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Pitcher Plant (Nepenthes)

Question:

I have a pitcher plant that is growing leaps and bounds, but I read somewhere to spray the plant with light plant food on the leaves because the entire plant needs to eat.  I have also read not to do it only feed it bugs in the cups, also to water it and fill the cups with distilled water.  I have been using facet water that has set for 1 to 2 days and spraying the leaves.  I also need to know if I should transplant it because it is growing so well.  I don’t know what I am doing and I want this plant to live. the last one I had I feed distilled water and dried bugs, but it died or I though it was dead because the pitchers died and leaves got brown.

Answer:

You have received a lot of not very accurate (or helpful) information.

As with most carnivorous plants, Pitcher Plants do not feed through their roots or their leaves. The get the nutrients they require from insects that fall into their pitchers and are digested by the sweet-smelling liquid they produce in the bottom of their pitchers.

These plants grow in rather sterile environments and are easily damaged by foreign substances, including fertilizers and chemicals added to tap water. So do NOT fertilize your Pitcher Plant at all and use only distilled or rain water to damper the roots. Do NOT add any water to the cups.

The photos do not show how your plant is potted. Presumably it is in a special sphagnum moss mix that is sterile or lacking nutrients. That sphagnum moss mix should stay loose, porous and damp at all times. Spraying with a mister filled with distilled water is often a good way to accomplish this. Again, avoid fertilizing. Letting water stand in an open container will allow chlorine to dissipate, but not other chemicals added to the water.

Your plant will probably need no more than one or two live insects per week. Over-feeding is a common cause of death for these plants. It is also important to provide lots of very bright, but indirect sunlight such you get in front of an uncovered north-facing window. High humidity is also important. Use a humidifier or a nearby pebble tray filled with distilled water to increase the humidity. Leave the roots alone and do not repot or transplant it. Just spray the moss as frequently as necessary to keep it and the roots damp.

These are fun, novelty plants, but they are quite difficult to maintain indoors in your home for a long time. They are quite particular about proper light, warm temps, an insect diet and pure water around their roots. Good luck and please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional Question:s.

Follow-imp Question:

i just wanted to send you a picture of the pot and ask when to put bugs in the cups so far i have 1 small cup.  Do I put bugs in all the cups or just one.  thanks for all the good information

Answer:

Thanks for the photo. Your plant is quite potbound – which is a good thing – so it it is best to water it by giving it a thorough drenching once per week with clean water.

Each separate pitcher can be given a single insect each week. However, make sure the previous bug has disintegrated before adding another one the following week.