Growing nepenthes from seed

International Carnivorous Plant Society

Nepenthes are found in diverse habitats from Madagascar and India to northern Australia, New Caledonia, and the Philippines. The areas with the most species in the most diverse habitats are Borneo, Sumatra, and Malaysia. They are found on beaches, in hot steamy jungles, and cold wind-swept ridge tops. Different species grow in sand, acid bogs, or alkaline volcanic soils. Some species like intense sun while others are at home in dense shade.

With over 100 species from so many habitats and many cultivars and hybrids providing even more diversity, there should be some Nepenthes that will grow well for you. Nepenthes species and hybrids with thick waxy leaves make great house plants if you have a window in your home that gets some direct sun. The easiest to grow are complex hybrids such as N. x Superba and N. x Mixta that were selected for being vigorous. It is hard to get them commercially so you may need to get cuttings from friends. Getting hybrid seed is usually easier (or less difficult) and should produce some nice plants. Growing your own from seed is lots of fun but remember it can take 3 to 5 years to get a plant from seed you can display.

Growing Nepenthes from seed can be quite challenging. It is recommended that beginners start with inexpensive tissue culture plants or plants from stem cuttings until you get experience with Nepenthes. When you can keep them alive and healthy for a few years, you might want to then think about growing Nepenthes from seed. The instructions below are for “typical” lowland and hybrid Nepenthes that are relatively easy to grow.

To get seeds, other than from friends or the Seed Bank, you need a male and a female plant in bloom at the same time. If you are interested in seeds of a species and do not want to make a hybrid that means you need a male plant and a female plant of the same species and they have to bloom at the same time. This is tough. When you get plants it is rare for them to be labeled as to sex. Most non-hybrid seeds in the Seed Bank are either from someone with a huge collection or are wild collected. The usual situation when you have a plant of each sex blooming at the same time is they are of different species. As far as is known all Nepenthes species will interbreed and that is one reason why there are so many hybrids. To tell male flowers from female, look for pollen on the stamen tip to confirm a fertile male and a bulge below the sepals to confirm a female. Use a paint brush to transfer the pollen. In the wild Nepenthes are fly pollinated and the flowers smell like it. It isn’t a smell you generally want in your house but will not usually stink up more than a corner of a room.

Nepenthes seeds are ephemeral and vulnerable to freezing. When you get the seeds, plant them IMMEDIATELY. If you have extra, send them to the Seed Bank IMMEDIATELY unless there is a chance the seeds could be frozen en route. About half the Nepenthes seeds received by the Seed Bank are dead on arrival. Sometimes that is because they were probably frozen en route—it seems many seeds become available in late fall and early winter. The usual problem is they were sent after sitting around too long. Do not test germinate the seeds before sending them to the Seed Bank. They may germinate for you but be dead by the time they get to members. The Seed Bank does not test germinate the seeds either for the same reason.

Nepenthes seeds can be started on chopped live sphagnum moss in very damp but not wet conditions. If the sphagnum starts to overgrow the seeds, pinch it back with a forceps. If you use dried long fibered sphagnum instead, you may re-hydrate it with boiling water to reduce contaminants somewhat. If you cook it too much, the moss breaks down and molds very easily when it is eventually contaminated. Another option that works very well is to use coir, also called coco peat. Make sure you get a brand that says something like the coir “is exposed to rain water from at least three monsoon seasons” on the label. I especially like coir that has a 50% to 75% content of long fibers. I am not sure it is available any more. An option would be to add washed perlite to the coir.

Sprinkle the seeds onto the surface of the medium, spray with pure water, and place the pots in plastic bags in warm temperatures, about 26°C to 32°C (80°F to 90°F). Plastic bags will keep the humidity high and will exclude fungus gnats and spores of mold and moss. The pots should be in light shade or under fluorescent lights. Germination can take from 4 weeks to almost a year. The fresher the seed, the stronger the seedlings and higher the germination rate. Please see Sowing Seeds Step-by-Step for more details on starting seeds.

