How (and when) to Re-pot a Pitcher Plant

how to repot a pitcher plant

If you have any houseplants, then you know that you’ll have to re-pot those plants from time to time. In that way, exotic pitcher plants aren’t much different than houseplants because pitcher plants also need re-potting on occasion.

How and when should you re-pot a pitcher plant? When your plant is still dormant, which should be right before spring, it’s time to remove it from its pot and dump the old soil. You’ll then need to make a new potting mixture and then gently place the pitcher plant back in a pot with the fresh soil mixture.

Since there isn’t a lot of information available about re-potting pitcher plants, we created this guide to help get you through the process. We’ll give you the detail on re-potting pitcher plants as well as plenty of useful information about pitcher plants.

Why Do I Need to Re-pot My Pitcher Plant

You need to re-pot your pitcher plant every so often because the mix in the pot compacts and gets smaller over time. That makes it very difficult for your pitcher plant’s roots to growIf you’re wondering how often you’ll need to re-pot your pitcher plant, every year or every two years is the general rule of thumb. The best time to re-pot your pitcher plant is early in the spring

Once the winter dormancy period is over, it’s a good time of the year to re-pot. You’ll then hit your early spring adventure with your pitcher plants. You can also divide your plants after the winter if you want more. 

By re-potting your pitcher plants, you’ll be giving your plant plenty of room to grow its roots. Your pitcher plant won’t feel compacted or restricted and should have space so it can stay healthy. Like many other plants, that’s the best time to re-pot your pitcher plant because it’s right before your plant will produce new growth. 

  • You’ll need to create a potting mixture
  • We’ll provide you with a more detailed list of potting mixture ingredients later in this article.
  • We’ll also cover how to make that potting mixture, and how to use it to re-pot your plants. 
  • You need to remove your pitcher plant from its old container.
  • Get rid of the old potting mixture. 
  • Stand the pitcher plant in its new planter.
  • Put the planting mix in there, making sure you cover up the plant’s roots. 

You’ll need to tap the planter on a table to get the mix to settle. Once you’ve done that, add more on top. You’ll also need to water the mix to remove air pockets. Then, if you need to, top off the combination. 

Repotting Creates Stress

If you’re new to growing and re-potting pitcher plants, remember that you need to be careful in your assessment of when you need to transplant your new plants. You shouldn’t transplant your plants just because you think you should. That’s primarily because re-potting a pitcher plant can be very stressful for the plant, and should only be done every year or two. 

If you’re thinking about re-potting your plant because you think it’s in the wrong soil mix, don’t worry. That’s a lousy excuse to re-pot a pitcher plant. If your plant were in poor soil, it probably would have died already, at least within a few weeks. Also, the plant probably wouldn’t have made it to the store healthy for you to buy it if the soil was terrible. 

After you’ve purchased your plant, it will be stressed out. It needs time to adjust to the growing conditions around it. You don’t want to add any additional stress to the plant by messing around with its root system. 

While you are re-potting your plant, if you feel you need to reposition your plant during the process, you’ll need to do that carefully. It’s best to use your fingers to get the work done because they will give you the sensitivity level you’ll need to be careful. Another option is to use the erasure end of a pencil and be cautious with it. 

Pitcher Plants in Winter and Repotting in Spring

When you repot your pitcher plants, you’ll want to make sure you complete the process in the spring time. That’s because pitcher plants go dormant in the winter. All species of North American pitcher plants need a cold winter dormancy, usually between November and February.

Winter dormancy usually occurs because temperatures in their natural habitats often are below freezing at this time. So, the pitcher plant is used to becoming dormant during the winter. You’ll need to be prepared to provide a cold season for your pitcher plants to go dormant if you want to keep them healthy and normal.

If you take good care of your pitcher plant during the cold season, once the weather warms up in the early Spring, you should be able to repot them. 

To help your pitcher plants during the winter season, we have a few tips for you.

