North American Carnivorous Plant Care

Basic Care for North American Carnivorous Plants:

Carnivorous plants have adapted a unique way of luring, catching and digesting insects for nutrition. Mainly due to the lack of nutrients found in the boggy conditions where they are found.  Because of their modified leaves that develop nectar and attract insects, it is not necessary to fertilize or to feed them insects.

Although ideal growing conditions differ from species to species, we suggest the following care for most common North American carnivorous plants.

Light – High Light – Most North American species will need at least 5 to 8 hours of full sun a day.  These plants are found in locations from zone 5 to zone 10. During the winter in lower growing zones (zone 4 to 7A) the plants should be moved to the ground and covered with plastic to ensure the rhizome will not freeze for multiple days.  Bringing the plants in to an unheated garage or basement may work as well. Just make sure they get supplemental lighting of at least 6 hours a day and the soil is kept moist.

Water – Use rainwater, filtered water or tap water with total dissolved solids (TDS is read in parts per million or PPM) reading under 100.  Do not use well water due to the high mineral and biological content.  The minerals will eventually kill the roots over time.  Be sure to water the plants everyday or so during the hot summer months.

Fertilizer – As discussed earlier it is not necessary to fertilize carnivorous plants.  They lure, catch and digest insects for their nutritional needs.

Dormancy – During the short days in the winter months most North American carnivorous plant species will go into a dormancy period because these plants are perennial (living more than two years) they will stop growing and appear to die.  This is a natural occurrence; the plant must go through this to gain enough strength to develop its spring flowers and traps. It is not recommended keeping North American carnivorous plants indoors year-round.

Soil – Carnivorous plants require a certain soil mix which is lacking in minerals and nutrients.  Regular potting soil will kill the roots of the plant over time.  A mix of 50% peat moss and 50% perlite or a sand mixture is the best when potting carnivorous plants.

Pests – Although pitcher plants eat insects for survival, they can also fall prey to aphids. Aphids like to attack newly growing traps which causes deformity of the leaves. Use a pyrethrin insect spray or neem oil to kill the pests.  Avoid insecticidal soaps because the soap leaves a residue on the soil which may kill the roots of the plant over time.