Add excitement to your garden by adding some carnivorous pitcher plants! They have excellent colors and will provide a unique ...
look to your garden.
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Different Types of Pitcher Plants
David Epstein: Hi, I’m Epstein. This is Growing Wisdom. I’m here with my buddy Scott Lafleur and we’re not playing nine, right?
Scott Lafleur: No, we’re not.
David Epstein: Where are we going?
Scott Lafleur: We’re going to get out of the cranberry bog and check some of my favorite plants, pitcher plants.
David Epstein: Alright, I’m looking forward to seeing that. We’ll be back in a second.
Scott Lafleur: So here we are. We’re at the pitcher plant bog, the garden in the woods. And right here we have three different kinds of pitcher plants and they have really all distinct features going on with them. All their markings and nectars are designed to entice insects to go down into the pitcher, and there are all these little, little hairs you can see on them. And when the bug get down there in a certain way, it kind of works like one of those tire spikes and you can’t back up. The hairs hold the bugs in there. Then they actually hit a slick spot and they slide down to the bottom and drown in either rain water or slightly acidic solution.
We have the northern pitcher plant, the Sarracenia purpurea which is the only one that is native north to the Mason-Dixon Line. And that one is really designed to grow in these conditions. It loves our cranberry bogs here in Massachusetts. Loves low bogs and it has an open pitcher on it. So, it actually is designed to catch the rainwater.
In contrast to these northern pitcher plants, they sit low because that’s where the flower are, that’s were the insects are looking at the cranberry bogs. The next thing we’re going to look are the taller, the southern pitcher plants that are hooded. So this is the Sarracenia flava. This is the more southern tall pitcher plant and the actual habitat that these grow in, they’re grasses, they’re taller plants in here. So, they’re competing. So they need to up high. And you can think of where the insects are roaming around, this is where it’s going to catch their attention.
They also have that hood because unlike the northern pitcher plant that wants to collect rainwater, this guy is trying to keep the rainwater out. It produces its own slightly acidic solution. They will then kill and break down the insects.
Really what the pitcher is, it's a modified leaf which will then as it starts to grow, you can see one forming there, it will start to modify itself and actually make that tube. The last pitcher plant we’re going to look at is the Sarracenia leucophylla. And this one is designed specifically to capture moth at night. So there’s really nice white hood as you’re looking at it, think of the moonlight coming down at night and this would really glow iridescently. And the nighttime moth would be very much attracted to these and head on in.
David Epstein: So I’m going to pull this out, you can sort of see those markings that we are talking about, bring you down into the pitcher and getting down in to there, kind of a feast. It’s like a horticultural horror movie.
Scott Lafleur: It is, it is. So the other thing that’s really neat about these pitcher plants is they also really intricate flowers. And you can see these flowers the way they’re designed, they're actually ways for the insects to get in. The way this hangs down, pollen collects in there and they capture a whole bunch of pollen as they’re working their way through the flower.
David Epstein: Alright. So you guys have garden in the woods and you have these growing, can I grow these at home?
Scott Lafleur: Absolutely! These things are the easiest plants to grow. They look like they’re in really complicated situation but they make great container plants because they just need to be moist. And they’re really elegant. They’re beautiful. They flower. They have really fantastic colors on them.
You kind of have to make up special soil. A little bit boggier soil, so a little bit peat moss, a little bit of sand, and some really nice organic natto compost or whatever and mix that up, and that would give you really nice base to start your own little bog garden.
David Epstein: So Scott, what I’m going to do is I’m going to take those instructions. I’ll put them on the Growing Wisdom website where people can actually learn how to do this.
Scott Lafleur: Okay. Great!
David Epstein: Scott, thank you. Once again you’ve wowed me with the latin and the information.
Scott Lafleur: Always fun to have you here Dave.
David Epstein: Thank you and we hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Growing Wisdom. Come back every week for all our tips, hints, and helps.