Nepenthes Care: A Different Approach to Growing Tropical Pitcher Plants

In Houseplants & Tropicals
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Welcome to my post on Nepenthes care. This is more an exploration of topics and justification for my approach than advice on “how YOU should grow Nepenthes.” The sections I’ll cover include the primary topics for care: temperature, potting media, water quality, watering methods, misting, humidity, light, and fertilizer. I’ll contrast common knowledge with my perspective so you have insight into why I’ve chosen a designated approach. Click those links to jump to the section you care about or continue reading for full coverage.

For context: I have grown Nepenthes on and off for over 15 years, having about 5 years continuous experience. If you are new to my blog, I’m a Canadian plant hobbyist that primarily grows and hybridizes orchids. I write about my experience growing these and other unique plants to offer other growers a more rounded understanding of plant care; you know, beyond advice like, “needs low light and don’t overwater.”

My Nepenthes collection: is mostly hybrids of highland or ultra-highland ‘toothy’, cool-growing species (such as villosa, hamata, diabolica, rajah, robcantleyi, and veitchii). There are photos at the bottom of this post if you want to see my plants and setup. I also have a few lowland species like northiana, ampullaria, and rafflesiana, as well as a few lowland hybrids. At the time of writing this article, I have 20 types of Nepenthes (including dozens of newly germinated ampullaria-hybrid seedlings). All are in a 130 gallon terrarium, with a humidity that ranges between 60-95%. They get light from various full spectrum LED grow lights. I live in an apartment in Calgary, Canada, but my indoor temps are seasonally much warmer than recommended for highland Nepenthes. Day temperatures can average as high as 32C during June, July and August, but otherwise sit around a daytime temp of 23C. My plants also don’t get the recommended nightly temperature drops and only receive about a 5C drop. For this reason, I’ve opted to grow mostly hybrids of highland Nepenthes and not the species themselves. I want toothy plants…so I still had to try something that works within my conditions.

If you’re new to this genus, you will want to brush up on what “highland/ultra-highland” means—here’s a good post from Red Leaf Exotics on Nepenthes temperature requirements and there’s a nifty tool from Tom’s Carnivores to calculate the temperature requirements of different Nepenthes species which is based on the plant’s elevational range in nature. TL;DR: The higher elevation a species naturally grows on a mountain, the more specialized its adaptations are for cooler day and night temps. Conversely, lowland species (from near sea level elevation) require high day and night temps.

Photos of my Nepenthes collection

 

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As a caveat: I am not suggesting this is the right or best way to grow these plants. This is a long-term experiment that I’m sharing with others to provide contrast, perspective and frankly just transparency (because people often ask about the details of my grow setup). My hope is that this works as a lens that contrasts your current view of Nepenthes care. While I have been growing Nepenthes for a good period of time, my current plants have been in my care for a little over 2 years at most. In Nepenthes timelines, that is not long. Some particularly slow-growing species can take upwards of 10+ years to mature. I have not killed any Nepenthes in my current collection, which I feel is a good sign of success so far, but time will tell how we fare.

My first group of Nepenthes on the other hand…I killed them all. While I was on vacation, my indoor greenhouse malfunctioned, blew a seam, and all my plants dried out before I returned home. I lost a couple thousand dollars worth of plants, Nepenthes species that were imported from Wistuba and were incredibly rare, along with a bunch of orchids. As you can imagine, it took me a while to come back and try Nepenthes again 🙂

I also understand that Nepenthes are a very slow-growing genus, so I urge you to take all of the following info with a grain of salt and apply your own critical thinking before erroneously following my process here. If you’re growing species plants and not hybrids, certainly be more cautious—they can be highly specialized in their adaptations to grow and thrive under specific conditions, and may not tolerate warmer or cooler conditions.