Keep an eye on the seeds since mold can be a problem. Generally, if the seeds are viable, have been stored well, and the medium you use is inert, you will not have problems with mold. If you do see mold, spray the seeds with pure water. It is probably a good idea to do this anyway to encourage germination.

The seedlings can remain in the original pots in plastic bags under lights for one to two years. If the soil surface gets nasty with cyanobacteria or moss or the small plants are too close together, carefully transplant to new media, in new pots, in new plastic bags, and put them back under the lights.

Something I do is after six months, if the seedlings are not bright green, I put high nitrogen (19-6-12) Osmocote™ pellets about 1 cm into the soil spaced about 2 to 3 cm apart—I put 4 pellets in an 8 cm square pot. The seedlings usually green up nicely and grow like crazy.

When the plants get large enough you can put a piece of dried blood worm (a kind of fish food) into the pitchers. Only do one or two at first to make sure it works under your conditions.

After about two years the seedlings can be repotted, spaced apart, and put into a terrarium or greenhouse. After they are established in the pots and you can see water in the bottom of the pitcher, and the pitchers are big enough (what is big enough?), you can try putting Osmocote™ pellets into the pitchers. Select the smallest pellets and put one pellet per plant and probably only one plant at first. If nothing bad happens after a few weeks, try a pitcher on other plants.

It will seem like forever, but after three to five years of care you could have more Nepenthes plants than you could ever want. Give the extra plants to friends. They will probably kill them. This time. But who knows, they might get hooked, and you can trade plants some day.

John Brittnacher

For more information please see:

Nepenthes ventricosa male flowers. Photo by Mach Fukada.

Close up of male Nepenthes ventricosa flowers.

Male inflorescence.

Three year old Nepenthes rafflesiana from seed

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Pitcher Plant Seeds: Guide To Pitcher Plant Seed Growing

If you have one pitcher plant and you’d like more, you may be thinking of growing pitcher plants from seed taken from its spent blooms. Pitcher plant seed sowing is one of the best ways to reproduce the beautiful plant. But like the seeds of other carnivorous plants, they need special treatment to give them their best chance at growing. Read on for information about how to grow pitcher plants from seed.

How to Grow Pitcher Plants from Seed

If you are growing pitcher plants from seeds, you have to provide them with a lot of humidity to get them to germinate. Experts recommend that pitcher plant growing take place in transparent pots that have lids to keep in the moisture. It is also possible to use regular pots with glass or plastic domes over them to serve the same purpose.

Most growers recommend that you use pure peat moss as a growing medium for pitcher plant seeds to be sure that it is sterile and won’t mold. You may also dust the seeds with a fungicide beforehand to control mold. You can mix in a little silica sand, or washed river sand, and perlite if you have some handy.

Stratification for Pitcher Plant Seeds

Pitcher plant seed growing requires stratification. This means that the seeds grow best when put in a cold location for several months before they germinate to reproduce the chilly winters of their native lands.

Moisten the planting medium first, then sow pitcher plant seeds by placing them on the medium surface. Place the pots in a warm area for a few days, then in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 weeks.

After the appropriate amount of stratification time, move the entire pitcher plant seed growing operation to a warmer area with bright light. If you are growing pitcher plants from seeds, you have to be patient. Allow the pitcher plant seeds all the time they need to germinate.

Germination for carnivorous plants like the pitcher takes far longer than germination of flowers or garden vegetables. They rarely germinate within a few weeks. Many times they take months to start sprouting. Keep the soil moist and the plant in bright light, then try to forget about the seeds until you see the pitcher plant seed growing.

