Pitcher Plant, Nepenthes - Care of A-Z and feed properly

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Pitcher Plant, Nepenthes - Care of A-Z and feed properly: feed

The pitcher plant is already a real eye-catcher with its passive insect traps. In addition, unusual leaf shapes and a generally exotic look. In order to maintain this, however, the carnivorous plant, also known as Nepenthes, also needs special care and special knowledge about the needs of location and fertilization. Who wants to provide the exotic optimally, finds everything important in the following instructions.


From the genus of the pitcher plant are now about 100 species known and it always comes to new discoveries. The biodiversity is not surprising, because the plant spreads from the lowlands to the highlands and can be found from Australia to Sumatra. This gives interested people a wide choice, but also means that there are significant differences in the needs. The pitcher plants from the mountainous highlands, for example, are difficult to handle and require a tropical climate during the day and cold temperatures during the night. If you want to try the Nepenthes as a beginner, you should first set on lowland species or hybrids, as they are much easier to clean. Tried and tested above all:
  • Nepenthes alata
  • Nepenthes ventricosa
  • Nepenthes rafflesiana
  • Nepenthes truncata
  • Nepenthes ventrate
  • Nepenthes Mixta
  • Nepenthes coccinea


The site conditions for the pitcher plant depend heavily on their original origin. This applies to both the temperature and the humidity. Hybrids, such as Nepenthes Mixta, are generally more modest and robust. In general, however, the carnivorous plants need a relatively high humidity and a lot of heat. It may therefore be advisable to cultivate them in a terrarium or indoor greenhouse.
Tip: If you do not want to increase the humidity up to 90 percent and can not offer extreme temperature fluctuations, you should opt for breeding hybrids. Some of them are designed to thrive in the normal indoor climate. In addition, hybrids are much more commercially available.


Nepenthes - pitcher plants

As with the location, it depends on the type of pitcher plant. The basis is a nutrient-poor, permeable soil with moderate storage capacity. The substrate must be able to absorb and store water, but it must not be wet and compact. The easiest way to select the appropriate substrate is to use special soil for carnivorous plants.
Depending on the needs of each Nepenthes species, this can be adjusted with the following additions:
  • perlite
  • coir
  • quartz gravel
  • activated carbon
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Blown vermiculite
However, sensitivity and appropriate knowledge are required. Beginners should therefore seek advice from retailers.


The mentioned pitcher plant hybrids can cope with normal humidity, others need a humidity of up to 90 percent and can therefore only be cultivated in a greenhouse, a terrarium or a florarium. When choosing, it is therefore important to pay close attention.
to water
As mentioned, the pitcher plants come from tropical areas - ie from a rainy climate. Accordingly, they must be watered regularly at least during the growth phase. Important are the following factors:
  • Use soft, low-calcium water - for example, rainwater
  • Do not pour with cold water
  • Avoid dryness and waterlogging
  • Pour better in the coaster
  • Additionally spray regularly

Feeding and fertilizing

Since the pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant, feeding seems necessary. In fact, there are two ways to provide Nepenthes with nutrients. The simplest variant is to use a finished fertilizer, especially in pitcher plants in the florarium. Orchid fertilizer has proven itself here. Anyone who wants to feed the pitcher plant or use it to destroy insects can do so only outside the florarium and in areas where insects really do exist occasionally - or in the field.
The insects are attracted by attractants in the cans and slide on the smooth surfaces. The jugs themselves contain a liquid that is very acidic and also rich in enzymes. This can digest the flying and crawling animals and supplies the released nutrients to the plant. However, Nepenthes relies neither on nor on regular fertilization, since only the substrate contains more nutrients than are available to the plants in their areas of origin. However, if you want to experience feeding from time to time, fertilization can be completely saved and should also take into account a few aspects:
  • The food animals must be alive, dead insects can harm the plant
  • Insects should be selected in size adapted to the pitchers
  • Spray-anaesthetized or otherwise chemically-treated food animals should not be administered
  • The feeding should not be done too often during the growth phase about once a month
Tip: The use of tweezers ensures that the animals can be placed in the cans and not "lost" in the apartment or in the florarium.


