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Growing a pitcher plant isn’t quite like growing other plants in your garden. They require special care, and it’s not always easy to tell whether they’re getting it or not. The pitcher plant might seem like it’s off to a great start, only to turn yellow and brown down the road. But does this necessarily mean a bad thing?
Three signs that your pitcher plant is dying:
- The pitchers are black.
- The pitchers are a yellow and brown color.
- The plant is not growing new pitchers.
Pitcher plants can be finicky, and you can’t always tell if your pitcher is simply trying to tell you it’s unhappy, or if it’s on his way out altogether. We’re going to discuss why a pitcher might be changing colors and how it can be perfectly normal, while other times it’s time to act quickly or say goodbye.
The Three Main Signs That Your Pitcher Plant is Dying
If you’re new to the pitcher plant world, it can be almost impossible to tell whether your pitcher plant is truly dying or not. There are several different reasons why a pitcher plant will completely change colors, and sometimes it’s a normal occurrence in a pitcher plant’s life. So how can you know when to panic?
Sign 1: Pitcher Plant is Starting to Turn Yellow and Brown
With any other plant in your garden, yellow and browning leaves is cause for concern. This more than likely means that your plant is on its way out and is not salvageable. But the same isn’t so true for the pitcher plant.
Normal Changes That Are Not Cause for Concern
- Spots on Your Older Pitcher Plant
If you notice that spots on your pitcher plant are becoming yellow and brown, it may simply mean that your pitcher plant is getting older. As a pitcher plant matures into its old age, it’s completely normal to see browning and yellowing among the pitchers.
- Individual Pitchers Turning Yellow/Brown and Falling Off
What is also common is for individual pitchers to become yellow and brown, and eventually fall off completely. This simply means that the pitcher itself (not the entire plant) was becoming old. If it’s just one or two pitchers that are browning and breaking off, you truly have nothing to worry about. The pitcher plant is simply ‘shedding’ older pitchers to make room for new ones.
- Not Rejuvenating Pitchers Before and During Fall
So, what happens if your pitcher plant stops creating new pitchers after shedding the old ones? If the pitcher plant doesn’t rejuvenate new pitchers as fall approaches, it’s nothing to be concerned about: he’s simply going dormant. Pitcher plants are dormant during fall, so this is completely normal. Wait until spring to see if the plant comes back to life.
Warning: If you notice that the plant is not rejuvenating new pitchers after shedding the old ones and it’s not fall, then you might have more serious concerns. Either the pitcher plant is actually dying off, or it needs to be moved to a different location immediately in order to save it.
Changes That Require Attention
Starting to notice discoloration of your entire pitcher plant? While individual pitchers and even small spots around an older pitcher plant are normal, complete discoloration of your pitcher plant is a cry for help and requires the immediate attention of the gardener.
- Check for overwatering. The most likely reason why your entire pitcher plant is becoming yellow and brown is that they have been sitting in water for far too long. The best solution is to completely dry out the soil around the crown of the pitcher plant. This will give the pitcher plant a chance to ‘breathe’ and come back to life.
- Stop using harsh tap water. Don’t douse your pitcher plant with water from the sink. It’s been discovered by many gardeners that the harsh minerals found in tap water can have a negative impact on the pitcher plant, ultimately causing injury and potential death. Always use purified water or filtered water for your pitcher plant.
Sign 2: The Pitcher Plant is Turning Completely Black
One thing a gardener never wants to see is their plant turning black. Black is the ultimate sign of death in a plant, so it may startle someone who is new to the pitcher plant lifestyle. While black is almost never a good sign in a plant, the good news about pitcher plants is black coloring doesn’t always signify imminent death.
When Pitcher Plants Go Dormant, They Can Turn Black
If you are new to the pitcher plant, one key thing to keep in mind is that pitcher plants go dormant during the fall. During this time the pitcher plant is likely to stop rejuvenating new pitchers and may turn different colors, including black.
