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Carnivorous Plant Growing Tips
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Tropical Pitcher Plant - Nepenthes spp.

Tropical Pitcher Plant
1:1:1 perlite:orchid bark:peat mix
Tropical Pitcher Plants
6" hanging pot
moist, but well drained
full to part sun, some prefer shade
cool for highland species, warm for lowland species
medium to high
greenhouse, terrarium, windowsill
The Tropical Pitcher Plants, Nepenthes spp. are native to Southeast Asia including Borneo, Sumatra, Malaysia, the Philippines, India, and northern Australia.  They are divided into two distinct groups: the highland and the lowland species.  Highland species grow on the cool mountainsides and tops.  The lowland species grow in the warm foothills and coastal areas.  The soil tends to be low in nutrients and high in organic matter.  Most grow in acidic soils, though some can be found growing in sand and/or alkaline conditions.  Lowland species grow in typical day temperature ranges from 86-93°F (30-34°C) with a nightly cooling of 15°F (8°C).  Highland species grow in typical daytime temperatures between 77-86°F (25-30°C) and night temperatures that drop as much as 18°F (10°C).
Tropical Pitchers Plants Nepenthes spp. can be challenging CPs to grow because of their need for bright and warm conditions.  This often requires a greenhouse for sustained culture.  Tropical Pitcher Plants prefer good air circulation and a light, well-drained, porous soil.  A soil mix of 1 parts perlite, 1 part orchid bark, and 1 part peat works well.  Pure live sphagnum moss or “orchid mix” is a good soil alternative.  Nepenthes are tolerant of a variety of soil mixes.  Keep the soil evenly moist and well drained.  Water with mineral-free water from overhead.  Nepenthes prefer a hanging pot or basket.  They like bright, full sun and high humidity.  Lowland species prefer hot temperatures, and highland species prefer warm temperatures.  A day/night temperature difference of 15°F (8°C) is recommended.  A misting system is beneficial.  Mature Nepenthes are climbing vines and growing accommodations should provide for this.
Tropical Pitchers Plants do not require dormancy.  They prefer warm winter conditions.  Slow growth during the winter months is typical.
Tropical Pitcher Plants are avid feeders.  Provided with natural access to insects they will “feed” themselves.  Even indoors they will attract and capture an occasional fly or other insect.  Do not feed them meat or cheese.  This will likely rot and kill the trap.  If feeding is desired, drop in a few dead crickets, wasps or similar insects.  Freeze dried food from the pet shops works well. 

Other Considerations
  • Nepenthes plants are either male or female and the flowers can be quite odiferous.  Unless seeds are desired and one of each sex is available, consider removing any flower spikes, as they will draw energy from the plant and can have an offensive odor.
  • Nepenthes require high humidity.  Traps will not form properly, abort, or die back in low humidity.
  • Consider placing the plants outside, hanging under a tree in the summer.  They will benefit from the bright light and insect laden environment.  Keep an eye on the humidity.  Frequently misting may be necessary.
  • Nepenthes are slow growers during their first few years, and can take 5 to 10 years to mature.  Once established, they will begin to vine and grow rapidly.  At this stage traps stems will loop around and cling to any available support.  Be sure to provide amble support for the plants during this vine-growing stage.  Flowers occur on the tips of the growing vines.  The pitchers on the young plants near the plant base usually have a slightly different shape and coloration than the traps on the upper vines.  The upper vines can be cut off and used to start new plants.  New growth will emerge from the remaining plant base.

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