New Nepenthes lowii.. How do i take care of it!!!

pampered_g_jrApril 23, 2007

I about a year ago started getting into plants and now i have broaden my plants variety by getting carnivorous plants. I have one Nepenthes Alta and Lowii and i think they are both not doing well. The Nepenthes Alta I tried to save from home depot cause it looked so beat up and I got it for free. I purchased the Lowii and it was so small and I barely know how to take care of them. I searched online and every website seems to be the same. I just want to hear from personal experiences on how to grow them and any advice. I do keep them quite humid and soil moist but not soaked. Please help me with you answers I should post pictures tomorrow so you can see what I am dealing with.

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Hi pampered_g_jr,

Many Nepenthes can adapt to your home humidity and temperature, I have heard that lowii is best given a drop in nighttime temperatures down to 60 Fahrenheit and day highs of 80. It is an ultrahighland from Borneo I believe. The alata is much more adaptable and easier to grow in home. In any case, light is one of the most important considerations for any plant, so partial sun, like in a non-south window, or strong flourescents, like a compact 100 watt equivalent or 2 40 watt shop light tubes, are essential. If flourescent light is used, it would be best to place the Nepenthes at least 5-8 inches from the light for proper color and pitcher formation to occur.

Water with distilled, rain, or mineral free water from the better R/O units... some do not remove salts which would build up in the soil and kill the plant slowly. Water by top watering and let the water drain through the soil and do not have a tray under the pot, Nepenthes roots will rot if they are left in stagnant water too long and so over watering and under watering are both a problem. Just water like a houseplant a couple times a week and make sure their soil never dries or gets waterlogged. Also, do not put distilled water in their pitchers, that does very little for the plant except make it more difficult for the plant to catch and digest insects properly. Some care sheets say to do that, but they must be joking, the pitchers have lids and produce their own fluid, which is a mix of enzymes and preservatives, after all.

Sometimes Nepenthes will stop producing pitchers and have dieback in it's present pitchers when it's environment changes too drastically, like a humidity shock. A slow change from high humidity to low over several weeks will help harden the plant to your home humidity level. The lowii might never adapt easily, so a terrarium or some way to provide consistent humidity (100% at night and 80% in daytime) might help it. It probably will not die, but from reports I have seen, they do not grow their best without their requirements met.

Normal household temperatures should be fine for the alata, the lowii can withstand temperatures up to about 80-90 degrees in the day and down to 60 at night with a requirement for that lower temperature at night. Once again, if this requirement is not met, it probably will not die instantly, but it will be distressed and be very unhappy.

Some people fertilize their Nepenthes by foliar feed directly rubbed on their leaves with a damp cloth. The fertilizers that work best are orchid blood meal in very dilute solution of 1/4 or less and no more than one time every two weeks, once a month even better. It is easier to overfeed and burn the leaves or kill the plant than to underfertilize. I never have needed to fertilize my Nepenthes, I just make sure it gets an insect every week or two. If it looses it's pitchers, sometimes a little temporary fertilizing will perk it up and make it produce again. Make sure no fertilizer gets in the soil, that can kill carnivorous plants in a few weeks or months slowly.

Soil requirements are dictated by acid mix and high level drainage. One part peat moss of the bale variety with no fertilizers or additives and 2 parts plain perlite is good as is one part coconut husk, one part orchid bark, and one part peat moss, making sure that no salts or additives were placed in any of your soil ingredients. It is safe to say that carnivorous plants of virtually all types are allergic to any additive to their soil that would change the Ph from acid. Water with minerals and salts (hard water over 100), fertilizers, and chemical treatments (like copper based fungicides) would all harm the plant if it gets in the soil (copper also inhibits pitcher production if sprayed on the leaves).

Fungicides and pesticides should be sparingly used and of the sulfur or neem oil extract type with pyrethrines, no soap based natural insecticides, those would add nitrogen to the soil when bacteria breaks it down.

There are not many fungus and insects that attack Nepenthes, but they do occur sometimes.

The conditions I keep my N. sanguinea in are as follows:

Light: 4 40 watt flourescents of the cool white shop light variety 5 inches from leaves.

Watered with distilled water every 3-4 days and misted 1-2 times a day.

Temperature is between 65-80 degrees according to seasonal difference indoors.

Humidity is relatively high in my region, probably 60-70% indoors with central air.

Plant is in a 5 inch pot of coconut husk/peat/bark mix.

Each pitcher is digesting a variety of insects as it's fertilizer of choice. Flies tend to be more interested in the Nepenthes than they are in the Venus Fly Trap.

Here is a recent photo of the young plant with it's newest 4 inch pitcher.

Good luck with your plants.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 4:22AM
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Fortunately or unfortunately, there are many approaches to growing Nepenthes. Generally speaking, Nepenthes need an airy mix, with slightly moist soil media. Many people mix Perlite with orchid bark and there are many varaitions. Mine is very simple and it seems to work. I mix sand, peat, LFS, and add pine needles on top.

Many grow them in terrariums. I prefer a hanging basket or a planter, which allows the water to drain through.

Artificial lighting is a great approach, especially in the winter months, when window sill light declines enough to stop pitchering for a few months.

Room temp and above is best for Nepenthes, ~80 F. Below are pics of various plants:

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 7:12PM
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I've never been able to figure out how to do the cooling thing. My room temp is in the high 60s at night and I have day temps in the high 70s. I grew a lowii for a while in those conditions. It didn't die, but it didn't pitcher either! Your lowii should be fine for a while, but in the long run you should try for the night temp drops.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 8:46PM
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