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Carnivorous Plants/Non-spagnum moss as mulch for Nepenthes

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Unidentified moss
Unidentified moss  
Hi Christopher,

I have a few pots of Nepenthes that have 3 parts coco husks to 1 perlite as their growth medium. I notice that the surface dry out quite fast, so I have been looking for sphagnum moss to mulch the top in order to increase the immediate humidity and better retain moisture. I could not find any nursery here in South Africa that sells fresh nor dried sphagnum moss. However I recently obtained a bag of dried moss from a nursery. The problem is, the moss is not sphagnum moss, it has needle pine like leaves (see attached image). I soaked the bag of moss overnight in rainwater and they seemed to have rehydrated and freshen up. I scoured the internet for information regarding alternative moss as mulch for CPs but couldn't find any. My question is, will the use of non-sphagnum moss as top cover bring any harm to the Nepenthes plant?

Many thanks,
Winson

Answer
Hello Winson,

Without knowing the exact species of moss you have, it would be difficult to say whether it is usable or not. There are many species of moss and some are fine and some are nuisance growths. The only advice I can provide when trying an unknown is to keep careful watch over the plant and see if any sign or illness or deficiency occurs. If so, change out the moss.

Nepenthes tend to have a fair tolerance of most soils as long as they do not contain an over-abundance of nutrients or chemicals and provide high levels of drainage and water retention of a moderate amount.

If you find any orchid mix that does not contain any nutrients (fertilizers like nitrogen), it should be a good alternative for your Nepenthes.

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Christopher Littrell

Expertise

I am capable of answering questions about the most common carnivorous plants found in cultivation. I have no personal experience with Byblis, Drosophyllum, Aldrovanda, and Heliamphora. I have not cultivated gemmae forming pygmy sundews nor tuberous sundews. For information regarding those aforementioned species, I would suggest contacting other experts. I can answer questions regarding most species of Nepenthes, tropical and temperate Drosera, Mexican Pinguicula, Sarracenias, and Dionaea. I have some limited experience with growing Utricularia, Cephalotus, and Darlingtonia.

Experience

I have grown carnivorous plants off and on for about 27 years. I have made the same mistakes and suffered the same mishaps that many growers make as they attempt to separate the myths from the realities of growing these plants. Currently, I am successfully growing a variety of tropical sundews, a Nepenthes, several Venus Flytraps of varying ages, and Sarracenias. I have been successful in stratifying Sarracenia seeds and providing artificial dormancy requirements for my temperate plants when needed.

Education/Credentials
I hold a Master's degree in Educational Psychology. Over my lifetime, I have constantly read books involving the growing conditions of carnivorous plants. I hope to incorporate the educational aspects involved in psychology with teaching other people how to cultivate carnivorous plants.

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