Nepenthes: carnivorous pitcher plant
The nepenthes or the tropical pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant. With nectar, the plant attracts insects to its cups that are filled with a sticky liquid. The cups are smooth so an insect will easily fall into the cup and will not come out. The nepenthes gets its nutrition from the insects and can therefore grow on sterile soil. Many different varieties of the tropical pitcher plant are known and some varieties are available at specialty nurseries or garden centers.
Place of nepenthes
The nepenthes can grow both indoors and outdoors, but the plant must go indoors during frost. The pitcher plant loves light, but cannot tolerate direct sunlight. So place the plant in a place where it is light all day long, but where the sun does not come. The plant gets its nutrients from the insects, so fertile soil is not necessary. Watch out for soil with added fertilizers, as the plant doesn’t like that. Add some perlite to the soil to retain more water. Use a pot with a hole in the bottom so that excess water can drain and the roots do not become in a layer of water. The pitcher plant’s pot must be deep so that the roots can develop properly. The plant likes heat in the summer, but the plant can be colder in the winter. The plant will then go to rest and come back stronger and more beautiful in the spring. However, make sure that the plant does not have to deal with frost. The plant is unlikely to survive that.
Water the carnivorous pitcher plant
Dutch tap water is full of minerals and lime. The nepenthes cannot handle that well. Therefore use rainwater or, if rainwater is not available, demineralized water. Do not wet the plant yourself when watering, but pour the water on the soil. The soil should always be moist, but avoid a layer of water at the bottom of the pot. If excess water can drain through a hole in the pot, it is almost impossible to give too much water. If you put the plant colder for the rest period in winter, the amount of water can also be reduced slightly. The plant will stop growing in the winter and will then need less water. The pitcher plant is naturally used to a high humidity that we do not have in the Netherlands. Use moisture evaporators or place the nepenthes in a greenhouse. If that does not work, very fine mist from, for example, a plant spray is occasionally nice for the plant. Do not over wet the leaves, as this can cause them to rot.
Feeding insects to the nepenthes
If the plant is outside, the plant can catch its own insects and you no longer have to give insects yourself. In the house you have to wait and see whether the plant catches something. Maybe the occasional fly. If the plant really does not catch anything, a mosquito or fly can be fed once a month so that the plant gets its nutrition. In nature, however, it will also happen that the plant does not catch anything from time to time. When feeding, do not choose the largest insects, as they can rot in the cup if it takes too long to digest. During the winter months it is not necessary to feed, because the plant does not need nutrition during the rest period.