Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pitcher Plant Planter (Say That Three Times Fast)

Last fall at one of our Watnong NARGS meetings we had Randy Heffner of Aquascapes Unlimited present his talk called ‘Carnivores in Captivity".  Of course, there were plants for sale too (yum).  I know that a lot of the sarracenias are tender in our area and need special care over the winter, but I thought that I could at least try the super-hardy sarracenia purpurea susp. purpurea, whose range extends to Newfoundland.  Randy said it would "survive sitting out on a picnic table in the winter".  That sounded about my speed, though Neighbor Ray adopted it for the winter and held it with his herd of pitcher plants in a sheltered area on the edge of his greenhouse.

The photo above is from the first week of June, when we planted it.

I hate the look of plastic pots but my normal hypertufa mix is too freely draining to hold much water over the hot summer.  Plus, I was worried that the hypertufa might crack if it holds water over the wet winter.  To get the best of both worlds, I started with a plastic pot made for a small water garden (no drainage hole), wrapped it in a couple layers of bubblewrap, and cast an oversized hypertufa planter around it.  Kind of ridiculous, I know, but it worked.  With the air gap of the bubblewrap, I'm pretty sure that the planter won't crack this winter,

The photo above is from the first week of August.

We planted the pitcher plant in a mix of sand, peat moss and Turface.  To guarantee that the plant is in a wet environment, but not drowning, I drilled a hole through the plastic pot about 2/3 of the way up the side.  Excess water trickles down through the bubblewrap air space and drains out the hole in the bottom of the hypertufa bowl.  The pitcher plant seems happy.

This is a good shot of the venation on the wings of the pitchers.  The inside of the pitchers are lined with stiff, downward facing hairs to trap insects unlucky enough to venture in. 

New pitchers being born.

Fingers crossed that I can get it to bloom next year.


  1. It's really pretty. Have never seen a "prostrate" pitcher (would that be 'repans'?) so am wondering if it will stand up more as it matures? Hope it makes it.

  2. It's just a baby, but I think that it will remain rather short as it fills in.