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Carnivorous Plants Growing & Care

This page covers general growing information for carnivorous plants. For information on specific CPs see the Plant Info section.

Carnivorous plants are easy to grow, if you follow a few, simple rules.

  1. Wet all of the time.
  2. Mineral-free water.
  3. Mineral-free soil.
  4. Lots of light.

Wet all of the time. Carnivorous plants are native to bogs and similar nutrient-poor habitats. As a consequence, the plants live in conditions that are constantly damp. To grow healthy carnivorous plants, it is important to duplicate their habitat as closely as possible. Keep the soil wet or at least damp all of the time. The easiest way to do this is use the tray method. Set the pots in a tray or saucer, and keep water in it at all times. Pitcher plants can grow in soggy soil with the water level in the saucer as deep as 1/2 the pot, but most carnivorous plants prefer damp to wet soil, so keep the water at about 1/4 inch and refill as soon as it is nearly gone. Water from below, by adding water to the tray, rather than watering the plant. This will avoid washing away the sticky muscilage of the sundews and butterworts and keep from closing the flytraps with a false alarm. Mineral-free water. Always use mineral-free water with your carnivorous plants, such as rainwater or distilled water. Try keeping a bucket near the downspout to collect rainwater. Distilled water can be purchased at the grocery store, but avoid bottled drinking water. There are simply too many minerals in it. The condensation line from an air conditioner or heat pump is another source of mineral-free water. Reverse-osmosis water is fine to use. Carnivorous plants grow in nutrient poor soils. The minerals from tap water can “over-fertilize” and “burn out” the plants. In a pinch, tap water will work for a short while, but flush out the minerals with generous portions of rainwater, when it is available. Mineral-free soil. The nutrient poor soils to which the carnivorous plants have adapted are often rich in peat and sand. This can be duplicated with a soil mixture of sphagnum peat moss and horticultural sand. Be sure to check the peat label for sphagnum moss. Other types will not work well. The sand should be clean and washed. Play box sand is great, and so is horticultural sand. Avoid “contractor’s sand” which will contain fine dust, silt, clay and other minerals. Never use beach sand or limestone based sand. The salt content will harm the plants. The ratio of the mix is not critical, 1 part peat with 1 part sand works well for most carnivorous plants. Flytraps prefer a bit more sand, and nepenthes prefer much more peat. Use plastic pots, as terra cotta pots will leach out minerals over time and stress your plants. Lots of light. Carnivorous plants, as a general rule, grow best in sunny conditions. Many do well in partial sun. The nutrient-poor, soggy bogs provide bad conditions for most plants. Those that do grow in the bog are usually stunted or short in height. As a consequence, the carnivorous plant habitat tends to be open and sunny. Full sun brings out the red pigmentation of most carnivorous plants. Many carnivorous plants grow quite well out-of-doors or indoors in a bright, sunny spot. Any windowsill, but north, will work fine. The plants also do well under artificial light with a timer set at 12-14 hours. Fluorescent tubes designed for plant growth work better than plain bulbs. Dormancy. Many carnivorous plants are native to temperate climates and require a dormancy period. This is a natural protective mechanism that allows plants to survive the harshness of winter. Some carnivorous plants, like the sundews, form winter buds. Others, like the Venus Flytrap and pitcher plants, form winter leaves. Some simply drop their leaves. Carnivorous plants will enter dormancy when winter conditions begin. If they are not allowed to rest, they will exhaust their energy and die. When the plants begin to show signs of dormancy, water them less. Leave the soil only slightly damp. Reduce the amount and the length of daylight. Keep them cool for 3 to 6 months, depending upon their native area. This can be done by placing them in the basement or on a frost-free porch. A refrigerator is fine; just be careful not to freeze them. Carnivorous plants do not require light during dormancy and darkness will not harm them. Tropical carnivorous plants do not require dormancy. Humidity. Carnivorous plants grow naturally in humid bogs and swamps; therefore the growing environment should duplicate these conditions. This can easily be accomplished by simply keeping the plants wet at all times. A humidifier placed near the plants is a wonderful way to increase humidity. Perhaps the easiest way to provide humidity is to grow the plants in an open terrarium. Do not seal the plants in a tightly closed container. This will invite fungus and mildew which could kill them. Leave the terrarium slightly open so that a draft of air can enter. Experiment with the size of the opening so that the plants do not either dry out, bake or become infected with fungus. Temperature. Most carnivorous plants will do fine in normal room temperatures. Avoid species that require very warm or very cool temperatures. Keep in mind that carnivorous plants are generally tolerant of temperature, and it can be varied somewhat without harmful results. For best results, keep the plants within their optimum temperature range. Feeding and Fertilizing. As a general rule, do not feed or fertilize carnivorous plants. Grown under the conditions outlined in this flyer, the plants will be able to collect enough insects on their own to do well. Most carnivorous plants only need an insect or two a month in order to flourish. Of course, it is fine to demonstrate the unique trapping capabilities of these plants by using a fly carefully placed with tweezers. Never use raw meat or cheese, as large pieces will kill the traps. Freeze-dried insects from a pet shop, or a culture of wingless fruit flies provide an excellent source of nutrition. Carnivorous plants grown with no insect supplemental feedings will not flourish. Be careful and do not overdo it. Grow the plants in such a way that they have natural access to insect prey.

