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Carnivorous Plants/erratic die back of sarracenia.


Hi, i have been growing sarracenia outdoors in the Uk in bogs about 30 square feet each in 50/50 mix peat and perlite for about twenty odd years.
his year one of the beds, in spring suffered some form of die back, where teh phylodia turned brown and dry. I initially diagnosed this as drying winter winds desiccating the plants. the other beds were OK I just thought that the one bed suffered worse than the others.

Now some of the plants have made pitchers which have similarly turned brown. the plants have never dried out, not been fertilised, sprayed, or anything that would cause this sort of dryness. But on the same plant there are (reasonably) healthy leavesI am afraid it is an infection that may spread to the rest of my collection, which would be a disaster.

Picture enclosed, you will see the brown leaves and green pitchers on the same plant.

Any idea what is causing it and if so how I can tackle the problem.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Hello Steve,

This is a conundrum. You did not mention whether the plants have ever had their artificial bog changed out periodically for fresh soil (peat can sour and become less acidic over time). How long has it been since you have done that? Is there any potential mineral source or a change in their watering source? Lime, calcium, magnesium and the like can sour peat moss quickly as well.

In addition, there may be underground pests eating away at the rhizomes where you cannot see them.

Were you aware that one of the pitcher plants in your collection is a Darlingtonia (Cobra-Plant) which is not actually of the Sarracenia genus?

In any event, I advise you to check all of the factors I indicated and also to send this question to Sarracenia Northwest as well as they may have a host of other bits of information that may help you find the answer to your problem.

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Christopher Littrell


I am capable of answering questions about the most common carnivorous plants found in cultivation. I have no personal experience with Byblis, Drosophyllum, Aldrovanda, and Heliamphora. I have not cultivated gemmae forming pygmy sundews nor tuberous sundews. For information regarding those aforementioned species, I would suggest contacting other experts. I can answer questions regarding most species of Nepenthes, tropical and temperate Drosera, Mexican Pinguicula, Sarracenias, and Dionaea. I have some limited experience with growing Utricularia, Cephalotus, and Darlingtonia.


I have grown carnivorous plants off and on for about 27 years. I have made the same mistakes and suffered the same mishaps that many growers make as they attempt to separate the myths from the realities of growing these plants. Currently, I am successfully growing a variety of tropical sundews, a Nepenthes, several Venus Flytraps of varying ages, and Sarracenias. I have been successful in stratifying Sarracenia seeds and providing artificial dormancy requirements for my temperate plants when needed.

I hold a Master's degree in Educational Psychology. Over my lifetime, I have constantly read books involving the growing conditions of carnivorous plants. I hope to incorporate the educational aspects involved in psychology with teaching other people how to cultivate carnivorous plants.

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