Nepthenes problem?

jane__ny(9-10)August 17, 2013

I have had this plant for 8 months. I received it as a gift and it was full of pitchers when I got it. I repotted and it has been hanging under a tree which is quite shaded but gets spotty sun.

Plant has tripled in size since I got it. The leaves are enormous, healthy, deep green.

It appears to be making pitchers but they are small or under the leaves. They don't hang as they are short. The large leaves which hang outside the pot appear to start to make pitchers but they dry up. They never form, the long stem grows and then the end turns brown.

I can't figure out if this is normal or there is a problem. I thought it might be getting too much light so moved it to a darker part of the tree.

One other point. I am in Florida (Gulf Coast), where it is rainy season. There are downpours daily. Temps are high (90's) and humidity about the same. Its like a steam-bath!

Anyone run into this?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hmmmm, give it a 1/4 strength spray of orchid food every 2 weeks. This helps with pitchering.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 12:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am experiencing the exact same problem, good leaf growth but tiny or no pitchers

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 2:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Increase light and do the feed thing I mentioned.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 2:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

hey tommy, which orchid fertilizer and how do you make it 1/4 strength. thanks

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 3:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

hey tommy, which orchid fertilizer and how do you make it 1/4 strength. thanks

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 3:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

hey tommy, which orchid fertilizer and how do you make it 1/4 strength. thanks

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 3:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

hey tommy, which orchid fertilizer and how do you make it 1/4 strength. thanks

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 3:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Any orchid food. Just make it up 1/4 of what the label says.
If it says 1 teaspoon per gallon, use 1/4 teaspoon.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 6:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

ok tommy, thanks, I want to try that on my least it is growing new leafs, but the pitchering is lagging.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 7:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Tommy. The problem is I grow orchids and my Nepenthes is growing under a tree with the orchids. I fertilize all the plants with orchid fertilizer (its all I use). My Nepenthes is quite large and healthy but little tiny pitchers or dried up ones. The plant is constantly moist as it rains every afternoon.

The only thing I could try is to bump up the light, but I'm doubting that is what is causing the problem. I took a few photos today. Hard to see but I think you'll get an idea.

This is what forms. It looks like it starts to make pitchers but then it turns brown. The plant is covered in these.

If you look to the left of the pot, you'll see a small pitcher under the rim. I found three small ones tucked into the rim.

Shot of the whole plant

Although it is under a dense lime tree, it does get spotty sun. I thought it might be getting too much light and the pitchers keep aborting. The leaves are enormous but the pitchers are tiny.

What are your thoughts?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 10:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Jane,those are healthy looking leaves,mine are not near that nice though,but the same problem, lots of leaf growth,but tiny or no pitchers I was curious do you fertilize by water in the pot or do you spray it on the leaves.And how often do you fertilize. thanks,,,,,this is my first nepenthes so i am learning as well what works with these guys.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 11:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

They need MORE light from what I can see in those photos. Also yes, you can use that 1/4 strength orchid food as a soil drench.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 9:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Can they take direct sun light? in order for me to give mine more light it would have to be outside in direct sun light, right now its under a little bush with filtered light

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 11:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Early morning Sun only, their leaves get dark and reddish in the Sun. BRIGHT, indirect light.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 3:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tysneps(USDA 6B)

Hi Jane,
Are you still experiencing problems with your plant making pitchers? First thing I would say is to give it more direct light, but acclimate it slowly so the leaves don't burn. Looks like you've got a Nepenthes x Miranda, which has always been a very reliable pitcherer for me (attached is mine). This hybrid can produce solid red leaves in direct light. Although, you may not get many pitchers this time of year since the days are a little shorter.
Lastly, I see no one asked about what soil you used when you repotted it or your water source. I feel this may be key. What did/do you use?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 11:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for inquiring. I didn't get any pitchers. I moved the plant to a brighter spot and it got very burned. Lost a few large leaves. Then the plant send up flowers and is still making huge flowers. Not one pitcher.

I did move it to a little less light, but it still gets strong Florida light ouside. The newer leaves have adjusted but no pitchers.

I grow orchids and potted the Nepthenes in a combo orchid mix. Some miracle gro with small wood chips and perlite. Very free draining and I have to be careful about watering more often. The plant will dry out quickly.

