Nepenthes near-disaster


Nepenthes ventricosa in flower

I had a near-disaster with the Nepenthes. It all started with two plants living on the bathroom window sill and growing like nobody’s business. This would normally have been a good thing, except that N. ventricosa was now trying to drill through the top of the window area, its leaves taking up weird and ugly configurations in the process.

When the problem became too serious to ignore (i.e. the flower stalk snapped nearly in half) I installed a large recyling tub outside the house, added dried and live sphagnum moss, filled it with water and moved both plants into it.

Almost immediately the weather turned hot, with a dry wind blowing in from the west. All the lower leaves on N. ventricosa and most of N. maxima x fusca promptly dried up, and in the days that followed I had the dubious pleasure of watching the upper leaves of both plants go the same way (glabrous-leafed N. ventricosa fared better than hairy-leafed N. m. x f.).

All was lost, I thought. But in the spirit of closing the barn door after the horse was gone, I built a structure with bamboo stakes, hazelnut branches, single-core garden wire, hot-melt glue and 75% shadecloth.

The improvised shadehouse

The improvised shadehouse

The weather turned bad again — and by that I mean the daytime temperature exceeded 37°C — accompanied by the kind of strong westerlies that had brought the dust storms to Sydney two months ago. By evening the frame was in pieces and the glue had melted off. Oh, joy.

The next morning I rebuilt the frame — using plastic coated fencing mesh to provide greater stability — and tethered the whole thing to the tub.

A fortnight later, the edifice is still standing and providing shade from both wind and sun. The Neps are starting to recover — three new leaves and tendrils have appeared on N. ventricosa, and a single leaf is just starting to unroll on slow-growing N. maxima x fusca. If new pitchers develop I’ll know that the shadecloth windbreak is creating a sufficiently humid microclimate for the Neps to thrive.

[Update] Follow-up post in June 2010

Camera: Pentax K100D Super with Pentax DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED zoom lens. Ambient light (late morning) only. Cropping and resizing in Irfanview.


2 Responses to Nepenthes near-disaster

  1. June says:

    Hi cuz,

    Really enjoy the way you write. Hey my other Nepenthes [which I forgot to show you in my airwell] is flowering. Is this the end of the plant or the pitcher production ?

    Have 2 different types of pitchers in the airwell but they never produced new pitchers other than the ones they came with when I bought them. What do you think is the problem ? Not enough light, water ?

  2. Heh, my writing is pretty pedestrian but I’m glad you like it.

    I remembered that I’d not seen the mynah or the plants in the airwell after leaving your place. Regrets. 😦

    The flowering neps will be fine; they are perennial and will probably keep growing unless killed by pests, lack of sunlight or lack of nutrients & water.
    I’m thinking you may not have enough light in the airwell. It may help to move them out to where your other Nep is. By the way: does this look familiar?

    It is okay to put a little pelleted fertilizer in the substrate (this does not apply to other carnivorous plants) or spray very dilute liquid fertilizer onto the foliage / into the pitcher. I’d not recommend manure.


    Thought I’d mention that N. m. x f. has mostly recovered and there is now a full-sized pitcher on display. Another two leaves with developing pitchers have also unfurled.

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