Cultivating Carnivorous Plants (2015)
Hybrids & Cultivars
The number of Sarracenia hybrids and cultivars is immense thanks to the fact that hybrids between
Sarracenia species are fertile and capable of further hybridization. This fertility has resulted in breeders creating
a dazzling variety of hybrids. As a consequence, it would be impossible for anyone to create a comprehensive
list of all known hybrids. Nevertheless, some hybrids are either so common in cultivation or so interesting
that they deserve brief mention. These select few are not, by any stretch of the imagination, a complete survey
of every possible hybrid. Instead, they are merely a few that are either well-known or a favorite of mine.
Before moving onto those hybrids, however, I do want to mention that Sarracenia hybrids, like Nepenthes
hybrids often have what is known as “hybrid vigor.” This means that the hybrid plants are more likely to
grow faster and produce better pitchers than their pure species parents. Of course, with the genus Sarracenia
featuring so many plants which have some aspect of hybridization in their lineage, many hybrids do not grow
at a noticeably different rate than some plants which appear to be “pure” species.
S. x catesbaei
Technically a hybrid between Sarracenia flava
and Sarracenia purpurea ssp. venosa, Sarracenia x catesbaei
has come to absorb all hybrids between Sarracenia
flava and Sarracenia purpurea except Sarracenia purpurea
ssp. burkii, which is known as Sarracenia naczi. In
cultivation, the designation Sarracenia x catesbaei
typically does not determine which variety of
Sarracenia flava or subspecies of Sarracenia purpurea
was crossed, only that the resulting plant shows the
typical characteristics of such a cross.
Typically, the pitchers of Sarracenia x catesbaei
are erect, with undulating hoods that provide no
protection from the rain. These hoods often close in
towards the pitchers mouth, resulting in a plant with
a pronounced triangular shape. Frequently, hybrids
made in cultivation use Sarracenia flava var. rugelli or
Sarracenia flava var. flava as a parent. Both of these
varieties of Sarracenia flava give the resultant hybrid a
characteristic red blotch at the back of the throat.
This is a characteristic which appears to be more
desirable in the horticultural market than plants with
a singular coloration.
Currently, Sarracenia x catesbaei is one of the
horticultural market’s favorite crosses. The pitchers
are often colorful and moderately tall, making them
showy plants. Since the wide mouth gives growers a
good vantage point to see the prey capture, it is easy
to see its appeal to a wide audience, given that most
people are not comfortable with a large tube of dead
bugs hanging around their garden.
Sarracenia x catesbaei
CULTIVATING CARNIVOROUS PLANTS
Complex Sarracenia leucophylla Hybrids
A complex hybrid with Sarracenia leucophylla and, probably, Sarracenia alata.
Sarracenia leucophylla is a perennial favorite for hybrid parentage. It’s not hard to see why. The tall, upright,
white pitchers are often partially passed down to offspring. Given the wide range of possible color patterns of
Sarracenia leucophylla, it is often difficult to determine what, exactly, the hybrid offspring will look like, but they
are often quite showy plants.
S. ‘Gothic Rose’
Sarracenia ‘Gothic Rose’ is a cultivar named for its stained-glass style color
pattern. The parents are unknown, but there is a strong Sarracenia leucophylla
influence. Sarracenia flava var. rugelii, or another Sarracenia flava variety with a red
throat blotch, has obviously had some influence on Sarracenia ‘Gothic Rose’.
The color of the pitchers is consistent during the growing season. The base
color is green, overlaid with bright red veining and a bright red lip. Translucent,
white “windows” are scattered throughout the hood and upper pitcher body as
with Sarracenia leucophylla. The pitcher form is almost identical to that of Sarracenia
leucophylla. It does not appear to produce phyllodia.
Sarracenia ‘Gothic Rose’ is an exceedingly easy plant, growing quite rapidly
throughout the spring, summer, and fall. As with many Sarracenia leucophylla
hybrids, the best pitchers are produced in the fall. Early spring growth can be Sarracenia ‘Gothic Rose’
tepid. Fall pitchers are usually larger than earlier pitchers, although this is not always the case. Prey capture
rates have not been recorded precisely, but Sarracenia ‘Gothic Rose’ appears to capture mostly winged insects,
like Sarracenia leucophylla and Sarracenia flava. There does not appear to be an overabundance of hornets, as with
S. ‘Red Stargazer’
Sarracenia ‘Red Stargazer’ is a
cultivar of unknown parentage. It has a
strong Sarracenia leucophylla influence. The
hood is extremely short and curved
upwards, almost as though Sarracenia
purpurea was a grandparent or great-
grandparent. In heavy rainstorms, rain
can easily flood the pitcher, despite the
hood’s slight overhang.