I have fertilized all year, only use rain water or RO and can't figure out why it won't pitcher for me. It is a huge plant, enormous leaves with flower spikes 2 ft. long. Dam plant won't pitcher.

Thanks again for asking and if you have any idea what I could try, let me know. I know its late in the season but maybe it will surprise me in the Spring.

Here's the only shot I could find taken recently. It lives hanging under a loquat tree with some orchids. It is in the middle of the photo. You can see some burned leaves. But gives you an idea of the light and the size of the leaves.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 1:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Remember, in the fall/winter they stop pitchering with maybe the occasional pitcher. It's NORMAL for them not to pitcher in fall/winter.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 7:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tysneps(USDA 6B)

Thank you for the information! Your plant still doesn't look too bad at all! First off, I'd say unless you are enjoying looking at them, cut off those flower stalks! (If you haven't already). They are draining energy from the plant. The common nepenthes tissue cultured clone plants likely won't produce worthwhile seed anyway. In fact, I believe this N. x Miranda clone are all male and are reportedly sterile anyway.
I have a feeling that maybe your orchid fertilizer is causing this because those ferts are designed to make flowers. Pitchers are not blooms, flowers, fruits, or vegetables. Pitchers are an extension of the lamina (leaf) and they are considered foliage along with the leaf. The high phosphorus (middle number) in bloom ferts aren't what you want, you want a higher nitrogen (first number) fertilizer. Example: 9-3-6. So maybe switch to a liquid, water soluble nitrogen (rather than phosphorus) dominant fertilizer. Seaweed extracts, and sometimes inorganic hydroponic -type fert solutions are excellent. Growmore seaweed extract, dyna gro, and shultz plant food plus are all ones i've used with success.

Now, here is a second place you may have went wrong: I seen you mention miracle gro (I believe you meant miracle gro soil you used in the mix?). Miracle gro/miracid fertilizer and soil is a big no-no. Same for fish emulsion fertilizer. The problem with miracle gro's soil or fertilizer, is that it is a cheap fertilizer with very high salt content. All fertilizers contain salt but miracle gro's salt is very high. The seaweed extract is good for lower levels of salts. Somewhat contrary to popular belief, nepenthes aren't so much nutrient sensitive as they are SALT sensitive. So, good job for using that chunkier mix, but you need to replace the miracle gro soil with pure peat moss or some other salt and nutrient free, yet water retaining ingredient.
I'm also concerned about when you say "wood chips" do you mean something like orchid bark? That is perfectly fine, but if it is a mulch product (potentially chemically treated) that is a problem. So, when you can and the plant recovers, I would repot it with orchid bark, perlite, and pure organic peat (you can usually find it in mid sized bales if not in smaller bags untreated).
The thing with nepenthes is they need to be in an airy soil that you can frequently flood the pots with water to keep salt down in between fertilizing. They don't want fertilizer sitting on their roots constantly.

The flowering to me sounds like a response from some stress (possibly?) and the orchid bloom ferts.

In conclusion:
Cut off the flower stalks to save the plant's energy
Repot and in a chunky/airy soil just like you have now, but replace the miracle grow with peat moss.
Fertilize with lower phosphorus (higher phosphorus encourages the flowering) and low salt water soluble fertilizers. Liquid organic ones (such as seaweed, but not fish emulsion!) I have found to be safest.
(That said though, you may just want to lay off the ferts all together for a while after you repot)
*I have seen using miracle gro soil have a lasting "no pitchers effect" for a while. Come to think of it, I have heard before of planting a nepenthes in miracle gro and it showing the same behavior as yours. Lots of fast growth but no pitchers.

All of that failing, wait until the days start getting longer again and make sure the plant has enough light. Don't worry too much about leaf burn. Nepenthes can take and should have a lot of light to make pitchers and nectar. Plus, newer, tougher leaves will replace the old ones.

I know that was quite a bit of rambling--don't hesitate to ask more questions or have me clarify!


*tommyr-- yes, that is correct but remember that she has been having this problem back a while before fall. Also, the shortest day lengths many nepenthes see in their habitats is 11 and a half hours. So it can be assumed that they require at least a solid 11 and a half hours of light to pitcher. In Jane's region (Florida) she is getting about 10 and a half hours right now. Not too far off, but still probably not enough light. In about a week the days are going to start climbing up in length again anyway.

