How I Grow Sarracenia From Seed


Growing Sarracenia from seed can be a slow, but very rewarding hobby.  It's the cheapest way to expand your pitcher  plant collection by far, and in the end you have something to be proud of.  Once you have seeds on hand, there are three steps that need to be done: cold stratification, germination, and of course caring for the seedling.

Cold Stratification

In the wild, Sarracenia drop their seeds on the ground in the late summer or early fall months. Once the seeds are spread, the seeds must stay dormant through the winter months before germinating in the following spring.  Enzymes on the seed's outer shell prevent the seeds from germinating right away, but the cold temperatures and continuous exposure breaks down this enzyme over the winter and allows the seeds to then germinate once warmer temperatures set in.  Cold stratification simulates this process.

To stratify my seeds, I like to use 2 ounce dressing cups with lids (these can be bought at Walmart or Amazon). I place a small layer of wet peat moss in the bottom of the cup, about 1/4 of an inch deep.  I then sprinkle my seeds on top of the wet peat (Don't bury the seeds). I then spray a healthy amount of fungicide on top of the seeds to deter mold from growing (I use sulfur, but Neem oil works also). Finally I snap the lid on the cup, label the lid with a sharpie, and place the cup inside a refrigerator.  Leave the seeds in the cold for 4 to 6 weeks, checking occasionally for signs of mold growth and dryness.  If the peat seems dry, spray with additional water. 

After the stratification process is complete, you can simply remove the cup(s) from the fridge and place under grow lights (if no grow light is on hand, place in a warm area where ample sunlight is present). I leave the lids on the cups for a least a week, then remove it to set loosely on top to provide some ventilation. After this step, closely monitor the peat for wetness and add water as needed. Within a 2 to 3 weeks, you should see roots emerging from the seeds with tiny green stems following. Within 3 to 5 weeks, the first set of leaves should appear, followed closely after with the first tiny pitchers.  Once you've accomplished a good amount of germination, it's time to carefully transplant the little baby pitcher plants to a bigger pot.

Caring For Seedling 

Repotting these baby seedling is pretty simple, but you must be careful since they're so small.  I fill 2.5" nursery pots with a moist peat moss and sand mixture, then place the full pots in a 1020 tray with about an inch of water inside.  Taking each cup, I use tweezers to remove the small plants from the 2 ounce cups and place then in the larger pots.  If the cups are a bit crowded, this is the time to give them some room to grow (you may need to use more than one pot).  After transplanting each cup, make sure to label each of the new pots.  Once all the babies are transferred to their new home, I place a humidity dome over the tray for a few weeks to help keep the moisture where it belongs.  The plants can stay in these pots for at least 3 months.  I like to spray these seedlings once a week with weak mixture Maxsea fertilizer and water (about a tablespoon per gallon), giving them a nice grow spurt compared to the normal.  Using your own judgement, the seedling may need to be transplanted again after a few months.  If possible, keep the seedlings growing under grow lights during the first winter season, allowing the plants to basically skip their first year's dormancy.  By doing this, I've had seedlings over a foot tall after 18 months of growing.  

As I've said before, have fun while doing this.  You can try your own techniques and experiment with what's best for you.  If you're not enjoying this hobby, your plants will show it.  Happy growing!!!!