Germinating Cold Hardy Plant Seeds

Although many carnivorous plant seeds germinate within 3-4 weeks, seeds from cold hardy carnivorous plants germinate after 3 to 6 months! Many US-native carnivorous plants produce their seeds in early fall, right before the first frost of the season. If these seeds germinated too soon, the young seedlings would surely die because they wouldn’t have time to fully acclimate to upcoming winter weather. To prevent this from happening, these seeds contain enzymes that prevent them from germinating before the onset of winter.

In order to germinate these seeds, you must expose them to cold damp conditions in order to deactivate the enzymes. When the enzyme is deactivated, the seeds will germinate when the temperature warms up again. This process of preparing seeds for germination is called stratification. Seeds that require stratification include:

• All Sarracenia species
• Darlingtonia californica
• Drosera anglica
• Drosera rotundifolia
• Drosera intermedia
• Drosera filiformis
Without stratification, the germination rate would be no more than than 10%. With stratification, the germination rate would increase to 80-100%. Naturally, this will depend on the species. Some species have excellent germination rates, such as Darlingtonia californica. Other species have low germination rates, such as Sarracenia purpurea, even with proper stratification.
There are two ways you can stratify your seeds. The first method is by far the easiest and has the fewest risks. It follows the natural rhythm of the seasons. Essentially you sow your seeds in fall and look for seedlings in spring. Use this method if you live in zones 9 or colder.
The second method is best used if you need to germinate your seeds during the off-season, such as spring and summer when it is too warm for proper stratification.

Outdoor Stratification

  1. Harvest your seeds when the seedpods are ripe. If you purchase your seeds from a nursery, ask the nursery when the seeds were harvested. Ideally, you want seeds that are no more than 6 months old. If they are more than 6 months old, make sure the seeds were stored in refrigerators. Under refrigeration, seeds can last for years.
  2. In fall or early winter, sow your seeds on a standard soil mix of 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite. Avoid covering up your seeds with soil. Simply sprinkle them on the soil and firmly press down on them with your fingers. (For zones 9 or colder, do this step by early January.)
  3. Place your pot of seeds outdoors in a tray of water. Set the pot in a tray of water. Throughout the winter months make sure there is always water in the tray. The rain and snow will create the cold damp conditions necessary for germination in spring. Protect your pot if the temperatures go below 20°F (-7°C).
  4. In early summer look for tiny seedlings. Continue to care for your seedlngs outdoors. Their care is no different than that of adult and juvenile plants. Sprouts are just as cold-hardy as the adults. However, because of their small size, seedlings dry out very quickly, so it is important to pay attention to the water levels in their trays. Sarracenia and Darlingtonia seedlings will reach flowering maturing in 4-5 seasons. Other types of seedlings may reach flowering maturity within 3 growing seasons.

Refrigerator Stratification

  1. Lay out a sheet of paper towel on a table. Place your seeds in the center of the paper towel and spread them out evenly.
  2. To prevent fungal infections, spray your seeds with a fungicide. Either a sulfur-based fungicide or Neem will work. Avoid mineral-based fungicides.
  3. Carefully wrap your seeds in the paper towel. Don’t wrap them up too much because you want to be able to see the seeds through the paper towel when you hold it up to the light.
  4. The paper towel will be slightly damp from the fungicide, but you will need to make sure it is damp all the way through. Dunk the wrapped seeds in a bowl of distilled water.
  5. Place the wrapped seeds in a plastic bag and seal the bag.
  6. Place the plastic bag and its contents in your refrigerator for four to eight weeks. Check on the bag periodically for signs of mold or fungal infection. Hold it up to the light to make sure your seeds are still healthy. Look for mold and fungus. If mold or fungus develops, immediately unwrap your seeds and spray your seeds with fungicide.
  7. After four to eight weeks of refrigeration, carefully unwrap your seeds. Allow the paper towel to dry completely before removing your seeds.
  8. Place your seeds on a soil mix of 1 part perlite and 1 part peat moss and firmly press down on them. Avoid covering up your seeds.

