Ask a Question forum: Why does death cube ventricosa come alive in NYC winter?

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New York City
Dec 18, 2017 3:22 PM CST
Hi dear Expert, Please help me understand why my death cube nepenthes ventricosa thrives throughout frigid NYC winters, yet it is at death's door during the summer. NYC winters are very cold (though the plant is inside and house temp is not too hot) shouldn't it go dormant and lose it pitchers/stop producing pitchers? It's mid-December and mine looks it's best now than at any other time of year. These are tropical plants, so why does this plant flourish in winter but shrivel up and die back in summer? From late April-late October, it's outside in partial shade and kept damp at all times. In winter it's in a southern window behind a curtain to screen out bright direct light; kept damp at all times. I never change the soil to make a difference in strange growth pattern. Any insight is appreciated. Thanks!
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Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Dec 18, 2017 7:59 PM CST
Chris - Your Pitcher Plant does not know it is frigid outside when it is kept indoors. It is a non-seasonal plant because it comes from tropical regions where it is always very warm and humid.

My guess is that it may suffer in summer because it is too cold for it outside in NYC in April, May, and October. It does best in temps that never fall much below 70 degrees F. In addition, it needs protection from any outside direct sun. Making the transition from much less intense indoor light to outdoor light shade is probably too much for it.

I suggest that you keep it indoors year-round where you have had good success with it. There is no compelling reason to move it outside in summer.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Dec 20, 2017 5:52 PM CST
Remember that a lot of tropical climates don't have summer and winter, but they do have seasons... usually wet and dry... Everywhere in the world has annual weather cycles.

The diminished light and stable day/night temperatures might trick your plant by mimicking the cool(er) overcast conditions of say monsoon season or some other local weather phenomena, or maybe less light mimicks the high season of growth for the trees and when the canopy gets lush with blooms fruit and leaves, shade on the jungle floor where it originally evolved gets deeper- and that decrease in light it was tells your plant the height of the growing season- and bug-food season- has arrived. Some times of the year rain is less predictable and your plant might go semi-dormant so it doesn't get crisped during a dry spell.

If you really want to know- look for parallels with the climate in the archipelagos between the Indian and Pacific oceans- no so much temperatures, but temperature swings. Is the dry season hot and sunny or is it like the western coasts of N and S America- foggy and drizzly opposed to the wet season that's usually bright sun with huge downpours that come through for 20 minutes 3x a day. There is always a reason

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Dec 20, 2017 6:43 PM CST
I think what Paula is trying to say is that you can take the plant out of the jungle but you can't take the jungle out of the plant. Try to mimic the conditions of your plant's native habitat.

In this case, Nepenthes ventricosa is native to the Philippines at elevations of 3000 to 10,000 ft. above sea level, making it a "highland" plant. Your plant will be happiest with a temperature drop into the 50's at night. Day time temps should be in the low 80's. Humidity should be high - above 60%.

Now all you have to do is figure out how to mimic the conditions your Nepenthes wants to live in. Smiling

The one thing I really like about this particular Nepenthes is that it stays relatively compact. Some like to climb, crawl, swing through the trees and grow stems several yards long. Also, it is a very forgiving plant so if you don't get it quite right, the plant won't drop dead overnight.

I believe the term 'death cube ventricosa' originated because of how they were originally sold: in a cube. Ventricosa is the species. I haven't heard that term used in a long time. My Home Depot had some for sale this week in a 6 inch plastic pot - not a cube in sight.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost


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