What should I do with my pitcher plants (Sarracenia) during the winter?

Every season brings wonderful changes to the pond. One of favorite pond plants this time of year is the mysterious carnivorous Pitcher Plant (also known by their scientific genus, Sarracenia). Here's what to expect from this beauty in the winter season:

Pitcher Plants must have a rest period of a few months every year. When the days become shorter and cooler in the fall, the plants begin to slow down and not grow as much. Some species of Sarracenia, such as the leucophylla and leucophylla hybrids, put out their best pitchers just before dormancy.

The majority of our Sarracenia are winter hardy here in Zone 6. (Zones are areas defined by the USDA that describe the harshness of specific climates and which plants are likely to thrive there. Much of southcentral Pennsylvania is in Zone 6.) If you still have the tag that came with your plant, check to see what hardiness zone it is recommended for. If it’s Zone 6 (which most of the pitcher plants we sell at Splash are), it should be fine. If it’s Zone 7, you may want to consider protecting it during the coldest parts of the winter.

Even when the plant is dormant, your will still need to sit it in a small amount of standing water to prevent its soil from drying out. It will retain its leaves throughout the winter months, but some will turn brown around the edges. This is normal. A mature plant in mid-winter often looks old and miserable.

You can leave any pitchers that turn brown more or less alone until March or so, at which point you can cut off any that aren't green. By cutting off the brown pitchers, you'll allow sunlight to reach the rhizome (a kind of underground stem that stores nutrients and helps your plant survive the winter) and promote growth of new pitchers.