The next step after sowing your seeds depends on the current outdoor temperatures:

  1. If there is still a risk of frost outside, germinate your seeds indoors in a brightly lit windowsill that receives several hours of direct sunlight. You will see germination within 4 weeks.
  2. If there is no risk of frost in the next several weeks, place your pot of seeds outdoors in partial sun. You will see germination within 4 weeks, provided that the weather remains warm enough. In most situations, Sarracenia and Darlingtonia seedlings will be 1-2 inches tall at the end of their first season. They will reach flowering maturity in an additional 4 season.

Alternative Indoor Care of Seedlings

You can also grow Sarracenia seedlings indoors for the first two years of their lives, much like you would a tropical sundew. They can forgo winter dormancy for the first year or two of their lives, and because they skip dormancy they can gain size faster.
To care for your seedlings indoors, simply place your pot of sprouted seedlings under grow lights or on an extremely sunny windowsill with a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight. (More sunlight is preferable.) Spray liberally with a sulfur-based fungicide weekly to deter mold.
To acclimate them outdoors again, wait until late spring after their second winter (usually 24 months or so after germinating them), putting them outside when temperatures outdoors and indoors are comparable. Acclimate them to direct sun over a period of two weeks by first placing the seedlings in partial shade, moving them gradually into full sun (six or more hours of direct sunlight). They will then grow as outdoor plants for the rest of their lives.
Because of their sunlight and dormancy requirements, avoid growing cold hardy carnivorous plants indoors for more than two seasons.

How to use the CPS Seed Bank

19 June 2017

If you want to grow carnivorous plants from seed – and support a great cause while you’re at it – then joining the UK Carnivorous Plant Society is one of the best things you can do.

As a member, you’ll get access to the world’s leading carnivorous plant seed bank. The cost of membership (£20/year) includes an annual allowance of 4 free seed packets, meaning you can claim seeds of whichever species you wish to grow at no additional charge. There are 14 different genera and over 500 species and hybrids available – this includes beginner-friendly plants like Venus flytraps and common Sundews, as well as rarer plants like Cephalotus and Byblis. The full list is available here on the CPS website.

I recently spoke to the society’s Seed Bank Organiser Sheila Little about how the scheme works, and how new members can get involved. To learn more, and for tips on pollinating common carnivores, read on!

How does the CPS seed bank work?

All members of the CPS are entitled to 4 free packets of seed with each year’s subscription, and these can be taken at any time throughout the year. They are able to purchase two extra packets at a cost of 50p per packet.

We also have a scheme for donations where for every two types of seed donated to the seed bank, the donor can have one packet in return. There are no restrictions on which seeds a donor can have, so they may send in a couple of common species and take a rare packet of seed in return. The extra packets scheme for donors has no restriction on numbers of packets allowed.

Which species or varieties are always in high demand? Which are usually readily-available?

I update the list on the CPS website as I go along, so if it is on the list, it is in stock. Only members can order from the list, although I am always happy to trade with non members as well.

Some species run out really quickly. Any Cephalotus, Byblis, Roridula, Nepenthes, and Drosophyllum are always popular, but can be difficult to source and some are difficult to grow well.

For beginners there are many different Drosera species that are very easy. D. binata, D. capensis, D. filiformis, D. nidiformis and D. spatulata are very easy and all very pretty. There are many others that would be good for beginners, but these are the most popular. Sarracenia are also very easy to grow and all species and hybrids are good for beginners – none are particularly difficult to get growing or to keep once they have germinated.

How much seed is included in a single packet?

How many seeds you get and how many plants you can grow depends on the variety and where the seeds came from.

I have a yearly allowance from the Society to buy in some of the rarer seed such as Byblis and rare Drosera, so I have to source the seed from growers around the world. I buy from European growers and from seed suppliers around the world that are known to comply with the Nagoya Protocol. If I have to buy a packet of rare seeds, I have to try to get at least two packets out of that. Some of the rare seed packets may only contain a dozen seeds when I buy them, some may contain fifty seeds, so it depends on how many the seed bank has.

