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How to Pollinate Sarracenia flowers



Sarracenia produce unique and interesting blooms in the spring time. These flowers often appear on tall stems before the pitchers open in order to prevent capturing pollinators. The Sarracenia flava and oreophila flowers often appear first, they have lovely yellow flowers and some of which can often be rather large in size. Sarracenia leucophylla and the other Sarracenia species flowers often follow behind. Sarracenia flowers will either be yellow or red dependent on the species.

The flowers will often appear anywhere between March and May although this can vary based on the season. This year we had a very cold winter and so everything has been a lot further behind and so with many flowers just opening or not open yet it is likely to venture into June. The flowers will often be open for a week or two before dropping their petals. The flowers have a scent which can also vary based on the person, some may smell the sweet aroma of lemon or honey where some can also smell the stronger smell of cat pee.

Nevertheless, pollinating Sarracenia flowers is super easy and also allows a grower to create several unique hybrids with their chosen plants each year.

Pollinating Process:

The main goal with pollinating the flowers is to get the pollen from one flower onto the stigma of your other chosen flower. If you lift one of the petals on the Sarracenia flower you will likely see pollen sitting on the umbrella shape of the flower. The pollen falls from the anthers (the small yellow parts which dangle above). If you notice there is no pollen from your flower it may be too early, it usually drops after a couple of days of the flower opening. Some flowers on the other hand may be sterile or produce little or no pollen.

(Left) Anthers and pollen dropped in a flava flower. (Right) Pollen drop in a leucophylla flower

Locating the stigma!


The stigma, where you need to place the pollen, is located on the inside on the umbrella shape. They are the small point which you can see on the inside of the upright part between the petals. The flower will have 5 of these stigma in each section of the umbrella.

Gathering the pollen


Simply gather the pollen from the flower you want to use on a paintbrush or another tool of your choice. You may use anything from a cocktail stick, a small metal spatula or cotton earbud. You do not need a thick amount of pollen, simple coat your brush in the pollen so you can clearly see it.

(Left) Putting the pollen on the stigma. (Right) Placing the flower in a mesh bag.


Using your brush, gently wipe the pollen over the stigma of the other flower you want to cross with. Make sure to wipe the pollen on each of the 5 stigma on the flower. You can go back to your first flower to gather more pollen each time if needed.

If you only have 1 Sarracenia flower in your collection and still want to create seed then you can gather the pollen from that flower and wipe the pollen onto the stigma of the same flower.

You may want to repeat this process the following day to ensure successful pollination however this is not necessary.

You may want to cover your flowers with a mesh bag in order to prevent other pollinators such as bees and hoverflies from transferring pollen from other open flowers onto the flower you are crossing. I use organza mesh bags often used as gift or jewelry bags, you can find these bags online cheaply and easily.


When the flower has finished the petals will shrivel and fall off, along with the anthers. This reveals the ovary inside, this pod is where the seeds will eventually come from. The seed pods take around 3-4 months to ripen before you will be able to harvest the seeds. September - October is usually when my seeds are ready to be harvested. You can usually see whether you have been successful when the pod swells up nice and round however you may still get some seeds with a smaller pod so it is always best to wait until it has ripened to find out.

The sepal (The top parts of the flower) will also eventually drop off and so may the umbrella just before the pod is ready to harvest, leaving you with a pod on a tall stem. When the pod turns brown and begins to crack, it will reveal seeds inside if you have been successful.

(Left) Sarracenia pod opened, revealing the seeds inside whilst still on the stem. (Right) An opened pod showing the seeds inside.


When the seeds are harvested and dried, they will need to be stratified in order to germinate successfully before sowing. This can be done via the fridge method or done naturally in an unheated greenhouse or outside space. See my blog on how to do this here.


Sarracenia seed germinating, putting down roots and the first two leaves


You will notice when the seeds germinate as they will split and put down roots. They will then produce their first two leaves (cotyledons) and these will not be carnivorous. After this you will see the first small pitcher emerge from the centre.

(Left) Sarracenia seedlings getting their first true pitchers. (Right) Seedlings with taller open pitchers.


Plants will take anywhere from 4-6 years to become a mature flowering plant, it can sometimes be longer. When the seedlings are large enough and overcrowded you can divide into separate pots or large group pots or trays. This will encourage new and larger growth.


A selection of Sarracenia 'Arthur Wheeler' x 'Asbo' seedlings showing different traits, grown from seed.


I have been sowing and growing Sarracenia from seed for 5 years now which has allowed me to create several different crosses during that time. I now have flowering sized plants from my first plants grown from seed, it is worth the process just to see the end results and the variety you get between each seedling in a batch!

A tray of just some of my Sarracenia seedlings!


Some of my oldest seed grown Sarracenia. (Left to right) SH141 X 'Black Widow', Sarracenia leucophylla x moorei 'Wilkerson White Knight' select seedlings (2 & 3).


Even if you do not wish to pollinate your flowers, the flowers can still be kept on and enjoyed. The flowers can vary between each plant and cultivar, from the double flower of the 'Tarnock' to the bronze copper like flower of the 'Tygo'.


A collage of some of my Sarracenia flowers from this year!






















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