Hybrid Vigor == ‘Easier Plants’: Hybrids have a blend of genes and traits from their parents, often making them more versatile and resilient when it comes to their care and tolerance. This outcome is typically referred to as “hybrid vigor” because hybrid plants seem to grow faster or are easier to keep than their parent species. It doesn’t mean hybrids are better…they’re just less specific about the requirements they may need, and sometimes they can be more tolerant of the conditions we have in our home. Hybrids may also be less-able to withstand really extreme conditions (that their parents tolerate and even require), so the term “hybrid vigor” is a little misleading. I’m getting a bit off track, but I want to be clear that none of my Nepenthes are ultra-/highland species, only hybrids, because I’m expecting that will influence my success. Perhaps one day I’ll try a highland species to test the limits…but not for now.

My promise: If I fail…I will update this post and note which plants didn’t make it. If you want to know which nepenthes hybrids I have, I’ve included a list at the very bottom of this post.

 

Nepenthes Care

Temperature of Highland Hybrids

As I mentioned, my temperatures are considerably warmer than those recommended for highland and ultra-highland species. I’m not bragging about that, I just can’t get my temps cooler because I’m on the Southwest corner of a brick building with no air conditioning. I do not want to rely on a fragile enclosed system to keep my plants alive (out of fear of repeating past mistakes), which is why I have not opted to build some sort of specialty cooling system.

My day temps range from 23–32C (averaging ~23C in winter and up to 32C in summer). Night temps are 20–27C (again winter at the lower end and 27C nights in the heat of summer). As an example of how “not good” these temps are, according to Tom’s Carnivores temp calculator the recommended range for my plants are:

  • villosa x robcantleyi, 9–16C nights & 19–26C days; my average temps (~23.5C night / ~27C day) are consistently about 3–10C warmer than the recommended average. This cross is one of my “most highland” hybrids which means it’s the most likely to not survive these temps. While it’s relatively slow-growing, it is still putting out leaves and pitchers that regularly increase in size, so I’m optimistic;
    Before/after comparison – 4 months growth of Nepenthes villosa x robcantleyi
  • rajah x klossii, 10–18C nights & 20–28C days; my average temps are consistently about 3–9C warmer than the recommended range. However, it’s one of my most vigorous Nepenthes and puts out a leaf every 4-5 weeks; here is a photo:

     

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  • aristolochioides x diabolica, the most highland plant I have, should have 10–14C nights and 20–24C days. This makes it similar to villosa x robcantleyi for it’s temp requirement, but should take even cooler temps. Initially, I thought the plant was doing poorly. It grew 4 leaves in 4 months (fast), but all without pitchers. When I got it, it was big—a cutting from B.E.’s stock plant and the four pitchers it arrived with were enormous (larger than any others in my collection). So it’s not surprising that the plant didn’t immediately produce new pitchers. Now, toward the end of summer, it looks like one of the older new leaves is starting to produce a pitcher—oddly delayed, but better late than never. Beyond this, the plant looks very healthy. When it arrived many of the leaves had black spotting; all new leaves are free of these spots. The new leaves have been increasingly getting larger, but time will tell how this plant fares. At this point it certainly doesn’t ‘look stressed.’

     

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Is temperature *really* that important for Nepenthes?

Temperature is complicated: I am conflicted with the concept of temperature specificity because I think we growers have oversimplified the topic. Temperature affects more than just plant metabolism and I don’t think many growers have taken those other variables into account. For example, temperature affects transpiration rates. Also, ambient room temperature in addition to direct sun can easily drive the leaf surface temperature above 40C, but plants grown under LEDs don’t get this same spike in temp (and therefore may not suffer the same heat-related stress). Additionally, the temperature of water affects the solubility of certain minerals (and oxygen) which can impact elements of nutrient availability and conditions favorable for microbes. So for all these reasons, I feel there are many mechanisms related to temperature that can affect plant health; I’ve been adjusting those other parameters (instead of just focusing on temperature alone)—I’ll cover those changes more in the potting soil and water quality section, but I want to unpack the temperature topic more.

The common belief is that temperature affects the metabolic rate of Nepenthes plants and leads to a buildup of volatile compounds in the tissue. This leads to stress and eventually death, if a plant is kept outside its ideal temperature range. This study on temperature adaptation of four Nepenthes species (evaluating the lowland & intermediate species: N. ampullaria, N. minima, N. northiana and N. rafflesiana), has been largely extrapolated and applied to highland Nepenthes species, to justify the perspective that temperature impacts Nepenthes metabolism.

