Pitcher Plants: Popular Types and Growing them

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pitcher plants

Do you know that pitchers plants are one of the most fun plants to grow in your garden?

Pitcher plants are one of those plants that you can show to your friends and family, and get a rewarding answer like” Wow! what an unusually beautiful plant”.

You may find pitcher plants are novelty, however, they are fascinating because of their odd forms by the namesake pitcher that is actually modified leaves.

Another fascinating fact about these plants is that just like Venus Flytrap, these plants are carnivorous.

The pitcher functions as a trap for insects that are attracted to them by their smell and their color.

Once the insects get trapped, it is difficult for them to get out because the internal walls are slippery and covered in stiff hairs that point downwards.

These pitchers fill up partially with rainwater as well and the trapped insects can even drown in it.

On the other hand, some pitcher plants produce a chemical that kills the insects.

Keep on reading to learn more about these types of plants in detail.

Picher Plants: Year Around Care

Unlike other carnivorous plants that like to thrive in swamps and prefer wet and cool conditions. Nepenthes prefers tropical warmth and humidity.

Thus, unless you happen to like in the tropics, this epiphytic will need special care.

You will need to place them in a sunroom or greenhouse where the air is consistently warm and humid.

However, keep it shaded from direct sunlight at all times. You can either choose to place them in a hanging basket to in the soil.

The glossy green leaves of this plant can grow about 1 ft long and feature a tendril at the tip.

On the other hand, large, pendulous pitchers commonly grow at the tips of those tendrils and are topped with lids to keep out the rain.

Moreover, depending on the species or hybrid, the pitchers may be green, or mid-green and have spots with purple or red color.

caring for them

Bug-Eating Pitchers: As these pitchers are epiphytic they are unable to get the important nutrients from the soil.

That is why they have developed a way to attract, capture, and ingest insects.

The intoxicating nectar lures the insects and once they are inside, they drown in the pepsin liquid and the plant digests them.

Repot in Spring: Repot them when required.

Moreover, handle the roots of its plant carefully, as they are delicate and break easily.

Plant Nepenthes in a basket with drainage holes to prevent soggy median that may lead to root rot.

Pruning Them: You can prune them in the spring to a reasonable size.

Older plants, however, can be cut back harshly. Furthermore, pruning encourages new growth, thus, you will need to prune to get a fuller plant.

Care Tips

The origin of pitcher plants is from Borneo and Malaysia.

These plants can climb or trail to 10 ft or 3 meters. Pitcher plants tend to grow best in moderate to bright light, however, they cannot survive in direct sunlight.

It is important to keep the soil evenly moist all year round, however, avoid soggy soil as it can lead to root rot.

This is because the plant is sensitive to chemicals in tap water, thus, try using only distilled or like-free rainwater.

Moderate to high, about 50 to 80% of relative humidity is ideal for pitcher plant care.

Moreover, mist the plant every day or use a cool-mist room humidifier, however, they grow best in a heated greenhouse.

Average to warm temperatures of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 to 29 degrees celsius are ideal for growth, but they can also tolerate a minimum of 65°F/18°C.

Make sure to use a nutrient-poor medium as the rich potting mix can harm its roots.

Moreover, you can plant this plant in sphagnum moss or if it is not available, mix 1 part peat moss with 1 part perlite to horticulture sand.

Avoid fertilizing the plant. However, in spring and fall, drop a few insects into the pitchers occasionally if there are none flying around.

Do not use bugs that have been treated with insecticide.

Now let’s discuss the popular pitcher plants you can have.

1# Purple Pitcher Plant

Purple pitcher plants are popular for their deep red flowers and vein-marked pitchers.

Moreover, they make great plants for water gardens in the North due to their hardiness, in fact, an alternative common name for them is “Northern Pitcher Plant”.

One of the best ways to display them is as the focal point of your water garden, which is surrounded by shorter plants.

purple pitcher plants

In this way, these plants will not obscure their beauty and flowers.

The purple pitcher plant can reach up to 20 inches tall when in flower and is also native to eastern and north-central North America.

Their growing zones at 3 to 6, however, may vary with species, you can find them I’m purplish-red, while the pitchers are greenish, with red vining.

Furthermore, they need full sun for growth and the soil needs are boggy and acidic.

