Sarracenia minor

Common Name: hooded pitcher plant 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Sarraceniaceae
Native Range: North Carolina to Florida
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Wet
Maintenance: High
Suggested Use: Water Plant, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful


Strict adherence to the cultural needs of this plant is essential. In residential areas, plants are best grown in the consistently moist soils of a bog garden. The bog garden should be prepared in advance of planting. In the St. Louis area, the bog garden should be sited in a protected location with winter mulch. If a bog garden is not available, then growing plants in containers may be the next best option. Plants require full sun. In part shade, leaf coloring does not develop as it should and pitchers droop. Plants need an acidic, humusy muck that is constantly damp. Soils must never dry out, but plant crowns should not sit in water. Soil recommendations include Canadian peat or various mixes of peat/sand or peat/perlite. Irrigation hoses and underground liners should be considered. Plants flower in spring, produce new pitchers in spring-summer and the pitchers mostly die back as winter approaches. In cold climates, trim leaves back in winter as pitchers die, but only trim dead tissue. Soil may be mulched with pine needles in winter to protect plants from cold temperatures. Most reproduction comes from continuous budding along the rhizome as opposed to self-seeding. Easiest propagation is by rhizome division. Plants may be grown from seed with effort, but will not flower for the first 4-5 years. Plants may also be grown in pots/containers (plastic best) placed outside on a sunny deck or patio area. Container soils can be 50% peat and 50% perlite/vermiculite. Potting soil and/or fertilizer may kill the plant. Containers should be placed in a tray of water that keeps the soil constantly moist. Containers may be overwintered by inserting them to the rim in soil in protected locations. Dig up containers in spring to place back in full sun areas. Containers may also be brought inside in winter with somewhat reduced watering. Plants need full sun in the growing season and cold temperatures for winter dormancy, hence they often do not grow well as houseplants. Do not collect these plants from the wild.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Sarracenia minor, commonly known as hooded pitcher plant, is a stemless herbaceous perennial that is native to wet pinelands, bogs and savannas in southeastern North America from North Carolina into Florida. Modified leaves form upright pitchers to 12” tall (less frequently to 24” tall) with open ends topped by canopy-like hoods. Plants of this species found in the Okefenokee Swamp, however, grow to a surprising 3-4’ tall. Opaque windows (fenestration) on the upper rear of the pitcher provides light that attracts insects into the pitcher. Pitcher color is usually green with copper-red around the flared lip and dome. Insects are lured to the pitchers by the attractive leaf colors and nectar. Downward pointing hairs on the inside near the lip prevent trapped insects from escaping. Insects eventually slide down a waxy, smooth-walled area into a water pool containing some plant enzymes at the pitcher bottom where they will drown. Insects decompose and nutrients are absorbed. Unusable parts of insect carcasses accumulate in the bottom stalk over time. In spring, a single yellow flower rises on a leafless stalk usually below the height of the leaves. New pitcher leaves appear in spring and summer replacing old leaves that die and fall off.

The genus name Sarracenia honors Dr. Michael Sarrazan (1659-1734) of Quebec who reportedly sent the first pitcher plants to Europe around 1700.

Specific epithet means smaller or lesser.

Plants in the genus Sarracenia have a large number of common names, including purple pitcher plant, flytrap, side-saddle plant, huntsman’s cup, frog’s britches and whippoorwill-boots.

Pitcher plants are described as carnivorous plants because they trap and kill insects (e.g., flies, wasps, ants) and similar prey (e.g., mites, spiders) by luring them into trumpet-shaped pitchers (modified leaves) where the insects become trapped and die. Nutrients from the decayed pest bodies are absorbed by the plant as nourishment through special cells located at the base of each pitcher.


Plants will do poorly if specific cultural requirements are not followed. Protect from strong freezing winds. Winter hardiness is generally not a problem in the St. Louis area for this plant. Feeding plants manually is not advisable. Do not fertilize plantings. Watch for aphids, scale, mealybugs, moth larvae, leaf spot and root rot.


Bog garden is best. Also may be grown in containers, terraria (indoors under grow lights), greenhouses or as an indoor houseplant. Growth in containers as an indoor plant can be difficult because of the need for growing season sun and winter dormancy. May be grown outside in low spots or other continuously moist locations, but this can be difficult and is not recommended.