Adding charcoal to the growing media of a Nepenthes

hunterkiller03(9)March 28, 2007

Here a question for those that grow Nepenthes. I have grown N. alata ssp. elongata, a typical N. rafflesiana variety and a giant variety (still a small plant) and N. ampullaria spotted. Normally the media mix I use for my neps consisted one part LFS, one part perlite, ½ part vermiculite and it is a mix that has worked fine. I even considered myself a decent nep grower.

But recently I repotted my N. alata and to the normal mix I added charcoal because IÂve heard that it's good for absorbing impurities. Later I bought BarryÂs new book "Growing Carnivorous Plants". In his book he wrote that he added charcoal to his mix and his neps didnÂt do so well. I hate to realize that I may have made a big mistake by adding charcoal in my mix.

Just hoping BarryÂs experience isnÂt widespread among neps growers, how many of you have added charcoal to your media and how well your plants grew in the mix?

Otherwise, I may have just to re-repot my plant and I hate doing that to a recently repotted plant, especially to a nep.

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I would go back to what you had before, which is a very common Nep mix. I'm not doing anything fancy (peat, sand, LFS) and my plants are growing, with my ventrata having sent a flower. They're not that picky, but don't like too much change.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 10:19PM
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This is just great, I killed my alata. It wasn't doing that great after I potted it earlier but when I was re-repotting it to a new pot in a new media minus charcoal. I Dropped the pot and it landed upside down. Broke the stem into several pieces and the growing tip was crushed.

Well... repotted these and hopefully I and up with more then one plant.

But if it dies, well... another plant I killed with my stupidity.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 11:30PM
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No, not stupidity, just humanity. We all make mistakes. I dropped a 20 ounce bottle of ice on my dormant VFT and crushed some of it's leaves. It made it through without pause and is doing great now. Basically, I think you just made a few new Nepenthes.

Trying the charcoal was just par for the course as there are so many different techniques for growing carnivorous plants that we hobbyists can never be sure of what to do when. Trial and error gets us through, along with the rare straight answers from tried and true growers that made the mistakes first and tell about it.

Maybe a little rooting hormone on the Nep tips that broke will urge it to take?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 9:29AM
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joeb004(z3/4 MN)

I use charcoal and orchid bark (actually fir bark, but it's for orchids) along with perlite, lfs, and peat. I'm not sure charcoal makes that much of a difference, but I am a big believer orchid bark. Both orchid bark and charcoal are very slow to break down. This leaves large open air spaces in the mix and allows me to keep neps on the tray method reducing frequency of watering and care.

However, the most important advantage of this mix doesn't become apparent until it's time to replant. The charcoal and orchid bark basically fall apart when you take them out of the pot. This means it's much much easier to remove those delicate roots from the potting soil when it's time to replant.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 10:52AM
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