Some experienced growers have had success with the use of fertilizers. This is not recommend for beginners. It is too easy to over fertilize and burn out a CP. In general any fertilizers that are used are diluted considerably. A 1/10 dilution is not uncommon. Most fertilization is with foliage spray varieties.

Q: Should I put water in my pitcher plant leaves?
Nepenthes tobaica
Sarracenia purpurea A: There are two carnivorous plant genera (Sarracenia and Nepenthes) that are frequently bought by newcomers to carnivorous plant cultivation. Quite frequently, I am asked if the pitchers of these plants, especially ones newly purchased, should be given a bit of water.
Sure, you can do this if you want. I don’t know of anyone I trust who does this, but if you want to it won’t hurt. Most of the experienced growers have so many plants, they don’t have the time for this kind of shenanigans. But if you want to do it, knock yourself out. I recommend that you only use purified water.
If you grow your Nepenthes correctly, its pitchers should start producing their own fluids within a month or so. If they don’t, your humidity may be too low. Increase it.
Short little Sarracenia purpurea and Sarracenia rosea don’t seem to produce too much water—in the wild they get it from rain. It doesn’t matter if their pitchers dry out, but if you want them to digest food they need fluid filling their pitchers to about 1/4th their height. Since these plants do much of their digestion via bacteria, you should probably keep the pitchers filled with a bit of water at all times so the bacterial populations are healthy. I admit that when I feed these plants, I splash a little water into each pitcher. But I’m just guessing on this.
Page citations: personal observations.

This is How You Need to Take Care of a Pitcher Plant

Growing pitcher plants is not a daunting task, provided you know the right methods. Here are some tips and guidelines about pitcher plant care.

You might have heard about carnivorous plants that feed on insects and arthropods. While some of them have pitfall traps (as in pitcher plants), some others like Venus Flytrap have snap traps. There are some carnivorous plants that suck in insects and some species use their sticky mucilage to catch their prey. Some well-known carnivorous plants are pitcher plants and Venus Flytrap. These plants are also popular as houseplants and are grown in gardens too.

It is a common fact that pitcher plants are carnivorous, and they trap insects and other arthropods using pitchers, that are modified midribs of their leaves. These pitchers contain a fluid, in which the insects drown and die. Pitcher plants absorb nutrients from the insect, which gets dissolved in the liquid inside the pitcher. The disintegration of the trapped insects is either done by the bacteria inside the pitcher or through the action of the digestive enzymes in the liquid. In some pitcher plants, live insect larvae are found in the liquid inside the pitchers and these larvae feed on the trapped insects. In such cases, the plant absorbs nutrients from the excreta of the larvae. The carnivorous nature of pitcher plants can be considered an adaptation that compensates for the infertility of the soil, in which these plants usually grow. Pitcher plants are found to grow in soil that is poor in nutrients, especially nitrogen. So, suitable growing conditions are a must for these plants.

How to Care for the Pitcher Plants?

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Most of the pitcher plant species belong to the families Nepenthaceae and Sarraceniaceae. The family Nepenthaceae are mostly climbers with pitchers formed at the end of the leaves’ midribs, in case of Sarraceniaceae family, pitchers are formed by the entire leaves. The plants in the latter family are not climbers, but grow on the ground. The most popular pitcher plants grown in gardens are red pitcher plant (Nepenthes ventricosa), pale pitcher plant (Sarracenia alata), yellow trumpet pitcher plant (Sarracenia flava), purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea), Sarracenia Dana’s delight, Nepenthes rajah and Nepenthes alata.

Where to Grow Pitcher Plants?

