Carnivorous or pitcher plant growers often mix up plant dormancy with the disease. But those are two different things. People have some misconceptions about pitcher plants. Though the idea of dormancy can be easily demonstrated. So let’s find out if pitcher plants go dormant.
Sarracenia pitcher plants undergo winter dormancy. On the other hand, Nepenthes don’t go dormant. Broadly speaking, all temperate types of carnivorous plants need a dormant period in winter.
What is Dormancy anyway?
In the winter season when the temperature goes down, it’s hard for many plants to survive. Because plants can’t get enough nutrition from the soil, they lack enough sunlight, and so on. So what they do is temporarily stop growing and developing. Hence they need minimum nutrients which they can afford.
This phenomenon occurs in freezing temperatures (North, South America, and other cold regions), and dry weather. In the dormancy, they save their energy until the regular or mild weather returns. Like plants, animals also go under dormancy. Dormancy is totally normal, it’s a habitual development of the plants to survive. For pitcher plants dormancy is triggered by cooler nights and shorter days.
Do pitcher plants go dormant?
You may know there are mainly two types of carnivorous plants-
Temperate, which is native to North and South America; tropical, which is native to Asia. In temperate regions the highest temperature in summer is 32℃ and the lowest temperature in winter is 0℃. Tropical carnivorous plants grow in China, India, Malaysia, Philippines; where the highest temperature in summer is 32℃ and the lowest temperature in winter is 25℃. As you can see, temperatures don’t fall much in tropical regions.
Pitcher plants have two large families. Nepenththaceae (known as nepenthes); Sarraceniaceae (known as sarracenia). Nepenthes is a tropical type carnivorous plant. They are located in tropical areas where temperatures don’t fall as much as in other colder areas. So they don’t need dormancy to survive.
They don’t even know what dormancy is. Almost more than 50 species of Nepenthes are native to the Philippines. If you are growing Nepenthes in cold regions or colder weather you may see some change in their growing cycle in winter. But it’s not actually dormancy. It’s just that shorter days and longer nights of the winter slow their growth a little bit. Some of them don’t even grow pitchers until spring comes.
Similarly, another famous carnivorous plant, Drosera Capensis, doesn’t need winter dormancy. Now for Sarracenia, they are native to North and South America. Where temperature often falls to freezing temperature. That’s why Sarracenia pitcher plants go dormant in winter by stopping their development and growth. Another thing that might be added is that only mature plants need dormancy. Usually, it is seen that pitcher plants that are younger than three years don’t need winter dormancy.
Taking care of Pitcher Plant during dormancy
As an indoor grower, you may need to take some preparation for the winter season. You have to ensure all the care and requirements the plant needs in winter. First of all, don’t get tense about the slower development of the plant at the start of the winter. All kinds of pitcher plants prefer moisture and acidic soil.
Reduce watering but don’t let the soil dry out. Just ensure that the soil is consistently moist. Increase the humidity by misting and other methods you know of. You can add a thick layer of mulch around the plant’s base. For acquiring warm growing conditions, manage artificial lighting.
The lower third of the pitcher stays green but on top, they turn brown. During the winter season, plants don’t grow any new pitchers. Some of the pitchers will dry out and fall off. When March comes and the temperature changes, cutting off the brown pitchers, will trigger the growth of new pitchers. You don’t need to feed them any bugs during winter, as they stay on break they don’t require nutrition.
Pitcher plants stay dormant for 3-4 months. Their dormancy breaks when the spring comes and the temperature rises. Like other tropical carnivorous plants, Nepenthes don’t require winter dormancy, but if you are growing them in cold weather you may see a slow growth but that’s not dormancy. Keep proving all the care you have been doing. For sarracenia pitcher plants they need dormancy, so provide their required care.