Growing Nepenthes

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N. rajah grown by Jeremiah


Nepenthes may be cultivated in greenhouses, terrariums, on windowsills and ever outdoors. Easier species include N. alata, N. ventricosa, N. khasiana, and N. sanguinea. These 4 species are highlanders (N. alata has both lowland and highland forms), some easy lowlander species are N. rafflesiana, N. bicalcarata, N. mirabilis, and N. hirsuta.

"Highland" forms are those species that grow in habitats that are generally higher up in elevation roughly above 3000ft above sea level, and thus exposed to cooler evening temperatures. "Lowland" forms are those species that grow below 3000ft above sea level.

Both forms respond best to rainwater (but tap water works as long as you flush it out with rainwater every month), bright light (not full sun), a well drained but moisture holding medium such as sphagnum and perlite, good air circulation and a relatively high humidity. Some highland species such as N. villosa and N. rajah  must have night-time cooling to thrive in the long-term. Chemical fertilizers are probably best avoided or used at low strength. Occasional feeding with frozen (thawed before use) crickets are beneficial. Terrarium culture of smaller plants like N. bellii, N. trichocarpa and N. ampullaria is possible, but most plants will get too large over time.

Plants can be propagated by seed, cuttings, and tissue culture. Seeds may be sown on damp chopped Sphagnum moss, or on sterile plant tissue culture media once they have been properly disinfected. The seeds generally become inviable soon after harvesting, so seed are not usually the preferred method of propagation. A 50:50 mixture of orchid medium with moss or perlite is suitable for germination and culture. Seed may take two months to germinate, and two years or more to yield mature plants. Cuttings may be rooted in damp Sphagnum moss in a plastic bag or tank with high humidity and moderate light. They can begin to root in 1-2 months and start to form pitchers in about six months.

Tissue culture is now used commercially and helps reduce collection of wild plants, as well as making many rare species available to hobbyists at reasonable prices. Nepenthes are considered threatened or endangered plants and are listed in CITES appendices 1 & 2.


Nepenthes Photos