Do Pitcher Plants Smell Bad?

Pitcher plants are great plants to have in the home. They are carnivorous plants that eat insects that come within their reach. They are perfect for windowsills or places that bugs may get into your home by accident. While they are a great source of pest control, can they be hard to have in your home?

Such as, can pitcher plants smell bad? Typically, no. They produce minty nectar when they eat insects. However, it doesn’t have a potent smell. They can smell if given raw meat or if they catch a large insect that is taking a while to decompose. Look for those signs if your pitcher plant starts to smell and get those items out of them. The smell should go away. 

While the pitcher plant doesn’t usually smell, a bad smell can lead to something else. Their usual smell is rather minty due to the nectar they produce to eat their prey. It’s pleasant rather than hard to bear in your home, though. So, it should be a good experience to own one rather than not.

What Smells Do They Make? 

They smell minty fresh. Pitcher plants create a minty smell due to the nectar they produce while eating their prey. It’s a pleasant smell to us, and not so much for the prey. It can help make the space around them smell good and tempt insects to fly over to them. This will help any bug problem you may have or take care of the occasional uninvited bug guest. 

If the plant is rotting, that could also create a smell. A rotting pitcher plant can have a bad odor simply because it’s a dying plant. Any plant that is dying will give off a bad smell. Be sure to keep your plant healthy and happy with insects and water. Smell and check around your plant regularly to be sure it is doing alright. 

If it eats something too big or not right for its diet, it can start to smell. If they get a hold of a big cockroach or some raw meat accidentally, the pitcher plant will have trouble digesting it properly. This can lead to rotting meat smells, which may make you think the plant itself is smelling bad. The best thing to do is to remove the smelling meat or insect from it. 

Pitcher plants go through different stages throughout the seasons. Pitcher plants commonly feed on insects throughout the summer and die over fall and winter months. Then they resprout in spring to start all over again. During these dying months, the plant can lose all nectar smells, which may be where the rotting smell could come from. 

Different Pitcher Plant Species Have Different Smells

Pitcher plants from the Utricularia alpha smell like lavender. There are multiple varieties of pitcher plants, and they can smell differently. Utricularia alpha is a lavender plant that use their smell to attract prey. They also can make your house or greenhouse smell great, too. These can be perfect plants for those lavender lovers out there. 

Drosera plants smell very sweet. They can be powerful smells if you have multiple flowers within the same space or room. The Drosera plants are perfect for those sweet-smelling enthusiasts out there. Not all pitcher plants smell the same, and these are an example of this difference. You can shop for a pitcher plant that smells good to you. 

The Skunk Cabbage or Voodoo Lily has a bad smell. These carnivorous plants have a strong odor to them, which many people may think stretches to all pitcher plants. This is a common misconception since the others listed above have better smells. Someone buying a pitcher plant for the first time may not know this and be upset at the smell. 

Different smells have different reactions to people. All pitcher plants have distinct smells, which may be good or bad to different people. Someone may love the smell of lavender, while someone else may hate the smell. It’s up to you to decide which smell you’re happy with and which are too much to bear in your home. 

Different Parts of the Pitcher Plant Have Certain Smells

Their leaves can emit soothing or appealing scents to attract prey. Pitcher plants like the Nepenthes have smelling leaves that attract prey to their flower. This is mainly for their food source, but we can benefit from the soothing smell in our home or greenhouse. Similar to the flower, the leaves can emit different smells that you may like or hate. 

Their petals can also emit a smell different than their leaves. Some pitcher plants create nectar on their petals to attract prey. Some of these plants create the nectar in early spring and allow their prey to harvest it harmlessly. Once the summer months come, they use that same nectar to trick their prey and trap them before eating them. 

Pitcher plants can emit different smells depending on where they are in relation to the ground. Plants closer to the ground smell less profusely than those hanging in the air or plants further above ground. This is due to the prey they collect. Ground pitcher plants don’t need to emit as strong of a smell to attract ground insects. 

Indoor versus outdoor pitcher plants also have different smells. Indoor pitcher plants don’t have as distinct of smell since they aren’t competing with other smells when attracting prey. Outdoor pitcher plants need to stand out when attracting insects, so they need to smell stronger to collect insects as well as compete against other pitcher plants. 

Caring For the Pitcher Plant In Your Home

Keep it in direct sunlight for as long as you can. Position the plant towards the south end of your home for the most sunlight per day. Pitcher plants thrive on the sunlight and can even benefit from artificial light if your plant is struggling. This resembles what kind of light the plant would get from growing in the wild. 

Keep its soil moist and well cared for weekly. Pitcher plants are known to be in jungle areas where the soil is often moist from frequent rainfall. You need to recreate this for your pitcher plant in your home. You can do this by making sure to water your plants regularly and keeping the soil moist. 

If you don’t have a lot of insects in your home, you can buy them for your plant. One of the many perks of owning a pitcher plant is insect control. You can dispose of dead insects into your pitcher plant to keep them happy, and you happy. But if the plant is doing too good of a job that you haven’t found many insects you can buy some at any pet store. 


So, if you are worried about pitcher plants being a stinky addition to your home, you can rest assured that, under most circumstances, there is nothing to be concerned about.

However, different species of pitcher plants can produce different smells – and not all of them will be pleasing to all people. So, find one that has a smell that you like so you’ll want to keep it in your home.

Because they do give off a natural smell, they can sometimes attract curious pets. Pitcher plants generally aren’t dangerous, but can give your pet an upset stomach if they are ingested.

All in all, hopefully, this article was helpful in figuring out what pitcher plant is right for you by the smell. You can never do enough research to figure out which is a good choice. You may want to view some in a greenhouse first to smell it for yourself before buying it. Enjoy!