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Thread: Sub freezing:  how long is too long?

  1. #1
    Terminus's Avatar
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    I've read that most pitchers can tolerate brief periods of freezing, but how long is "brief?" In the spirit of natural dormancy, I leave my s. wrigeleya, s. purpurea, s. flava and s. psittacina outside until it gets below freezing (normally in January here in Atlanta). I then put them in the fridge only for the sub-freezing days, then put them back outside.

    Sadly, last weekend I was away and, lo and behold, Atlanta hit 7 F on Sunday night. I returned today and the soil was still frozen. The weather is warmer now and the soil has thawed, but the leavers are wilted and the flowers stalkes (which started to emerge in November) are dead.

    So, my question is, how long is too long for the rhizomes to be frozen and live? I suspect s. purpurea will be fine, but I'm not so sure about the others.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

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    I think you'll probably be fine with all though I might question the S. psittacina or maybe the leucophylla.

    I had a number of plants survive very harsh winter conditions in Massachusetts. We had sustained -15F temperatures last winter. I keep my plants in what I call the airlock (between an exterior door and my cellar door. I had limited insulation on the space and the door didn't seal extrmely well. Temps were probably 10-15 F inside for long periods of time. I lost about 15 plants total 7 of which were Sarracenia (I had probably 50 Sarrs).
    I lost 2 S. alabamensis, 1 leucophylla, 2 S. minor, S. hybrid and one S. flava green.

    This year, I have sealed the door, insulated the space and installed a remote sensing thermometer with alarm to prevent another tragedy.

    Good luck

    Kirk Martin
    Fitchburg, Mass USDA zone 5

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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    I winterize Sarrs by sinking the pots into the ground, piling 1+ ft of oak leaves on top, and setting a lean-to over the top as a sort of awning. Those plants will spend months frozen solid and all survive. Knock on wood. In fact, many pitchers extend above the leaves and retain their color way below 32F.

    But your plants didn't have the insulation mine get. Mine might get colder, but they cool slowly as winter sets in and warm slowly as it leaves. I think sudden temperature changes and freeze-thaw cycles do the most damage. But I'm only in Zone 6 and haven't seen a temperature below -8F since I started growing Sarrs.

    The only problem I've ever had was due to snow melting and refreezing in the pre lean-to days. It suffocated some terrestrial orchids and walloped my S. minor, but the others survived. Sarracenias that have survived this treatment without any sign of injury include S. alabamensis, flava, leucophylla, & purpurea.

    I hope everything is OK.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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    flytrap59's Avatar
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    I took a real chance this winter and left all of my pitchers outside on my open front porch. The pots are inside a standing greenhouse so they don't receive any direct wind chill. However, we've had temps in the single digits on and off for the past two weeks. I've insulated the pots inside deep tubs of LOF. FINGERS ARE CROSSED! So far even my leuco has retained it's color and hasn't wilted on the days temps have climbed back into the 30s.
    Professor Carrington..\"We owe it to science to stand here and
    die rather than destroy a source of
    wisdom\".

  5. #5
    Terminus's Avatar
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    Thanks, I feel a big more confident.

    It has been in the 50s for a few days now and the mature pitchers of all species seem fine. The newer growth is dead, but the base of the plants look fine.

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