Nepenthes (Tropical Pitcher Plant)

Nepenthes are definitely among the most spectacular of all the carnivorous plants.  What other genus can boast of a species that can capture and digest rats. They are truly highly evolved predators and they look the part.  There are over 130 species sharing a similar morphology.  Their roots are a shallow mass of fine black fibers. They have a stem that is usually long (although sometimes just a short rosette) and with leaves occurring alternately.  The leaf morphology is the most unique of all plants.  What appears to be the leaf is an enlarged leaf base.  The leaf stalk has become a tendril and the leaf itself has morphed into the pitcher.    The pitcher is highly advanced.  The cup portion of the trap has an upper and lower region.  The upper region is lined with scales that give way to make escape all but impossible.  The lower portion of the trap has specialized glands that emit digestive fluids and absorb nutrients.  The pitchers also have a ladder, peristome and lid. The ladder sometimes referred to as the nectar ladder consist of two ribs of hair like structures that have nectar glands along them and help attract and aid the prey up the cup of the pitcher to the peristome and lid. The perristome is a ribbed structure encircling the pitcher mouth.  On its inner edge there are glands that exude nectar.  The peristome attracts and direct prey into the pitcher and makes escape difficult.  The lid of the pitcher functions as a rain hood and also as an attractant.  The hood is usually brightly colored with numerous nectar glands particularly on the underside of the lid.  Prey attempting to obtain the copious amounts of nectar offered on the underside of the lid takes an enormous risk as any slip will drop them into the depths of the pitcher.  Nepenthes are dioecious, meaning each individual plant is either male or female.  All species are capable of cross pollination, which has led to many natural hybrids and a multitude of hybrids from an ever growing number of breeders. 


     Nepenthes Cultural information :

Light - Bright light to full (diffused) sunlight.

Humidity- Most nepenthes require humidity above 50%. Some require much higer humidity and some such as sanguinea and ventricosa seem to do well at humidity levels as low as 30%.

Temperature- Nepenthes are tropical plants. They have been divided into lowlanders and highlanders. Lowlanders require temperatures in the 60's and 70's at night, 80's and 90's during the day. Highlanders do best in the 50's and low 60's at night, 70's and low 80's during the day. Many highlanders can tolerate temperatures in the forties and high temperatures of 100 degrees.

Moisture - Keep the plant moist to wet. Do not let the pot stand in water for long periods of time.

Soil - They can tolerate a wide range of soil mixes. Some growers recommend long fibered sphagnum moss, which works well. Many growers use peat moss along with an aggregate such as perlite, pumice, lava rock, or orchid bark to improve drainage and aeration.

Container -They can grow in a variety of containers including, plastic, terra cotta, ceramic, orchid baskets, etc. Just make sure they have drainage holes. Small to medium plants do well in 3 to 4 inch containers. Large plants do well in 6 to 10 inch containers. They are very attractive in hanging containers.

Approximate size of our Nepenthes:





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