The upper pitchers are two tone:
red and white. Heavy red veining runs
against translucent white windows. There
is very little color bleed from the veins
into the windows. Prominent, downward
pointing hairs cover the inside of the
One of the more interesting
features of Sarracenia ‘Red Stargazer’ is
that it has a faint white glow in strong
moonlight, much like the brightest white
Sarracenia leucophylla plants. Observations
of prey capture are preliminary, but it
does appear to capture more moths than
non- Sarracenia leucophylla derived plants.
( Sarracenia leucophylla is known to have a
higher moth capture rate than other
As with Sarracenia ‘Gothic Rose’,
Sarracenia ‘Red Stargazer’ is an easy plant
to grow throughout the season. New
growth in high light is bright red, and
white fenstrations are present even as the
pitcher grows. As the pitchers open, they
mature to their full color over the course
of a week, like many other Sarracenia.
This hybrid does not appear to produce
phyllodia. As with many Sarracenia
leucophylla hybrids, the best pitchers are
Sarracenia ‘Red Stargazer’
produced in the fall.
CULTIVATING CARNIVOROUS PLANTS
S. ‘Judith Hindle’
Sarracenia ‘Judith Hindle’
Sarracenia ‘Judith Hindle’ deserves mention as it is one of the most widely available clones thanks to the
advent of tissue culture. Sarracenia ‘Judith Hindle’ is a complex cross between Sarracenia ( leucophylla x flava var.
rugelli) x Sarracenia purpurea “Chipola”. (The Sarracenia purpurea “Chipola” parent may be the large form
Sarracenia purpurea ssp. venosa var. burkii found along the Chipola River in Florida, but that is uncertain). Due to
the easy growth and showy pitchers, Sarracenia ‘Judith Hindle’ has become a popular plant in nurseries across
S. ‘Scarlet Belle’
A single pitcher of Sarracenia ‘Scarlet Belle’.
As with Sarracenia ‘Judith Hindle’, Sarracenia ‘Scarlet Belle’ has become widely available and extremely
popular, due to the advent of tissue culture. Its parents are Sarracenia leucophylla and Sarracenia psittacenia.
Sarracenia ‘Scarlet Belle’ has a pitcher hood which is pinched together, almost entirely closed. Like Sarracenia
psittacenia, it produces pitchers during the entire growing season and is a very showy grower.
S. ‘White Ruffles’
Sarracenia ‘White Ruffles’ is an F2 Sarracenia x mitchelliana cultivar
which produces a heavy white, waxy residue on the lip of the plant. Early
spring pitchers are green with light red veining. As the pitchers age, the
upper pitcher turns a solid red color, although veins are still evident. The
residue is most prominent in the late summer/early fall.
Two accounts are given for how Sarracenia ‘White Ruffles’ got its
name. One account states that it was named after the ruffled hood in
combination with the Sarracenia leucophylla parentage. The other states that
it was named for the heavy white waxy residue in combination with the
ruffled hood. The real story may never been known.
As with most Sarracenia x mitchelliana, Sarracenia ‘White Ruffles’ is an
easy grower, but it is easily overwhelmed by too much rain. Thankfully,
the pitchers are not brittle, as some Sarracenia x mitchelliana crosses are.
The heavy white, waxy residue may be washed off, as well, if too much
rain falls in the late summer/early fall.
Like other crosses with strong Sarracenia purpurea and Sarracenia
leucophylla influence, only two crops of pitchers appear to be produced
each year. These open with light red coloration near the top of the
pitcher. Over the course of several weeks, this coloration becomes
darker, and the white fenestrations become more prominent.
Sarracenia ‘White Ruffles’
A comprehensive list is impractical as (1) Sarracenia hybrids are fertile; and (2) there has long been grower
interest in creating and cultivating new hybrids. In the early years, many natural hybrids gained their own
Latinized name known as a grex name. Below is a list of natural hybrids, their grex names, and crosses which
CULTIVATING CARNIVOROUS PLANTS
are frequently and erroneously labeled under the grex name:
Erroneously Labeled Crosses
alabamensis x alata
alata x rubra
alata x leucophylla
alata x minor
alata x purpurea ssp. burkii
alata x purpurea
flava x leucophylla
flava x minor
flava x purpurea ssp. venosa
flava x purpurea
flava x purpurea ssp. burkii
flava x rubra rubra
flava x rubra
leucophylla x minor
leucophylla x psittacina
leucophylla x purpurea ssp. burkii
leucophylla x purpurea
leucophylla x rubra ssp. rubra
leucophylla x rubra ssp. gulfensis
leucophylla x rubra ssp. wherryi
leucophylla x rubra
minor x psittacina
minor x purpurea ssp. venosa
minor x purpurea
minor x rubra ssp. rubra
minor x rubra
psittacina x purpurea
psittacina x rubra gulfensis
psittacina x rubra
psittacina x rubra ssp. wherryi
purpurea ssp. venosa x rubra ssp. rubra
purpurea x rubra
purpurea ssp. purpurea x rubra ssp. jonesii