Though pitcher plants can be grown outdoors as well as indoors, it is best to grow them outdoors. Soggy areas are ideal for growing these plants. The soil must be acidic in nature. If you don’t have such a location in your garden, then plant them in pots (plastic or glazed ceramic ones) that do not drain. The potting mixture has to be 50% sphagnum peat moss and 50% perlite/horticultural sand. If you are using sand, make sure that it is clean and washed. You should not use beach sand, contractor’s sand or limestone sand. The location must provide bright light and high humidity, which are necessary for the growth of the plant. Direct sunlight is also good for some species. It may also happen that too much sunlight can cause sunburns on the plant. If there is a deficiency of sunlight, the plant may become weak and lack color too.

Keep the Soil Soggy

Always keep the soil wet, but use distilled water or rainwater for this purpose. This is because, tap water may contain chemicals that can harm the plant. Bottled drinking water is not advisable, as it contains minerals. The easiest method is to keep the pot (with the plant) in a tray of water. For pitcher plants, you can keep a good amount of water in the tray. The water level in the tray can be deep enough to immerse half of the pot. For other carnivorous plants, the water level (in the tray) should be low, so that it does not cover more than half-an-inch of the pot. In such cases, refill only when the water dries up. For most of the carnivorous plants, watering means refilling the tray.

Ideal Humidity

Even though, pitcher plants can tolerate low levels of humidity, during summers (growing season), high humidity levels (60% and above) are required. It has been observed that in low humidity levels, pitchers are not formed. You can grow them in terrariums or greenhouses, for high humidity. In case of terrarium, there must be some sort of ventilation, to avoid fungal growth and other damage to the plant. Humidifiers can also be used for this purpose.

Temperature Levels

The temperature requirement of pitcher plants may vary with the species. Most of these plants can grow well in a temperature range of 55-95° F. However, hybrid pitcher plants are considered easier to grow. Apart from that, colorful pitchers are available in hybrids like N. x Dyeriana, N. x Chelsonii, N. x Williamsii, N. x Ventrata and N. x Superba. It will be better to avoid those species that require extreme temperature for growth.

Feeding and Dormancy

While fertilizers are not usually needed by pitcher plants that have access to insects, others may require feeding in very small amounts, so as to maintain the acidity levels of the soil. This is done by using a foliar spray once during the growing season. Dilute the fertilizer (one teaspoon for one gallon of water) and spray on the foliage and not inside the pitchers. You should not put meat inside the pitchers, but, can use small insects like flies and crickets (occasionally) for this purpose. Usually, two to three insects per month is sufficient for the plant to thrive. Some people use Miracid fertilizer in diluted form. Mix one-eighth teaspoon of this fertilizer with a quart of water and fill three-fourth of the pitchers (and not the plant or soil). Pitcher plants are dormant during winters. In the case of plants in the outdoor soggy areas, you can use three inches of pine needle mulch during late fall. You may also dig out the plant, remove the soil and dead leaves and keep it in a sealed bag with some moss. Refrigerate this plant for around three months, before replanting it.

The above mentioned are some generalized tips and guidelines about tropical pitcher plant care. Requirements of pitcher plants may vary with different species and hybrids. So, you must collect enough information about that specific pitcher plant species, that you intend to grow.

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In our previous posts, we have talked about growing and caring for Venus Flytraps, Sundews and other carnivorous plants. Today we will give you the full guide on growing and caring for Tropical pitcher plants, or Nepenthes. We will talk about growing and feeding Tropical Pitcher Plants. What is more, we will talk about optimal temperatures, humidity levels and answer many other questions. And then, we will discuss how to grow Nepenthes in a greenhouse, terrariums, indoors and outdoors.

  • So, what are Tropical Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes) and where do they grow?

Nepenthes are large climbing carnivorous plants with more than 200 known species. They grow large in sizes, and hang as vines with large pitchers. Tropical pitcher plants are ideal for growing in warm or hot states or countries, but you can grow them almost anywhere in a greenhouse or a terrarium.

Tropical pitcher plants are also called ‘Monkey Cups’, because monkeys drink water from them. Nepenthes grow in different places of the world – with the main regions being Southeastern Asia. Countries with Tropical Pitcher Plants include Indonesia, Philippines, Sumatra, New Caledonia, China, Borneo and Australia.

There are also female and male Nepenthes, and most of the plants are males.

  • What trap do Nepenthes have?

Nepenthes have pitfall traps that are filled with digestive juices. The pitfall traps form from a leaf, and can take months to mature. Even though the trap doesn’t move to capture the prey, it’s large and many various insects, such as ants and wasps, become victims of this plant. The plant is producing nectar, which lures insects to the plant. After trying some nectar, many insects move up to the pitcher and then fall in the trap.

