Friday, September 5, 2014

Hardy and Hungry Pitcher Plants

Insects fall prey to these carnivorous plants. Their modified leaves form a deep cavity filled with liquid that entices then traps and drowns insects. The plants are fascinating to children and adults alike. While the culinary habits of their leaves are intriguing and possibly off-putting, the shape of the Sarracenia genus and its many hybrids is undeniably elegant and luscious. According to Wikipedia, the plants derive mineral nutrition from the insects dissolving in the pitcher’s liquid. Known as trumpet pitchers, they look tender yet they are typically hardy in USDA zones 5a-9b. So hardy in fact, that Sarracenia purpurea is the floral emblem for the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I’ve seen pitcher and other carnivorous plants at plant sales and garden shows and have been tempted to give them a try, but so far I’ve resisted. Then recently I saw them in a garden (see photos) and once again I’m tempted. They need a sunny or part sun location and a wet environment during the growing season—May through October. It sounds like they may need some additional attention during their dormant season. That’s a conversation I’ll have to have with a nursery … or perhaps you know the secret to their winter survival?

To learn more about Sarrocenia and other pitcher plant genus, check out One local source for Sarracenia is Dancing Oaks Nursery.

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