I've tried everything! I still cant make my plant grow pitchers!!

mukaketupatApril 28, 2007

Hi everyone,

I hope someone is kind enough to help me. I got a pitcher plant for a gift for christmas. It was in a small pot with about 4 pitchers. I left it hanging on the balcony, gets about 2-4 hours sun everyday. All the pitchers dried up in less than a week. I mist it at least twice a day and kept the soil moist. Spray it with liquid organic fertiliser once in two weeks.

Its been 4/5 months, the leaves are twice as much, but no pitchers at all. I've just repotted it last night with a mix of sphagnum and moss, and theres a lot of baby leaves coming out from the roots.

So i dont know what this means? At the end of every leaf, theres like a small hook that looks like it could potentially be a baby pitcher, then it turns brown..

So what should i do next? Where do i go from here?

Here is a link that might be useful: heres my blog

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Hello mukaketupat,

I take from the description it is an Asian Pitcher Plant of the Nepenthes genus? What exact species is it?.. Was it from a hardware store, bought from a nursery, or ordered online? Some species are more difficult to get to pitcher than others.

1. Light: Nepenthes like a lot of light, but can do with partial light, like what they would get under a tree. Some shade. Full sun is not necessary, but good partial light is. Without enough light, the plant will not make pitchers.

2. Humidity: When Nepenthes are first bought and taken from higher humidity to lower humidity, they loose their pitchers. If you had a higher humidity, or the same as what the plant had to start with, it would have kept it's pitchers. It will have to get used to your humidity, which it should have done by now after 4-5 months.

3. Water: Make sure the plant gets distilled, rain, or reverse osmosis water with all the minerals extracted. Hard water of over 50-100 will harm the plant and eventually kill it. Make sure the soil remains moist, but never dry or waterlogged. Do not keep the planter in a tray, let the excess water drain out. You can catch the excess water to use on the Nepenthes later, in a couple of days, thats no problem.

4. Soil: Nepenthes like their soil loose and with good drainage. The sphagnum peat moss is good, but you might want to add some perlite or orchid bark and coconut husk to it to give good drainage. About one third peat moss with two thirds perlite or one third each of peat moss, bark, and coconut husk would be good. There are other soil mixes you can use that would work just as well. So long as the soil is acidic, what the peat provides, and drains water fast and gives air to the roots. Make sure none of the ingredients you use in the soil or water have fertilizers, minerals, or salts added.

5. Fertilizer: While it is possible to fertilize Nepenthes, it should be done by weak foliar feed wiped on their leaves with a damp cloth or cotton swab in a 1/4 or less solution of orchid blood meal fertilizer once every two weeks or once a month. It is very easy to kill a carnivorous plant by fertilizing, so less is better. Never add fertilizer to the soil as that will weaken and kill the plant eventually. Sometimes growers will use fertilizer on the Nepenthes leaves when they loose their pithcers as this helps to stimulate pitcher production. Once it makes pitchers, stop fertilizing and the plant will catch it's own insects.

Some problem areas to consider are that Nepenthes are allergic to copper, so any chemicals or water sprayed in the soil or on their leaves should not contain copper or any other minerals like calcium or magnesium or potassium salts found in hard water. Copper sprayed on their leaves, like in copper based fungicides, would inhibit pitcher production. If you use pesticides use pyrethrines, and if you use fungicides on the plant, only use sulfur or neem oil based products. There are some other ideas for fungicides, but the idea is to make sure no dangerous minerals or fertilizers get on the plant.

You indicated that baby leaves were growing from the roots, this tells me that your plant is getting ready to vine. It will send up several new shoots and start growing longer. It might be saving energy to vine so it might not produce pitchers while it does this. As long as it makes new leaves and grows, it is ok. Keep giving the plant what it needs and it should start pitchering in a couple of months.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2007 at 12:58PM
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Hi mutant,

Thank you so much for your advice. I've posted some images of my pitcher plant on my blog (http://pokok.gejala.org/2007/mukaketupat/nepenthes/my-cry-for-help/)

I will leave it alone for now. And wait for a few more months. I was at the nursery yesterday and they had tons and tons of pitcher plants, and i was tempted to get one. But thought i want to save this one first or i'll just ended up killing both. :(

Here is a link that might be useful: images here!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 12:46AM
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Hello mukaketupat,

It is always much harder to tell what kind of Nepenthes it is if it does not have pitchers. The leaves look healthy.

The plant vitalizer you displayed might be alright to use, just use less and only on the leaves.

If you can, give it a little more light. That might help it make pitchers.

When a Nepenthes gets more light, it will start to develop some bronze color on it's leaves too. That is a sign that it it is receiving a lot of light and the plant will have a lot of energy to produce pitchers and fluid to drown insects.

Be patient and the plant will be fine.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 7:42AM
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Mutant hybrid...



Here is a link that might be useful: more about my other plants

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 1:36PM
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the baby pitchers turn green. they start out brown.


    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 5:35PM
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i usually neglect my pitcher plant during summertime and leave it outside in direct sunlight and grows well. Unfortunately its winter again and just sits on the windowsill with no food:(

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 3:30PM
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hello I,m Pinky227! and I live in the United States and one of my daughters has gave me a pitcher plant it is growing but I,m alittle worried about the pitchers on it,bec. they are turning brown and I don,t know what to do if I should cut them off and where do I cut them off at or just leave them alone!I deal with alot of plants but this one has got me puzzled could someone plz. help me I really would appericate it and send it to my e-mail at carriethomas@windstream.net Thank you so much and may God bless you!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 12:33PM
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Can you post a picture of the plant? Are the pitchers in question older or newer leaves? I can't Email becaue I am at work, but I can send one tomorrow morning.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 5:43PM
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There is too much MISinformation regarding fertilizing of nepenthes. They can take full strength liquid fertilizers with regular watering schedules.