  • How long do Tropical Pitcher plants live for?

Tropical Pitcher plants live for many years, often ranging from 10-20 years. The plant can take 5-10 years to flower and it will have new shoots growing each year that turn into rosettes. After the plant has flowered, it will continue growing stems. This way, plant will always continue growing throughout its life.

  • What types of Tropical Pitcher Plants are there?

There are ‘highland’ and ‘lowland’ Tropical Pitcher plants, and they grow in different settings. ‘Highland’ Nepenthes grow above 3000 feet (914 meters), in mountains, with usual rains and high humidity. ‘Lowland’ Nepenthes are opposite, and grow below 3000 feet (914 meters), in open areas such as forests and fields. Most Nepenthes species belong to the Highland type. There are also many different hybrids that are produced naturally or artificially through crossing different species of Nepenthes.

Some examples of Highland Tropical Pitcher Plants:

This is Nepenthes Bicalcarata

  • Alata
  • Khasiana
  • Fusca
  • Sanguinea
  • Ventricosa
  • Maxima
  • Macfarlanei
  • Spathulata

Some examples of Lowland Tropical Pitcher Plants:

  • Nepenthes ampullaria
  • Gracilis
  • Bicalcarata
  • Truncata
  • Ventricosa
  • Rafflesiana
  • Northiana
  • Albomarginata
  • Veitchii

Some examples of Nepenthes that you can buy online are Nepenthes Ventricosa in a pot or one in a hanging basket.

  • Which type of Tropical Pitcher Plant is best for me?

To successfully grow Nepenthes in your region, you should do your best to recreate temperatures, humidity and photoperiod that the plant gets naturally in its habitat. But if you really want to grow a specific type of a Tropical Pitcher Plant, you can recreate the conditions by growing them in the greenhouse, for example. We will discuss the optimal temperatures and humidity.

If you live somewhere with hot days, warm nights and high humidity all year round, lowland species are better for you. Highland Nepenthes species will suit people in places with warm days but cooler nights.

  • Best Tropical Pitcher plants for beginners
  • Nepenthes Maxima
  • Gracilis
  • Ventricosa
  • Sanguinea
  • Ventrata
  • Veitchii
  • What soil do Tropical Pitcher Plants need?

Tropical Pitcher plants thrive in a moist to wet, but well drained soil. But the soil for Nepenthes should be acidic, light, airy and not soggy. Some Nepenthes grow in sand and alkaline soil. In the natural habitat, Tropical Pitcher plants’ soil is kept wet by rainfalls and fogs. Their soil should be poor in nutrients, because they feed on insects to compromise for this disadvantage.

You can grow Tropical Pitcher plants in different soil mixes. To make your own soil, mix orchid bark, perlite and chopped Sphagnum moss (or orchid mix). Add 1 part of each (equal parts) and mix.

  • What temperatures do Tropical Pitcher plants need?

The optimal temperatures will depend if you have Highland or Lowland Nepenthes.

For Highland species, optimal temperatures are between 75-78.8 Fahrenheit (24-26 degrees Celsius) during the day and approximately 53-61 F (12-16 degrees Celsius) at night.

For Lowland species, optimal temperatures during the day are 82-95 degrees Fahrenheit (28-35 Celsius), and 64-75 Fahrenheit (18-24 Celsius) at night.

  • What is the optimal humidity for Nepenthes?

Make sure that humidity is always high in a container, greenhouse or terrarium – wherever you are growing your Tropical pitcher plants. If growing outdoors, also check humidity levels. Ideal humidity levels are 60% or higher. Use a hygrometer to check humidity levels.

  • How much light do Tropical Pitcher plants need?

Tropical pitcher plants need part to full sun. If keeping indoors, place on a windowsill, and for terrariums – use artificial lighting. Lowlanders prefer higher temperatures and bright light, while Highlanders are fine with part sun.

  • How should I water my Tropical Pitcher plants?

Always water Nepenthes from overhead. Never let the soil dry out, because plant needs moist to wet soil to survive. Place the pot with the plant on a dish, but always remove excess water that drips out the pot. Nepenthes don’t like waterlogged soil and they are not suitable for bog gardens. Too much water in the container will cause rotting of roots.

  • Which containers should I use for growing Tropical Pitcher plants?

The best types of containers are wooden, plastic or ceramic pots that have drainage holes. Drainage holes are must, because soil needs to be wet, but not soggy. The excess water must drip out. For outdoor growing, you can use hanging pots and for indoor growing – small plastic or ceramic pots with drainage holes and a saucer for collecting dripping water. Container size should be around 5 inches for small plants and 7-10 inches for mature plants.