Once we get into the end February, the days should be just getting long enough for pitchering in her region.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 12:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, Tyler, great information. I really appreciate it.

I don't use high P fertilizer on any plants including orchids. I don't believe it in. I use Foliage Pro which is a high N fertilizer. I only fertilize in small amounts and not frequently. Once a month or so. I have some seaweed and fish fertilizer and will give that a try later in the year. I do use rain water on all my plants.

I'll try repotting this Spring. I won't disturb the roots now.

The plant seemed to attempt to pitcher all summer but they would dry up before growing. You can see them in my photos. This went on all summer. The plant grew quite large and appeared very healthy.

I only used a small amount of Miracle Gro potting soil. Actually I used some cactus mix with it. The rest was small fir bark and perlite. I think I added some sphagnum moss to the mix but not sure. The pot drains freely and I need to water 2x a day in the summer. It dries out quickly and the plant will wilt.

I'll try changing out the mix this spring. BYW, this plant had huge pitchers when I bought it

Again, thank you for a very informative response. I'll update this Spring.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 11:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tysneps(USDA 6B)

You're quite welcome! I think I see where you are coming from. I once read a thread about high P not actually being important for flowering.
Rain water and seaweed fertilizer sounds fantastic, but again I don't recommend fish emulsion because it can clog and block water absorption like insoluble salts sitting in the medium do.
Actually, if you are willing, repotting soon before spring isn't a bad idea as it will give the plant more time to get settled and produce pitchers in the summer. Get over the shock now rather than later when it could be growing and producing pitchers during the growing season. Know what I mean?
Your pitchers buds seem to show signs of low humidity, but I doubt that's an issue in Florida. I don't know, maybe your conditions are just a little too intense for it? These do grow well as house plants in a window with at least 2-3 hours of direct sun (as a last resort).
My final recommendation is based on the fact that you have to water it 2x a day in the summer. If this is the case, you may just want to plant the plant in a 50/50 peat/ perlite mix. These hardy nepenthes hybrids can take a slightly heavier soil. The fact that you say it gets dry enough for the plant to wilt is a huge clue in lack of pitchers. For a nepenthes to be so water deprived as for the leaves to wilt-- it is definitely too stressed to pitcher. You may need that 50/50-ish peat perlite mix for more water absorption because the fluids inside the pitcher and the things needed to make the pitcher come from stable root absorption. So, make sure your plant isn't wilting and is consistently moist (but NOT remaining wet or soggy- ever!). Make sure your pot is flushable and has plenty of holes and drains freely regardless.

But overall, in some funky cases these things just need almost a year to adapt and make big pitchers again. Maybe time is key!
Eventually, if nothing at all works, sometimes these generic tissue culture plants can have genetic defects. I know that doesn't seem right since it had pitchers when you got it and I highly doubt that is the issue. My point is, these are such amazing plants and don't turn away from them because of a "bad plant", as some do.
There are great sources online to buy other nepenthes species or hybrids that may be better for you. Again, this is all hypothetical because this is the absolute very last conclusion!!
I look forward to finding out what happens!!
and sorry again for writing so much!

Thanks for listening,

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 1:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

i had a similar problem with mine until I moved it back to the shadehouse . Only difference I can see is a lot less wind , I never fertilize except what get s away from the orchids and have always used regular old tap waterlol They do cycle making less and smaller pitchers during winter . Cutting off flower stalks is useless as they will quickly make more lol They will cycle out of the flower stage anyway .
I use long fibered sphag with a bit of top soil mixed in . They MUST be kept constantly moist The main problem here in florida is GROWTH they will climb on anything lol
Good luck gary

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 5:49PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Nelenthes 5 basal shoots on 1 plant!
My newish nepenthes, not sure what kind since it was...
VFT after some ice and snow
I just wanted to upload this pic of my VFT and pitcher...
Might be a stupid question but......,,
Hi everyone! I have two nepenthes. I believe they're...
sarracenia seedlings
sarracenia flava x ornata i never woulda thought that...
Venus Fly Trap Germination Chambers
Yesterday I set up four little pots that are covered...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™