Choosing overwintering method for Sarracenia Purp

rubenmctabe(5A (Canada))September 22, 2013

Behold my Northern Pitcher plant, outgrowing its fishbowl. It was so tiny a few months ago!

In about 2 weeks the nights in Montreal will be freezing, so I need a plan. Been doing some reading, but need some help. I bought this from an indigenous plant supplier, so while I'm not up on my subspecies lingo, I know this is the type that grows wild in our cold cold cold province.

Here's my understanding, please correct and advise:

1. Overwintering outdoors would be fine, IF IT WERE IN THE GROUND. I could:
- sink the fishbowl in my veggie garden. It might crack (acceptable loss) but I wonder if the zero drainage situation could be a problem when the snow melts in spring, even for a bog plant.
- repot it in a standard plastic pot and sink THAT in the ground. But, I read somewhere that it's actually a crummy time to repot.
- stick it in the ground with no pot, though I prefer to keep a grab-and-dash option available for my best plants (rental apartment) and I'm gonna want it back on my balcony in spring anyway.

2. Put it in the fridge. Weird! Do I really have to pull it out of the bowl and put it in a bag, or could I just stick the whole thing in there as-is? And when folks say "add a little anti-fungus stuff", what do they mean? A little sprinkle of cinnamon or some mad chemical bomb?

3. Put it by window in the stairwell and hope the neighbours don't get creeped out by it. The stairwell is not heated directly. Very sunny window, a bit drafty. This option would require building a shelf. Risk of landlord veto.

4. Hide it in the broom closet in aformentioned chilly stairwell. That's not going to work, right? I THINK the deal for indoor overwintering is "kinda cold but bright" or "darn cold and dark".

Thanks for reading.

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Nice plant... by the way. You are making it too hard as it is.

To overwinter your plant it doesn't have to be in the ground. Most growers don't have their plants in the ground. Just take your terrarium outside & simply let the drop of temperature & photo period to induce your purple pitcher plant into dormancy. Sinking it in the ground is not a requirement to induce your plant into dormancy, who told you that must be done?

Plus you might kill your plant if you repot it & sink it into the ground, nutrient & minerals will leach into your pot ruining the growing media of your plant. Let the plant become dormant, & you can take it out & repot it in a new growing media 1/2 sphagnum peat moss & 1/2 perlite. Don;t use regular potting soil and avoid sphagnum peat moss & perlite that have been enriched with fertilizer or wetting agent.

Place your plant in a cool place that will receive little light, watering just enough to keep the soil moist. Or you can take out the rhizome, wrapped in with moist sphagnum moss, put it inside a back & put it inside the refrigerator. And that isn't weird, many people do that.

Adding fungicide isn't adding cinnamon or some mad chemical bomb. How's you come up with that? Pretty weird. Adding fungicide protects the dormant rhizome from fungus attack. Bonide for roses is a good product, when I used to put them in the fridge, I sprinkled it lightly on the rhizome.

I don't do that anymore, since I keep my plants outside potted & simply allow nature to induce my plants into dormancy.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 12:03AM
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rubenmctabe(5A (Canada))

"Sinking it in the ground is not a requirement to induce your plant into dormancy, who told you that must be done? "

Oh, that's just normal container gardening in Canada stuff. It's not to induce dormancy, it's to provide the roots with enough insulation to survive the -35 deg C (-31 deg F) weeks and intermittant "heat waves" in the early spring that call our plants out of dormancy just to freeze them again two days later. There is also the problem of drowning caused when just the first few inches of soil in a pot thaw and the muck cannot drain out fast enough. Very, very few perennials can survive a Montreal winter in a puny little container. The ground is a different situation entirely.

"Adding fungicide isn't adding cinnamon or some mad chemical bomb. How's you come up with that? Pretty weird."

I was joking unproductively. Thanks for the Bonide suggestion!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 7:03AM
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I was wondering whether someone gave you very bad advice or something.

It has happened.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 2:11AM
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Mine go in the fridge within the next few weeks. In gallon sized zip lock bags. Same with my VFTs and Sarracenia. Been doing that for years. Works fine.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 6:11PM
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I remember taking pictures of Sarracenias that are dormant in winter. I thought I had some pictures. but I figure there were in my old laptop that was stolen in February of this year when I was traveling.

I wanted to so you how they look so you know when your sarr are dormant. But for Sarracenia purpurea , the growing tip or crown is becomes tightly packed in a point and surrounded by a few underdeveloped pitchers.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 11:17PM
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rubenmctabe(5A (Canada))

A very belated thanks to tommyr and hunterkiller03 for the help.

Hunterkiller03: I'd say my plant looks about like what you described. A tightly packed bunch of pitchers with some stunted ones at the bottom, mostly brown and shriveled.

It's going in the fridge in a Ziploc according to standard practice. There's probably more room in my fridge than my garden patch at this point. (Oh dear.)

Most sources I've come across recommend removing the plant from its pot, rinsing off the roots, and storing it with the bare roots exposed. That's easy enough, but I'd be interested in a explanation, if anyone has one to share.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 5:45PM
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You can remove from the pot and replant into fresh mix when they wake up in late Feb./March. ALL of mine where removed and cleaned off this year before popping in the fridge, Like this:

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 5:54PM
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My Sarracenias were frozen in their pots on my porch. I moved them to a more protected location against the house. Next year they are going in a raised bog garden. Since an injury I have chronic back back and have had to make adjustments. I was planning a huge bog garden, oh well.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 1:34PM
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I totally agree with hunterkiller03. I live in minnesota an I keep mine in water-logged sphagnum moss. This plant has asked nothing of me! It doesn't need to be subterranean at all. I just keep him in a plastic bowl and I make sure there is water in it when it freezes. And the glass likely will break so I'd put it in something plastic. Just put it outside close to the house, and wait til next spring! It'll probably need to be put in another pot because the water will often break the plastic when it freezes.

I wish you all the best of luck growing!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:47PM
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rubenmctabe(5A (Canada))

Well, Goofy507, your winters in Minnesota are serious enough that I'll bear your tip in mind. But do you get a lot of fluctuation in winter temperatures? See, in Montreal, you can count on seeing both -30C and +5C within January (I think that's about -20F and 41F). An outdoor plant with poor root insulation tends to fare about as well as a sirloin steak left outside would: fine as long as it's dead cold, but after a few thaws and refreezes, the cells are damaged and it's no good. I've only ever been able to confidently overwinter superhardy herbs like chives in a pot outdoors. Digging holes in the veggie patch to sink potted perennials is a common end-of-season garden task here. I was guessing that the Sarracenia Purp would need the same treatment, but as usual, only experimentation would tell me. Maybe next year if I have more that one plant I'll be a braver.

As for THIS year, my plant ended up in the fridge in a mason jar with some dampened coir. I couldn't get hold of Sphagnum in time, but the coir seems to do a good job at holding moisture. The plant is thus far supple with no signs of disease. I look forward to seeing how it takes to being woken up.

Sincere thanks to all for the council.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 11:00PM
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RubenMcTabe, our winters range from mild to harsh. This year has been harsh as you may know. I live in rochester mn where the december through February temps range from 40F to -40F(this winter). I believe this plant is very hardy because my specimen was obtained around ely mn where the temps got even lower! I also think that the 3' of snow help insulate it as well. Your method sounds good, and your purp should be happy. In northern mn these thing are practically weeds alond with sundews in sphagnum bogs. Believe it or not mine survived without water for about 3 weeks as well. I think that Canadian strain should be even hardier. I've learned after having him over the years that they are pretty strong little buggers. I wish you luck and I hope he blooms for ya in years to come.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 12:28AM
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