Wintering Your Carnivorous Plants Outside
Venus Fly Traps/Sarracenia Judith Hindel/Scarlet Belle/Dana’s
Temperatures are dropping here in the Washington DC area and the
trees are starting to produce their fall colors. This is our signal to start
thinking about putting our little shops of horrors to bed for the winter.
We have both potted plants and mini-bogs that will need our attention in
weeks to come.
First, a few facts that you need to know:
1) The plants listed above, ARE winter hardy if given the proper
treatment/protection. Even as far as Michigan.
2) Your plants NEED to experience the dropping fall temperatures in
order to produce the chemicals that keep them from freezing during the
3) Photosynthesis is at a minimum during the winter and therefore light
is less important than during the spring – summer growing months.
For now, keep your plants outside and let them experience the drop in
night time temperatures. You’ll notice your red pitchers are at their peak
in bright brilliant color due to the cooler nights and bright direct sun.
After a couple of nights of frost, your plants will start preparing
themselves for winter.
Mini-bogs: including sunken planters and converted ponds
Just before the first hard FREEZE give your plants a quick dusting of a
sulfur based fungicide (like what’s used on roses) and then cover them
with 8 to 12 inches of mulch. Many types of mulch can be used. The
cheapest and most readily available are leaves. Other recommended
mulches include pine needles, straw, hay, and even wood chips. You
can simply pile them up around and over the plants where they will be
safe and snug for the winter. We have been known to cover our leaves
with wire to help keep the beds covered and prevent the winter winds
from blowing the leaves away and drying out the bogs. Every 3-4
weeks, dig back the mulch and make sure the bogs have not dried out
from the harsh winter winds.
Pots, planters and movable mini-bogs:
Plants in pots or other containers that can be moved, have an added
advantage over those stuck in bogs, in the middle of the yard exposed
to the drying winter winds. First find a nice protected area that will
house your carnivorous treasures. The south side of your house or
other building is best. If this doesn’t work for you, the East or West side
of a building is your next choice. Even a North facing wall is better than
being out in an open field. Protection from freezing solid is your primary
concern, so mulching heavily is most important. If you can sink your
pots into the ground, this will give an added protection against freezing.
Next mulch your containers with 1 to 2 feet of mulch. This will serve as
an insulator as well as a wind block. We have been known to cover our
piles of mulch with plastic which gives an added barrier against wind
and keeps the mulch in place. If you use a plastic cover, it’s very
important you check on your plants every few weeks. This will provide
fresh air to your plants and give you an opportunity to make sure the
plants are staying moist and are not drying out. Check your plants on
“warm” sunny days so the mulch retains the warmer air of the day.
As winter ends, it’s time to remove the mulch and expose your plants to
the warming days of spring.
Spring is also when we remove dead leaves and flower stems and cut
the leaves that have died back but remain green on the lower parts.
Carnivorous Plant Fall/Winter Culture