  • Where can I grow my Tropical Pitcher plants?

You can successfully grow Nepenthes outdoors, indoors, in a mini or big greenhouse, terrarium or a windowsill. Each growing spot is posing different challenges. You need to make sure that temperature, humidity and amount of light requirements are all met.

It is the best idea to choose either lowlanders or highlanders, as they need different conditions. But you can also keep them together by creating optimal conditions and matching the temperatures that both types of Nepenthes are comfortable in.

  • Growing Highlanders and Lowlanders together

If growing Highlanders and Lowlanders together in a greenhouse, make sure that temperatures are more higher, than lower. For example, temperatures during the day should be around 82 degrees, not more or less. If temperatures are lower, Lowland Pitcher plants will not thrive. At night, ideal temperature should be 64 degrees Fahrenheit. While Highlanders can cope with a slight increase or decrease in temperatures, Lowlanders need high daytime temperatures and low night time temperatures.

  • Growing Tropical Pitcher plants in a greenhouse

Greenhouses can be one of the best places for growing Tropical Pitcher plants. You can grow both Highlanders and Lowlanders in a greenhouse, but to grow them together, you will have to keep the temperature constant.

Greenhouses, hot houses, or small greenhouses to place on a balcony are very good for growing Pitcher plants. That’s because you can heat and cool it down, as well as create right humidity. You can also use a mini portable hot house indoors for growing Tropical Pitcher plants. Your greenhouse can be partly shaded (but not fully as plants will need full to part sun, around 50%).

  • Growing Tropical Pitcher plants in a terrarium

Terrariums are very good for growing Tropical Pitcher plants. To grow your Nepenthes in a terrarium, choose a large sized tank that will be similar to a mini hothouse. For example, this terrarium can be used for both indoors and outdoors. You will need to have the plants in their pots with drainage holes. Then, you will place these potted Nepenthes inside the terrarium. Don’t plant your Tropical pitcher plant directly in a small terrarium. Choose a larger terrarium and grow few plants inside it.

Don’t choose Nepenthes that get large, because you will have limited space in a terrarium. Growing Tropical Pitcher plants in a terrarium also means that you will need some techniques to cool or heat it. For heating a terrarium (if growing Lowlanders especially), use a heating pad/mat. Connect a heating pad to a thermostat to make sure that temperatures are correct.

You should also place a thermometer inside a terrarium to confirm the temperatures and humidity. To cool the terrarium, use ice packs (reusable ones that you fill with water and keep in the freezer) and open the terrarium lid. Regulate humidity levels by misting the plants. Also, don’t forget about ventilation – make sure to open the lid once a day to allow the airflow. For a light source, use plant lights. From time to time, you will also need to prune climbing vines that get too long.

  • Growing Tropical Pitcher Plants indoors

    Note the red ‘lip’ or peristome of this Nepenthes. This lip is slippery, and that’s why the victims fall in the trap

Growing Nepenthes indoors is very possible. You can grow them in a terrarium or a mini hot house that you keep inside the house. Apart from terrariums and greenhouses, you can place the plants on a windowsill. To grow your Nepenthes on a windowsill, you will need to make sure there is enough bright light. To increase the humidity, you can use a humidifier or simply mist the plant.

  • Growing Tropical Pitcher Plants outdoors

You can grow your Tropical Pitcher plants outdoors – in a heated greenhouse if the temperatures are not high enough. You can also potentially grow them outdoors in hanging pots – but providing with high humidity levels or optimal temperatures can be very hard in states or countries with frequent weather fluctuations.

If you live in for example, California or Florida, you can keep your Nepenthes outdoors, but take them indoors if temperatures or humidity drop too low. It is the best idea to house them in at least a portable hothouse outdoors, when conditions are not suitable during weather fluctuations.

  • Why are my Tropical Pitcher plants’ traps turning brown? And why are the leaves losing color?

If the traps are turning brown, this means that you need to increase the air humidity. Mist the plants once or twice a day, keep a water dish in a tank or use a humidifier. Leaves might also shrink or lose color if there is lack of lighting.

  • Do Tropical Pitcher plants becomes dormant in winter?

No, Nepenthes should not become fully dormant in winter. Lowlanders need high temperatures and bright light all year round. Highlanders can survive drops in temperature, but they will become slower at growing. It is advised to keep Nepenthes in same conditions all year round.

  • What can you feed your Tropical Pitcher plants?

