Sarracenia leucophylla, white-topped pitcher plant, is a beautiful and valuable native perennial found in the lower parts of the southern United States. Sarracenia leucophylla is also known as white trumpet pitcher plant. All species of the genus Sarracenia are native to the Americas.
All pitcher plants are carnivorous
I was fortunate to photograph Sarracenia leucophylla in full flower, the blooms a true crimson red of similar height to the the rest of the plant, 24″ inches or so. Height is variable depending on growing conditions but ranges from one to three feet. It blooms in early May.
Primarily found on the gulf coast (see map below), Sarracenia leucophylla’s native wetland habitat is under pressure from development. Sarracenia leucophylla is currently considered ‘vulnerable’ as opposed to ‘endangered’. Housing developments, pesticide drift, and encroachment by invasive plant species are all putting considerable pressure on Sarracenia leucophylla.
You can grow white-topped pitcher plant and help preserve specimens while reclamation and management efforts continue.
Growing pitcher plant
White-topped pitcher plant’s hardiness range is narrow, USDA zones 6-8. Most important are persistently wet soils and full sun. It can handle extremely hot temperatures easily so long as the soil provides constant moisture. It can tolerate freezing temperatures and needs a cool period of winter dormancy to continue its normal life cycle.
I have grown various pitcher plants over the years, and in my experience, they peter out and get floppy if there is too much shade.
Regarding the soil, it must be kept consistently wet. Pitcher plants are an environmentally sound choice for those who have boggy areas or have taken the time and effort to create a bog garden.
Do not use fertilizer or potting soil. Pitcher plants get their sustenance from the insects trapped inside the pitcher. You do not need to add nutrients, and in fact you may harm or kill the plant.
On a happier note, you may prune back the plants after dieback in early winter. If you have truly naturalized Sarracenia leucophylla in a larger area such as a bog, then just let nature takes its course. Sarracenia certainly doesn’t get pruned in its native habitat.