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 Who Else Wants Vigorously Growing Carnivorous Plants?

 By Jacob Farin

Many people who have seen our carnivorous plants at the Farmer’s Market often ask us, “How do you get our plants looking so good every summer?”

Our secret? Yearly repotting. Repotting is very important to encourage new growth. It freshens the soil, aerates the roots and gives the plant more room to grow.

Freshening the soil is important because carnivorous plants grow in nutrient-free soil. Over time, nutrients from mineral and bacteria buildup in the soil slow down the growth of carnivorous plants. This is why it is important to replace the soil every year, or every two years at the very least.

Repotting also aerates the roots. Roots need oxygen for vigorous growth. Without it, plant growth will be very minimal. Over the year, soil becomes compacted, which decreases the amount of oxygen entering the soil. By repotting your plants, you loosen up the soil and give your plants the much need oxygen they need.

Finally, by repotting your plants into a larger pot, you give them more room to grow. This will increase the size of your rhizomes. It will also provide added protection during the winter months. Some of our carnivorous plants in our private collection are so large that they require 5-gallon pots!

Here are some of the ideal pot sizes for your carnivorous plants:
* Venus Flytrap: 4 inches
* Medium Sarracenia species: 4 to 5 inches
* Large Sarracenia species: 5+ inches
* Sundews: 4 inches
* Asian Pitcher Plants: 5+ inches

With Sarracenia species, Venus Flytraps and taller varieties of sundews, make sure the pot is tall. We have found that these plants grow bigger in taller pots than in shorter ones.

The exceptions to the yearly repotting rule are the Australian Pitcher Plant and the Sun Pitcher Plant. Both of these plants do not respond well with root
disturbances. Furthermore, there is evidence that the Australian Pitcher Plant has a symbiotic relationship with a soil fungus, so replacing its soil too frequently can harm the plant. All other types of carnivorous plants, however, can be repotted yearly.

The best time to repot your plants is right before they emerge from dormancy, which would be March through April. You can also repot your plants at other times of the year as long as you minimize disturbance to their roots.

As for soil, use a standard mix of 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite. The peat moss retains moisture and adds acidity, while the perlite provides aeration and drainage.

Because carnivorous plants grow in nutrient-poor soil, avoid using regular potting soil, fertilizer and compost. These items are toxic to carnivorous plants and will burn their roots. Very painful.

As you repot your plants, clip off any dried leaves from the previous year. I generally clip off all leaves that have brown spots on them. Sometimes this means clipping off all the leaves on the plant, which is often the case with taller Sarracenia species.

With Yellow Trumpet and Green Pitcher Plants, clip off their non-carnivorous winter leaves after new growth has been established.

So, set aside some time in March and April to repot your carnivorous plants. You will be greatly rewarded with vigorously growing plants this summer.

If you need growing instructions for specific species, such as Venus Flytraps, visit Sarracenia Northwest at

About the Author
Jacob Farin is co-owner of Sarracenia Northwest ( and a recognized carnivorous plant expert at

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