However, none of those species used in the study are highlanders. It’s also very difficult to find exactly what the signs and symptoms of “heat-stress” are in highland Nepenthes. I have heard general accounts from growers, that highland plants decline quickly (in as little as 3 months), producing smaller leaves, smaller traps, followed by leaf distortion and eventually a fast collapse. While others say, “smaller plants are less impacted by temp”, and that it can take years before heat stress kills a plant. Without insight into what exactly to look for (specific signs and symptoms as they happen), I have to wonder if the issue is related to metabolic speed or just something adjacent within their general care.

For contrast, Paphiopedilum orchids (native to SE Asia including Borneo), can get root and leaf root when grown too acidic or when given too little calcium – an outcome that can happen as quickly as a few months, or take many years before the right trigger leads to an infection and death of the plant. It would be easy to assume temperature is the cause of death (because some of those plants are highland or lowland species)… but without testing other variables, how could a grower possibly know the true cause?

If highland Nepenthes cultural issues were exclusively related to the metabolic rate, then couldn’t a person adjust the other parameters that lead to a buildup of those toxins? Like adjusting the photoperiod and light intensity to reduce the buildup of said toxins produced during photosynthesis? Further, how exactly does low temperature reduce the presence of volatile compounds in highlanders, but increase them in lowland species? Based on the above study, the gist is that different compounds build up in different plants based on temperature…but then, what happens if you hybridize a lowlander with a highlander? There are a lot of unanswered questions or “fuzzy facts”, you know? So I just don’t totally buy it, based on current information.

Why else do I question the impact of temperature on plants? I have many “highland” orchids that come from equally cool or colder habitats than any Nepenthes I grow. Those orchids have done well for me for over 4 years now—namely, Phragmipedium kovachii (1,600–1,950m), Paphiopedilum tigrinum from Yunnan, China (1,200–2,200m), and Corybas pictus (700–2,000m)—along with many other orchid species, many which are from latitudes much further North than the Borneo and Sabah area. Those plants would subsequently experience seasonal nightly temperatures as low as 5C during the winters. Yet, all of those species do well for me (provided I keep their max temperature under 35C and keep their water slightly alkaline – as most are from limestone habitats). The most damage I’ve ever done to those plants, happened when I was tinkering with pH…not temperature. So…if orchid species are flexible with their temperature, why aren’t Nepenthes?

Let’s move on…

Potting Media for Nepenthes: Akadama, Kanuma, Pumice & Rock Wool

For the majority of my Nepenthes I’m using a mostly rock-based or inert media, with an additional top-level moisture retention layer of either grow cubes or sphagnum. I use about equal parts pumice, larger perlite, and turface (baked red-clay fragments), with a very small amount of organic media (10% ratio of bark and a bit of peat or fragmented sphagnum moss). This is essentially a modified semihydro method, but I do not keep the roots continuously wet and instead let the water tray dry out between waterings. Semihydro is not without fault, but based on observation of the Nepenthes-growing community, it seems many growers successfully use the smaller rock-based media comprised of akadama (bonsai version of clay/leca), kanuma (bonsai version of volcanic rock), pumice, perlite, turface, LECA and so on. It makes sense to me why these options work; it comes down to media longevity, airflow, and reducing root disturbance.

My Nepenthes potting mix with mostly inert media

Side view of pot showing layered approach to potting mix w/ top layer of moisture-retention

Example showing top-dressing of rockwool for moisture

 

From my perspective the main challenges with semihydro are

  • A dry top layer which can make it hard for new roots to survive if they’re coming from the base of the plant. I resolve that with a top-layer of grow cubes or sphagnum moss which raises the moisture barrier in the pot, and I maintain a generally-high humidity (which I’ll cover in more detail below).
  • Dry pockets or lack of even hydration across the entire root zone, which I resolve by doing a soak every 4–6 weeks in addition to my weekly watering. The whole pot sits in a bucket of distilled water and I’ll saturate the entire root ball right up to the base of the plant, draining and flushing away any buildup of “yuck” that may have accumulated in the substrate.

