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Carnivorous Plants/Supplemental light for nepenthes


Nepenthes with diffuse light on all sides
Nepenthes with diffuse  

Nepenthes hanging above sink
Nepenthes hanging abov  
We have a nepenthes in need of light, with lots of large leaves and only rarely producing tiny pitchers. When we put it in a corner location with both south and east windows, the picture  producing tips burned.  When we put it into a bright north window, the plant did well, but no pitchers. When we put it on a table somewhere in the middle, so it got diffuse (but no direct) light from all directions, he produced a very small pitchers, but they didn't last very long, and turned brown.

It is too large for the last location, so we are thinking that the north window (over the kitchen sink) might work if it had supplemental light. Can we use LED bulbs instead of compact florescents? If so, what wattage and amount of time per day?


Hi Carol,

LED plant lights work great.  They are, however, a little trickier than traditional white light sources.  What you'll need to do is research what unit looks like it will work well for you in the location.  I can't give you a specific wattage since they work more on photosynthetic potential rather than lumens like a white light source.  I will say, however, that for one plant you probably won't need an exceptionally powerful one.  Here's something to know, however.  Almost all LED's for plant growing are a reddish-purple in color, and can be a bit glaring in a house.  Here's an example of one that might work for you:

Let me address the Southeast exposure where you said the plant got burned tips.  This may actually be your best option.  This is a really common beginner mistake that when a plant has been in a low-light location and gets moved to a bright location, folks panic when they see some leaf burn.  The plant then gets moved back to the low light location never fixing the problem, no pitchers.  What you want to do is move it to the bright location, let things take their course.  You may see some leaf burn, but when the new growth comes out it will be stronger and normal.  You'll most likely start seeing pitcher production, and nice red pitchers.  Windows already block 80% of UV light, so it is super rare for a window to be too bright for Nepenthes.  This is the perfect time of year to make the move before the sun gets more intense.  It will give the plant more time to adapt. Just cut off any leaves that burn.  You may also want to consider trellising your plant since it's already pretty big, or consider trimming it back.  We have much more detailed information on growing Nepenthes in our volume #3 DVD.

On a side note, the variety of Nepenthes you have is Nepenthes x deRoose's alata.  It's N. alata x (N. ventricosa x alata).  It's one of the easiest Nepenthes to grow as a houseplant.

Let us know how it goes.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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