I got this email the other day from a fellow outdoor Sarracenia grower, who also lives in zone6b and he was asking what my bogs were like now. Well a picture paints a thousand words!!! I certainly wasn’t ready for snow this early in the season!
Sadly, things aren’t supposed to be like this so early in the season! Our seasonal average high is about 5- 7C (40-45F) ish this time of year and we usually don’t see any real snow that sticks until mid December or later…
I was a caught a little off guard in terms of prepping my bogs for the impending “ice age”. All I did so far is remove all the leaves that fell into the bogs from the trees. I just used my leaf sucker and sucked them all up.
In years past I would have cut down the pitchers at this point as well, however, I decided that I would just leave them this year and remove them in the spring. This habit of cutting off the pitchers is a throwback to years ago when I grew my plants in the greenhouse. I found leaving the decaying leaves on the plants caused mold and fungus issues, so I always trimmed off the leaves. A long time friend and fellow grower suggested that I leave them alone as there is a benefit to the plants. Apparently, the plants can still derive nutrients from the leaves, especially in the early spring before the new flush of leaves starts. So I’m giving it a try. I knew this to be true for the “evergreen” sarrs, like purpurea and psitt, but I didn’t think it really mattered for the upright types that die back. This means that I won’t weed whack the old leaves off in the spring either. As I noted in one of my previous posts this spring, I really knocked the plants back by giving them such a radical “pruning”.
Fortunately, we are supposed to return to more seasonal temperatures this weekend and all the snow will melt. This will give me a chance to get my layer of pine needles on the plants. For those new readers who haven’t seen my previous posts on winter prep, let me explain the pine needle cover. Where we live, we have very variable weather in the winter. Its not uncommon to have a thaw or two or three in the coldest parts of the winter leaving the bogs completely open and exposed. I remember one January day where the daytime high temperature was around 10C (50F) and the temperature dropped to -10C (12F) after the passage of a cold front and the weather stayed very cold a windy for days after. The layer of pine needles protects the plants from the cold drying winds when there is no snow cover. When the plants are buried in snow, there is no need for concern, they are completely protected and comfortable, with temperatures in the snow around the freezing mark. However, if they are exposed in mid winter with very dry cold air, with high wind chills, the plants can literally “freeze dry”, and that spells death!
Below you can see the plants that are still exposed. They are closer to the house and under the overhang of the roof. I’ve covered these guys with pine needles… and as soon as the snow melts, the pine needles are going on the rest of the bog.