  • If you prefer to keep your pitcher plants indoors when you are growing, you’ll need to put them somewhere in your house that is cold. You can put them next to a frosty window, or put them out in your garage if you don’t have a greenhouse.
  • If you have a greenhouse, your pitcher plants can stay in the greenhouse through the winter as long as the greenhouse isn’t heated.
  • If you grow your pitcher plants outside all year, you’ll want a species that handles cold and the elements well. The species S. Purpurea, S. Flava, and their hybrids do well in colder climates.
  • Once winter arrives, the days will get shorter, and the temperature will drop. That will cause your pitchers to start turning brown, almost as if they are dying. However, during this time of year, it’s widespread.
  • When you notice dead growth on your pitcher plant as it gets dormant, cut off the dead growth.
  • Depending on the species of pitcher plant that you are growing, you may also wind up with flat, non-carnivorous leaves on the plant. They’ll start coming in during the fall season and stay there throughout the winter.

How to Re-pot Your Pitcher Plant in Detail

The excellent news about pitcher plants is that they are very easy to re-pot. They have a large stem, which we call a rhizome. That stem grows at the same level as the soil, which is quite helpful. Remember when you re-pot your plant you might need to divide it. The rhizome naturally divides on your pitcher plant. 

You might not always want or need to divide your pitcher plant. It depends on the plant and what you plan to do with it. You might have a seedling that outgrew its old pot. We’ll cover what you’ll need to do to re-pot your pitcher plant below and discuss splitting the rhizome. However, if you don’t plan on cutting the rhizome, you can still use the same procedure of steps and ignore that part.

While we highly recommend that you re-pot your pitcher plant during the early spring, in many cases, you can re-pot your plant during any time of the year you’d like. If you are thinking about dividing the rhizomes on your plant, then you’ll wind up with several pitcher plants. The strategy and how you want to re-pot your pitcher plants is entirely up to you.

Pitcher Plant Pot Mixture

When re-potting your pitcher plant, you’ll need to figure out a potting mixture. We provided you with a simple pot mixture, but you do have other options as well, which we cover in how to make soil for pitcher plants. You’ll want to remember that pitcher plants don’t grow in your traditional garden compost. Instead, they prefer a total lack of nutrients and some drainage.

  • You can use sphagnum or peat moss and combine it with perlite. You can also use grit if you’d like.
  • If you do opt to use perlite dust, be careful when you handle it because it is harmful. Use a dust mask when you open the bag and add water. The water will bind the dust particles. After you’ve mixed this with water, you’ll be fine.
  • The ratio of ingredients isn’t necessarily essential. However, as a general guide, you can use three parts peat or coir for every one-part perlite.

Once you have combined these materials, or you use the recipe above, you’ll have your mixture.

Removing the Pitcher Plant

Next, you’ll need to remove your pitcher plant from the pot it’s already in at the moment. We’ve included the steps on how to do this below.

  1. Remove the pitcher plant from its pot.
  2. When you begin, you’ll want to shake off the old compost and remove the growing points of the rhizome. You might need to pull on those parts, but you’ll still need to be careful.
  3. If you wish, you can use secateurs or a knife to cut the rhizome at this point, but you don’t need to if you prefer to avoid that. You’ll notice the rhizome itself is brittle so you can break it easily with your hands if you prefer.
  4. If you find rot in your rhizome, remove the pieces with a knife.

And here are some tips for this part of the process:

  • When you remove the plant from its pot, you’ll see the original rhizome of the plant in the middle of the pot. It’s probably also spread out to the edges of your pot. Each point you see, you can make into a new plant if you wish.
  • Remember, while you want to be gentle with your plant, the process itself won’t be a gentle one.
  • Also, if you notice part of the rhizome doesn’t seem to have as many roots as the others, you don’t need to worry. The plant will be excellent, and it will grow its roots. Rhizome pieces don’t even need roots for you to pot them.
  • After you remove the rhizome, you’ll wind up with a bevy of potential new plants if you decide to re-pot all of the rhizome parts.
  • You’ll notice that the rhizomes will still have parts of old pitchers attached to them. As you remove the rhizomes, cut off the old parts of the former pitcher plant. All you need to re-pot is the rhizome itself.
  • If you leave old pitcher parts on your rhizomes, the pieces of the old pitcher plants will rot, and the rhizomes will also rot when you re-pot. Also, old parts of the pitcher plant can hide rot the rhizome might already have that you’d want to remove.
  • Pitcher plant rhizomes rot from the old end as the new plant blossoms. If you have an already established pitcher plant, rhizome rot won’t harm the plant. However, when a plant is stressed from being re-potted, the decay can infect healthy parts of the plant.