2# Yellow Pitcher Plant

If you are looking for a brighter and bigger specimen, then you can choose a yellow pitcher plant.

It is native to the American Southeast, and it can reach 1 to 3 feet high.

Moreover, the yellow pitcher plant employs a chemical content that helps to kill the trapped insects.

This plant can grow in zones 6 to 8 and its flowers are of yellow color, with pitchers medium green to greenish-yellow.

They need full sun or bright light for growth and need boggy, sandy, humusy, and acidic soil for growth.

3# California Pitcher Plant

This one is also popular as “Cobra Lily” and is native to southern Oregon and Northern California.

It can get as high as 39 inches and is also difficult to grow.

California Pitcher Plant is a nature-lovers plant that settles for appreciating when they spot it while hiking along bogs and stream backs in its native range.

california pitcher plant

As the name indicates, Cobra heads are a wonderful conversation piece for gardeners and non-gardeners alike.

They can grow in USDA zones of 6 to 9, and their flowers are of yellow to purplish-green.

Moreover, they need full sun to partial shade and the gravelly, boggy ground saturated with cold water to grow.

4# Sun Pitcher Plant

Marsh or “sun” pitcher plants are native to South America and the length of their length is from 6 to 16 inches.

Moreover, the length of this one depends on the species of which there are more than 20 species, however,r the plants stand only 4 to 10 inches tall.

The most attractive ones are deep-red and they have bell-shaped flowers.

Sun pitcher plants are among the most difficult ones for gardeners to grow even if you grow them in a greenhouse.

You have to get the temperature and humidity just right.

Their USDA growing zones vary according to species, however, most tropical plants, i.e. 10 to 11.

The color varieties of this one depending on the species, they need full sun to partial shade and usually grow in sphagnum moss, within a container.

5# White Trumpet Pitcher Plant

This one is the most popular and attractive of the lot and is native to the American Southeast.

Moreover, it accounts for their popularity, along with the fact that they are relatively easy to grow for pitcher plants.

The pitchers of these plants are characterized by striking, dark veins in the pattern that stands out boldly against such a bright white background.

A white trumpet pitcher plant grows about 1 to 3 feet tall.

white trumpet'

Most often, individuals grow them for their pitchers, however, their red flowers are a nice bonus.

White trumpet pitcher plants can grow in zones 7 to 9, their pitchers are white with dark veins, while flowers are reddish in color.

Moreover, they need full sun and need boggy, humusy, and acidic soil to grow.

6# Western Australian Pitcher Plant

Western Australian Pitcher Plant is one of the tiniest plants and can only grow 1 to 1.5 inches long.

Moreover, the outstanding feature of this one is the striping in its pitchers.

“Enden Black” is the cultivator dark enough to be considered a rare truly black plant.

western australian

They grow in zones 8 to 11, its pitchers are green to dark purple, while flowers are whitish and aesthetically insignificant.

Furthermore, they need full sun and you can display them in a container, where the growing medium is sphagnum moss.

7# Nepenthes x Ventrata and Relatives

It is important to note that some types of pitcher plants are woody wines and are known as the “tropical pitcher plants” or Nepenthes spp.

Moreover, the pitchers in these cases, hang down, thus, making them an ideal choice for hanging baskets.

Their interesting and aesthetic looks make them popular among enthusiasts.

There are a number of species of Nepenthes.

For instance, three of them are closely related to the Philippines and are:

  • Nepenthes ventricosa
  • Nepenthes alata
  • and Nepenthes x ventrata

Furthermore, all three are best grown in greenhouses in the North.

nepenthes x ventrata

Their flowers are insignificant and the pitchers of this species can become up to 9 inches long.

Even within the same species, there is a lot of variabilities of traits like vine length.

They grow best in USDA zones of 10 to 11. the pitcher color can be greenish-yellow, orange, purple, or red, however, some are heavily speckled.

These plants need full sun to full shade, depending on the species, and you can place them in sphagnum moss that is the most common growing medium in containers.

Final Thoughts

Pitcher plants are one of the most fascinating, exotic plants, however, rare. These plants are native to America where soils are poor and they acquire nutrients from other sources.

These plants are carnivorous in nature and have fleshy funnels or tubes that function as traps for insects and small animals, You can grow the above-mentioned species in your garden to increase the aesthetic view of your garden.

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