You can feed various live or freeze dried insects to your Nepenthes. If your plants are indoors or in a greenhouse and can’t catch insects themselves, you will need to provide them with some insects. Insects that you can choose can be different – but you will mostly find crickets, mealworms and grasshoppers for sale. Some Nepenthes can even capture rats and lizards, but feeding them heavy meals in not recommended. These small animals will not digest fully and will cause rotting smell.

Make sure insects are not too big to go in the trap, or you will overfeed and kill the pitcher. Don’t offer meat or any dairy products. You won’t need to feed the plant frequently – only once in 10-14 days, and only if it hasn’t caught anything itself.

  • Do I need to fertilize Tropical Pitcher plants?

Generally, you won’t need to fertilize Tropical Pitcher plants if it is feeding normally. But you can fertilize the foliage will diluted orchid (or other acidity loving plant) fertilizer, once a month. Nepenthes will surely love foliage fertilization.

  • How to propagate Nepenthes?

Growing brand new Nepenthes from seeds is effective, but will take years for a new plant to mature and flower. To produce Nepenthes seeds, you will need to pollinate the female plant with male pollen. Seeds should form after few weeks and you will need to sow them shortly after forming.

The better way to produce new Nepenthes plants is from existing plant cuttings. Watch this video to see how to get cuttings from Nepenthes:

  • Which water to use for watering Tropical Pitcher plants and how often to water them?

You can water your Tropical Pitcher plants with rainwater, distilled or deionised water, and water produced with reverse-osmosis system. Read more about reverse-osmosis water filtering system here.

From time to time, you can also use tap water. Even though tap water is hard and can cause accumulation of minerals in the soil, occasional watering should not cause issues. This is because you will need to water the plant quite often, washing off the mineral residues. Watering frequency will depend on environment – make sure that the soil doesn’t get dry. It can require a daily watering in summer and less frequent watering in winter.

  • How can I prune my Tropical Pitcher plant?

You should remove any brown traps or old leaves. You can also remove old and long stems that got too long, especially if growing Nepenthes in a terrarium. For propagation, you can use cuttings.

  • Do I need to repot my Nepenthes?

Yes, transplant your Nepenthes every 3-4 years. Use fresh soil, trim the old roots and stems. And move the plant to larger container if it has outgrown it.

Thank you for reading this article! Check out our other guides on growing and caring for carnivorous plants.

  • Can any pests attack Nepenthes plants and how to get rid of them?

The most common pests that can attack Nepenthes plants are aphids, mealybugs, thrips and scale. Fungus is usually caused by poor ventilation, low light and might also cause spots on the leaves. Treat fungus with fungicides and other pests with insecticides.

FlytrapCare Carnivorous Plant Forums

Nepenthes (Asian Pitcher Plant)
Note: Many grower have different ways of care for Nepenthes Cultivation but this is the way I do it and I hope it give you an idea of care.

    Nepenthes also known as the “Tropical Pitcher Plant” or “Monkey Cup’s” is a group of Carnivorous plant’s with over 120 species Natural species and many different hybrid’s, that are cultivated and that accrue naturally. They are located in the tropic’s of Southeast Asia. Varying in different shapes and sizes. Nepenthes are also known for the very beautiful and odd pitchers that they develop. Their pitchers though beautiful are deadly too insects an other small rodents. Over the years they evolved to the point where their pitchers supply them with the nutrients they can’t get from they soil that they are found in. Unlike Venus Flytraps they have a more clever way of capturing and digesting insects. With their very beautiful pitchers they secrete nectar that lures insects too the plant’s pitchers, where most of the surface and inter-parts are slippery (usually when wet). Once the insects slips inside they can’t get out due to the waxy-ness of the inner walls of the pitcher and the almost vacuum like state of the air inside so they can’t fly out assuming the insect has wings. Inside the pitcher you’ll find that the plant creates it’s very own digestive fluid that slowly drowns and then digests the dead decomposing insect in an almost soup like liquid. There are two main types of Nepenthes, there are “highland” and “Lowland” and also “intermediate” which is a combination of the two and is usually much more easier to grow. Lowland requires higher temperature’s and grow below 3000 feet and highland above 3000 feet with cooler temperatures.I will be giving the care for both highland and lowland right after the basic care.
    Anatomy of a Nepenthes Pitcher

Basic Care
The care for Nepenthes is almost all the same as any other Carnivorous plant but with a few exceptions. The care really depends on what kinda of species of Nepenthes that you have, because certain species require certain needs. This guide is just for the basic care of a Nepenthes so that you can understand the care a bit more, but keep in mind that you have to make sure that you can handle the care of these amazing plants, making sure that you have the right lighting and care for it. If you feel that your Nepenthes requires special care and wanna know more about them please feel free to post a new topic

and we’ll try to resolve you problem as soon as possible. Most of the user’s on this site are very good and experts at growing these wonderful plants!

