How Often Do You Water a Pitcher Plant?

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Watering pitcher plants can be challenging for a beginner as you have to get it just right. These carnivorous plants need plenty of water, but too much of it will cause root rot. So to make things easier for you, this guide will explain how much you should use and how often.

Nepenthes and sarracenia pitcher plants should be watered 2-4 times a week to keep the soil moist. Most sarracenia plants can sit on an inch of water but it is better to water from the top until it flows from the pot drainage hole. Never let the soil dry out.

How to Water Pitcher Plants

How often you water pitcher plants will depend on the temperature and humidity. High temperatures and low humidity will require more frequent watering. If the soil is humid, you should reduce the frequency.

Water pitcher plants from the top just like a regular houseplant. Stop pouring when the water passes through the drainage hole and out of the pot. Check the soil and it should be moist.
The soil must always be moist, so use that as your guide for how much water is needed. During summer the soil will soak the fluid quickly, so you may have to water 2-4 times a week. If you live in a very hot area you have to do it more often.

If you live in a cool climate, the soil will do a better job retaining moisture so you do not have to water as often. Regardless where you are, the seasons will change so adjust your watering accordingly.

How to Know if Soil is Wet, Moist or Dry

Pitcher plants need moist soil at all times. But how will you know if the soil is moist, too wet or too dry?

The easiest way is to use a device such as the Hemdre Soil Moisture Meter. Press the device into the soil and it will produce a reading that says , moist, wet or dry. For the most accurate results, push the meter a few inches into the soil.

You can also use the shovel method. Stick a shovel into the soil and pull it out. if the shovel comes out muddy and wet, the soil its too wet. If the shovel is clean, the soil is dry. However if the shovel comes out with bits of dirt all over it, the soil is moist.

How Much Water Do Pitcher Plants Need?

Pitcher plants need enough water to keep the soil humid and moist. Too much or too little is going to hurt it in the long run.

To keep things simple. Pour enough water until the soil is completely moist. Water again when the soil starts starts drying out. Do not let the soil go completely dry before you water again. As soon as the moisture starts drying, pour more water.

Nepenthes plants, like Drosera capillaris, prefer high humidity. This is their natural environment so you have to replicate that as accurately as you can. By watering the soil you increase humidity and stimulate growth.

The volume of water to use will vary depending on the weather so do not worry about that. Do not stick to a specific amount because this will change depending on the conditions.

As you care for your pitcher plants you will get a feel for how much water the plant needs. And of course you should also keep an eye on the soil.

Can Nepenthes Sit in Water?

Sitting plants in water (the tray method) works well with Venus flytraps and sundews. Pitcher plants prefer watering from the top. If you do decide to use the tray method for nepenthes, fill the tray with only an inch of water.

There are two things to keep in mind when using this method. First, wait for the tray to dry before watering again. Second, do not let the water stagnate. Remove the water a few days to avoid bacteria or fungi from building up.

Pitcher plants need water to produce food (along with light), but too much of it is going to cause root rot. If you are not sure how to proceed, it is better to just water from he top. The tray method is best suited for Venus flytraps and sundews as they can handle more water.

So why would anyone want to use the tray method for pitcher plants? The benefit of sitting nepenthes in water is that it increases the humidity. In a hot environment, sitting a pitcher plant in a an inch or water might prove helpful.

This comes down to a matter of choice. You can use the tray method if the conditions permit. But watering from the top is just as effective as long as the soil is kept damp.

What Type of Water Should You Use?

Use only rainwater, reverse osmosis water or distilled water for pitcher plants. Bottled water and tap water contain minerals and chemicals that are harmful to nepenthes.

If your pitcher plant starts to look weak and gives off a bad smell it could be a sign of improper water use. This may come as a surprise because a lot of people use tap water on their plants. However it is not safe because they contain too many chemicals that plants cannot handle.

Of these three options, rainwater is the best as it is free. It is also natural and the same thing that pitcher plants receive tin the wild. If it rains regularly in your area, get some buckets ready and store the rain. Use these to water your nepenthes as often as needed.

This only works if there is a rainy season in your area though. If it is almost always dry, distilled water such as Smartwater Premium is your best bet. You can buy them just about everywhere, from stores to online. You can also try reverse osmosis water as it is also effective.

Regardless which of the three water types you use, follow the frequency advice given here. Do not worry too much about the frequency and focus on preventing the soil from drying out. Water as often – or less – according to the soil humidity.

Advice For Watering Pitcher Plants

  • Sarracenia pitcher plants need as much water as nepenthes if not more. That said, it is better to use the water from the top than the tray method. If you sit nepenthes in a tray, use only an inch of water. Use only reverse osmosis, distilled or rainwater.
  • Sarracenia goes into dormancy, whereas nepenthes do not. Adjust the watering frequency as needed and make sure the plant is kept in the appropriate location.
  • Use the right soil. 1:1 peat moss and perlite, or 1:1 sphagnum moss and silica sand are ideal.
  • Too much water can lead to rotting, so keep an eye out for that. This is particularly true if the soil is very wet.
  • Pitcher plants that refuse to eat is a sign of poor health. Another sign is the lack of liquid in the pitcher. This can be due to inadequate water and/or lack of light.
  • Clay pots and terracotta are not suitable for pitcher plants. They absorb too much water. Use plastic pots or containers instead.
  • If you have a hanging nepenthes, water off the top.

If you notice that your pitcher plant no longer has any water, find out the reason why. The most likely is not enough humidity. You just have to increase the moisture and liquids will appear in the pitchers again. Without these liquids pitcher plants will not be able to trap prey, so it is important their pitchers are never empty of liquids. There is no need to add water though, just boost the humidity.


Raising pitcher plants is straightforward when you know the basic principles. And one of the keys is watering properly. Too much or too little of it could spell trouble, so follow the advice here to ensure your pitcher plants get enough water.