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Visitors to the Children’s Garden, Fern Passage, Peirce’s Woods, and the conservatories are amazed by the insect capturing tubular leaves of Sarracenia or pitcher plants. These plants, native to swampy areas of the Eastern United States, with low nutrient content in the soil, have adapted their leaves into traps that capture insects. They attract insects in several ways. The flowers of the Sarracenia have an unpleasant aroma that draws flies. The red veins of the pitchers themselves look like blood vessels and attract mosquitoes. The throats of some Sarracenia secrete sugary droplets that attract bees and wasps. Once the insect has been lured into the pitcher, it gets trapped and is digested by juices.
The leaves and flowers of Sarracenia put on quite a show that makes them a unique addition to our displays. Flowers usually appear in the spring and are followed by the emergence of pitcher. These pitchers come in color ranges of white, red, green and yellow. The first round of pitchers starts to look tattered after a few months. A second round of pitchers normally follows later in the season. Then winter conditions with short days and cool temperatures cause the plants to go dormant. In 2000, it was noticed that a S.leucophylla hybrid continued to send up new pitchers in Longwood’s fern passage throughout the Christmas season. The Fern Passage kept warm all year and is lit for guests until at least 9pm from Thanksgiving through the first week of the New Year. These conditions prevented dormancy and stimulated active plant growth that produced new pitchers. The great performance of this plant was one of the factors that generated interest in using more Sarracenia on display.
In 2001, Longwood started a breeding program to create pitcher plants with large, tall, pitchers with pleasing colors to increase their presence on display. Various crosses were made with Sarracenia leucophylla, S. x popei, S. x readii, S. catesbaei, S. alata, and S. mitchelliana, and S. purpurea. We are currently in the process of evaluating these seedlings. Once a hybrid has been determined to be superior, it will be multiplied in tissue culture, and possibly be named and released to the trade. Currently, we are working on naming and developing a culture guide for one of our Sarracenia hybrids.
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A team of Longwood Volunteers gathers horticultural highlights from the Outdoor Gardens and Conservatory. Download a pdf of their top picks for the week, including photos and locations.
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Journey to the wild, remote flood plains of South America and to the great gardens of Europe and North America to discover Victoria, the waterlily queen.
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When you visit our Idea Garden you will discover something new: our first-ever Trial Garden on view for our guests. This square space houses more than 250 cultivars within 10 genera: Clematis, Dahlia, Paeonia, Capsicum, Agastache, Salvia, Pentas, Lantana, Colocasia, and Canna.
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Enjoy family-fun activities, an outdoor concert, and behind-the-scenes experiences.
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