If you are unsure as to whether or not the pitcher is in dormancy or actually dead, it’s best to simply wait until the end of the season to see if it springs back to life. While sometimes a black pitcher plant in fall is actually dead, sometimes it’s just a matter of waiting it out.
Keep in mind that you should never tinker with the plant during dormancy. Of course, you think it’s a good idea and may want to check to see if the pitcher plant is still alive. By doing so, you may actually kill off the roots and ultimately kill your plant that was simply in dormancy through fall. It’s best to leave it alone.
How to Help Your Pitcher Plant Survive Dormancy
The best course of action to ensure your plant makes it through its dormancy is to do the following:
- Always make sure your pitcher plant is cool. Being too hot or too cold can wreak havoc on the life of your pitcher plant. Keeping it perfectly cool and temperate throughout the fall season is key to surviving.
- Don’t leave your pitcher plant outside in extremely cold temperatures. Frost and snow are always going to have a negative impact on a pitcher plant and will kill them rather quickly. If extremely cold temperatures with snow are on the way, it’s best to move your pitcher plant inside.
- Allow your pitcher plant access to plenty of sunlight. Pitcher plants are notorious for needing excessive amounts of sunlight in order to survive, and this holds true throughout their dormancy as well. Always make sure your pitcher plant is receiving ample amounts of sunlight.
It can be somewhat challenging to find adequate sunlight and cool temperatures during the fall and winter while a pitcher plant is in dormancy. However, if you stick with it and monitor it carefully through the cold months, then you will be rewarded come springtime with some magnificent flowers once again.
Pitcher Plants Can Turn Black from Shock
If it’s not fall or winter and you notice that your pitcher plant is turning black, this is not a good sign and requires the immediate attention of the gardener in order to save the plant. Shock is the main cause of blackening pitcher plants, and you need to know what’s causing it if you want to help the situation.
Remember that the pitcher plant is incredibly finicky and requires special conditions in order to survive. That being said, even a subtle change like bringing the pitcher plant home from the nursery can cause quite a stir.
How to Save a Shocked Pitcher Plant
- Pitcher plants need an adequate amount of light to survive. This is probably the most crucial element when raising a pitcher plant. Without the right sunlight, they are destined for failure.
Make sure that your pitcher plant is getting at least 8 hours of sunlight per day, and the more, the better. It should be placed in an area where it will receive direct sunlight. The pitcher plant thrives in direct sun rays, so choosing the right location is key to success.
- The pitcher plant survives best in humid weather. This is something to keep in mind before purchasing a pitcher plant. If you’re not in a hotter and more humid climate you may have a more challenging time getting the pitcher plant to grow.
- Pitcher plants love water. You should always make sure that your pitcher plant is receiving enough water to keep it happy. Always use purified or filtered water when watering your pitcher plant.
Warning: keep in mind that excessive water can lead to discoloration, so a happy medium of one to two inches at the roots is ideal. If you begin to notice yellowing or browning, it may be a sign that you’re allowing too much water to sit at the crown of the plant. Reduce the amount until the pitcher plant is thriving.
- Your pitcher plant needs to be fed. Now, if your plant is placed outside then you won’t need to worry about giving your pitcher plant any food; it will find its own. But if placed inside the home, it will have a much harder time finding food.
Your plant needs to be fed crickets or mealworms regularly. You can purchase insects at any local bait shop as well as pet shops. Simply take out a cricket or mealworm and drop it down inside of the pitcher so it may consume it.
- Leave the pitcher plant in the container you bought it in. This will help reduce the chances of your plants becoming overwhelmed and shocked. If you don’t like the original pot that came with the pitcher plant, you can always disguise it in a slightly bigger, more attractive style that suits your likes.
This is the best option when you are new to pitcher plants because you need to take time to completely understand the plant. Again, pitcher plants are not likely regular plants and require certain things in order to survive. Once you understand your plant you may be able to plant it in the backyard, in well-drained soil.
Sign 3: Your Pitcher Plant Is Not Growing New Pitchers
One thing to remind yourself about pitcher plants is that it’s perfectly normal for pitchers to become yellowed, browned, and then completely die off; as long as new ones are being rejuvenated afterward. The plant will naturally kill off older pitchers to allow new, fresh pitchers to form. That being said, it’s not a huge concern to see some pitchers die off.
