Pitcher Plant Seeds: Guide To Pitcher Plant Seed Growing
What are Pitcher Plants?
The pitcher plant (Euphorbia pruinosa) is one of the most popular and widely grown carnivorous plants. They have been used for centuries as food, medicine, decoration and even as a source of income. However, their popularity has declined over time due to their tendency to rot very quickly if not kept well cared for.
Pitcher plants come in many shapes and sizes. Some are small shrubs while others reach up to 10 feet tall.
Most varieties are green or brown with white flowers and edible leaves. The fruit of some species such as the Venus Fly Trap have poisonous spines that cause severe pain when bitten, however, they usually only produce seeds once the plant reaches maturity. These seeds are easy to identify because they resemble little black dots.
How Do You Grow A Pitcher Plant From Seed?
Growing pitcher plants from seed is relatively simple. First, you need to purchase a few different types of seeds. One way would be to buy them online. Another method would be to go into a nursery and ask for some seeds. The best way is probably going into a garden center where they sell various kinds of seeds and picking out the ones that will work for your needs.
Once you have the seeds, you can plant them directly into potting soil or you can place them in a plastic bag until you’re ready to grow them. Pitcher plants are very hardy and can survive in colder temperatures.
During the winter, they can be stored in a place with a temperature around 30 degrees F. Before planting seeds, you should know how many plants you want to grow and where you’re going to put them in the garden. Once you know this, you can start by preparing the ground.
To plant directly into the ground, use a shovel and dig up an area 1 foot wide and 8 to 10 inches deep. Mix in a few shovels full of compost or well-rotted manure.
If you’re planting in a container, choose one that is at least 12 inches across and fill with well-draining potting soil mixed with compost or manure.
Moisten the soil before planting. Pitcher plants do not like wet or soggy soil.
One way to test this is by taking a handful of soil and squeezing it into a ball. If water drips out then the soil is still too wet and you should wait until is has dried some more. Plant your seeds at the recommended depth listed on the seed packet. Cover with 1 inch of soil and gently pat down.
It’s best to keep the soil moist until your plants are well established. You can do this by placing plastic wrap over the soil and poking a few holes in it for airflow.
You should also place the pots in a tray to catch water runoff. Remember to check your plants every other day and remove the plastic when they start growing. After a few weeks, you’ll notice that some of your plants have started to sprout.
Now comes the fun part! Find a sunny place in the garden and dig up enough soil to create a hole wide enough for your plant(s).
Try to make the hole at the same level it was in its pot. It’s okay if the hole is a little larger as the plant will most likely grow a little bigger. Gently untangle the roots and carefully place it in the hole. Fill in with soil and gently pat down. Water well. If you’re planting more than one, space them at least 2 feet apart.
When To Water
Pitcher plants are very easy to maintain and don’t require much watering. During the summer, water once every two weeks and in the winter, water once a month.
Your soil should be damp but not wet. If you’ve planted in a container, it’s best to put it on a timer so that it waters itself.
During the growing season (Spring and Summer) fertilize with a low nitrogen fertilizer. You can use compost or well-rotted manure.
If you’re using chemical fertilizer, use a low number like 3-7-5. Too much fertilizer will cause too much growth at the expense of the flowers which is what you want.
Pitcher plants don’t have too many pests. The biggest problems are aphids and mealy bugs.
You can get rid of them by spraying with a hard stream of water or by wiping them off with a cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol.
Once your plants start to flower, the old blossoms will eventually turn into seeds. Once these start to form, it’s time to deadhead the flowers.
This means you should remove the old blossoms so that all the plant’s energy can go towards growing a big beautiful pitcher. If there are too many seeds, the plant will spend all of its energy on the seeds instead of the plant itself.
If your plant is getting lots of sunburned leaves or the tips turn brown, you should give it some protection by placing a sun shield (Purchase at any garden center) over it. If there are small black insects on the leaves, you have aphids.
See above for how to get rid of them.
By following these easy steps, your chances of success are very high. If you’re really a glutton for punishment you can try growing the tall pink pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla) or the hooded pitcher plant (S.
minor). They’re more difficult to grow but if you follow all the instructions you should do fine. Happy growing!
If you’re growing your plants in containers, it’s best to use a clay pot. Plastic and wooden ones tend to leach chemicals into the soil.
Don’t overwater! Probably the number one reason people’s plants die is because they water them too much.
If you put your index finger into the soil and it feels damp after 5 seconds, then don’t water.
Buy a soil thermometer to make sure the temperature is at the right levels.
Buy a humidity gauge to make sure the humidity is at the right levels.
If you can’t find moss where you buy your plants, try a craft store.
To prevent bugs from getting inside the pitchers, place a small amount of liquid insect barrier (obtained at any garden center) around the top of the stem before putting the top back on.
If aphids or mealy bugs appear, wipe them off using a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol.
Make sure you’re not over or under watering.
A normal growth rate in the summer is 2-4 inches a month.
Pitcher plants are not immune to diseases. Watch out for things such as abnormal leaf color or spots.
If the temperature drops below freezing, you’ll either need to move the plants inside or mulch heavily around them. In any case, protect them from freezing!
Do not let your plant sit in really bright light if it’s going to be there for an extended period of time. The leaves can burn very easily.
The pitchers are not physically attached to the stems. They’re held on by a small amount of transparent cells.
If you knock the plant over, the leaf will probably never recover and will eventually die.
It is better to grow your plants in full sun than in shade, but at night you need to protect them from dew. Dew can cause the plant to rot.
It is preferable to use rainwater or distilled water to prevent the buildup of salts found in regular tap water.
Use rainwater or distilled water whenever you can.
If there is a lot of pulling involved when you’re cleaning your plants, use gloves to prevent the cutting edges from cutting your fingers.
Use tweezers for removing dead insects, as they can get stuck in the spikes.
If the plant is getting too big for its pot, don’t split it! Repot it and put some fresh topsoil + compost around the roots so that there’s a lot of extra room.
If you want to move a plant from one spot to another, dig around the roots carefully and cut through the stem with a sharp knife.
Just like scammers, plants are sometimes difficult to identify by sight. The pictures in this book can’t possibly cover all the variations of Sarracenia plants, as they all have unique traits.
If you’re having problems identifying your pitcher plant, try going online or visiting your local library to look at more pictures.
Sources & references used in this article:
Inbreeding, outbreeding, and heterosis in the yellow pitcher plant, Sarracenia flava (Sarraceniaceae), in Virginia by PM Sheridan, DN Karowe – American Journal of Botany, 2000 – Wiley Online Library
Conservation genetic inferences in the carnivorous pitcher plant Sarracenia alata (Sarraceniaceae) by MM Koopman, BC Carstens – Conservation Genetics, 2010 – Springer
INBREEDING, OUTBREEDING, AND HETEROSIS IN THE YELLOW PITCHER PLANT, SARRACENIA FLAVA (SARRACENIACEAE), IN VIRGINIA’ by M PHILIP, N KAROWE – American Journal of Botany, 2000 – researchgate.net
A demographic analysis of fire‐stimulated seedling establishment of Sarracenia alata (Sarraceniaceae) by JS Brewer – American Journal of Botany, 2001 – Wiley Online Library
Rare and endangered plants and animals of southern Appalachian wetlands by NA Murdock – Wetlands of the Interior Southeastern United States, 1994 – Springer
Effects of different light treatments on the germination of Nepenthes mirabilis by A Jala – … Transaction Journal of Engineering, Management, & …, 2011 – researchgate.net