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Carnivorous Plants/Effect of near freezing temps on Nepenthes


QUESTION: I live in Massachusetts and lost power for several days during winter storm Nemo. Needless to say without heat the temperature inside got close to freezing for several days in a row. As expected there has been severe browning and tip die back on my nepenthes, although a few made it through with out any damage at all. In your experience is there anyway to determine what will and what won't bounce back after such exposure? I know only time will tell but who has the patience for that after such a tragic event. Thanks for the help.

ANSWER: Hi Brian,

The plants that have not browned by now are probably not going to.  Intermediate and highland Nepenthes do sometimes experience temperature drops into the 40's with a couple, such as N. khasiana, known to even tolerate 30's for short times.  Any lowlanders or hybrids thereof, however, are not so forgiving.

If you have plants with blackened leaves try to cut away any dying material and leave any parts that seem green and unaffected still.  Keep them nice and warm, and humid.  Give them a month or two.  You may see some develop new shoots from dormant buds.  If after two months you've seen nothing, they're dead.  

From my experience, larger plants seem more able to bounce back since they have the mass and larger pots on their side.  Smaller plants are less likely to survive since the cold will work it's way through the plant and pots more quickly.

Let me know how it goes.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: So far after a few weeks 20 plants didn't survive the cold, another 10 are struggling through and could go either way, and the remaining 15 are doing great and felt no effects or are already pushing out latent buds. On top of the nepenthes I lost two Myrmecodias and a Hydnophytum formicarium and a few orchids. The part that annoys me the most is how irreplaceable some of the plant species and hybrids are.  I m sure I won't find many of them offered anywhere again. Good news for you is that I m restocking and can't wait to see what you have to offer this spring. Thanks again.

   Brian Keene

Hi Brian,  

I'm sorry for you losses.  I definitely know how that feels.  I'm glad you had some survivors.

We had a close call a few years ago when we had a very unexpected power outage during very cold weather.  It we didn't have any snow or freezing rain, but just very cold.  We lost power from a blown transformer, and our heat in one of the greenhouses at that time was only electric.  I was using camping heaters to keep the greenhouse warm, then just barely.

After that we installed vented back-up gas heat.  These were wall units that don't need electricity.  We still use electric for the base heating since for us it's the cheapest, but we have the gas as a back-up.  These units are actually made for home installation.  Here's what they look like:  This might be a consideration if you have an expensive plant collection.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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