Sarracenia seeds of various species against a 1mm ruler, courtesy of the ICPS.

For Sarracenia, I try to give around thirty seeds to a packet, but again some of the harder-to-get seeds such as S. psittacina and S. minor are not often donated – I may have to buy packets with just twenty seeds, so I may not be able to give as many. Common Drosera you may get a few hundred seeds in each packet! I always give as many seeds as I can, and how many plants you get varies with which plants you are trying to grow.

Can anyone donate? How should members go about making a donation?

Anyone can donate, but if a non-member wants to have seed in return, it is a trade rather than a donation and this is treated a little differently. A member who donates can have any seed in return. Someone who is not a member would need to offer something rare or not on our list in order to get something rare in return.

All donations are sent directly to me. Just send them to Sheila Little, 471 Canterbury Way, Stevenage, SG1 4EQ.

How does the seed bank help to protect endangered carnivorous plants?

When people take seed from seed banks, they can be sure the seed has been legally collected. Growing from seed can also save plants from being dug up from wild locations. There really is no need to take wild grown plants any more. Seed can easily be sourced for almost all carnivorous plants now.

Many plants have original location data on them. Many of the locations have been bulldozed for shopping malls and building homes, so some of the plants in cultivation no longer exist in the wild and are now only preserved in people’s collections.

For newer growers who are interested in getting involved, are there any tutorials or books you would recommend for guidance on pollination and seed collection?

There are many good books out now that will show you how to pollinate your plants and propagate seed. The Savage Garden by Peter D’Amato has always been a popular book that people find very useful, but all the available books will give useful little hints and tips on growth and pollination. With new books coming out all the time, you really are quite spoilt for choice.

Tips for pollinating the most common genera are given below.

Pollinating North American Pitcher Plants

For Sarracenia, it is a good idea to put a piece of net around the flower head to stop bees from pollinating them with a different pollen to the one you want to make a cross with. The bag is only needed from a couple of days before the petals have fully opened until a couple of days after the petals have dropped off, then they can be removed. Then you really just need to remember to take care not to mix pollen on a brush.

When you pollinate a plant, use one paint brush (or cotton bud) per flowering plant. When you have used the brush, stick it brush-upwards into the soil of the plant you took the pollen from. Then, when you wish to use that plant’s pollen on any other plant, you know that the brush only has the pollen you want to use on it.

Cross-section of a Sarracenia flower, Wikimedia Commons.

To pollinate a Sarracenia, lift a petal on the flower. The pollen is a yellow powder that drops from the anthers into the umbrella-shaped style. Dip the brush into the pollen and then at the five points of the style are little bumps. These are the stigma; brush the pollen onto each of the five stigma, re-cover the flower, and you should have seed in the autumn.

If you don’t have enough brushes, make sure you clean the brush thoroughly before using it on a different pollen, so you can be sure that you are getting the right cross. Sarracenia seed is ripe at the end of the season, and usually between October and November the pod will brown, at which point it is ready for harvest.

Learn more on thepitcherplantproject.com.

Pollinating Sundews

Many Drosera, especially the more-common easy-to-grow ones, will self pollinate, so you don’t need to do anything to obtain seed. A few do require cross pollination though, so always check to see if a Drosera will produce viable seed without intervention.

Drosera binata flower,Wikimedia Commons.

Once Drosera seed is ripe, the pods will turn black. Hold a piece of paper underneath the stalk, shake it, and if the little black dust-like seeds come out onto the paper, you know the stalk is ready for harvesting.

Learn more on growsundews.com.

Pollinating Venus Flytraps

Dionaea muscipula (the Venus Flytrap) can be pollinated by rubbing flowers together.

Dionaea muscipula flower, Wikimedia Commons.

The pods will swell after the flower dies off and when the pods are black and start to split, the shiny black seeds can be harvested.

Learn more on flytrapcare.com.