Getting Your New Pot Ready

Next, you’ll need to get your new pot ready so that you can re-pot your plant. We’ve included those steps below.

  1. Start by filling your new pot with the compost you made for your new pots earlier. See below for some tips on selecting the best pot.
  2. As you fill the pot, make sure you slightly dome the compost. Also, press the surface down slowly so that it becomes flat. Make sure you don’t press down too hard on the surface of the soil will become overly compressed, which is difficult for pitcher plants to handle.
  3. Next, make a hole in the compost using one of your fingers or one of your thumbs. It should be easy to make a hole in the compost.
  4. If you find you can’t do it and the compost feels too hard, you’ll need to repack your compost. If you can’t get your finger into the compost, that means it will be hard for your pitcher plant’s roots to penetrate the soil.
  5. Make sure the hole you make goes about as deep and long as a pitcher plant’s roots would test it out. If it feels right, it’s time to move the rhizome into its new pot.
  6. Next, drop the rhizome in its pot and keep the central part of the rhizome at soil level. You should think about slightly angling the rhizome so that the growing point is somewhat clear of the soil. That helps to bring down the potential of fungal infections.
  7. Firm up the compost for one last time. Then, add a label to your plant, so you know when you re-potted it and place the pot in some water.
  8. You want to place the pot in water because the loose compost will want to take in moisture fast. So, stay on top of the water for some time and make sure your re-potted pitcher plant gets the water it needs.

Selecting the Best Pot for a Pitcher Plant

As a general rule, each pot should be two to three times the length of the rhizome that you are potting. That will ensure that the plant has plenty of space to grow and spread out.

An essential suggestion is to use a 7.5cm pot for small plants and a 15cm pot for larger plants. Some people make the mistake of using pots that are too large for their plants. Avoid doing that because your pitcher plant may have trouble growing if the pot is too large.

After Re-potting Your Pitcher Plant

There are a few things you’ll want to keep an eye on after you re-pot your pitcher plant. We’ll break down what they are for you below.

  • Top Heaviness: Once you’ve finished re-potting your pitcher plant, you’ll want to keep an eye out for parts of the plant that are top-heavy. That’s especially important if those top-heavy parts of the plant don’t have that many roots. Your plant might not recover well from the re-potting if it’s top-heavy. So, you might need to cut off some flower buds to make sure the plant continues to thrive.

The root system on a pitcher plant is pretty simple. Pitcher plants use a root system only to support themselves while they are in the soil, and to take in the water they need to survive. Pitcher plants get their nutrition in different ways.

  • Fungal Infections: You’ll also need to keep an eye out for fungal infections after you’ve finished re-potting your pitcher plants. If you notice any of your pitcher plants suddenly die out of nowhere, then you probably have a problem.
  • Rot Issues: On occasion, you can sometimes save a pitcher plant that has rot. If that happens, remove the plant from its pot and slowly cut away the decay.

Remember, the weather can create rot problems as well. If you experience a spring that’s cold and wet; you might run into problems. If you want to avoid any fungal infection problems, you can use a fungicide when you re-pot. However, fungicide is not always necessary.

It takes some time for a plant to recover after you’ve re-potted it. Expect your plant to need up to a year for a full recovery. You might also notice that the growth and color of your pitcher plants are lessened after you’ve re-potted. That’s quite common, but you’ll need to monitor them closely after you’ve re-potted them.

Can You Keep Your Pitcher Plants Indoors After Repotting?

If you are new to growing and repotting pitcher plants, then you’re probably wondering if you always need to keep them outside, or if you can grow them indoors before you repot them. You can keep some species of pitcher plants indoors after you purchase them and repot them. We’ll cover that below. 

When you start growing your pitcher plants, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

Pitcher plants are the healthiest when grown in direct sun. While some people do grow them indoors, you’ll need to make sure a lot of sun is coming through your window to do that.  If your plant doesn’t get the direct sunlight it needs, it will start looking weak. Also, it’s color will look dull and unhealthy. 

