Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants with leaves that are referred to as ‘pitfall traps’. These trapping mechanisms consist of a deep cavity (the pitcher) that contains digestive fluid. These plants live in various habitats with poor soil conditions, and can survive in pine barrens and sandy coastal swamps alike. However, they are also susceptible to various problems and diseases, and could succumb to these if not treated promptly.
How to save a dying pitcher plant
1. See to it that the plant is getting enough sunlight.
Pitcher plants love sunlight, so place them in areas where they can enjoy direct sunlight for at least eight hours daily.
2. Check whether you are providing enough water.
Pitcher plants crave water, but should also not be left to sit in waterlogged soil. Make sure not to let the soil dry out completely, but also do not overwater, too much water can cause root rot. Ideally, you should use filtered or purified water.
3. Place your pitcher plant in a humidified spot.
Your pitcher plant could be dying because it is planted in an area with low humidity. These plants like humidity, so make sure to choose a location accordingly. You can also use a humidifier or humidity tray to help the plant.
4. Check the soil acidity.
Pitcher plants thrive in slightly acidic, well-draining soil. Test the pH with a soil pH meter to check whether the acidity is ideal for your carnivorous plants.
5. Do not use fertilizers.
Pitcher plants can wither and die if you mistakenly fertilize them. These plants get their food from insects and do not need any fertilizer at all.
6. Provide extra care for indoor pitcher plants.
Indoor pitcher plants need extra care since they are out of their natural habitat and cannot catch insects as they would outdoors. You can feed them with freeze-dried bloodworms or crickets to revive them if they become weak and start to wither.
Signs that your pitcher plant is dying
The plant turns yellow and brown.
When leaves start to turn yellow or brown, it could mean a few things. You do not need to worry if you notice spots, since this may just mean that the plant is naturally aging. It may also simply be shedding older pitchers to make way for new ones. If the plant fails to produce new pitchers, it could just mean that it is entering dormancy.
However, you should be concerned if the yellow and brown discoloration affects the entire plant. Complete discoloration could indicate a prolonged overwatering problem. To fix the problem, dry out the soil around the crown of the plant, as this allows the plant to start breathing again and may help revive it.
If you are watering your plant with tap water, that could also cause the leaves to turn yellow or brown. To avoid this, always use purified or filtered water for your pitcher plants.
The plant is turning completely black.
When pitcher plants turn black, it is usually an indicator of death but this is not always the case. It could also mean that the plant is going dormant and has turned black because it has stopped producing new pitchers. Wait until the end of the season and see if it springs back to life. Do not interfere with a pitcher plant while it is dormant, as it could damage the roots and kill the plant. Rather just leave it alone.
Make sure that your pitcher plant gets at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day, adequate humidity, and enough water to keep it properly hydrated.
The plant is not producing new pitchers.
This can be alarming for pitcher plant growers, but it may be a normal occurrence, especially during the fall season which is when pitcher plants become dormant. However, if it is not the fall season and the plant is still not growing new pitchers, it could mean that the plant has died.
Pitcher plants may look creepy, but many plant growers enjoy cultivating them because they are so unique. These carnivorous plants can be kept indoors, and they love bright sunlight and humid areas. Like all plants, they are also prone to problems and diseases, and may wither and die if not cared for properly. Help revive your dying pitcher plants by making sure that they have optimal growing conditions, including ample sunlight and water. Use slightly acidic soil, and do not fertilize them because their diet of insects is sufficient to feed them.
Image: istockphoto.com / Galumphing Galah