RED SWEET PITCHER Sarracenia rubra
Also known as the Sweet Pitcher Plant, the Red Pitcher Plant is probably the most robust of the red Pitcher Plants, producing pitchers up to 40cm tall. In spring, deep red flowers are produced which have a mildly sweet fragrance. Pitchers begin greenish, and quickly turn to red, and produce a sweet nectar to lure insects into the trap. Trapped insects are unable to escape, due to many 'hairs' pointing downwards, and also due to the slippery surface. The insect is then digested by the plant, and the insects nutrients are used to help the plant grow. These plants are hardy outdoors to zone 8 (-10C/15F), and grow native in the southern United States. This plant can also be grown indoors as a house plant, though should be given 3-4 months of cool temperatures during the winter so it can rest. The leaves will remain through the winter, and are evergreen. Always keep the plants from drying, even during the winter months. Use rain water, or bottled water, as plants dislike municipally treated water. Grow in full sun, with a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day. These plants require nutrient-free soil, a 50% peat moss and 50% perlite blend is ideal. Do not use potting mix. Fertillizer is never needed, as plants obtain all of the nutrients they need from the insect they attract.
Type: Perennial or houseplant
Location: Sun or part sun
Hardiness zones: 7-10, possibly zone 6.
Seeds per pack: 5
Germination: As with many perennials, these benefit from a period of moist cold to help them begin to grow. This is done by giving them a cool 'winter' period (artificial or natural), and then a warming to simulate 'spring', and time to grow! Here's how this can be done:
Obtain a planting container that has holes in the bottom for excess water to drain. Fill the container sphagnum peat moss, or a mix that contains mainly peat moss. Place the seeds on the surface of the pre-dampened mix, and gently water with a spray bottle. Cover with clear plastic, and place your container in a cool area (but not freezing) for 6 weeks. Once the cold period is completed, place the container at room temperature, and in bright light for them to germinate. Be sure to keep the soil moist during this entire germination period. Most seedlings will sprout within 2-3 months of the warming period, though some may take a little longer. Once plants sprout, slowly remove the plastic, a little bit each day. Always keep the soil slightly moist, never letting it dry out.
In the winter, plants need about 3 months dormancy period, to rest. If growing your plants indoors, place the pot in a cool location for this cold period.