In the ruins of Pompeii, there is a tessellation of a dog with the Latin inscription Cave Canem: Beware of the Dog. Ok. Fine. But what does this have to do with Sarracenia?
Wait, what? That’s not a Sarra!?! WTF?!?
While out and about this weekend, I came across the small red pots of Sarracenia that have been on sale here and elsewhere in much of eastern Australia for a year or two. Here is what they look like:
That’s more like it! But if you read the label…
As these plants are nearly all hybrids, I’ve had no interest in them. But the plant above is a cute leucophylla hybrid I thought would be great for the new leuco-themed bog garden, so I grabbed it. While waiting in line, I read the label which includes the following:
“Sarracenia prefer to grow in shady, moist, tropical conditions with high humidity”
The care-guide illustrations at bottom also had the frost-free symbol, which re-inforces the keep hot and humid message.
To anyone new to carnivorous plants who has brought one of these plants, be warned: following those directions will guarantee the death of your plant. Sarracenia have modified their leaves to catch insects, not light, so they need every photon they can get (or they will die). And they are also cold temperate plants that need to have a winter each year (or they will die). The only part this label got right was keeping the plant moist and humid (noting my plants also do well down to 30% or less relative humidity, but they won’t like it and have burned tips).
These pointers will help keep your plant alive more than the poor label directions.
Is there anything wrong with the plants themselves? No. In fact, they provide an opportunity for newcomers to carnivorous plants to cut their teeth, especially given they are usually less than $10 per plant.
But: Beware The Label!
To any mothers out there whose children brought them a Sarracenia for Mother’s Day – I hope this helps you be able to grow these plants and enjoy them with your family.
So to all mothers out there, have a Happy Mother’s Day, including my mother Christine, whose care in growing a Nepenthes x wrigleyana I brought her in 1992 fostered my love of insectivorous plants. Thank you.