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Carnivorous Plants/Sarracenia pitcher die off


Dead pitchers
Dead pitchers  
Hello, early this spring I purchased a young sarracenia flava, at a local plant show and sale.  It did very well up until about three weeks had lots of new, small,Newell formed pitchers and two or three growth points.  Then, suddenly the pitchers began to die off...turning brown, withering...all of the pitchers are now nearly dead. I see no sign of borers, thrips, spider mites or scale.  The rhizome, as far as I can tell, looks ok, I didn't repot it when I brought it home, trying to keep any shock at a minimum.  It sits in a tray of rain water, never has dried out.  I have several other carnivorous plants that are doing well, including a couple pitcher plants .
I haven't removed the dead pitchers yet, and you can see white specks on the base of the pitchers...don't know if this is just decay setting in...or something else?
Sure hope you can help.  Please let me know if you need further information.
Many thanks!

Hello Terrie,

From the picture, it appears that the white growths on the dead pitcher are mold. Just clip off the dead pitchers to reduce the chances of the mold spreading.

Next, do you see any indications of new growth in the center of the growth points?

There are some other aspects of the environment that I need to know about. What kind of light is the plant receiving? Is there a chance of any chemicals or nutrients, including minerals, getting into the soil or water you are providing? The upper part of the rhizome does look discolored. If there is no new growth and the pitchers continue to die, you may need to repot it and take a look at the rhizome to see if anything below the surface is affecting the plant. Grubs, crickets, and other subterranean critters will eat the rhizomes below the surface.

What are you catching and storing the rain water in? What does the rain water contact before you collect it?

Sometimes finding out what is happening is like a crime scene investigation. We just have to keep asking questions and looking at what is in the environment.  

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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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