International Carnivorous Plant Society

Growing cold temperate Pinguicula

Cold temperate Pinguicula vulgaris, Pinguicula macroceras, Pinguicula grandiflora and others can be found throughout the northern hemisphere in locations that typically have distinct, cold winters. At the beginning of autumn these species form winter buds so the plants can survive being frozen. Pinguicula vulgaris is very widespread and grows in North America, Europe and Asia. Pinguicula macroceras is found in Japan, eastern Russia, and western North America. Pinguicula grandiflora is found in Europe and has large, showy flowers in the spring.

Most of the cold temperate Pinguicula prefer acid soils. They respond well to a mixture of two parts peat, one part silica sand, one part perlite and one part vermiculite.

Cold temperate Pinguicula seeds need temperatures from -10°C to 5°C (14°F to 40°F) for 8 to 12 weeks to germinate. CP-growers in regions with cold winters can sow the seed outside in pots on there preferred soil mixture at the beginning of autumn. In spring place the pots in a bright sunny location. Normally the seed starts to germinate between March and May. The soil must always be very damp!

For seeds to be started indoors or in a greenhouse, the seed should be stratified in the refrigerator. It is best to do this during the winter and to have the seedlings under a natural light cycle so that the seedling are in phase with the seasons. The method that uses the least space in the refrigerator is to place the seeds in a small plastic bag with a few large pinches of damp peat. Keep the seed in coldest part of the refrigerator for 8 to 12 weeks.

After the first winter of growing, the plants should be separated when growing too near to each other. Attention: the plant needs cold winter temperatures to survive!

For more information please see:

Mrkvicka, Alexander (1990) European Pinguicula species taxonomy - distribution - cultural conditions. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 19(1-2):41-43 ( PDF )

Lamb, Randy (1991) Pinguicula villosa: The northern butterwort. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 20(3):73-77 ( PDF )

Meyers-Rice, Barry (2002) Cold Pinguicula in a Hot Climate. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 31(1):25-27 ( PDF )

Legendre, Laurent and Thomas Cieslak (2007) Pinguicula vulgaris L. in the Champagne state of France: life in an alkaline bog. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 36(4):104-113 ( PDF )


Pinguicula grandiflora

Pinguicula grandiflora winter hibernacula with gemmae at the base.



Pinguicula vulgaris flowers

Pinguicula grandiflora

Pinguicula grandiflora flower.

Pinguicula grandiflora

Pinguicula grandiflora seedlings. These seedlings were stratified outside during the winter (in a metal box to protect them from rain and animals) then germinated under lights indoors following a natural light cycle. This winter they will go back outside without protection.