How to divide and repot Sarracenia
This is a photo essay explaining the process of dividing and repotting Sarracenia or American pitcher plants
Dividing and repotting Sarracenia is an important and rewarding process for any grower. It is best done in late winter or early spring, when the plants are either completely dormant, or just beginning to show signs of life.
Sarracenia grow from a rhizome, which is a large underground stem that produces the roots and leaves of the plant. Mature rhizomes often produce multiple offshoots or growth-points. If you break apart the rhizome at these points and replant them, each one will become a new plant.
Here is our demonstration plant. It is a well-established Sarracenia flava rubricorpora. Notice that the plant is completely filling the pot, and that it clearly has several large growth points. These are good signs that the plant is ready to be repotted.
1. The first step is to simply remove the plant from its pot. Don't worry about disturbing the roots or being too rough with the plant. If you are doing this at the correct time of the year, the plant should be dormant and can take a lot of abuse. If your plant is extremely root-bound, it may require some serious shaking to remove it from the pot.
2. The next step is to remove all of the soil from the roots of the plant. We've found the easiest way to do this with a large plant is to dunk it repeatedly into a 5-gallon bucket of water. This will expose the rhizome of the plant, and will reveal where your divisions should be made.
Here is a close-up showing 2 growth-points emerging from the plant's rhizome. If you divide these, each will become a new, mature plant that is genetically identical to the original.
3. You are now ready to divide. Start by finding established growth points to break apart. Try to ensure that each piece has roots emerging from the bottom, and using a bending motion, snap the growth-point off of the main rhizome. Here is an image of that process:
Continue this process until you have isolated each growth-point. Additionally, you can divide long pieces of rhizome with no growth-points into 2-3" segments. As long as each segment has its own root system, they will produce new growth points and become healthy plants.
Here is the original parent-plant after division:
4. Next, prepare your pots. Fill an appropriately sized pot for each division with your soil mix (50% peat moss and 50% perlite in this case,) and press a large hole into the center deep enough for the roots.
5. Trim off the dead pitchers, as well as any dead segments of the phyllodia (non-carnivorous leaves.) It's also a good idea to remove any emerging flower stalks, since they demand a lot of energy from the newly separated plant.
6. Place your division in the pot, and press the soil firmly around the roots, making sure that there are no air-pockets in the soil.
Repeat for all of your divisions. Top-water the plants a few times to settle the soil around their roots.
The original plant ended-up producing 14 good-sized divisions. Now you see how easy it can be for a Sarracenia collection to get out of hand!