    1). SOIL! “Media”
    As you may know by now Carnivorous Plants require poor nutrient-free soil since they evolved to live in. Meaning that you have to use soil that has very little to no trace of minerals in it. An remember also that using fertilizers is very bad for your plants over all health, unless you are an experience grower that know’s his or her way around with orchid fertilizers and Growth hormones. For an idea of soil mixes in case your wondering, I listed below some soil mixes that are now somewhat universal for some Nepenthe growers

    • 3 parts coconut husk and 1 part dried sphagnum moss
    • 1 part dried sphagnum moss and 1 part perlite (or pumice)
    • 1 part peat moss, 1 part perlite and 1 part silica sand
      (excellent soil aeration and drainage.you can use washed sand and silica sand too. But different grow’s make up there own soil recipes but it has to be all the same.)

    Also remember to always repot your plant when you notice that the soil is starting to break down. Mainly once every year or two year depending on the type of conditions you’re plant(s) is under. But, I would recommend every year, during spring time, also keep in mind that you can repot nepenthes anytime of the year.
    Remember NEVER! use any Miracle Grow products for they always have high amounts of minerals.
    NOTE: Certain Soil mixes don’t provide the right kind of soil aeration and drainage so be wise in the mix your gonna make
    2). LIGHT (Photo period)
    The most important thing for the plant’s energy is light. Without light the plant will surely die eventually. Depending on what kinda of species of Nepenthes you have depends on what kind and how much light they will get. As I said, depending on your species that you have you have to use one of two options. Direct sunlight (or partial sunlight) and of course artificial lighting which is done with TFL (Tube Fluorescent lights) or CFL’s which are Compact Fluorescents. If you are unsure what kind of lighting your plant needs, just feel free to ask!

      Artificial lighting

    • Artificial lighting is either done with Tube Fluorescents Lights or Compact Fluorescent Lights.
    • The color temperature that you’re looking for is within the 6500K.
    • With CFL over 100w and tube over 40w

        Acclimation to sun light
        Acclimation to sun light depends on the variety of the plant. But a way too do it is slowly introducing you’re plant to low light. Mainly from an East window when the sun is barely coming up, than start to gradually increase the daylight hours. By, 30 minutes to an hour every two too three days. After a week and a half you should be able too leave your plant out in a full photo period (4+ hours of sun, ideally 6+)
        Warning! Sun acclimation is for plants that CAN grow in full sun!

    unlike other carnivorous plant’s they can tolerate hard water form 250ppm and below but this doesn’t mean you have to always give it to them.. make sure if you water them with hard water to drain the soil every 2 to 3 weeks with distilled water so it can wash out all the left over soilds form the soil.. but you can still use pure water and distilled to make thing’s easier or water form and RO unit but the best by far is letting them sit out in the rain for the purest of waters . like any carnivorous plant make sure that the soil is always moist and never drys out!
    so water like 2 times a week or as you would do with any house plant but remember don’t let the soil dry completely out or else your plant will suffer

Additional Care
Highland Nepenthes
Highland Nepenthes are Nepenthes that are found over 3000ft in the wild they require the same care but since it’s higher elevation they need cool night’s (45° – 65°F) and day’s (65° – 85°F). An Partial to filtered sun but the sunlight depends on the species that ‘s grown.
Nepenthes spathulata is an example of a Highland Nepenthes
Lowland Nepenthes
Lowland Nepenthes are Nepenthes that come from below 3000ft so the daytime and night time temperature’s are higher than the highland nepenthes. Lowland requires night time temperatures above 70°F and day temps in the upper 80’s and lower 90’s.. but sometimes with higher humidity.
Intermediate Nepenthes
Intermediate Nepenthes are both Highland and Lowland that are both crossbreed and are much more easier to maintain. Sense the plant is from both “elevations” in their natural habitat.
Common Problem’s
-Pests (aphids, spider mites, etc..)-
Either if your dealing with aphids, spider mites or some other “pest” the best insecticide to use would be one that’s “water” based. From everyone here at Flytrapcare we decided that Ortho was the best.
-Ortho systemic insect spray or any water based insect spray
For fungus or mold problem’s best to use a SULFER BASED FUNGICIDE!
-Brown or Yellow leaves-
other common problem’s are when the leave’s turn yellow or brown this is due to the fact that the pitcher’s leaves are getting old so the best thing to do is cut them off. this wont harm your plant at all.
-Dying pitchers-
dying pitcher are due to the lack of energy of the plant.. this usually happen’s around fall and winter when the sun is putting off lower light than summer or spring so this is normal another reason is that the pitcher lived its life cause pitcher’s don’t last very long just only a few month’s and they grow old and die so just cut off the dying pitcher at the end of the tendril an it won’t harm your plant.
More coming soon!
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© 2009 FlyTrapCare.com
© 2009 Allen C.