Pollinating Tropical Pitcher Plants

Nepenthes are a little different, in that some plants are male and some are female. Nepenthes therefore cannot self-pollinate. You need a flowering male plant with which to pollinate a flowering female plant in order to make viable seed.

Nepenthes sp. flower,Wikimedia Commons.

Nepenthes will produce seed even without pollination; it just isn’t viable, so when sending in Nepenthes seed it is vital that both parent plants are named, even if they are a male and female of the same species.

Learn more on Brad’s Greenhouse YouTube channel.

Many thanks to Sheila Little. You can read more about the CPS, the seed bank, and the many other benefits of membership at thecps.org.uk.

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Carnivorous Plants from Seeds

Generally speaking, the seeds of Carnivorous Plants are quite small and very slow growing. It takes a typical Venus Flytrap and many other carnivorous plants 3 to 4 years to gain a size of over 2 inches. Because of this, most Carnivorous Plants generally are not practical for those wanting quick results. Sundews are the exception and generally reach mature flowering size by the end of the first year.
The best medium for seedlings is finely milled peat moss mixed with an equal amount of clean, washed horticultural sand. You can use finely chopped, live green Sphagnum also mixed with washed horticultural sand. Mix and water thoroughly. The medium should be soaking wet. Sow the seeds directly on the surface. Do not overcrowd them and do not cover any Carnivorous Plant seeds with medium. Carnivorous Plant seeds need light to germinate. Cover the growing area with plastic to keep humidity extra high. Place the seeded pots in the same growing conditions that the mature plants require. Use slightly filtered, rather than direct sunlight. Artificial lighting is fine. Transparent plastic containers with small holes punched into the lid also make a good CP germination container.
As a general rule, seeds that mature in the Spring are ready for immediate sowing. Seeds that ripen in the Fall must undergo a period of damp cold treatment called stratification. This can be accomplished by placing the seed-sown pot upright in a sealed plastic bag and refrigerating it for 6 to 8 weeks.
Carnivorous plant seeds offered by Carnivorous Plant Nursery are high quality, fresh seeds harvested directly from our plant collection. All seeds are produced from open pollination and cross pollination may occur. As a result, seed offspring may vary somewhat from the parent plant, as is the case with all natural offspring. Seeds for sale list the mother plant. For example: VFT typical may be pollinated from another VFT typical or from any one of the VFTs in the collection, such as VFT Royal Red. The resulting seeds may show characteristics of both typical and/or Royal Red. Round-leaf sundew will likely be pollinated from another Round-leaf sundew, but it is possible to have been pollinated from another sundew, such as the Bird’s Nest sundew. The resulting seeds may be true to Drosera rotundifolia or be a D. rotundifolia x intermedia cross.
You may be interested in our Laboratory Investigation: Carnivorous Plants From Seeds.
Did you notice that the bullet symbols used in our logo are Venus Flytrap Seeds?

Seed Storage:

Store seeds in a dry, sealed plastic bag in a refrigerator until it’s time to sow them. Germination rates decrease with time, but properly stored seeds may last quite a while. Most Drosera, Drosophyllum, and Byblis seeds last for many years, even decades. Sarracenia and Darlingtonia seeds can be stored for at least a few years. Pinguicula and Utricularia seem to have a relatively shorter shelf life. Nepenthes seeds do not store well and should be sown as quickly as possible.

What is Stratification?

The seeds of most temperate carnivores require a period of being kept damp and cold in order to germinate. If you live where winters are relatively mild, sow these seeds outdoors in late winter, so that they experience about a month of cold nights from 20-40 F. Keep protected from the rain. If this isn’t possible where you live, sow the seeds and put the entire pot into the fridge for 4 weeks. Remove from the fridge and keep in a warmer spot with bright light to begin germination. Keep soil wet. If space is an issue, about a month before the spring, take the seeds out of the paper envelope and sprinkle into another bag with a few strands of damp long fibered sphagnum moss. Sow in spring when night temps are above freezing.

