I've been growing Sarracenia for five years. This time of the year when my plants come out of dormancy, they produce flower stalks, and I just cut them as they come out. I was just wondering if flowers are normal for Sarracenia, or is it a sign of stress? Also, am I wrong for cutting to preserve energy for later plant growth? Or should I just go ahead and let them grow? At this point it’s still pretty cold here in Kansas and not yet safe to move them back outside. They don’t get much sunlight indoors here. Maybe I’m just overthinking…
(Submitted in March 2023.)
RESPONSE BY JACOB FARIN:
Please don't overthink about flowers. "Stress" is a vague term that can mean anything or nothing. Changes in season, daylight hours, and temperature can be defined as stress! All Sarracenia naturally bloom at this time of the year right after they emerge from dormancy. It's completely natural. These plants try to produce their flowers before they produce pitcher so that pollinating insects don't get captured. If they bloomed in September or in January, that's when you should be concerned, not in spring.
Rather than thinking that flowers sap plants of energy for plant growth, think of flowers as a way plants divert energy towards propagation. Flowers and anything a plant produces are also considered plant growth. As a grower, you can decide if you want the plant to spend energy creating flowers or leaves. Depending on the age of your plants, having flowers might mean having fewer leaves at the start of spring. This is true with young plants and recently divided rhizomes. There's nothing inherently wrong with letting your plants produce flowers. It just means growth is excelling in one area (flowers and seeds) and moderating in another (leaves).
Even with light levels lower than ideal, your plant will still be ok using starch reserves in its rhizome. That's where it gets the energy to produce flowers in spring when leaves have been cut off (or shriveled) and light levels are still low. But, if you don't want seeds, cut off the flowers so you can have a fuller set of pitchers when you're ready to move your plants outside.
Now, with that said, there are times when we recommend cutting off flowers, and that's right after dividing a rhizome. Watch our video about that, "Should You Cut Off Sarracenia Flowers?"
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