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Stratifying and Sowing Sarracenia Seed

Left to right: Sarracenia seed pod full of seeds, Sarracenia leucophylla flower, Sarracenia seeds close up.

Sowing Sarracenia by seed is the slowest method to propagate Sarracenia however in my opinion it is the best and most rewarding method, giving you potentially hundreds of new plants with all unique shapes, traits and colours. Whether you have seeds from crossing your own plants or purchased Sarracenia seeds then it is an exciting experience to see what you will get!

A selection of Sarracenia I have grown from seed over the past 3 years

Sarracenia seed needs to be stratified in order to germinate successfully, this should be for around 4-6 weeks in order to break the dormancy of the seeds allowing them to germinate. There is two methods commonly used in which you can stratify your Sarracenia seeds and I will review both methods in this blog. This method also works for Darlingtonia seeds too.

Fridge Stratification:

This is my preferred way to stratify my Sarracenia seeds as I prefer to start the majority of my seeds early in order to get germination before Spring so I have results quicker. This method is great for people who either want to start seeds early, live in a warm country without a cold season or even individuals who do not have access to an outdoor/ colder space and cannot provide the cold period for seed stratification.


1) Firstly get a small piece of kitchen towel or some finely chopped sphagnum moss

2) Lightly spray the kitchen towel so it is damp but not soaking wet, try to avoid too much moisture as this may create mold.

3) Scatter the seeds over the moist kitchen towel. (For people using sphagnum moss, place the sphagnum moss in a small zip lock bag and moisten before scattering the seeds in the bag of the moss).

4) If using the kitchen towel method, fold the kitchen towel and then place it in a zip lock bag. Make sure to write the name of the cross and the date on the bag so you know how long it has been in the fridge.

5) Leave in the fridge for 4-6 weeks.

Note: In some cases you may experience mold on your Sarracenia seeds whilst in the fridge, some people use non copper based fungicides to prevent this, however I have found if the kitchen towel is not dripping and just damp then little or no mold occurs during stratification.

Sowing the seeds after stratification:

After 4-6 weeks your Sarracenia seeds are ready to sow. Although I find using kitchen towel to be the easiest and my most favored method it is more time consuming in preparing and sowing. After stratification, the seeds often stick to the moist kitchen towel and therefore can be timely when picking off to sow onto the media, despite this I have always had high germination rates when using this method.

1) Fill a pot with your chosen carnivorous plant media, I typically use peat and perlite, this year I have added Melcourt bark to my mixes to reduce peat use, I found the bark works well with my Sarracenia. Afterwards, water with a watering can rose from above in order to make sure the surface is damp and the media is fully watered.

2) Unwrap the kitchen towel and gently scrape off the seeds onto the media, you can use anything from a cocktail stick, paintbrush, tweezers or even your hand to remove the seeds. If you have placed in the seeds in finely chopped sphagnum it is a little easier to distribute seeds on the surface of the media.

Image 1: Scraping off the seeds onto the media, Image 2: Seeds distributed onto the surface of the media.

3) Sit the pot in a tray or saucer of water and place in a warm well lit spot. I place my pre stratified seeds under my grow light in a tray of water until Spring and then they will be placed outside. Seeds typically take 2-4 weeks to germinate depending on surroundings.

My grow light set up with my pre-stratified Sarracenia seeds
Natural Stratification:

This method is the simplest method to stratify your seeds if you have a cold frame, greenhouse, unheated porch/conservatory or similar. The dormancy of the seeds is naturally broken through the cold wet conditions experienced in winter, the same as winter dormancy in plants, allowing the seeds to germinate at the correct time in Spring when the plants wake up. You may sow your seeds anytime in the cold season as long as you leave enough time before it warms up for them to stratify. I often sow my seeds anytime from October-December time.

With whatever seeds I have left at the end of the season or if I have extra of a cross I really want to see traits of then I will sow them in the greenhouse and let them stratify naturally. I don't like to use this as my main method simply because I like to get a head start on my Sarracenia seedlings and am not patient enough to wait until Spring, however this method still provides with high germination rates. This is a great method for individuals who have loads of seeds, don't have space inside to keep pots of seeds or prefer a quick and easy method.

1) Fill a pot or tray with your chosen carnivorous plant media, I typically use peat and perlite and sow on either a 7cm or 9cm pot depending on how many seeds I have. Then water with a watering can rose from above in order to make sure the surface is damp.

2) From your packet of seeds, scatter a decent amount onto the surface of the media, if you have loads of seeds then even them out onto multiple pots. Do not bury the seeds.

3) Leave in your cold spot and make sure not to let them dry out over the winter, you will start to see germination around March/ April time.

A selection of images showing pots of Sarracenia seeds sown and then various young seedlings in their first year all from natural stratification in my unheated greenhouse.

Sarracenia seed sowing is my favourite task to take place during the winter time, especially around the Christmas holidays, it is a brilliant way to start the new year in anticipation of new and unique characteristics!

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