasonal Grow Guide
"Outside, Full Sun, Tray of Water - That's it!"
The first thing to do when you get a new plant is to give it these three things:
1. Full sun - they like it bright and hot! Think outside near a beach in Florida. Outdoors is best. If you're getting your plant in winter, refer to our winter care guide.
2. Peat moss and perlite - totally nutrient free, aerated, and water-retentive.
3. Low-mineral water - either distilled or soft tap water with a a TDS (total dissolved solids) reading under 70ppm.
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 if kept outside.
Now that you've got the basics down, 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 right about when they grow new roots, so early spring is when a repot makes the most difference. They are numb to root disturbance and enjoy growing through new soil, but don't break the new roots. The rule of thumb is if the main growthpoint has less than 1 inch of space between it and the edge of the pot, your Sarracenia needs a new container (Sarracenia grow along the surface of the soil like an iris, on a horizontal, root-growing stem called a rhizome).
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 during the growing season. It is best to remove old foliage on healthy plants, to give new growth enough sun exposure to color up fully. In hot, arid climates, plants may brown at the edges of healthy leaves to varying degrees - this is normal in their natural habitat as well and is not a cause for worry.
In fall, your plants will begin to go dormant. Leaves will die on many varieties, and some may fall over. You can expect this natural process to begin between Halloween and Thanksgiving in most zones. Make sure they 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 at their largest in fall!
In winter, your plants will not grow. All you will see are inactive crowns (growthpoints) wreathed with dead leaves. Remove these. In the wild, Sarracenia habitat naturally burns in late winter, which leaves Sarracenia growthpoints exposed to sun by spring. If you experience daytime temperatures below freezing for an extended period, consider placing your plants by the foundation of your house, or in a shed or other cool, dark place until that weather passes. They are tolerant of snow and can freeze over. Cold winter winds have dehydrating properties that can kill plants if they aren't kept in filled water trays.