Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
A decade or so ago the pitcher plants were just a curiosity. Along with the Venus fly-trap and other carnivorous plants, these were hard to come by. Happily, that has changed now with tissue culture, which allows the plants to be propagated easier.
Pitcher plants are available as cut flowers mostly from spring through the summer months.
These plants are unique enough that you will be willing to pay a good price for the stems. What makes the pitcher plant even more desirable as a cut flower is the fact that they can be used as an everlasting. Just let them air dry. No special drying technique is needed.
Because of their unique form and intriguing colors, the pitcher plants are used as line flowers. Their clean parallel lines add a distinctive touch to minimalist and contemporary designs.
Pitcher plants are really shaped like long tubes. At the top of the tubes, the edges fan out to become almost trumpet shaped. This characteristic shape provides as much interest as the very decorative pattern of the veins. Along the length of the tubular foliage are rich mahogany patterns of color on the veins.
There are numerous varieties or species of pitcher plants available. The color can vary somewhat from one kind to another. The plant height differs as well. Many are typically about a foot in height.
In their native homes, the pitcher plants grow in bogs and wet places. These plants can trap insects. However, this is not an active thing they do like the Venus fly-trap. Instead the pitcher plant minds its own business and waits for an insect to fall into the tube. Unfortunately, the insects can’t escape because the surface of the tubes is very slick. In addition, there are stiff, hair-like structures that point downward, which prevent the insect from moving upward.
Digestion of the intruder takes place at the bottom of the tube where the plant releases secretions once an insect is present. This digested nutrient is then made available for plant growth. Only the soft body parts of the insects are digestible. The chitin and other hard parts just collect at the bottom of the tubes.
Because pitcher plants are endangered species in many areas of the world, I would recommend buying ones that are grown and propagated in sustainable ways. These should not be collected from the wild.
“Gardening with Carnivores-Sarracenia Pitcher Plants in Cultivation & in the Wild” by Nick Romanowski was released by the University Press of Florida. This comprehensive book is of special interest to floral designers because it contains a complete section on growing and using pitcher plants for floral design. Lushly illustrated in full color, there are examples of designs using pitcher plants.
The author provides details on how to grow these commercially as cut flowers and what sort of return the growers could expect to make. While some of the pitcher plants are hardy enough for northern climates, others are more tender. This book explains which is which with profiles of the different species, their histories, and how to grow them. There are also chapters on hybridizing.