Plant Hydration: Water Quality, Watering Methods, Misting & Humidity

Humidity, active watering and water purity are about plant hydration, so I’m going to cover these topics individually for explicit clarity. Bottom line though, my goal is for well-hydrated and not water-stressed plants. Wilting plants…are a sign of stress…and I strongly recommend you avoid that at all cost as plants reaching the wilting point, could be irreversibly damaged, setting them back.

Water quality for Nepenthes

I use distilled water, but once a month I add 20% tap water (which, my tap water is alkaline with a pH of 7.9 and TDS of 250ppm CaCO3). This makes the water slightly alkaline and some of that calcium remains in the potting media preventing extreme acidity; it means my sphagnum moss sometimes looks a little sickly (because sphagnum really hates minerals) …but my goal isn’t to grow lush sphagnum, my goal is to avoid root rot on my glorious nepenthes.

Why water quality isn’t a simple topic: Common perspectives on water for carnivorous plants is that the water MUST be extremely pure, and for bog plants (like venus fly traps and sundews), I fully agree. However, given the ecological range where many Nepenthes grow, I believe there is more to their needs than ultra-pure water—which is unbuffered, easily acidified and can impact root health.

Nepenthes from alkaline soils: A handful of the highland and ultra-highland Nepenthes species grow in ultramafic, serpentine soils; notably including Nepenthes burbidgeae, N. edwardsiana, N. rajah and N. villosa. Do you notice these are also the species that people feel are “finicky”? It’s interesting because ultramafic soils are slightly basic (or specifically not acidic). A few Nepenthes species also grow in limestone regions, in soils that are similarly alkaline; notably including Nepenthes treubiana, N. biak, N. ventricosa, N. campanulata, N. northiana, and N. mapuluensis. However, Nepenthes ampullaria, N. gracilis, N. lowii, N. mirabilis, N. stenophylla, N. tentactulata, N. veitchii, N. epiphytica, and N. vogelii have also been found growing in limestone areas (although these species are not exclusively restricted to alkaline soils). Do you notice with this latter group how many of them are considered “easy species”? Often, our tap water has a bit of calcium carbonate in it…so to me, it is not surprising that the more common and easy-to-grow species in cultivation are naturally adapted to both alkaline and acidic environments.

Why soil pH matters? Plants adapted to alkaline soils are generally not well-adapted to withstand extreme acidity, or the pathogens that may thrive in extremely-acidic conditions, or they are more reliant on calcium being available to fulfill proper cellular function. Further, some adaptations to survive in alkaline conditions, could result in plants experiencing nutrient toxicity when grown in an acidic environment. As an example, some plants produce citric acid to better survive in alkaline environments and free nutrients, but those same chemicals can cause problems if the pH is unbuffered or already acidic.  This is my general belief at this point, based on my analysis of water, geology and soil composition for orchid over the last decade. I cannot think of a reason this wouldn’t be similar for Nepenthes (which come from the same habitats as many orchids). It’s hard to find really specific information on these topics (where biology overlaps chemistry with horticulture in mind, while accounting for a really specific genera of plants). So it’s based on an educated guess, not something that is easily cause-and-effect bound. That’s why I’m experimenting.

Bringing water quality back to potting media, in a full-circle ideation: Most good Nepenthes growers opt for a potting mix blend of sphagnum moss and perlite. It’s a tried, tested and reliable option…mostly. I have read multiple reports of people’s plants suddenly getting root rot, which is especially common with select species like Nepenthes rajah and/or Nepenthes northiana.

One grower reports, “Rajah will root rot very quickly, and hates to be repotted. Trust me on this I have gone through 3.”

This perceived fragility is a red flag to me. From my experience using sphagnum for many other plants, I also know sphagnum has a diminutive timeline of use. As it ages, it goes through stages: compaction, decay, acidification, and that’s why growers need to repot plants grown in sphag moss so regularly—to keep the roots healthy, oxygenated and “not sour.” Failing to repot on time can often result in root rot.

