Best way and time to prune Sarracenia.

Richard Hole

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I asked about pruning Sarracenia before on the forum.  However, since them I thought of other ideas that could help growers.

In the past I have got my workers to selectively only cut the dead leaves and leave the green ones.  However, this takes much longer than cutting everything off and would cost me hundreds of dollars in wages more than if they cut everything off in one go at the base just above the crown.

I am just wondering if it there is much significant difference to the health of the plant next Spring or Summer between the plants that have everything above the crown removed compared to those that only have the dead parts removed?  If there is very little difference it would be much more economical and practical to cut everything off so long as the crown and base buds about half an inch above it are left.  However, I could still get my workers to leave only the young shoots with unopened pitchers if they see them.

Another advantage of removing everything above the crown is that it would reduce the risk of pests and disease over winter.  The leaves are very thick and prevent air and light reaching the base.  Therefore, It is likely they pests and fungi would bread there.  These would be removed if everything is pruned.

If the pruning is done at the end of winter I would expect that there would be more chance that the pests and disease could damage the plants because the thick growth which is mostly dead would remain on the plants for a long time.  However, if everything was pruned off at the start of winter, there would be less chance of this happening.  I have had trouble with sooty black mould,  thrips, and mealy bugs.  Another disadvantage of leaving many leaves on over winter is that it is hard to see how damp the soil is.  In winter, I heard it is best to keep the soil less damp but care needs to be taken that it does not dry out completely.  If leaves are cut off it would be easy to see the soil and judge the best time it is to water.

Many people do suggest that the green growth does benefit the plants for the next Spring.  However, I wonder by how much and if there have been any experiments to see?   Or could the disadvantages of leaving the excessive mostly dead growth on over Winter outweigh the advantages?

Bear in mind that I live in the tropics at Tolga, near
.  However, I am at 757 meters altitude where Winter temperatures generally average about 12°C of a night and about 21°C during the day.  The lowest screen temperatures of a night reach about 5°C but some years we can get a light frost.

I have some photos of how my plants currently look in dormancy at .  Further down the page you can see how they look when they are in the growing season.

In my situation and conditions, do you think it would be best to prune everything except the occasional young shoot off?

Also, what time of the year is best to prune them off and should I do it in the first month of winter as seen in the photos because this has advantages as explained above?

Regards Richard.

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I find that they have no problems if you cut them to the ground in early spring. Doing them same in winter is probably no different except you'll lose out on them being able to photosynthesise on winter days where it's above 6 degrees celsius (the minimum temperature plants can photosynthesise at).


The exception in my experience is sarracenia minor though. They hate being cut back I've found and struggle the next year I've discovered.

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I always hack fully late winter - just about when you can see the first sign of the flower buds if I get it timed right.  However my g/h get close to zero during winter nights (and occasionally a bit below) so less problem with bugs and mould.  I used to heat it more and then had some problems so with your temperatures I'm guessing you're in a different ball park?  Looking at your photos your pitchers don't seem to die back as much either - mine can be all brown. 

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I have just pruned the dead of until this spring where I hacked three of my sarracenia flava back (as a bit of an experiment) and all three were really slow to come out of dormancy producing smaller pitchers in comparison to the others that hadn't been cut right back. Although I do find it looks tidier cutting them right back I won't be doing it again.



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