Plants do need high light levels, good air circulation and ample watering. This combined with extra nutrients all add up to multiple pitchers on compact robust growing plants.
I've never experienced any kind of burns or decrease in plant growth because of "over" fertilizing my plants. They respond favorably to nutrients in the root zone.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 8:59PM
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Why is everyone so "afraid" of fertilizing their nepenthes?

You should be more afraid of fertilizing your African violets, or your Christmas Cacti. Nepenthes are hardy fool-proof plants. But they are HUNGRY plants. Hungrier than just bugs.
Regular fertilizing regime makes healthy happy well developed plants.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 3:18PM
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Simple, because if you take 15 different "experts" each tell a different story about fertilizing them. I personally spray my foliage in the spring to help induce pitchers. IT WORKS, despite what some people say. Some people don't want to kill their plant(s) after being told NOT to add ferts. to the soil. The CP forums always have debates on this subject.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 5:45PM
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true tommyr, though you must admit; RainforestGuy's plants do look exceptionaly health (certainly healthier than mine!)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 12:03AM
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Yes, his plants look great. But, you must take into consideration soil type, amount of Sun, humidity,etc. All of that factors in as well. Some people never fertilize and their plants look great too. Experimenting is all fine and dandy, IF you remember that you may LOSE some plants in the process.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 7:25PM
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Well don't look at me, I'm not trying to fight RainforestGuy's fights; And I'm willing to try something new, because my plants all look terrible. *sigh*
I just have to be patient and wait. I'm also concerned for a little nep I rescued from Home Depot a few weeks back, it looks really scraggly, but I think I'll try what RainforestGuy said, and fertilize it, because it has Ideal conditions, all except for nutrients.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 11:53PM
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I have never lost a plant to fertilizing/overfertilizing. NEVER!!!!

When I first started growing and believing what the "experts" have told me to do, I have lost dozens of plants just by doing exactly what they told me to do.

Nepenthes grows with the same kinds of plants that when we fertilize, they all grow luxuriantly. Nepenthes grows with many orchids Paphs, phalalenopsis. bulbophyllums, aroids, hoyas, ferns, begonias, lycopodium, everything. yet when you fertilize any of these plants, they explode into growth.
Why is it that people feel that nepenthes will get injured when fertilizing them? Doesn't make any sense. So fertilize the roots of nepenthes and watch them grow!

Incidentally even if you foliar feed your plants, run off goes into the soils and gets into the root systems eventually, even in low dosages. But foliar feeding doesn't do anything for the plants because the nutrients in a general fertilizer must be broken down into usable nitrite units that can ONLY be digested by bacteria present in the soil. There's no bacteria present ON the leaves and none IN the plants, so the only way nutrient can be absorbed is by activity with bacteria IN THE ROOT zone.
I try not to wet the leaves or pitchers when fertilizing because the harmful salts can cause pitcher and leaf damage over time.

Pitchers color better when they are fertilized by their root systems.

I have had good results even when growing difficult species when they are fertilized regularly.

Give it a try for a half year and see for yourself.

Results are quick and when done regularly it's like magic!

Doesn't everyone's nepenthes grow like weeds?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 12:18AM
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Yeah tommorow morning I am gowing to fertilize my neps with some of the Shultz instant stuff, it sounds like that what they have been screaming for. (if they even have the energy to scream!)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 1:07AM
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I just fertilized them all, now I just have to wait.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 1:15PM
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msmorningsong(SW FL 10A)

Rainforestguy, I am totally sold. I had a pitcher years ago and it waned, eventually died. If I find another one, I'm doing what you said.
Thanks for the photos and the good read. Loved the whole thread.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 9:45AM
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msmorningsong(SW FL 10A)

Rainforestguy, I am totally sold. I had a pitcher years ago and it waned, eventually died. If I find another one, I'm doing what you said.
Thanks for the photos and the good read. Loved the whole thread.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 9:46AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

interesting read . can't imagine a problem in Malaysia
Aren't most of these native to that area ??
my wife bought one many years ago so I hung it in the shadehouse populated most by epiphytes which get regular foliar ferts so obviously some is getting on it also lol
Only problem has been GROWTH climbs over everything lol One problem tried to start some cuttings and all failed ?? thinking of growing some outdoors in my epiphyte garden had the original hanging in a Carombola for many years with no problem
Just think you need some time ?? Good luck gary

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 6:55AM
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msmorningsong(SW FL 10A)

Try spraying (or dipping so your sprayer doesn't clog) the cuttings with 'WiltPruf'...all except the root tip. It will seal in some moisture so the plant cutting doesn't transpire as much, and may aid in getting it to root. I haven't tried it with plant in question, but others as delicate, and it does help me out. Then root up in pot as you normally would.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 11:26AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Don't think I'd describe it as "delicate " more like "rampant " or obnoxious" lol. Was thinking of trying it scrambling up a palm tree but suspect it will really be "obnoxious " there lol
have to constantly prune it as it invades other pots and only half heartedly tried to root the cuttings. Didn't even use rooting hormone . thanks very much for the suggestion!!! gary

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 4:27AM
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What type of fertilizer are you using for your Plants?
I am trying to grow my own carnivorous plants and am loving your pictures.
Any help would be appreciated, Thank you!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 10:04PM
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I fertilize my nepenthes as well.

As to not having pitchers, mine don't grow pitchers when the humidity is too low, they grow tons of beautiful pitchers when the humidity climbs over ~65%

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 8:26PM
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