A potential problem with Sphagnum: it’s acidic. And as it decays it becomes more acidic. In ultra-pure, unbuffered water (like distilled or rainwater) the pH easily drops. Just the interaction with pure water and atmospheric carbon dioxide drops the pH of water to about 5.5pH (which is why rainwater has a pH of 5.5-6.0, not 7). Sphagnum moss naturally has a pH around 3.5-4.5pH, but can go even lower as it starts to decay (down below 3.2pH); the impact of extreme acidity like this, is that the “soil” pH can result in that of vinegar or wine—it creates bog-like conditions. Very few plant species are adapted to conditions like this.

The implication of low pH is on how nutrients become available, and on which microbes flourish and thrive in these conditions. Plants specifically adapted to not-acidic conditions may not have the “experience” (immune system?) to withstand new pathogens that are not normally present in their higher-pH environments. As moss compacts and decays, airflow is also reduced choking roots. So we see symptoms like “root rot” become more common in plants like Nepenthes rajah as a result of bad root conditions. Maybe (but maybe not). Clearly, most people have a great deal of success with sphagnum, so I’m not saying this is a guarantee—it’s all about that timeline of degradation and the individual species’ adaptation to its environment. My plants are mostly highlanders from ultramafic soils, and that’s why I’ve opted for a non-sphagnum-heavy mix.

Another thing I don’t like about sphagnum is repotting. Roots grow into the moss and get entangled. With Nepenthes being such slow-growing and fragile plants, I don’t want to risk setting them back when I must pick out old decaying sphagnum. I want the repotting effort to be as minimally invasive as possible, while also allowing a plant to build a robust root system. Some of the best-grown plants I’ve seen in rock-based media were literally packed with roots…how do you deal with that if the roots are entangled deeply in moss that eventually decays? For rock-based media, you just move the whole plant and old media into a new pot, fill in around the root ball, and disturbance is minimal.

Watering process – misting Nepenthes

Normally, I liberally mist my plants at least once a week. Some people say you shouldn’t get leaves wet because it causes fungal or bacterial infections—which it definitely can lead to (if the leaves stay wet for too long). To avoid this, I mist my leaves and then make sure they dry off by increasing airflow into the terrarium. If I let the humidity stay too high and the leaves too wet, some leaves started to get spotting and you can see that in some of the photos. Airflow and ebb/flow cycles of rain followed by dryness are important with almost every plant species, so I make sure the humidity isn’t over 85% for days in a row.

The anatomy of Nepenthes leaves actively funnels water toward the stem and down to the root ball. They’re physically adapted to direct water to the roots, so I soak the leaves to the point of water runoff. Then I’ll blow off any large beads and increase airflow in the terrarium for the next 3-5 hours, until no water is visible on the leaves. The fungal and/or bacterial issues can also be related to a plant’s overall health, which also relates to nutrients and again pH.

Photo of Wet Nepenthes Leaves After Being Misted
Airflow is increased following a misting to expedite evaporation. Leaves should not be wet like this for longer than a couple hours.

 

Watering process – Flood/Flush Irrigation

Once every 4–6 weeks I’ll soak the whole pot in water right up to the base of the plant. Plants in nature get regular heavy rains and monsoon seasons where it pours for days or weeks at a time—a light misting doesn’t always ensure adequate hydration of the full root mass. Plus, soak/flush watering like this, pull toxins out of the root zone as things decay, or as the plant exudes chemical compounds. It’s a practice that has worked very well for my orchids, and I wanted to keep the care for these as close as possible to my orchids (because they come from the same habitats).

Humidity

In 2020, I experimented growing a couple Nepenthes at room humidity (as low as 35%); my burbidgeae x campanulata and rafflesiana. While they didn’t die, after a full year of this, they certainly weren’t really thriving either. The burb-camp hybrid never pitchered and the raff pitchered but had a lot of leaf spotting. So, I put them into the terrarium and focused on providing a wavering humidity (60%–95% as already mentioned above). Both have started pitchering regularly since I did this, even though the light they get in the terrarium is much lower than when I was growing them at room humidity. If the humidity is too high (85-90%), I’ll leave the terrarium doors open a bit more by changing the gap. After a recent misting or watering I’ll also increase the gap: a thumb width if the leaves are wet, and 1/8” when the leaves look dry. I have no fans in the terrarium, but I do run a big fan in the room, where I also grow orchids and aroids. I’m sure this helps create some movement into the openings of the terrarium.

