Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cobra Lily, California Pitcher Plant
Darlingtonia californica

Family: Sarraceniaceae
Genus: Darlingtonia (dar-ling-TOH-nee-a) (Info)
Species: californica (kal-ih-FOR-nik-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Chrysamphora californica

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

8 members have or want this plant for trade.

Carnivorous and Insectivorous

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade


Bloom Color:
Magenta (Pink-Purple)

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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3 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Nanthawat On Mar 6, 2015, Nanthawat from Portland, OR wrote:

Grows really well outdoors in Portland, Oregon but has to be sheltered during freezing windstorms...and the roots do have to be kept cool.

Neutral Kwanzon On Aug 13, 2005, Kwanzon from Milford, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

If you grow them in a windowsill I found that you can take a piece of construction paper folded in half, and place just over the top of the pot (or where the sun hits the bottom of the plant. If you don't want to spend much trying to cool it off this is excellent method. This also works for any plant that needs the roots to be kept cool.

Positive cobralilly On Jan 20, 2004, cobralilly wrote:

I have had success growing Cobra lillys in hot weather (28-40 degrees celcius)providing i followed a few simple rules.External air temp does not matter as much as keeping the plants roots cool(this is essential and not negotiable).I have tried a number of mediums and have personally found pure sphagnum moss to be the easiest and most successfull of the alternatives.Sphagnum mixed with perlite or sand also gives good results but i have found this mix unnecessary.
Deep wide pots over 20 inches high will help to slow down soil temperature increases.
Light colored pots for the same reason will help.Reducing the amount of direct after noon sun that the plant recieves will aid in cooler medium.Flushing the pot with water at least -once- a day in the hotter months is essential.If you have a rain water tank and are able to drip water the plant all the better.
Some of my plants are grown in polystyrene boxes (insulating the roots against heat).
Some are grown in partial shade(no afternoon sun).
Some are grown in pots that are automatically watered via a controller/solenoid.
Do not sit the plants in deep saucers of water,most of my early losses have been due to waterlogging the roots.They will rot under these conditions.Do not treat the plant like a sarracenia, Darlintonia californica will not grow well given the same conditions.
Self watering pots with a wick system down into the water resevoir will work for Cobras(this still keeps their roots out of the water resevoir-mostly-).
Ice cubes placed on top of the growing medium are terrific providing cool water that seeps down into the root area.I have not had the luxury of time to be able to do this since the Billy the lids came along.
Good luck!

Positive unknownclown On Nov 30, 2002, unknownclown wrote:

This plant does great growing in a 60% sphagnum peat 40% perlite or sand mixture.
It does not like warm weather and will die if it is exposed to it for very long. The roots must be kept cool at all times which can be done by placing ice cubes made of distilled water onto the soil. It has developed quite the reputation amongst CP growers as a difficult plant because of its cool requirements but if you live somewhere cool they are very simple.
The plant also requires distilled or rain water only and no fertilizer of any kind except Superthrive.
It is a carnivorous plant so it receives all of its nutrients from what it digests. It catches its food by secreting a sticky sweet substance which attracts the insects on its "tongue", the insects move up the tongue where the substance is stronger and go inside the opening behind the tongue. There the insect gets trapped, there are downward pointing hairs, which make it impossible to climb back up, and the insect gets digested. The plant uses bacteria to break the insect down and absorbs what is needed

Neutral Terry On Apr 6, 2002, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

First discovered and collected by William Dunlop Brackenridge in 1841, during the U.S. Exploring Expedition. It is similar to its Sarracenia cousins, but th flower sepals are narrower.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Crescent City, California
Cincinnati, Ohio
Greenfield, Ohio
Portland, Oregon

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