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Pitcher Plant

Nepenthes Alata

Exotic and great fly controllers in the summer, the pitcher itself is the extension of the leaf's midrib and the lids are used to provide a certain lever of cover from the rain so that the enzymes don't get diluted.

Plant Care

Light

Bright light best described by South, South East or South West facing window, aim for at least 4 hours a day. Avoid direct sunlight. Some species prefer shade.

Watering

Water once a week, don't allow the plant to dry out. Prefers rain water. If using tap water, allow to stand over night in order for the chlorine and fluoride to dissipate first. Make sure each cup is filled ⅓ with water. During winter reduce watering if the plant is of a highland variety.

Humidity and temperature

Use sphagnum moss around the plant and allow the cups to sit on it to increase humidity. Do not allow the temperature to drop below 16°C (61°F).

Feeding and repotting

Frequent feeding is not required, if the plant gets enough insects. Help the plant with a recently dead insect, about 1-2 a month, in a pitcher or two. On occasion, an application of orchid food during summer month, diluted 10% will benefit growth. Sprayed on the leaves as Nepenthes prefer foliar fertilisation. The plant will also benefit from repotting every couple of years into a fresh medium.

SOS

Quick guide to common problems and how to deal with them.

Note:

Do not feed the plant with fresh meat or dairy.

Dry, deformed pitcher.

Check liquid levels in the pitcher. If there is none, top it up ⅓ with water. Use rain water if you can, if not use water that has been left out for 24hrs. If the pitcher hasn't lost its water the deformation is caused by the lack of light and dryness is due to the lack of humidity.

Leaves turned dull bronze and dropping, noticeable webs appear.

The most likely culprits are red spider mites. They are most active between March - October and love dry environments. Take the infected plant out immediately. Make sure to check all your other plants for cross contamination. Remove the plant from the pot and wash out the soil until the roots clean. Clean your pot thoroughly. Repot the fern in fresh soil and keep quarantined until the plant is re-established and new growth appears. Ensure the soil is kept moist to avoid new infestation. Return the plant to its original place once you are confident the problem has been conquered.

Deformed, dull green leaves with silver discolouration on the leaves and small brown spots.

This is caused by tiny insects called thrips. They can be hard to spot, so to confirm for sure, separate the plant, taking care there is minimal contact with neighbouring plants, grab a piece of white paper and shake the foliage on to it, which should reveal the insect.

Once confirmed, wash the foliage of the plant thoroughly under a tap, washing away as many insects as you can manage. For the second stage mix Neem Oil with lukewarm water and apply to the plant, wipe the leaves after 8-10 minutes. Ensure you do so in the evening when the plant is not exposed to the sun, as this may burn the leaves.

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