Carnivorous Nepenthes "Pitcher Plants"
Nepenthes are found growing wild in many areas of south east Asia. Contrary to popular belief, these plants grow in a variety of temperature conditions, from cold to hot. They all share one need in common, water, and lots of it.
Whether cold or hot, most pitcher plants grow in rain forest areas - or at least areas with near daily showers. They are terrestrial plants, but they grow in extremely low nutrient conditions. This lack of nutrient in their substrate is the reason for their production of pitchers; as they needed a way to absorb proteins and minerals needed for life.
In general, pitcher plants, are separated into two groups, lowland and highland. Lowland plants prefer warmer climates. Highland plants prefer cool to cold (but still moist!) conditions - similar to the carnivorous plants of north west America.
- Thoroughly water the plant and it's potting mix daily. No less than every other day. If teh potting mix dries, the plant will die. In dry climates, an automatic mister may be beneficial.
- Try to keep pitchers 1/2 full. Watering is usually enough to do this, but best to check them weekly.
- Pitcher plants like light, but filtered light only. They can take up to three hours of full sun, but sunburn is not uncommon.
- Pitcher plants (unless otherwise noted) require warm to hot temperatures. Never let them get below 50 degrees F.
- Heavy winds can damage pitcher plants leafs and traps.
- If grown indoors, feed the plant through the pitchers. Don't fertilize the potting mix. Place one insect or one pellet of Osmocote into each pitcher once a month.
- Re-potting can benefit your nepenthes if you follow a few rules.
- Re-pot every two years or when needed.
- NEVER use potting mixes. They all have fertilizer in them and while your plant will look great - it will not produce pitchers.
- DO use ground peat with a bit of horticultural charcoal as well as some perlite to prevent compaction.
- Take care with nepenthes roots. They are fine and fragile. If you simply want to re-pot, lightly break up the compacted substrate around the roots, then re-pot as a whole.
- Trimming nepenthes is an aesthetic choice. The plants don't care much is they are long or short - as long as they get enough to drink and eat. A trimmed nepenthes will have a more full appearance, as long nepenthes tend to loose leafs around their bases and "go woody". Never trim your nepenthes down past three healthy leaf nodes.
- To divide, be as gentle as possible with the roots. I have had nepenthes go into shock for a year before, but some will begin to show growth again after 6 months from division. Some will die.
- Propagation by cuttings is possible! It does take time, care, and has a low success rate. To plant a cutting, snip off a length of vine with no fewer than 3 nodes. The part of the vine that is to be planted, cut the end at a sharp angle. Cut all leafs except for the top most leaf back to the vine. Push the mitered end into fresh ground peat, charcoal, and perlite. Keep this gently, but thoroughly watered every day. As long as the cutting has some green, you have a chance of success. If it yellows - throw it out as there is no saving it.