Nepenthes - pitcher plants

Occasionally, for example, after feeding larger insects, the pitcher of Nepenthes can wither and die off. It is not absolutely necessary to remove them if they dry up.
However, dead plant remains due to damp soil and high humidity can increase the risk of mold. It is therefore safer to remove withered and dried plant parts. Apart from that, a blend of the pitcher plant is not required.


Most pitcher plants thrive best in a shallow planter that can be hung or placed on a pedestal. This allows the cans to hang down easily. Also important for the Nepenthes is a suitable form of the planter. The plants form dense root plexuses, but roots are flat. As a result, no deep pots are required. Better are vessels with a slightly larger diameter. In this not only the roots can spread optimally, but also, as in nature, some cans rest and others hang down.


Since the Nepenthes manages with few nutrients, a change of earth to supply is not often required. He still has advantages. For example, regular repotting prevents germs or pests from proliferating in large numbers in the substrate. Therefore every two to three years a change of earth should take place. It is advisable to remove or rinse off as much of the substrate as possible. Care must be taken carefully and gently so as not to damage the roots.
Tip: If the pitcher plant has thrived in the previous soil mixture without problems, this should be mixed as well as possible. Ingredients such as Perlite or Vermaculite can usually be seen as well as Sphagnum moss. If you are unsure, you should first visit a specialist retailer or a nursery and have the substrate prepared accordingly.


Nepenthes - pitcher plants

The pitcher plants have male and female flowers, which are - depending on the species - at least 15 to 100 centimeters above the plants. They are fertilized by insects, but can also be pollinated by hand. For this it is necessary to take the pollen of the male flowers with a fine brush or a cotton swab and bring this into the female flowers. The male flowers carry four to 24Staubblätter in the female, however, three to four carpels. After successful fertilization form capsules containing several hundred seeds.
Tip: The pitcher plant species can be propagated among each other. This means that pollen of one species can be used to fertilize another species.


Since the pitcher plant itself forms seeds, this already gives rise to a possibility of propagation. The seeds should be used directly and not dried and stored first. Even then germination takes a long time and is difficult. This variant of reproduction should therefore only be tackled if the culture of the adult Nepenthes no longer causes any problems. Another possibility of propagation is the use of cuttings. Ear cuttings are particularly suitable for this purpose, which are cut off at the beginning of the growth phase in spring and immediately used in substrate.
It is cut on the trunk, in the area between two leaves, so that as long a stem as possible can be inserted into the soil. The substrate must be kept slightly moist and also the humidity has to be taken care of, so that the cuttings can form new roots. The use of leaf cuttings is also possible, but has less chance of success.


At appropriate temperatures and with regular spraying, the pitcher plant may be outdoors in summer, but should of course be spent indoors in cooler weather. Here she has to stay warm and wet as usual. A cool wintering she can not stand. Who does not put the Nepenthes in the summer in the field, so they can cultivate all year as usual.

Typical care mistakes, diseases and pests

Carnivores Nepenthes - pitcher plants

Pests do not have to worry about the pitcher plant and apart from root rot, they are also spared from diseases. Only mistakes in the care can become a problem. Including in the first place:
  • Lack of humidity
  • Use of hard or cold water for pouring and spraying
  • Too low temperatures
  • Over-fertilization or too frequent feeding
  • Too dark location
If the culture conditions of the pitcher plant are taken into account and the influences on the site are regularly checked, the risk for damage is very low. If growth is very slow, leaves or pitchers begin to wither or dry out, should the care be urgently reviewed and adjusted. Although there is no guarantee for the rescue of the Nepenthes, if the countermeasures are taken in good time, the chances are good.

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