Nepenthes Light

Light is such an annoying topic. It’s abstract if you don’t have a light meter, and when I say “bright light”, your interpretation of that may be very different from what I mean. When I asked people online what they grew their Nepenthes at, the general gist was “very bright” and up to about 400–500 PAR/ppfd. In other words, “18–22% filtered direct sun”—that is shockingly bright. No other indoor plants I grow get that much light. However, Carnivero has some good resources on light including recommended range, and a comparison of photomorphogenic changes based on light intensity. Nepenthes Diary reports best growth between 100–200PAR.

Light in my terrarium is brighter than “ambient room light” but it’s certainly not 18% sun either. I have 3 lights on a 3-foot tall terrarium. A total of 120W and at the lowest level (where most of the smaller plants are), the light measures 40–80 PPFD/PAR or about 1.8–3.5% sunlight. People also recommend 12-14 hours for a photoperiod…mine is much shorter. At no point in a forest on the equator are you going to get 14h of sunlight. In fact, depending on the side of the mountain and the plant…you might not even get 8 hours. So I give my plants 10h of light per day on a timer, and if I’m feeling like I want to see more of them, I over-ride the timer as I like. Clearly they’re growing alright and while the pitchers may be smaller…they’re plants. They have some signs of light blushing (which means the spectrum is really good), they don’t look etiolated (stretched), and they certainly don’t look bleached, chlorotic or light stressed (read more about plant response to light). That said…I definitely think light is extremely important, and most people underestimate how much light most plants need because we visually perceive light as “bright” vs. “dark”, not measure it like “5% sunlight” vs. “40% sunlight.” My advice to you…spend the time to learn about light. Really get into the topic and become an expert…it will improve your understanding of plant care, greatly.

My suggestion: offer your Nepenthes anywhere from 3—15% sun, and target the upper range if you can; target closer to 20-25% if you want a larger pitcher to leaf ratio, but beware that some lower light species may not tolerate this. If you see a significant amount of light stress (chlorosis – yellow or red discoloration), consider dropping the intensity a bit—that color you see is a reaction to stress. A bit of coloration is okay, a lot could indicate photosynthetic toxicity.

Fertilizing Nepenthes

A tricky topic too because it’s easy to over do. Some people believe fertilizing can stop pitcher production. I haven’t found that to be true so far, and from what I’ve seen, halted pitchers is more related to light and plant hydration than it is to nutrient flow…but maybe I’m just not fertilizing enough to see extensive negative affects.

Root & foliar fertilizing:

I often wonder if Nepenthes are carnivorous because their soils or devoid of nutrients, or if the surplus nutrients they get from insects gave them a competitive advantage—an additional ability to produce more growth, outcompete plants and produce more flowers/seeds for reproduction. Often you’ll see photos of in situ plants like Nepenthes veitchii and Nepenthes macrophylla with enormous leaves nestled among tall trees or lush vegetation. If non-carnivorous trees and shrubs grow along side Nepenthes, how “nutrient poor” can these soils really be?

For that reason, I actively fertilize the soil, leaves and traps of my plants. I use MSU orchid fertilizer at very dilute amount (1/4 tsp per gallon) once a month sprayed on the leaves, and once a quarter I’ll use organic fertilizer in the potting media—this is comprised of guano, insect frass, bloodmeal, rock dust, feather meal, and so on. Like I mentioned earlier, I flush my potting media, so using organic ferts is less “dangerous”; however, it’s still easy to overdo…so always err on the side of caution when actively fertilizing like this.

On the topic of Nutrients: the best grown Nepenthes I’ve seen online seem to be actively root fed in low but regular amounts. Fish emulsion seems to be a popular option that results in hoggy (very big) plants. There’s an interesting discussion at CPUKforum where a grower with an enormous Nepenthes reports, “my Neps that are growing outdoors benefit from fertilization […] I use an organic fish extract […] The fertilizer is applied to the growing medium at half strength every two weeks, or that’s the plan at least, and sometimes it’s poured into the pitchers. Here’s one of the fertilized plants.

