Nepenthes Care Tips
The amount of light needed by nepenthes varies from highlanders to lowlanders and their geographic origins. As a general rule, highlanders can handle a brighter light for more of the day, as exposed mountain tops. Lowlanders generally prefer more shaded days…like the forest or jungle habitats where dappled light penetrates the canopy or they get direct light for only a couple of hours a day, preferably morning.
We advise generally using 50% white shade cloth through winter and adding another layer of green as spring turns into summer and remove it as summer turns to Autumn. You can see if your plants are getting to much light because the leaves will start to yellow but if you can ride that line of slight yellow within that green/purple tinge then that’s where you will find them growing the most extreme pitchers within there capability’s.
If you find your Nepenthes growing big dark green leaves with small pitchers then the plants most likely wanting more light. This may take some time to settle it into its new brighter environment but the pitchers it then produces is well worth the trouble.
Its beneficial for plants to have a fogger on during the brightest part of the day.
Nepenthes are broken up in to elevation levels and this is the main part in determining the temperature of the environment in which these individual species and hybrids originate from. On the coast where elevation above sea level is between say 0-700m its hot and humid rarely dropping below 20°C on the coolest nights, in the day its one of the most uncomfortable environments I’ve ever been in where it felt like 50°C and 100% humidity. I was dripping sweat 30 seconds after stepping off the bus. The higher the elevation from which the plant originated from the cooler the climate gets right up to 3500m above sea level. These plants rarely see the temperature spike above 28°C with 25 being common and 10-13°C nights. In saying that we manage to grow all elevations here where our temperature’s alter massively going from 1-40°C at different times of the year.
We run an evaporative cooler on summer days which keeps our greenhouse from often making it above 32°C on the hottest days and for winter we take our lowland plants inside under fluro lights to keep warm and escape the cold. Other than that there all in the same pot and do pretty well together. If they don’t then they don’t make it to the for sale pages 🙂
All Nepenthes like a high humidity environment and the most useful information I received when starting out is the hotter the day gets the more humidity needed. This helps helps to cool the plants and stop pitchers and stems drying out.
Lowlanders prefer 60-70% humidity during the day and 99% at night.
Highlanders and hybrids however are more tolerant of fluctuations so will generally thrive above 50-60% during the day and up to 99% during the night. A night rise in humidity naturally happens in the greenhouse as the air cools.
Its important to have good air movement and allow the greenhouse to dry a little at 60% to help keep bacteria and fungus at bay. If you are having these problems adjusting air flow and humidity will in most cases fix this problem.
A lack of developing pitchers is a sign that your plants need more humidity.
The general rule here is a very nutrient poor mix with fantastic drainage properties and preferably made up from products such as perlite, coconut husk/chip, long fiber sphagnum moss and pine bark. Coconut husk is better if it’s been soaked in rain water for some time prior to using to remove tannins and really we’re removing this from our mix all together. Keeping it simple with 2 or 3 ingredients seems to work best with both the plants and the wallet. We’re currently using a simple mix of sphagnum moss and a fair amount or perlite and that’s it. Generally its proving to give us the best results.
All Nepenthes require a very low mineral/salts water.
Reverse osmotic water, distilled and rain/tank water are all preferred, but if you live in an area with water below 100 ppm then this is acceptable as long as you flush their pots with distilled water every couple of weeks to flush out the accumulated salts/nutrients. Salts building up in the soil is one of the main problems with tap water which after months can kill the plant and promote bacteria growth breaking down the mix or sending it green. 3 stage R/O filters are available on ebay for under $70 and is a worthwhile investment in growing better plants.