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Thread: Dormancy Pitcher Pruning

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    swampdonkey's Avatar
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    Dormancy Pitcher Pruning

    I actually have two questions so I'll post them together.

    1. When prepping a Sarracenia for dormancy, what is the norm for the pitchers, i.e. do you trim them off at soil level, leave them...?

    2. When germinating Sarracenia seeds, is one soil "best" between pure sphagnum moss or peat/sand or peat/perlite or some other mix? Is it simply a personal preference?

    Thanks for the help!

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    Veronis's Avatar
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    Only trim them (about a half-inch or so above the rhizome) if you're going to use the fridge method, because they generally don't fit otherwise.

    If you're leaving them outside (I'm not sure you can in Washington State without fairly heavy mulching), leave the pitchers on so they can better photosynthesize and store more energy during winter.

    Regarding your soil question...just use peat/sand.

    http://www.carnivorousplants.org/see...Sarracenia.htm

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    swampdonkey's Avatar
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    I usually bring them in the garage rather then leaving them to the elements. Thanks for the info.
    'But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
    'Oh, you can't help that', said the Cat: 'we're all mad here.
    I'm mad. You're mad.' 'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
    'You must be,' said the Cat, 'or you wouldn't have come here.'

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    Veronis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampdonkey View Post
    I usually bring them in the garage rather then leaving them to the elements. Thanks for the info.
    I'd leave the pitchers on then. With the pitchers on they'll be able to store more energy over the winter from the little light they get, which will help when they're coming out of dormancy in Spring.

    Np.

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    Little, if any photosynthesis occurs during dormancy which will not make much of a difference in terms of storing energy during the winter months. The true benefit of leaving the leaves on comes into play during spring when the whole 'factory' starts up again. Rather than use energy to generate new leaves, the old ones can be used as a temporary quick start.

    As for your seed/seedlings, some prefer sandier mixes, some prefer more compact mixes, I personally use 50/50 sand - peat and this seems to works well. I can see that a sandier mix would allow for a better draining medium and ease root growth.

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    Veronis's Avatar
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    Good to know.

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    Aklys joossa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by F R e N c H 3 z View Post
    The true benefit of leaving the leaves on comes into play during spring when the whole 'factory' starts up again. Rather than use energy to generate new leaves, the old ones can be used as a temporary quick start.
    ^Especially when it comes to S. purpurea since it is slower than other Sarrs. Personally, I trim off only any foliage that has turned brown.


    Good luck!
    -Joel from Southern California


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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I'm down in Olympia, swamp, and I leave all my Sarrs out year-round. Almost all of them love it - certain ones like alata and leucophylla hybrids continue making new growth clear up to the frost. I would suggest sheltering the more southern species like minor, and in the late winter/early spring moving them into a spot like a warmhouse or coldframe where they can get a little early season warmth. Otherwise they get cranky with our long cool season. But the bulk of the Sarrs I grow genuinely seem to love the climate here. When it snows, let the snow pile up on the pots and it'll be plenty of insulation.
    The big danger in winter are clear, windy days when it gets cold and dry. Repeated freezing and thawing will basically give your plants freezerburn; the crystallizing water expands in the plants' cells and is drawn out. Cold air also holds much less water than warm air, so wind in the cold evaporates and disperses water much faster than at warm temperatures - even frozen water.
    If your pots become frozen, do not attempt to thaw them. Your plants can take care of themselves at below-freezing temperatures. Just let them warm back up naturally as the weather improves. Keep your pots gathered closely together so that the sides are insulated from the cold air and warming by the sun. Make sure that they have water/ice around the bottom of the pots, but you don't need as high a water line as during the growing season, since they won't be using much water. Do watch for evaporation, though. (And if you keep VFTs, note that they really don't like having their roots submerged during our winters - make sure to keep them in a very shallow tray, or no tray at all if you can check daily to make sure the soil isn't drying.) If your yard is naturally windy, you can move your plants up against a building, wall or hedge to protect them from the wind. They won't notice a little more shade this time of year. I do believe that direct midday sun is still beneficial in this area, though - especially as close to the open (well, somewhat open) water as Olalla is, the freezes won't be constant or deep enough for the plants to get really sleepy and stop photosynthesizing entirely.
    As for pruning, you can more or less do what you like. Don't trim pitchers that aren't beginning to brown unless they're really torn up or so ugly you really genuinely can't stand it. Wasps chew holes in my pitchers, and they get squished sometimes, and just otherwise beat up in general, but I leave them on if they look green. Certain plants hold on to their leaves longer - purpurea and hybrids for up to two years I think - but in addition, different species drop their leaves at different rates. S. oreophila seems to gradually lighten from bold to yellowish green at the end of the summer, and then once it gets wet and cold the pitchers all just suddenly go red/brown and fall over dead in the first windstorm. Other plants let their pitchers die halfway down and then manage to keep the rest of the leaf green halfway through winter. It's mostly a matter of preference how you trim - eventually they'll start decomposing and fall off on their own, and likewise a leaf that's already fading won't be missed if you clip it a little early.
    I tend to wait until most of my plants have dropped a substantial amount of pitchers, then I go over my whole outdoor collection and remove fallen leaves, tree seeds, dead pitchers, weeds, etc. I try to clip any brown stuff that has died enough that it's spongy and absorbs rainwater. But I leave stuff that's still crisp and not too yellowed - some plants get a blotchy sunburned look in the cold, and are much more red than in active growth, but I think those leaves can still photosynthesize. After that I usually try to do divisions and repotting, but sometimes I'll leave that part until the end of winter instead. But the pots have to be trimmed and cleaned at the end of the grow season to keep things from getting unmanageable - live Sphagnum colonies in some of my pots also need to be trimmed at this time to avoid them spilling into other pots or smothering small plants. (I trim the biggest colonies once near the onset of the rain, once shortly before the summer heat, and sometimes once at the end of winter as well.)
    ~Joe
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    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
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    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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