Some people resort to “kelp fertilizer” which is often just potassium with plant hormones, so it’s really not “a fertilizer” (or at least not a full-range fertilizer) and is more like…you eating Flintstone vitamins and testosterone to bulk up. Dosing with plant hormones might be part of the equation, but your plants still need more, like the basic NPK building blocks, to produce mass.

Feeding Nepenthes Pitchers

I feed new pitchers with what I have available… snails & bat guano. Some of my orchid pots have a pest snail problem. So, I take the mini bush snails, put them in a glass and I let them dry out. Then, I add a splash of hydrogen peroxide to kill the snail (which isn’t toxic to the plants later because hydrogen peroxide reduces to oxygen and water). What’s left of the dead snail…I feed to the nepenthes. Each pitcher gets 1-2 snails. I’ll put them inside the mouth with long tweezers and crush the snail so the bits fall into the liquid.

Nepenthes food: snails & bat guano

 

Midway through the pitcher life, I’ll also add a single small nugget of bat guano, which comes from my organic fertilizer—it is also sold as “mineralized phosphate”. In one case, I either fed too early or the nugget was too large and this led to nutrient toxicity. The leaf had interveinal chlorosis (yellowing), but I didn’t change anything (or remove the nugget). While the next leaf was stunted, the following leaves after that were significantly bigger (about a 2-3x jump in size). I have continued this practice, but I’m more careful with the size of the poop nugget I feed and waiting for the pitcher to harden off.

Before/After comparison:
Nutrient toxicity discoloration in Nepenthes leaf (left) with leaf jump after a few months (right)

 

Wrap-up: That pretty much covers the core perspectives I follow with my Nepenthes. Again…not intended to persuade you to apply these to your plants, but maybe it gives you some food for thought. If you want to discuss, message me on Instagram—I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you’re a long-time Nepenthes grower. If you want to see photos of my setup or the list of Nepenthes I have, keep scrolling…

 

Photos of my Nepenthes

 

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List of Nepenthes Types I Grow

  1. N. villosa ‘BE-3225’ x robcantleyi ‘King of Spades’ BE-4079
  2. N. villosa ‘BE-3225’ x veitchii ‘Bario/Squat Stripe Intermediate #3734’ BE-4045
  3. N. rajah ‘CID0919’ (1 of 4 Kew Clones) x klossii ‘CID0981’ BE-4071
  4. N. veitchii ‘Mt Legaspi Lowland’ x (burbidgeae x edwardsiana/villosa) ‘Malesiana Tropicals’ BE-4053
  5. N. maxima x xTrusmadiensis (lowii x macrophylla) BE-3709
  6. N. aristolochioides x diabolica (Red hamata ‘BE-3382’) BE-3898
  7. N. glabrata x hamata ‘Lumut’
  8. N. sibuyanensis ‘BE-3164’ x hamata ‘Lumut’ BE-3562
  9. N. burkei x hamata ‘Tambusisi’ BE-3747
  10. N. hamata ‘Tambusisi’ x veitchii ‘Bario/Squat-Stripe’ BE-3943 (New: Sept 2022)
  11. N. robcantleyi (no clone name ‘1 of 6’) x hamata ‘Tambusisi’ BE-3958
  12. N. ampullaria ‘Brunei Red’ x hamata ‘Tambusisi’ BE-3726
  13. N. ampullaria ‘Williams Red’ x ‘Harlequin‘ BE-3681
  14. N. ampullaria ‘Brunei Red’ x campanulata ‘Collection ID-2193 / BE-3044’ BE-3840
  15. N. burbidgeae x campanulata BE-3564
  16. N. rafflesiana (poss. “Brunei” BE- 4519 or BE-3722)
  17. N. northiana BE-3357 (New: Sept 2022)
  18. N. ramispina ‘BE-3155 Exceptionally Dark Form’ x reinwardtiana ‘Tambunan Road form’ BE-3663
  19. N. x St. Gaya [khasiana x (ventricosa x maxima)]
  20. [Seed] Nepenthes [Viking (mirabilis var. globosa) × Hookeriana (ampullaria x rafflesiana)] x ampullaria (Green × Black Miracle)