However, any pitcher that has died off should be rejuvenated fairly quickly: except during the fall. The pitcher plant will not create a new pitcher before and during the fall season. They go into dormancy, which means it will essentially be ‘asleep.’ It can even appear dead, and that’s perfectly normal.
The problem arises when it’s not fall, and there is still no sign of life in your pitcher plant. If it’s not the fall season and your pitcher plant is not generating new pitchers, it may be a sign that your pitcher is dead.
If you’re positive that the weather and surroundings have nothing to do with your pitcher not creating new pitchers than it is likely that it is dead, however, just because your pitcher isn’t generating doesn’t mean it’s too late. You can try and save it by doing one of the many methods to save a dying pitcher plant.
Methods to Save a Dying Pitcher Plant
If it looks like your pitcher plant is on its last leg, it’s time to act. Here are some of the best things you can do to bring your pitcher plant back to life. Just remember not to ever mess with your pitcher plant during his dormancy, or you may end up doing more harm than good.
- Make sure your plant has enough sunlight. The pitcher plant thoroughly enjoys the sun’s rays, so make sure it is planted beneath direct sunlight for at least 8 hours out of the day.
- Your pitcher plant needs water, but it must be good water in the right amount. Too little water and he’s unhappy, but too much water causes problems. Two to three inches by the roots using filtered or purified water will do the trick.
- Pitcher plants love humidity, so move it to a humidified area. Trying to grow a pitcher plant in an area that lacks ample humidity can be a challenge. If your pitcher plant is going downhill, consider placing it inside of a terrarium.
- Ensuring the soil has a slightly acidic pH can be very helpful. If your plant is struggling, it may be a sign that it simply needs more acidity in the soil.
- Remove fertilizer from the soil of the pitcher plant. Since the pitcher plant gets its food from insects naturally, fertilizer can end up doing a lot of harm to the pitcher plant. Never use fertilizers around it!
- Indoor pitcher plants require more care. Remember that the pitcher plant should be an area where it will receive enough sunlight, but you should also make sure to feed it regularly, so it doesn’t die off.
Do Pitcher Plants Die Easily?
While the pitcher plant may be a little finicky with its likes and dislikes, he’s a hardy plant that isn’t likely to die quickly. As long as you’re giving your pitcher plant what it wants and needs, it should sustain life for a long period of time.
This is another reason why it’s beneficial to have a pitcher plant in your garden: under the right circumstances, your pitcher plant can survive and doesn’t require too much upkeep. However, keep in mind that the pitcher plant likes things done a certain way.
If you don’t attend to its needs, it will alert you – and you should respond as soon as possible to avoid further upset and possible fatality.
Is Caring for a Pitcher Plant Worth It?
A pitcher plant is probably like nothing you have ever seen before. This exotic plant features a variety of pitcher-shaped tubes that are not only appealing and interesting to the eye, but also perform the act of catching and devouring their prey.
This carnivorous plant uses its flower-like pitchers to attract and trap insects. Once the insect is in their reach, they will catch and devour the insect using digestive liquid located at the bottom of the traps. It’s a really amazing natural phenomenon.
Aside from their intriguing way of finding food, the pitcher plant is sheer beauty. It can add a little touch of the unusual to your garden while also rewarding your garden with a succulent, beautiful bloom that adds depth, dimension, and color to your garden- just as long as it is being well taken care of.
Is it worth it? We think so. And once you’ve experienced its graceful meat-eating ways, you are not likely to mind the more difficult moments.
For the most part, a happy and healthy environment is all your pitcher plant needs to thrive. Once your plant is content in its environment, it will be much more carefree. You’ll hardly remember how finicky it once was!
Discoloration usually means that it needs help, and with the proper methods, you can bring it back to life in no time. The clearest signs of the death of a pitcher plant are black coloring or lack of growth. If you see these signs, act quickly to ensure a full recovery.