Ask a Question forum: Nepenthes/monkey pitcher plant; not doing so well, and use of ?grow lite...

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Name: Jeff Kelling
Sedro-Woolley, WA
jeffyjak
Jan 5, 2018 9:16 PM CST
I've had a most cool plant for a good year and a half; nearly a year, in a (usually) warm bathroom, with very good sunlite; moved to a house with almost no heat! (wood stove in the basement); am afraid the plant got too cold.... now, not looking so good (leaves pretty droopy), and lost the four pitchers that were there when i got her....
Just purchased a "warm, vitalume light" and was told by the shop-owner to leave it on about 16 hours daily;
also, read online, that clay pot can cause salt buildup....
I've been watering mostly with distilled water, did try some orchid food in the water (very minimal amount), and ......
Put the plant in the basement a week ago, as it's warmer there, and the light went on 4 days ago.... misting the leaves daily, sometimes twice/daily,
actually "flushed" the pot with a couple gallons of water, hoping maybe salt could be culprit.... it drains very very well, and have never let the plant become dry...
any ideas?? would Love to save this beauty!! any and all suggestions would be appreciated. (and, no, I have No idea what I'm doing!! lol)
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Jan 5, 2018 11:47 PM CST
Can you post some photos?
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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Name: Jeff Kelling
Sedro-Woolley, WA
jeffyjak
Jan 6, 2018 12:47 AM CST
DaisyI said:Can you post some photos?


yes..... the first two are shortly after I got her, the last two, pix from today...
I used 'garden tie's' to lift the sagging limbs, she seems to have done quite well, but...
as you can see, not looking happy,
my next thought is to replace the "dirt," which is simply perlite and sphagnum.....
I appreciate your reply, and hope you have some ideas!
jeff


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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 6, 2018 9:37 AM CST
Jeff - Nepenthes are very difficult plants to maintain in the home because they require constantly warm temps year round and high humidity. Temps should never drop below 70 degrees F in winter and should stay in the 80's most of the time. Misting is not an effective way to increase humidity unless you are doing it several times per HOUR throughout the day. You really need to have a humidifier if it is not in a greenhouse.

Nepenthes is susceptible to mineral salts that are present in hard water. Terracotta pots are not a source of mineral salts. They may cause mineral salts from hard water to accumulate as a white crust, but they are not a source of the mineral deposits.

Nepenthes is an epiphytic plant that should never be planted in soil. Leave it in the sphagnum/perlite it is now in.

Your plant would benefit from pruning. It is a naturally hanging plant and resists "propping."

All of that said, your struggles with it will not end until you can provide it with a constantly warm and humid environment.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Jan 6, 2018 10:44 AM CST
I agree
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

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Jeff Kelling
Sedro-Woolley, WA
jeffyjak
Jan 6, 2018 11:11 AM CST
Will, Thank you so much for the reply. I appreciate your help!
Name: Jeff Kelling
Sedro-Woolley, WA
jeffyjak
Jun 14, 2018 1:20 AM CST
OK, the plant has seriously improved.... but...

I have utilized humidifiers in the house; placed the plant in "as much sun" as we can find in our house (not a lot); pruned the plant back from my last correspondence, and it's come around beautifully! but, no pitchers are growing! well, hopefully, you all can be the judge; the leaves have come on pretty strong, got rid of the "propping," and it has done quite well.
I am attaching some photos, and apology's ahead of time, they're not great (tried to zoom too much, i fear) but hoping you can get the idea.
it appears to me that pitchers may indeed be starting on the ends of nearly every leaf, but they soon turn brown, and appear to be "dead" before the new pitcher gets much of a chance...
any suggestions? do you see any immediate issues?
thanks in advance!
jeff

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Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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crawgarden
Jun 14, 2018 7:38 AM CST
I used to keep mine outside, facing East, did great.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Jun 14, 2018 10:53 AM CST
Hi Jeff, I also grow nepenthes and the only way I can sustain its humidity needs is to keep it in standing water. Our area is just way too dry for it. I never use tap water for it, only distilled water. It was by accident that we noticed the plant was responding well to that standing water treatment. Normally I would not do that, but it seems the plant will adjust as it goes. It is just our own environmental limitation here.

And the plant does need very strong light. It will not like being dim lighted. I noticed more pitchers growing now as we get longer days and sustained warmth, and it is by our west facing window with dappled shade from the city trees, so it still gets a lot of light especially when the sun shifts around in the afternoon. Aside from being in standing water, my Nepenthes are by our kitchen sink area so there is always moisture around plus some dispersed water vapor from our boiling hot water pot, like a humidifier effect. It is actually getting too leggy trying to seek more light here. But be as it may the bare portion of the stem will also do new growth later on, depending on the ambient conditions.

Looking at the drying out ends of your new growth, it maybe a combination of lack of light and poor humidity.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Jun 14, 2018 12:41 PM CST
I agree with Tarev
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

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jun 14, 2018 1:34 PM CST
In addition to it needing warm temps, bright indirect light, and high humidity, it is important to "starve" the plant a bit in order to encourage pitcher formation. This plant grows naturally in areas with very thin soil and almost nutrients. It develops the pitchers so that it can trap insects and find nutrients that way. If the potting mix is too rich, then it will have no need to produce pitchers. This is a true plant oddity!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Jeff Kelling
Sedro-Woolley, WA
jeffyjak
Jun 14, 2018 11:26 PM CST
Thank you all for the time to reply!!
So, the "potting mix" I have now is Nothing but sphagnum moss, and a little perlite. (I actually "had" some potting soil in, originally, but after some research, transplanted into the current mix).

I am amazed at how well the plant did, in part I believe, due to that change, but also, from bringing the plant upstairs to the ground level part of the house (much warmer, and much better light) (I think you can see the change from pix in my first post, to the most recent) - we got rid of the plant "ties" which held the leaves/plant more upright, to letting it hang naturally, and we keep the moss quite moist, yet now totally wet...

Biggest concern, again, am I doing anything wrong that causes the tips/pitcher area to appear to be die-ing off..... by "starving," I am pretty sure you don't mean let it dry out? I give it NO nutrients whatsoever at this time... I feel the temp, and the humidity is Far improved (thus the huge improvement in the overall appearance...)
Again, Thanks to each and everyone of you for the time to offer suggestions!!
Jeff
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jun 15, 2018 9:52 AM CST
By "starving," I mean no nutrients and fertilizer. Water as needed.

This is not an easy houseplant because of its warm temp and high humidity requirements. You have made some good adjustments, but it will take a while for the plant to respond and the adjustments may not be enough. Be patient with this difficult plant!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Jeff Kelling
Sedro-Woolley, WA
jeffyjak
Jun 15, 2018 6:01 PM CST
thank you Will!
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
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tarev
Jun 18, 2018 10:16 AM CST
Hello Jeff, the plant does manifest a certain cycle of growing new leaves and pitchers. In some ways it reminds me of how I grow some of my orchids. I get most of my new leaves when it is towards Spring to early Summer, when light levels are increasing, daytime length going longer. Then during the cold months, some pitchers turn red with cold, depends on the variety of your plant of course, showing me it is under some sort of stress, but I still have to maintain keeping it in standing water here, since by winter time our heater is running indoors, so it gets so dry.

I don't give fertilizers to my Nepenthes, it has its own adaptation in getting its needed nutrient by whatever it gets to capture in its pitchers.

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