Covering Seeds:

High humidity and constantly damp media is essential to good germination. Covering the seeds with a translucent dome or by placing the pot in a plastic bag often helps with this. This will also protect them from rain. Make sure there is some ventilation to avoid fungus and to let some heat out. Place your covered seeds in bright indirect light. Avoid long periods of direct sun while covered as this may cook your little seedlings.

Venus Flytraps (Dionaea):

Sow seeds in the late winter to early summer outdoors in a bright spot, sheltered from hot afternoon sun. Keep wet. A cover may help this. Sprinkle the seeds on top of a mix of 4 parts peat to 1 part sand or 50/50 peat and washed sand. Do not bury. Use a 4-5 inch pot for each seed pack. Stratification may increase germination. Indoors: They may be sown at anytime in a terrarium as described below for highland Nepenthes.

American Pitcher Plants and Cobra Plants (Sarracenia & Darlingtonia):

Sow these the same way as Venus Flytraps except these will need stratification first. Seeds will usually start to germinate in 6-8 weeks after stratification ends. Sometimes, some or all of the seeds won’t germinate until the following year.

Sundews (Drosera):

Temperate: As for Sarracenia. Examples: filiformis, intermedia, anglica, rotundifolia.

Subtropical: As for flytraps. Examples: South African rosetted sundews, Brazilian sundews

Winter Growing: These can be challenging to germinate. In Western Australia or South Africa, where they grow, germination is often tied to wildfires. Several things can be done to simulate these fires. Seeds can be soaked in Gibberellic acid for 24 hours before sowing. You can sprinkle with diluted liquid smoke. Some people leave the seeds somewhere hot over the summer. Allen Lowrie recommends sowing the seeds and then smoking the pots in a BBQ by burning peat moss. After any or all of these treatments, sow them in the fall on 2 parts sand to 1 part peat. Germination can take several months to years. Examples: tuberous Drosera, cistiflora, pauciflora, trinervia, alba, afra

Tropical: As for Lowland Nepenthes. Examples: burmanni, intermedia ‘cuba’, madagascariensis, petiolaris complex.

Rainbow Plants (Byblis):

As for tropical sundews. Smoke treatments will often increase germination.

Dewy Pines (Drosophyllum):

Scarification helps these seeds to germinate more quickly. We do this by holding each seed with forceps and then gently rubbing the side of the seed on a damp whetstone. Do this until you just start to see a little white spot. Then soak for 24 hours in water. Sprinkle the seeds on top of a mix of equal parts peat, sand, perlite, sand, and some lava if you have it. Cover. They quickly form a long tap root, so transplant soon after they sprout.

Butterworts (Pinguicula):

For Mexican Pinguicula, sprinkle the tiny seeds on the dewy pine mix and sow like Nepenthes or as for subtropical Drosera. Temperate Pinguicula as for temperate sundews.

Tropical Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes):

These seeds are best sown in a terrarium under T-5 fluorescent lights with a 14 hour photo period. Keep the light about 18” above the plants and the tank well ventilated to avoid overheating. Warm temps from 75-80 F will hasten and increase germination. Highland Nepenthes need cooler nights to flourish. Sprinkle the seeds on top of a New Zealand sphagnum moss based mix with a little finely chopped long fibered sphagnum moss on top. Keep constantly moist.

MaxSea Fertilizer:

Mist seedlings shortly after germination at 1/4 tsp per gallon. A monthly foliar (leaf only) feed will greatly speed up growth. Do not fertilize too often as this encourages moss and algae to overtake the seedlings.

The world’s widest selection of Carnivorous Plants and Seeds for sale on the web

Growing Nepenthes from seed.

