Do you know some plants eat insects? Freaked out? We are introducing you to the members of the genus Nepenthes belonging to the family Nepenthaceae. The mid-rib of the leaves swell in excess humidity and attain a dramatic pitcher-like structure. The colorful appearance of these pitchers attracts the insects and their slimy edges make them fall and get trapped inside. Then comes the turn of the specific plant hormones which break down and digest the insect body. This system in turn provides the desired nutrients to the plant. You can grow these for indoor plantation in pots and containers. Moreover, they grow equally well in suitable outdoor environments. Want to enjoy this interesting natural phenomenon? We are sharing a summarized guide to help you understand Nepenthes Care.
This is a genus of around 170 species along with their numerous cultivars. These are popularly known as ‘Pitcher Plants’ or the ‘Monkey Cups’. The name Monkey Cups refers to the interesting myths that monkeys used to drink water from these plants. Howbeit, this is a fake story because the pitchers are filled up with digestive juices and not water.
Nepenthes was first discovered in Europe, in the 17th century. It includes a large variety of plants of different sizes. These include gigantic species, as well as miniatures. Members of this genus are hybridized on large scales to produce beautiful and easy to grow cultivars.
Types of Nepenthes Plants
The genus is further divided into two groups, Highland and Lowland Nepenthes plants.
The basic differentiating features are the altitude and temperature preferences of these plants.
Highland Nepenthes Plants
The majority of the Nepentheses belong to this group with an estimated quantity of around 70%. They like to grow at 3,000 to 10,000 feet above sea levels. This elevation is higher than in the lowland areas.
- burbidgeae, N. lowii, N. rajah, and N.villosa are popular Highland species.
Lowland Nepenthes Plants
The rest of the 30% of the pitcher plants belongs to the lowland growing areas. These are easier to grow with a higher tolerance for warmer conditions. Popular species include N. alata, N. ampullaria, N. khasiana, N. mirabilis, and N. ventricosa. The majority of the hybrids also belong to this group. The colorful appearance and low maintenance of these make them popular in the domestic plantation.
Don’t let the unique appearance of these plants deceive you about their growth patterns. A little extra care and you are good to go with your Pitcher Plants.
Water: High; moist soil.
Sunlight: Bright indirect (diffused) light.
Humidity: High. (Between 60 to 90%)
Fertilizer: Not required.
Let us have a deeper look and get the answers to the popular question, “How to grow Nepenthes Plants?”
These plants generally like moist soil and a boggy environment. Moreover, occasional flooding would be great to wash off the salt build-up. Water the soil right after the upper layer feels slightly dry to touch. Never letting the plant dry out completely is an important part of Nepenthes Care.
In summer, about twice a thrice a will be enough. On the other hand, once a week is generally enough for the colder days.
Experts advise using distilled or purified water for these plants. The excess of salts in their bodies does not prefer to take up more from the water. Howbeit, you can use tap water in areas with low salt contamination. In addition, low amounts of chlorine don’t show much harm to the plant.
Bright indirect sunlight is another important part of Nepenthes Care. Around 50% sun or dappled shade is enough to make them happy. You can also use growing light for the plant. Just make sure it comes from a minimum distance of 5 feet.
Direct exposure to the sun and close exposure to strong growing light, both conditions may scorch out the foliage. So, make sure you avoid them. Inadequate light makes the plant become thin and leggy. This is the natural mechanism of the plant to grow towards light. In case you find your Pitcher plant growing thin and unhealthy, see if it is standing at a place with enough light.
The Monkey Cup plants need a well-drained growing mixture with plenty of aeration. The particles should be large in size, letting air reach the roots easily. Select the ingredients like tree fern fiber, chopped fir bark, perlite, and long fiber sphagnum moss in your growing mixture. Moreover, Unmilled sphagnum moss and perlite in 3:2 is a nice choice.
Generally, the Pitcher plants like to stay in warmth. 55 to 95 °F is an ideal temperature range for all types of Nepenthes plants. Let us have a look at the temperature range for groups in particular. Coming towards the high land species, they have shown good tolerance for lower temperatures. They like cool nights with temperatures ranging from 55 to 60 °F. Moreover, the ideal temperature for the day is around 70 to 85 °F.
On the other hand, lowland species prefer the day at 85 to 95 °F. While the ideal temperature for the night is around 75 °F.
A humid atmosphere is what these Monkey Cups love. You can’t ignore this requirement while learning about Nepenthes Care. They may tolerate low levels of humidity. However, they may stop producing pitchers in a dry atmosphere. Terrariums and greenhouses provide the ideal environment to grow these peeps. You can also grow them in tents made up of plastic and sticks. This will be enough to supply adequate moisture.
In humid surroundings, keep a check on the ventilation in the environment. It is necessary to avoid over-heating and stagnant air. In case you feel that the indoor peeps are making lesser pitchers see if the atmosphere is dry. Manage to enhance the moisture level by different steps like using a pebble-water tray under the pot. Moreover, you can use a humidifier in your surroundings.
People of warm and humid environments may grow them outdoors. Make sure you keep them under a shade. Additionally, don’t forget to bring them indoors before the temperature falls below 50 °F.
These inset eaters don’t need additional nutrition. However, come forward if you are keeping it at some indoor place with no chances to catch its prey. Simply add a cockroach or some other small insect to feed your Pitcher Plant. Some of these species may like to have some fertilizer. You can use 1/8th teaspoon of fertilizer like Mircaid fertilizer per quart in the pitchers until they are ¾ filled.
Clay pots allow salt buildup. Thus, it is better to avoid them for your Pitcher Plants.
Nepenthes plants have fine, blackish, and delicate roots. These are good to go without frequent repotting unless you notice certain factors. The plant getting prominently bigger than the pot is one of the main factors. Moreover, the issues like the breakdown of growing medium and a quickly drying plant also demand repotting.
How to repot a Nepenthes Plant? Just loosen the soil around the plant to take it out. Be careful and very gentle as you don’t want to damage the delicate leaves. Place your plant in the new pot and gently vibrate it to settle down the growing mixture. Pressing it is not appropriate as it may damage the roots. Once you are done with planting, water the soil generously. Fertilizers are not required at this stage.
The USDA growth zones 11 and above are generally suitable for the majority of the Pitcher plants.
These are generally non-toxic. The cat and dog will generally leave them alone after getting the weird taste. However, it is better not to let kids and pets mingle with them.
Nepenthes Alata Care
This is a popular species belonging to the Lowland group. This is a middle-sized actively growing plant. The pitchers are reddish in color and get around 8 inches in size on maturity. This is one of the easiest to grow and forgiving species among its siblings. If you are a beginner with these Monkey Cups, this is a suitable option for you.
Apart from the basic features of Nepenthes Care, you need to keep them at a suitable temperature range. The ideal temperature is around 90 °F during the day and 75 °F at night.
Nepenthes ventricosa Care
This is another easy-to-grow Nepenthes. It usually grows as a lowlander or a Midlander Nepenthes. They are good to go with common growing tactics of the plant. However, make sure you are not keeping it at a temperature lower than 50 °F.
Nepenthes is a genus of carnivorous plants belonging to the family Nepenthaceae. The mid-rib of the leaves swells to form a pitcher-like structure that consumes small insects. These plants are admired for their bright colors, unique appearances, and of course the strange ‘insect-eating habit. You can get these plants for indoor pots and containers. Also, they are hardy in the outdoor plantation in USDA growth zones 11 and above. The Nepenthes Care includes bright indirect light, high humidity, and moist soil. These plants are safe to mildly toxic. Howbeit, it is better to keep kids and pets away from these beautiful Pitcher Plants.