I was in a local hardware store today (not on a plant hunt... but came away with a Drosea capensis'Alba', a Nepenthes ventricosa, and a rose ('Centennaire de Lourdes' if anyone here cares LOL) ), and noticed they had Sarracenia there (looked like purpurea and some kind of leucophylla hybrids), tucked away in the worst place possible. I didn't buy them because they looked pretty ordinary, were very expensive, and I don't know what to look for as I've never grown Sarracenia before. It's winter here and I know that they have a dormant period in winter and that most people will cut the dead/dying leaves back in winter... but... my question is how do I know whether the plant is going into dormancy or is just dying? I was tempted to buy them and cut the leaves off and stick them with my VFT but there was something about how they looked that made me hesitate. So... some guideance in this area would be greatly appreciated. Sarracenia are seen so infrequently down here that I was tempted to buy them and try my luck because who knows when I'll see any again... but I don't want to throw my money away either.
Wow, my local hardware store never carries anything so exotic! All the forms of S. purpurea tend to stay mostly evergreen though winters without severe freezes and S. purpurea ssp. purpurea can stay evergreen though even severe winters. So with that one, you want to see quite a few intact leaves in the beginning of winter. Most other types will hold onto some leaves well into winter before they finally die back at the tops. usually, the lower portion of the leaves stays green even then, except for the oldest leaves that are going to be shed by the rhizome. If the crown of the plant looks green (and possibly reddish too) and healthy, the plants are probably alive and OK. If you grow them in plenty of sun, then the new leaves next season should be nice and colorful. A lot of nursery grown plants are in greenhouses which don't get the light intensity that produces the most colorful leaves on Sarracenia. So you may not be seeing them at their best right now.
Thanks for the advice! This is what I suspected. The crown is what stopped me from getting them as they did not look green/red but instead were covered in black fungusy looking growths. I've seen this a lot lately in plants in my local nurseries... @ nearly $40 per plant! The purpurea (sub species unknown) had leaves but they looked sick.
I'll stick to buying from Triffid Park or Collectors Corner instead I think.
Here's what healthy S. purpurea look like at the beginning of spring. All the leaves you see except for a couple developing ones in the center of the rosettes survived through the winter, with lows of -9 C. I think you are wise to stick with a reputable CP seller from your description of what the local store was offering.
Also, get some seed from the ICPS seed bank and grow some for a tiny fraction of the cost. You can grow them under lights 24/7 for the first two years and get sizable plants in no time. This year I got some of the S. flava var. rubicorpa seed, sowed it in February and have 40 very colorful plants already up to 3 inches tall and growing fast. You can keep the best and share the rest!
I have a few batches of seed on their way at the moment including S. purpurea venosa, S. leucophylla, S. rubra, and S. flava rugelii because I rarely see mature plants for sale. I wasn't going to put them under lights to speed up their growth. Instead I was going to grow them outside naturally and just let them do their thing. Finding a source for the potting mix ingredients is proving to be the hardest thing and just yesterday I found a source for good quality peat but I have yet to find any sphagnum moss so it looks like a 50:50 moist sand:peat mix is going to be what I use to get them stratified and germinating in. From what I read sarracenia actually prefer more peat anyway so it might work out well.
Simon, if only I had known four months ago that you'd be looking for Sarracenia seed, I could have sent you thousands! (with any luck i will be able to offer you Darlingtonia seeds in a couple of months; my plants made four big seed pods!) And FYI: Sarracenia can be grown in pure Peat if that's all you can get, but I prefer a 50/50 mix with coarse sand. Surely you can get sand? By the way, it's a good idea to "wash" the Peat before you use it; it generally has some salts in it that can be present in toxic amounts (manufacturers tend to add fertilizer these days, but it can be present naturally). Soak your Peat in a bucket of clean (rain or RO) water overnight, then squeeze as much out of it as you can. Some folks advocate two cycles of this, but I only do one.
I wasn't looking 4 months ago, Paul. But! The more I read the more into it I'm getting so I decided to see if I could grow a few I need to read more as my books arrive (Barry Rice's book is next to arrive over the next few days along with one of Adrian Slack's... looking forward to that a lot), and speak to more people as I go...
Sand is no problem. I have a source for Canadian peat... don't know whether it is any good but the lady says it is straight peat not mixed with anything and she is trying to get me to buy it by the trailer load . How someone in Tasmania, Australia, gets hold of so much Canadian peat is beyond my comprehension. I only want a few bags of it because at the moment I have virtually nothing except my Dioneae while starting to venture into beginner Drosera (capensis), and Nepenthes (ventricosa)too (will email you later tonight about this actually as I have some Nepenthes seeds on their way...). The water here is fine as I'm on filtered tank water (rain water), not town water. I was amazing to see how the Dioneae picked up once they were put outside in the rain! So... I'm not really chasing Sarracenia seed... I've just ordered some to experiment and learn from atm.