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Carnivorous Plants/Growing Pitcher plant outdoors



I am in Southern California and have a pitcher plant that I am interested in growing outdoors. I have had the plant about a year, I bought it from home depot and it is growing pretty good under lights. I transplanted it into a quart container a few months back and used peat moss and perlite I bought from your site. I want to put the plant outdoors but worried about watering. I currently water with distilled but it will get kind of expensive buying bottles all the time. How tolerable are pitcher plants to tap water? I think my tap water is moderately hard. What do you suggest?


When you say pitcher plant, I'm going to assume you mean Sarracenia.  Pitcher plant is a generic term, and it could mean pitcher plants from SE Asia, Australia and North America.  Knowing the type of pitcher plant you have is important because not all grow well outside throughout the year.  Asian pitcher plants are also more tolerant of hard water than Sarracenia.  

Mineral content in tap water differs throughout the country. Some regions, such as Portland, are blessed with relatively pure tap water.  Other areas, such as Las Vegas, are not so lucky and may have very hard water.  The only way to tell is to test your water.  You can take a sample of your tap water and bring it to your local aquarium store.  Some will test your mineral levels at no charge.  You can also contact your local water bureau for this information.

If your water has a total dissolved solutes (TDS) count of 50 parts per million (ppm) or less, you can safely use your tap water on your carnivorous plants.  In Portland, the TDS is about 20 ppm.  When our nursery was located there, we used tap water.  Now that we moved outside of the city limits, our tap water is 125 ppm.  We now have to filter our water using high end reverse-osmosis units.

If you also know what your TDS is of your tap water, then you can simply add enough distilled water to bring it down to proper levels.  So if your tap water is 100 ppm, you can use equal parts distilled and tap water to bring it down to 50 ppm.  Of course, the higher the TDS, the more distilled water you'll need to use.  The first step, however, is knowing what you're working with.  Get your water tested, or call your local water bureau.

For more information about growing Sarracenia, read our care sheet on our main website.

Good growing!
Jacob Farin

Carnivorous Plants

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