Can I trim and divide my Sarracenia rubra? It’s getting very large and has spindly pitchers. I know early spring is preferred but it’s getting very crowded. Maybe just a major trim until trim? I’m in USDA zone 8b. My plants are outdoors in full sun, watered only with collected rainwater, never fertilized. Soil is 50/50 peat and perlite. The plant is about 3 years old, originally from a death cube from local hardware store. Hasn’t been transplanted in at least two years.
(Submitted in July 2021.)
RESPONSE BY JEFF DALLAS:
Sarracenia rubra varieties really have a habit of getting weedy like this. You can divide in mid summer, but you will need to be very careful about keeping the divisions as large as possible. If the divisions are too small, the plant will be severely set back and may not have sufficient time to recover. This will affect next year's new growth. So, if you were to divide this plant, aim to divide it only in half.
However, rubra also has a tendency to break up into small pieces very readily. Even if you only want large chunks, you will still end up with lots of small pieces because that's the nature of how this species grows.
I recommend waiting until late winter or early spring to divide your plant. Instead, just sit down with a pair of scissors and be ruthless. Get in there and cut off anything that looks brown or sloppy. Even if the leaf is just floppy, cut it off. When you're done, the plant will look about half size, but it will respond by growing lots of new pitchers that are more erect and better colored.
In early spring (March or April), divide the plant. Make sure you have lots of pots ready to go because you'll get lots of divisions. Lots. Also cut off all of the pitchers when you divide the plant. This will allow sunlight to get to the new growth, which will help in forming tall well-formed pitchers.
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