Watering Nepenthes – How To Water A Pitcher Plant

Nepenthes (pitcher plants) are fascinating plants that survive by secreting sweet nectar that lures insects to the plant’s cup-like pitchers. Once the unsuspecting insect slides into the slippery pitcher, the plant’s fluids digest the bug in soupy, sticky liquid.

There are many types of exotic pitcher plants, all surprisingly easy to grow once you learn how to meet the plant’s basic needs, including proper pitcher plant watering. Read on to learn what’s involved in watering a pitcher plant.

Pitcher Plant Watering

Pitcher plants like humid, boggy environments; this is the main thing to keep in mind when watering nepenthes. Feel the planting medium regularly, and water whenever the surface of the medium begins to feel slightly dry to the touch. The plant is likely to suffer if you allow the potting medium to become completely dry.

How to water a pitcher plant? Watering nepenthes is actually very simple and not that different from watering any indoor plant. Just water the plant until moisture drips through the drainage hole, then allow the pot to drain thoroughly.

Never let the plant sit in water. Although nepenthes like moist soil, the plants are prone to root rot in soggy, poorly-drained planting medium.

Tips on Watering Carnivorous Plants

Although pitcher plants (and other carnivorous plants) tolerate dry air, they frequently stop producing pitchers when the humidity drops below 50 percent. If the environment is dry, mist regularly or place the plant near a room humidifier. Placing the plant in a group with other plants also helps increase humidity around the plants.

You can also increase humidity by placing the plant on a tray or plate with a layer of wet pebbles or gravel. Keep the pebbles consistently wet, but always keep the bottom of the pot above the water line.

A terrarium is another option for pitcher plants in dry rooms. However, most pitcher plants do just fine in a less controlled environment.

Use filtered, distilled water or rainwater instead of tap water. If you use hard water from the tap, water deeply with distilled water every two to three weeks to flush minerals from the soil.

Avoid air-conditioned rooms, which tend to be much too dry for pitcher plants.

Many areas of the United States are suffering from extreme drought and your garden may also be showing signs of it as well.

So, if you plants are in need of more supplemental water, what do you do? Do you haul out your hose to water your thirsty plants? Unfortunately, when you water your plants with a hose, a lot of the water from the hose often comes out too quickly for the soil to absorb and much of the water runs off and doesn’t water your plants deeply enough.

So, other then using a hose or sprinklers, what can you do for your thirsty plants?

How about making your own drip-watering container? This is the perfect way to slow-water your plants and recycles your old milk jugs. It is also an easy way to apply liquid fertilizer to your plants too!

Making your own drip-watering container is super easy and the only things you need are a clean plastic milk jug and a sharp nail. That’s it!

What you need to do is to make tiny holes on the bottom of your milk container. Here is how you do it…

– Take a sharp nail and heat it up using a lighter or the burner on your stove (be careful not to burn your fingers when you do this part ;-).

– Make four holes equally spaced on the bottom of your milk jug. You may need to reheat the nail after each hole, which helps the nail to pierce the plastic easily.

– Place your milk jug next to the plant you want to water in your garden and fill it with water from your hose. If the hose doesn’t reach your plant, simply fill it with water at the source, put the cap on and turn it upside down (so the water doesn’t come out the holes) until you reach your plant and then set it down.

– Water will slowly drip out into the soil around your plant, which allows the water to deeply penetrate the soil without runoff.

Your plants will appreciate the extra water and you’ll save time and water by not standing over your plants watering with your hose.

**In my garden, I like to deep water my succulents using this method too!

For a more permanent solution, you can make holes on the sides of a milk jug and bury it entirely next to your plant, just leaving the mouth of the jug exposed. Leave the cap on and unscrew it and fill with water when needed.

Milk jugs are incredibly versatile and have many uses. Check out this Birds & Blooms article for more ideas: “Uses for Milk Jugs”

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