Growing Sarracenia

The north American pitcher plant is a fairly easy to grow bog plant well suited to the NSW climate. If you follow a few helpful tips you should be able to grow large plants with ease.

Growing Media –
Sarracenia are best suited to a soft absorbent media like peat, cocoa peat or live sphagnum moss. Live sphagnum appears to be the best of these but the others are acceptable and much cheaper and easier to obtain. Regardless of instructions from older books do NOT add heavy coarse sand to your potting media, keep it light and fluffy.

Fertilizer and Feeding –
Do not feed or fertilize Sarracenia by normal means. Fertilizer damages or kills these plants as they are adapted to growing in exceedingly poor bog soils. In addition other methods of hand feeding typically result in damage to the plant and should not be attempted. Your plants should manage to feed themselves as long as you keep them healthy.
Some growers use highly diluted foliate fertilizer sprays with some success but they are entirely optional and not used on the Sarracenia at Wallis Creek Watergardens.

Watering –
Sarracenia are bog plants by nature, they very much need to have wet feet at all times and ideally should be grown in boggy conditions. The best method is to sit their pots into water trays or ponds. They should be kept permanently moist through all year (including during winter dormancy) and while growing through Spring and Summer will appreciate almost any amount of additional water short of actually submerging the base of  the plant.

Lighting –
Though it varies among the differing forms Sarracenia are fairly tolerant of a range of different lighting conditions from partial shade through to full sun. If plants in the shade develop excessive amounts of sooty mildew it can be a sign they need a little additional exposure. Also plants which fail to develop strong reds or whites in their pitchers can develop additional colour if moved into a more exposed position.

Temperature –
Sarracenia favour hot summers and cold winters. They are frost tolerant and many will actually grow better if exposed to frost during dormancy. Extreme heat combined with low humidity in some Australian summers can burn or damage some Sarracenia but for the most part should only be a minor set back as long as the plants are well watered.

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