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Propagating North American Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia)

The North American Pitcher Plant is a genus of flora the leaves of which have evolved into funnels.  These funnels attract and trap insects the plants then digest as food.  Pitcher Plants produce beautiful flowers, are fairly easy to grow, and may even take care of flies before they have the chance to buzz irritatingly around your head.

There are two ways to propagate a Pitcher Plant: by harvesting seeds or by dividing the rhizome.


Seeds

When the pods of the pitcher plants start to turn brown and split open, collect some of the many resulting seeds.  The seeds of the pitcher plant are hardy and can be stored dry in a refrigerator for several years.  Sow your seeds on the surface of your substrate and place them under florescent lights in a tray of water or inside a zip-loc bag.  During germination, the seeds perform best in temperatures from 60° F (15° C) to 90°F (32°C).

For the first two to three years of life, pitcher plant seedlings look the same.  They reach maturity and bear flowers after four or five years.


Rhizome Division

Once planted, Pitcher Plants spread by way of a rhizome, a subterranean stem that sends up shoots from beneath the surface of the soil.  The rhizome can be successfully subdivided and replanted after three or four years, although more divisions are obtained from five to six-year old plants.

The best time to divide the rhizome of a pitcher plant is in the early fall when the roots are growing.  After making divisions, take note that the original clump may need a few years to recover before it can grow as it grew before.  A final way to stimulate shoot growth is to make an incision in the rhizome a few millimeters deep.  A new shoot should rise from the sight of the incision.


Also, pitcher plants are grown commercially from tissue culture samples and are widely available in the market, so if you want one for your garden you need not collect the seeds from the wild yourself.

 

 


 

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