If you want to grow your pitcher plants in your windowsills and keep them inside of your house, then you’ll need to purchase certain species. Smaller species of pitcher plants tend to do better in windowsills. So, we recommend a species like S. purpura or a hybrid that has this species mixed into it. 

If you are growing your pitcher plants in your windowsill, avoid using terrariums. Seedlings typically do well in a terrarium. However, by the time the plant is an adult, it won’t be able to get the direct light it needs when sitting in a terrarium.

Also, some species of pitcher plants are just too big to consider growing in a windowsill. For example, the species S. Leucaphylla can grow to be as tall as one full meter. 

Some pitcher plants do well in certain climates and can be grown year-round inside. However, the taller types of pitcher plants don’t do well in areas with strong winds. Strong winds can still affect your pitcher plant if you set it in the windowsill and leave the window open . So, you’ll need to do some research about your climate if you are growing your pitcher plant outside. Pick your pitcher plant species wisely. 

Why Grow Pitcher Plants?

Pitcher plants are a popular species to grow and repot in America because of their striking looks and exceptional abilities. Most people that grow pitcher plants love these plants because they feel these plants have everything a person could want.

These plants grow prolifically in the southeastern coastal plans of the United States. They prefer sunny, open wetland areas. There is a broad diversity of pitcher plant growth found in places like Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina. 

One species of pitcher plants can be found not only in the southeast, but also in the north, the east coast, the upper Midwest, and even Canada. Because pitcher plants are so prolific in America, they are easy to grow and maintain when you repot them. That also contributes to their popularity in the United States. 

Why Pitcher Plants Are Popular

Pitcher plants are popular because they are beautiful, carnivorous plants. With a pitcher plant, you’ll get a very efficient flycatcher and a plant that’s simple for a newbie to grow and take care of quickly. Plus, the eight different species of pitcher plants are all gorgeous. 

We mentioned above that there are eight species of pitcher plants. If you’re wondering what those are, here’s a list:

  • S. Alta
  • S. Flava
  • S. Leucophylla
  • S. Minor
  • S. Orophilia
  • S. Psittacine
  • S. Purpurea
  • S. Rubra

Each one of these species varies from the others, although they all resemble each other. Also, some of these species are divided into further sub-species.

Many people love the carnivorous features of pitcher plants, making pitcher plants very popular. Pitcher plants have tall, narrow pitchers on them that work to attract insects. Those pitchers usually have bright colors and give off an odor that attracts the bugs. When a bug lands on the plant, it’s stuck because of the waxy coat on the plant and its transparent leaves. 

Plus, the nectar bugs found in the pitcher plant is full of poison that intoxicates the bugs. Often, bugs will slip and fall into the pitcher. If that happens, the pitcher traps it with its pointy hairs and then digests the insects. 

One sad fact about pitcher plants is that their natural populations are in decline. That’s because of new housing developments removing them from their areas. Some species of pitcher plants have been so affected by this removal process that they are critically endangered. 

So, by growing and repotting pitcher plants, you’re actually contributing to keepint their population alive. That means you should get some intrinsically rewarding feelings while contributing to your growing and repotting of your pitcher plants. Growing and repotting pitcher plants means you’re helping to keep this beauitufl species of plants alive for future generations. 

Pitcher Plant Hybrids

One of the most exciting things about North American pitcher plants is that they can be formed into hybrids. That’s a unique quality that’s only in a few types of plants. However, the fact that pitcher plants can be formed into hybrids is yet another reason why pitcher plants are so popular to both grow and repot. 

You can cross your pitcher plants and create a lot of offspring. So, pitcher plants include several hybrid species. What’s even more interesting about these hybrids is that they tend to be extraordinarily beautiful. 

Also, many hybrids of pitcher plants can be found in the wild. It’s quite natural for hybrid species of pitcher plants to form naturally. Some of these hybrids are so prevalent that they’ve been given names. The hybrid species of pitcher plants are often very prolific. That’s why many first-time growers tend to work with hybrid pitcher plants

If you wind up growing and repotting hybrid pitcher plants, the process of growing and repotting hybrid pitcher plants works exactly the same way as repotting non-hybrid pitcher plants.