Recently we have been able to source some fantastically rare and more importantly, fresh Nepenthes seeds from some experienced growers abroad. Species like N.lowii, edwardsiana and more recently, N. macrophylla have all been offered and have generated much interest.
To successfully germinate these Nepenthes seeds requires very specific conditions and, in my opinion, some degree of experience too, and I am always being asked how best to cultivate them.
I usually refer people to either our Triffid Germination Guide (which is downloadable from this website) however I have recently been hugely impressed with a particular section on Tom Bennets website which is dedicated to growing Nepenthes and covers off Nepenthes Elevational Distribution, Classification and Cultivation.
So, if you want more Nepenthes information to help you understand this fascinating and addictive carnivorous plant group, I certainly recommend you pay them a visit;

Good luck to all those customers who have purchased Nepenthes seeds from us…More unusual Nepenthes seeds are currently on their way over…!!!….BE READY!

Nepenthes sanguinea comes from Malaysia peninsula, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo and New Guinea. It grows on mountain ridges at an altitude between 900 -1800 meters, so this is an highland Nepenthes. Tropical pitcher plants generally grow as vines, climbing over other plants, and may grow as epiphytes, growing on other plants in the forest canopy, or as low shrubs. That plant grows well as a hanging basket plant inside the home, in a hot greenhouse or in a terrarium in your home. Great for beginners. The long leaves cascade over the pot, growing in a rosette fashion from a central climbing stem and terminated with a tendril. The tendril is used both to support the plant as it climbs up through the undergrowth and the trap itself which forms from it. The traps start out at first as a small swelling, but quickly expand to their full size over the course of several weeks. As these plants mature, they produce long vines and reddish pitchers up to and 8-9 inches long. The lid opens to reveal digestive fluids in the bottom of the trap. Prey is attracted by the gaudy colours and nectar produced by the trap, under the lid, which does not close and around the rim. The pitchers of Nepenthes species have a smooth lining. Insects and other small animals that are attracted to the pitchers cannot maintain a grip on this slippery surface and fall into the pitcher. Once they move their way inside, they lose their footing and slip into the nectar. The nectar is also quite intoxicating. The lower section inside the trap is covered in digestive glands and these quickly dissolve the soft parts of the prey, leaving the remains to drop down to the bottom into the soup. The plant has two types of traps, lower and upper. While in some species the upper and lower pitchers look similar, there are others where the two are so distinctly different that you would swear they are two different species. The upper pitchers are generally smaller than lower pitchers, often lacking wings, and attached to the tendril at the back. These upper pitcher tendrils, before forming a pitcher, will often curl around an object such as a branch, to give the climbing stem support. Nepenthes are dioecious, male and female flowers exist on different plants. If you have several plants, and a few are blooming, then you may be able to pollinate them. Hardiness zones 6-10, (-20°C/-5°F,1°C/35°F) in Winter. It seems to prefer bright indirect sunlight to partial sun. Light will color the traps red. Highland Nepenthes tend to be slower growing than lowland and require a lower night temperature than day temperature. Nights range between 13-17°C and days 23-29°C. Night temperatures absolutely must drop below 17°C for seedlings of most species to survive. Highlanders will be happy with a minimum relative humidity of 60%. Species of Nepenthes grow on soils that are poor in nutrients or on other plants where nutrients are not readily available. Plants, such as some Nepenthes, that grow on other plants, but do not take nutrients from the supporting plants, are referred to as epiphytes. In order to grow in places that are poor in nutrients, Nepenthes have adapted a carnivorous lifestyle, which supplements their intake of nitrogen and other nutrients. The soil needs to be light and airy. All the plants grew in a very wet acidic sandy soil. Use pure peat moss. You can also use a mix of equal parts of peat moss, perlite, vermiculite and long-fibred sphagnum moss. The plants should be watered regularly but should not be left standing in water at any time. Try too keep them warm and humid but not stagnant and wet. Use rain water or distillated water, hard city water will kill your carnivorous plant. Lowlands and Highlands Nepenthes like high humidity and watering should be done when the soil starts to look dry on the top.

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