Purple Pitcher Plant Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Sarracenia Purpurea”

Read our guide to Purple Pitcher Plants for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Sarracenia purpurea”
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For families looking for a plant that will draw their kid’s attention, the Purple Pitcher Plant makes an interesting choice. This carnivorous plant originally grows in swampy, humid areas, but can also be grown indoors with a bit of dedication and effort.

Not only is the purple pitcher plant a great way to get rid of bugs and pests, but it looks cool in the process. Purple pitcher plants that get a bit of sunlight will develop red and purple veins in color. This adds to the allure of being a “flesh-eating” plant that kids and teens alike will love.

The sarracenia purpurea is also visually appealing for plant lovers and casual botanist as well. There are several color variations that depend mainly on the subspecies. Some have green pitchers while others feature an attractive red pitcher.

If you are looking for a plant to match a theme in your room or one that will stand out from other plants, make sure to double-check the species before your purchase. Shapes may vary as well, but in general, the purple pitcher plant has tubes with hoods that dip slightly at the ends.

Along with being a bug eater, the purple pitcher plant also happens to be a flowering plant. Once they mature, they will produce spectacular flowers each simmer. They will resemble umbrellas perched on tall stems above the poisoned pitchers.

So if you are looking for a useful and aesthetically pleasing houseplant, the purple pitcher plant is one worth considering.

Purple Pitcher Plant
Purple Pitcher Plant

About the Purple Pitcher Plant

  • The botanical name of the Purple Pitcher Plant is Sarracenia purpurea
  • The Sarracenia purpurea generally grows in swampland.
  • The leaves of the sarracenia purpurea are upright similar to a flower or bucket.
  • The purple pitcher plant is carnivorous.
  • The coloring on the sarracenia purpurea that looks like veins is actually caused by sun exposure.
  • The flowers on the sarracenia purpurea plant can grow as large as three inches wide.

Purple Pitcher Plant Features: An Overview

  • The Sarracenia purpurea is native to the humid swap areas of North America.
  • The purple pitcher plant loved cold weather.
  • The Sarracenia purpurea is a native of Southeastern Canada and the East Coast
  • The tops of the purple pitcher plant bend over like a hood.
  • When exposed to the sun, the sarracenia purpurea will develop reddish colored veins.
  • The flowers of the Sarracenia purpurea can get as tall as 30 centimeters.
  • Insects are lured into the mouth of the purple pitcher plant by sweet juices.
  • The juice of the plant’s pitchers digests the insects that fall into its trap.
  • The purple pitcher plant will generate flowers in the summer once matured.
  • The sarracenia purpurea plant needs a generous amount of water to survive.

Growing The Purple Pitcher Plant

Growing the sarracenia purpurea is not as difficult as you may think. These carnivorous plants will not bloom in their first year, so keep that in mind when making a purchase.

Once the sarracenia purpurea does mature, it will produce colorful blooms in various colors. The blooms always have five sepals and five petals, though the colors range from dark red to light pink.

The sarracenia purpurea grows at a steady pace as does not need to be repotted often. If the pitchers of the plant get too crowded, you can move the plant to a wider pot. It is important to ensure that your purple pitcher plant gets plenty of direct sunlight all year long.

Sarracenia purpurea
Sarracenia purpurea

They can tolerate colder temperatures, but they always need bright sun. Leaves are generally 6 inches long, and the flowers can grow as tall as one foot. The more sun the Sarracenia purpurea gets, the deeper in color the foliage will become.

The Purple Pitcher Plant is able to grow well in temperatures that range from 60 degrees to 70 degrees and they can thrive in cold as low as 40 degrees. Regardless of the temperature, the bright sun is needed all year long.

Plant the Sarracenia purpurea in a nutrient-free potting mix that is one part perlite and one part sphagnum peat moss. Never use compost or potting soil for a purple pitcher plant, they are deadly and will result in plant death.

You should also avoid fertilizing the plant as it will also result in plant death.

Watering The Purple Pitcher Plant

It is very important to take care when watering the purple pitcher plant. It has a limitless thirst and will not survive without proper moisture. Instead of relying fully on watering along, plant the sarracenia purpurea in a shallow pot.

This pot should have medium gauged drainage holes that prevent standing water but are large enough for roots to navigate. Place the pot in a scooped saucer and always ensure the plate has ample water for the roots to soak up.

When you water the sarracenia purpurea, do so from the top of the plant. Allow the water to soak through the soil and drain into the saucer under the pot. For most houseplants, this water would be drained following each watering, but for the sarracenia purpurea, there is no need.

Purple Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia Purpurea Venosa), From Amazon

Purple Pitchers are generally dormant in the cold weather, but it is still important to ensure that the soil remains moist and the plant properly watered. They do love colder weather, but they should never be placed directly in the cold or they may develop frostbite.

When watering the purple pitcher plant it is a good idea to either use distilled water or rainwater. Tap water often contains high concentrations of minerals and harmful chemicals that affect this species of plant.

50% or above relative humidity is ideal, and keeping the plant on a humidity tray will ensure it gets the moisture it needs regardless of the indoor climate.

Propagating The Purple Pitcher Plant

If you love your sarracenia purpurea so much that you want more, then get ready to propagate. The process of propagating the purple pitcher plant is easy. You can plant seeds at the start of the spring or can divide a mature plant instead.

The sarracenia purpurea is a moderate to slow-growing plant. It takes a couple of years to mature, but once it does, you can divide it when it starts to outgrow its pot. During the spring or your regular repotting season, divide the sarracenia purpurea plant at the root.

Place the new sarracenia purpurea plant in a fresh pot of nutrient-free soil. Pitcher plants originate in places where there are no nutrients in the soil. This is the main reason the plant gets its nutrients from the bugs that are trapped in its tubes.

When splitting a pitcher plant, it is important to put the new plant in soil that also has no nutrients. While it may be tempting to feed the plant small animals and bugs like they would consume in the wild, you can cultivate them and raise them to maturity with a little effort.

sarracenia purpurea close up
Sarracenia purpurea close up

In Conclusion

If you are in the market for a weird plant that your kids will love, the Sarracenia purpurea is a local exotic to fit the bill. They have the look of something from another world and a healthy appetite to match.

These carnivorous plants are native to the swamps of Mississippi and Louisiana where they have to take their nutrients from the land since the soil is lacking. That of course means that bugs and even small animals end up becoming a meal to mother nature.

While you may be wondering why we would suggest such a plant to cultivate for use at home, but the answer is simple. The Sarracenia purpurea is an attractive plant that will help cut down on indoor pests while also being an interesting topic of conversation.

They look very attractive with colored tubes and large flowers that appear in the summer. They can also be grown outdoors with a bit more time and effort. A fun fact to note, there are over 75 different pitcher plants to choose from!

Not all types of pitcher plants can be grown outdoors and not every type is suitable for indoor cultivation. If you live in a humid region, then pitcher plants will thrive in your home. Some pitcher plants are even on the endangered species list and can only be viewed in the wild.

Growing and caring for the purple pitcher plant takes a bit of time and effort, but the result is well worth the work. Always take note of the soil you use for your plant. It must be completely free of nutrients or else it results in plant death.

If you have small pets or children, the purple pitcher plant is not the right choice, but for avid gardeners and homes with older children, it’s a great option.


Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at or follow on twitter

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