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Carnivorous Plants/Nepenthes gone limp and no pitchers.


Pitcher Plant
Pitcher Plant  
QUESTION: I live in south west Victoria, Australia and have been growing a Nepenthes very successfully for about six years. It's been growing in a hanging pot on the veranda - facing south but well protected from cold winds. I've already re-potted it twice quite successfully but about a month ago I decided to re-pot it and cut some of the excess growth off because it had reached the ceiling and had nowhere else to go. Since I did that, it's gone limp and hasn't produced ANY pitchers so I guess it's not getting its usual nourishment from insects. How can I help it recover?

ANSWER: Hi Gillian,

Usually when leaves get that appearance you have a problem with the roots.  Since you just repotted the plant it looks like you may have had some root damage during the transplant.  Plants that are having root-rot issues also get this appearance.

I had some additional questions for you.  What is your potting media?  Did some roots break off in the transplant?  How do you water the plant?  Does that pot drain?  I know it's summer there right now.  What are your temperatures currently like?  How much sun does the plant get?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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Self-watering pot
Self-watering pot  
QUESTION: Thanks for your reply.
Now - answers to your questions:
Potting media is sphagnum moss - some old from the original pot and some new additional.
Roots break off? Hm - I don't really know. There doesn't seem to be a lot of root there - mostly fine and in the rootball. I didn't take much away from the ball but left it undisturbed.
Does the pot drain? Well, I'm not sure about the pot. It's a new one I bought for this re-pot and I did have some thoughts about whether it was the right one. I'm attaching a pic of the info about it so you can see what I mean.
Temperatures are still quite cool - anything from 15 to the occasional 30 (That's Victoria for you!) Even so, it's lived in the same spot for years and had grown up at least another four feet to the ceiling of the veranda - which is why I decided to re-pot.
Sun? Only filtered sunlight through clear panels in the veranda roof.
Thanks for all the searching questions. I hope you can solve my problem.

Hi Gillian,

Thank-you for the extra information.  It really does look like you are starting to get some root rot.  It's really important for Nepenthes to have freely draining soil, and its probably staying too wet and waterlogged with a potting media of only sphagnum.

Here's what you can do.  You'll need to do another repot, but you should be able to use the new sphagnum that you just put it in.  What you want to do is add/mix that moss with an equal quantity of perlite.  You need to open it up some so you get the moss draining rapidly.  When you take it out of the pot gently open up the root ball some.  Nepenthes roots are very fragile, and you'll loose some, but you need to get more oxygen going into the soil media.  I'm going to suggest using a typical hanging basket pots with drain holes in the bottom.  You might be able to find one with an attached saucer, and that's fine, but the pot needs to drain freely.  After that only top-water the plant.  If you have Superthrive or other vitamin B-1 root stimulator available in Australia, watering with a solution of that can help too.  Just be sure to follow label directions.  Try to avoid ones with fertilizer.

After doing this it's going to be wait and see.  Sometimes once the wilting starts they go downhill without recovery, but if enough of the roots are alive, you should see new growth firm up in about a month.  It'll take at least a couple months before you see pitcher production, so after about two weeks, spray the leaves with a very weak orchid fertilizer to give it some food.  I wouldn't put it in the soil since it's still trying to grow new roots.  Use about 1.23ml of a powdered orchid fertilizer to roughly a US gallon of water.  Do this about once a week.  The location you have should be fine for light.

Let us know how it does.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest  

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