How to Grow & Care for Pitcher Plants

You probably know about the venus flytrap. But did you know that there are over 1,000 kinds of carnivorous plants in the world?

One of them is the bizarre-looking yet beautiful pitcher plant.

And no, you don’t have to worry. They don’t eat people, just small insects from which they get their nutrients.

In any case, if you’re curious to know more about this wonderful plant, keep on reading.

About the Pitcher Plant

Pitcher Plant Care and Growing Guide

I’ll be honest with you, pitcher plants aren’t going to win any beauty contests. That’s especially when other plants are adorned with bright beautiful flowers or colorful foliage.

Yet, they’re common houseplants because they’re very interesting. Their unique look makes them excellent conversation starters. And, it gives your home or living room something that others don’t.

More interestingly, these plants grew to become what they are because of necessity. They’re native to wetland areas in the U.S. where the soil isn’t particularly rich in nutrients.

As such, they’ve had to find another way to sustain themselves.

To do so, they became carnivorous, consuming insects like bugs and flies for nitrogen.

They use their colorful tube-like pitchers and fragrance as traps to lure and catch these small creatures.

Pitcher Plant Care

How to Grow & Care for Pitcher Plant

Light

Pitcher plants require full, direct sunlight. This means they enjoy staying under your brightest window.

But, you may want to keep an eye on them when the sun is most intense. If you live in warm climate areas where the mid-afternoon sun can get very intense, they may need some protection during that period.

Other than that, giving them a lot of light exposure allows them to maintain their bright colors. And, lack of it will do the opposite.

Temperature & Humidity

Pitcher plants pretty much take care of themselves. As such, they’re fairly low maintenance from your point of view.

And, one of the reasons for this is that they enjoy temperatures most homes have. As long as the thermostat stays between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, they’ll be happy.

Additionally, they’re more tolerant of colder weather compared to most houseplants, being able to withstand as low as 32 degrees.

That’s because their native environment experiences winters that reach these temperatures.

As such, they kind of expect it. So, if you’re growing them indoors, it’s a good idea to move them to a colder spot come wintertime.

During the months of November to February, they’ll likewise go into dormancy.

Watering

Being carnivorous, pitcher plants like a lot of water. And, unlike most other houseplants which hate having wet feet, these plants don’t have a problem with soggy, waterlogged soil.

That’s because they’re used to it since their native environments suffer from wet soil that’s low in nutrients.

So, it’s important not to let it dry out.

Another thing worth knowing is that pitcher plants don’t like tap water, which contains minerals. Instead, they prefer rainwater or distilled water. That said, you can still use hard water if you want to save money or you don’t get a lot of rain in your area.

But, once a week or so, you need to water your pitcher plant thoroughly with rainwater or distilled water to flush out all the excess minerals from the tap water.

Soil

Like most of its other features, pitcher plants like soil that’s different from most house and garden plants.

For one, they don’t need rich soil. This is something they’ve learned to adapt to because their native soil didn’t have a lot of nutrients.

This is how they grew into how they look like today. And, is also the reason why they’re carnivorous.

Instead of relying on soil for nutrients, they consume insects to obtain nitrogen and other minerals.

Additionally, while they do need to be placed in well-draining soil, they need to be kept wet. As such, soggy, moist soil is something they look for.

Pitcher Plant Care Guide

Fertilizing

In their native environment, pitcher plants get their nutrition from the insects they consume. As such, they don’t need a lot by way of fertilizer if they’re grown outdoors.

But, if you’re keeping them as houseplants, that may be a problem since there aren’t likely any insects in your home.

Thus, you’ll need to supplement them with fertilizer. Ideally, one that’s high in nitrogen. You can likewise use an orchid fertilizer.

They’ll need to be fed every month during their growing season, which lasts until fall.

Pruning
Pitcher plants don’t need a lot of pruning. In fact, they can go a long time without needing a trim.

However, doing does help invigorate them. You also get a fuller plant as a result.

That said, there are some instances where pruning is needed. These include:

Yellow and brown leaves

When these appear, it’s a good idea to trim off the dead and discolored leaves using a clean pair of scissors, leaving only the green sections.

Long leaves

If your pitcher plant gets unkempt or develops long foliage, you can likewise trim these back to make them look neat and tidy.

Propagation

Pitcher plants can be propagated in many different ways. Two of the best ways for home growers are from seeds and cuttings. Of the two, cutting is the simpler one of the two. It’s also faster.

Here’s how to do it.

Propagating Pitcher Plants by Cutting

  • Start by choosing stems that have 2 or more leaves on them
  • Cut the stem then dip the end into rooting hormone
  • Insert the stem cutting into a pot with moist potting mix
  • Water again
  • Cover the plant with a plastic bag then put it under grow lights
  • Within 2 months, you should start seeing some roots develop

Repotting

When it comes to repotting, you’ll likely need to do so every 2 years. This allows you to change the potting soil it’s in, which tends to shrink and get compacted over time.

Thus, refreshing the potting mix allows your plant’s roots to keep growing.

When you do, the best time to repot is during early spring before they start their growing season.

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