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Carnivorous Plants/Nepenthes Alata


Nepenthes Feb 2014
Nepenthes Feb 2014  
QUESTION: Hello. Purchased my 1st Nepenthes last fall. The new growth looks bad. There are some little bumps on the underside of leaves, not shown in pictures. Some little clear looking nodules as well. I have not repotted the plant. Watering with pond water from our 1.5 acre catfish pond (the lady that sold me the plant said that would be best since it was available--life-sustaining water). I know it's winter time, but plant is in south-facing window of passive solar home (thus plenty of sun!). The window area may be colder at night, so I move the plant away from the window during night or when we are away several days. It has not dried out--ever. I do have spider mites overtaking some potted plants, but they have not been near this nepenthes, and this does not look like the same problem. I have an Ortho Insecticidal soap retail produce if would be helpful. . . Pitchers have stopped, for winter I'm guessing, but plenty of new leaves came out after I had the plant with tiny pitcher stems on them. But recent leaves are twisted, more yellow & now showing up some type of brown streaks on back as pictured. I appreciate your input & look forward to it!

ANSWER: Hi Holly,

This does look like you have some pest damage occurring.  It looks like Thrips.  Thrips are tiny, long bodied insects that suck plant juices.  Take and hand lens and look carefully at the areas that seem damaged, and nearby on healthy leaves.  You should see some.  Also, you may have spider mites too even though you don't see them yet.

Thrips are a tough customer, so you're going to have to get aggressive about treating this.  The good news is that your insecticidal soap is a good product to use for this.  What you'll need to do is spray it, and repeat the spray intervals on the schedule is says to do it on the label.  When you spray, be very thorough.  If you have garage or it's warm enough to go outside shortly (50's are fine) that will make spraying easy since you need to cover every square inch of the plant and the soil surface.  You will also need to treat your houseplants or they will simply re-infect your Nepenthes.  Chances are some of those have them too along with the Spider mites.  Be sure and read the label carefully for any plants that may not be compatible with insecticidal soap.  Nepenthes are fine with it, but some more delicate plants are not.  (In cp land it will kill sundews.)

On a different subject, I would avoid the pond water.  With houseplants, you can end up bringing in nasties.  The Thrips are probably not from that, but other soil/water born pests such as Phytopthora root rot can come from that.  Use rainwater, melted snow, distilled water, or water purified by reverse osmosis.  Depending on where you live, your tap water may be just fine.  Nepenthes are not real sensitive to hard water, so that is a safer bet short term than the pond water, which can be hard too.  Also on watering, be sure your plant is not sitting in water.  Nepenthes are not bog plants, so if they sit in water the way you would do for Sarracenia they will get root rot, and that looks a bit like the symptoms your seeing, and in early stages will weaken plants making them more susceptible to pest attack.

Let me know how it goes.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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

QUESTION: THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! We are on spring water. It may be on the more acid end, but would that be good to water the nepenthes? Much easier for me if so as it's "on tap" & I don't have to walk down to the pond to dip a bucket (haha)! Thanks again, H in NC

ANSWER: Hi Holly,

When you say spring water, is that a surface spring, or a well?  If you know that the water has a slightly acid pH, that is perfect for the Nepenthes, and might be good with other cp too.  Out of curiosity, what part of NC do you live in?  Mountains, Piedmont or Coastal Plain?

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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

QUESTION: Hello! We are in foothills Piedmont about 50 miles NW of Charlotte. The spring water is surface spring I suppose, because if we did not put a reservoir underground, it would be bubbling up to the surface. The overflow runs into the pond. Glad to hear the leaning acid pH is good for plant! I have soaked down the nepenthes with the insecticidal soap: top, bottom, soil surface.  It has not sat in water like the pitcher plants do. When it runs out, I stop with water & pour off what is in the dish. Another item you could advise upon: humidity. We have very low humidity this time of year(about 20-25% inside), so I've been misting with the pond water the nepenthes, maybe several time a day if I walk by it. Would that be a good/bad idea? & can I now just mist with "tap spring" water? Thanks so much. I do appreciate it & hope I can get these beautiful nepenthes to grow in my home! --so I can start a collection!!

Hi Holly,

With this species, (your plant is most likely a nice stout hybrid known as "deRoose's Alata), don't worry too much about humidity.  Misting is nice once in awhile to help clean leaves, but frequent misting can actually inhibit pitcher production since it causes humidity levels to see-saw.  Nepenthes need things nice and boring with with conditions not changing much.  They will adapt to the lower humidity if given time.  I've had this species pitcher beautifully in my home as long as it has enough light, and it sounds like yours does.  Expect new pitchers sometime after the spring Equinox.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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