Carnivorous Plants/Winter dilemma
QUESTION: Hello Jacob and Jeff
I live in New Mexico just east on Albuquerque in the eastern foothills of the Manzano Mountains.
I have had a problem growing Sarracenia purpurea outdoors.
I have several plant that I tried to grow outside, but the altitude 6700’and low humidity cause the plants to stop growing and they started to die back. They were potted in the standard CP potting mix of peat moss, perlite, and long sphagnum. The pots were terracotta and they were in deep trays to hold water, per your instruction on growing CP’s in the desert (disc 1).
I kept them in full to partial sun for about three months (this past summer), with no improvement. Out of fear of losing them, I brought them indoors (I know that is a bad word) and put them in my greenhouse tents with my Nepenthes. After being in the tents for a month, they started growing with a vengeance.
The three younger smaller plants and growing slowly, and have replaced their burned out leaves with 3” pitchers. The older ones are producing pitchers that are over 8” long; they have also started to flower.
I know that they are to be going dormant, or should be dormant by now. But it’s too late to put them back outside, and they would need time to re acclimate to the outdoor condition.
I plan on setting up a small bog environment this spring to see if they would grow better, but for now, is there anything advice that would help me in keeping these plants healthy over the next four to five months ?
I’m sure the choice of plants was a bad idea based on my growing conditions, but I had to try.
ANSWER: Hi John,
I sounds like the problems you were having were a combination of very low humidity, and big temperature swings from your high elevation. Keeping your purpureas in with your Nepenthes will be fine. Sarracenia can tolerate a limited dormancy period as we have seen demonstrated by Hawaiian growers. Some other temperate cp such as flytraps and temperate sundews will not tolerate the lack of dormancy. Are they developing good rich red colors? This will tell you if they are getting enough light. If your pitchers are light green and elongated, they are not getting enough sun. Also, you didn't mention your water source. What were you using as your water for your plants?
Something in all your descriptions tells me that something may have been amiss, however, that didn't have to do with your climate specifically. My mother several years ago had some Sarracenia growing in Central Oregon, which is high desert, and her plants did ok. She often had to bring them in at night since even in summer temperatures could drop to freezing. Her plants grew, but they did have dried edges on the pitchers. Do you have any pictures of when you had your plants outside, or now? Also, was your area real windy? That can often cause problems, even in areas of higher humidity.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hello Jeff
I apologize for forgetting to mention my water water source. All of my Nepenthes get distilled, rain, and RO. The Sarracenia get distilled, rain, or if I'm low on rain water, a 50% mix of RO and distilled. It does get breezy where I live, but we are surrounded by pines that break up the wind. The area that I first had them growing, was on my south side patio, which gets full to partial sun in the winter, and full sun in the summer.
The larger plants do have some outer hood drying along the edges.
Do you think building an outdoor bog would work? my only concern is the amount of water needed to keep them wet. My outdoor water is heavy in minerals, and my RO unit is indoors at my sink.
You guys are the best
Again, thank you
An outdoor bog garden could work, but you would need a good water supply. What you're doing seems to be working just fine for your plants. They are a bit light in color, but otherwise seem fine.
I can tell that the purpureas you have are Sarracenia purpurea venosa. You might try some S. purpurea purpurea outdoors. They tend to be a bit tougher since they are used to much bigger temperature swings than the venosas are. Their leaves tend to be more evergreen, and thicker and waxy. Also, you mentioned your were using terracotta pots. We recommended this mainly as a cooling technique, but because of your high elevation it is probably causing too much water loss, and I'm guessing your night are fairly cool even in summer. I would switch back to plastic if you try some outside again.