You are here:

Carnivorous Plants/Trimming off American pitchers for dormancy


S. rubra new leaves
S. rubra new leaves  

S. leucophylla new leaves
S. leucophylla new lea  
Hi Jeff,

earlier this month you told me I should be ruthless when it comes to trimming off Sarracenia pitchers during the winter time, it would be a transpiration issue that should be minimized.

However, two questions came to my mind this morning while cutting off the pitchers...

1.) It is said that Phylodia can be left on S. flava and S. oreophila. But donīt they transpire too? What is the purpose to leave these on?

2.) My leucophylla and rubra are still producing new pitchers...should I also trimm off new shots straight forward?

Thanks a tons guys, you are the bests!



Hi JP,

1.)   The phyllodia do transpire, but the amount of leaf surface area is dramatically less than pitcher leaves.  They are also adapted to having these leaves during the winter, so they are tough and waxy.  They give the plant a boost of photosynthesis in the early spring.

2.)  At this point just trim off leaves that are starting to turn brown.  I looked at your current temperatures and you're fairly warm still, so what you're seeing is not unusual.  With the short days growth is slowing way down, and by December it will stop.  Once you have a significant frost all growth will stop.  That's what just happened to us as we just had a week of temperatures at night around -5 to -6 C.  When you start having colder conditions it will be time to trim or cover your plants.  If it looks like your facing an extended cold spell, and you need to cover the plants for awhile, then trimming everything back would be in order.

I also wanted to mention a little on identity of your plants.  Your first photo, the S. rubra, looks strongly like an S. alata.  Did the seller say what specific subspecies it was if it is a rubra?  The second plant definitely looks like an S. leucophylla hybrid of some kind.  The species has much more pure white tops to the pitchers.  Also, next summer be sure your plants are in full sun.  Their color is ok, but they look like the could have used a bit more sun.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

Carnivorous Plants

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Sarracenia Northwest


If your carnivorous plant is showing poor growth, discoloration, abnormal leaves or possible infestation, the expert growers at Sarracenia Northwest can help! They have a great depth of experience dealing with diseases, pathogens, and abnormal growth in carnivorous plants.

Before submitting your question, please read their care guides on their main website. Many issues can be addressed by simply adjusting your growing conditions as recommended in the care guides. Click here to read the care guides.

Over 9,000 questions answered since 2005!


Jeff and Jacob are owners and growers of Sarracenia Northwest. They've been in business since 1995. Watch their professionally produced DVDs, Grow Carnivorous Plants. It is a three-volume set that covers all aspects of carnivorous plant care. They literally show you how to be a successful grower!


No terrariums. No myths. No nonsense.
Just the straight facts from guys who grow and propagate
thousands of carnivorous plants each year.

Our focus is to help help growers diagnose a specific plant problem and offer solutions. For example:
  • Why is my sundew not producing dew?
  • Is now a good time to divide my Sarracenia?
  • Why are the traps turning black?
  • What's a good substitute for perlite?
  • Why didn't my seeds germinate?
  • How do you deal with pests?
  • Can you identify this carnivorous plant for me?
We no longer answer general, how-to questions that are already posted on our website or demonstrated in our DVDs. For general plant care, please read our care guides:

For business questions:

Youtube Facebook
Follow us on Youtube and Facebook!

©2017 All rights reserved.