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Carnivorous newbie…..Help!?!

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 9a)

Hi, I'm new to Carnivorous plants. I have acquired a Nepenthes ( pitcher plant?) A couple of questions…..
The water that i use…..Rain water , I'm sure is best, but…..Little to no rain….Should I use bottled? Distilled? Tap? What would you recommend?
The oldest pitchers have browned, shriveled, and died….I cut them off, back to the leaf. All of the new pitchers are a lot smaller than the originals. Normal ????
These are Carnivorous plants…But should they also receive any additional fertilizer?
And finally….Can you lead me to best informative site? Or books that you might recommend for a beginner?
Thanks so much for any info/opinions/suggestions that you can pass on. :-)

noonamah, Australia

You need to find out whether your plant is a lowland or a highland species. The highland, where the majority of them seem to come from, grow in a lower temperature environment with little change and constant high relative humidity. They're often grown in terrariums or greenhouses where temperature and humidity can be better controlled. The lowland species take higher temperatures and can deal with a bit less humidity, to an extent.

An advantage with rain water is that it's got lots of oxygen and no (or negligible) mineral content. Of course, coastal and nearby areas do pick up some salt and other minerals from wind and rain passing over the sea. If you're in or near an industrial area the rain might be contaminated in any case. Bottled water can contain a lot of minerals, depending on source. Tap water often has a lot of additives, chlorine being a major one. Distilled water should be free of minerals, but oxygen also.

Some Nepenthes grow in the ground, so mineral water might not be bad for them. Otherwise after (non-contaminated) rain, distilled water would be the better choice.

Do you have photos of your plant that you can post? Would be good for getting a better idea of how it's looking. How long have you had it? Are new leaves larger or smaller than the originals? What conditions do you have it in, outdoors, room, greenhouse, etc? What's your temperature and humidity range?

Poughkeepsie, NY(Zone 6a)

Some good sites:



Google will find you even more!

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 9a)

Thanks for your response…My plant was received as it is now. The planting medium seems to be a sphagnum base. The person that gave it to me did not have a lot of information except to say that it prefers warmer temps. and to not allow it to dry out completely. From your answer, tropicbreeze, I'm guessing it may be a lowland species, basing this on the temperature range that I was told. Daytime- warm- 70's-80's or more, and nights- no lower than about 45-50. I had been keeping it on my Northeast facing deck…During colder nights I had been bringing it in to the house in a window with the same NE exposure. ( 1st picture ) I have had it for about 8-9 months now. The younger pitchers are about 1/4-1/2 the size of the originals. I'm in Northeast Florida, about 40 miles from the coast. Our zone is 8b-9.
tommyr2006---Thank you also….I definitely have some reading to do… :-)

Appreciate all your help!

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Poughkeepsie, NY(Zone 6a)

Nice plant!

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 9a)

Thanks. Would your opinion be that this is a N.ventrata? And would you also know why the pitchers are so much smaller, and they also tend to start shriveling not long after they develop?

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 9a)

AHA!!!! I think I discovered the problem with the pitchers shriveling….Because they are dry!?! Looking through some older posts…The one that starts with "After killing my Nepenthes ventrata last year". Could that also have something to do with their small size?

Wow, so much to learn! Love it!

noonamah, Australia

I can't tell what species it is from the photos but it does look quite a lot like Nepenthes ventrata. Being a fair way inland from the coast you'll need to watch the humidity levels. These will fluctuate quite a bit due to your more extreme temperature range without the moisture input that coastal areas are more likely to get. My guess would be that it's not so much lack of watering but low humidity that could be causing pitcher shrinkage. Many of them also like quite bright light. But in those photos your plant does look quite good.

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 9a)

Thanks so much, tropicbreeze. ( love that name! ) Our 'Winters', as mild as they are, are less humid than the rest of the year, so I will keep an eye on that. :-)

Poughkeepsie, NY(Zone 6a)

Pitchers do not last forever and eventually begin to shrivel up from the top down. Just clip them off at the leaf tip when they get too ugly for you.

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 9a)

Hi tommyr, When clipping the pitchers back to the leaf tips, will that particular leaf form another pitcher? Or has it done all it will do? :-)

Poughkeepsie, NY(Zone 6a)

No, that leaf will not ever form another pitcher.

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 9a)

Thanks, appreciate all your help. :-)

north coast nsw, Australia

nice plant, i use a peat moss (not coco peat), sand and small bark mix for my neps. Some spaghnum moss is good also though, it will start growing and need to be thinned out.
When i receive a new plant i put a little rain water in each pitcher (they have this naturally but may have been tipped out in transport or shipping). They dry out and die quickly without it. 1/3 fill each pitcher.
Older pitchers will die eventually though and new little ones will form. The leaves that HAD the older pitchers on them will eventually die also and you can cut these off.
Mine seem ok with tap water but i try to use rain water as much as i can.
NO fertilizer!
You'll know if somethings wrong because they stop forming pitchers, esp. during winter when its cool. They like high humidity and i think to low is one reason they stop forming pitchers.
They don't like full sun and the leaves will burn, i have mine hanging under trees in the shade.
Just my 2 cents worth. hehe!

Thumbnail by breeindy
Jacksonville, FL(Zone 9a)

I'll gladly take your 2 cents worth breeindy! Thanks. :-))

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