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Carnivorous Plants/Very Unhappy nepenthes


QUESTION: I have subscribed to you newsletter for years. Our pitcher plant started out a 2" pot supermarket joke. The plant became my wife's passion, the one plant becoming many, big, happy pitchers. She died a few month ago and I am afraid I am killing this plant. It is in the same location, watered/misted regularly but the leaves are curling into themselves and the pitcher tendrils are brown. I looked at the roots, good (I guess) looking roots, nothing mushy. Thinking it might have been pot bound, I put it in a slightly larger pot today. Of course, too soon to tell. I don't know what you can tell from a photo but here's hoping.......

Thank you for any direction you can give me

Bill Burkhart

ANSWER: Hi Bill,

I'm sorry to hear about your wife.

I need just a little more information to help out here.  What was the potting media you used when you repotted? Did many of the little black roots break off when you did the transplant?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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Pitcher Roots
Pitcher Roots  
QUESTION: Jeff, thank you for your kind words.

The roots were solid. The mix is kind of home made, mainly a fine orchid mix that has a smidge of charcoal and perilite. I add some pea gravel and a bit of potting soil. I soaked it well before using. I used a slightly bigger pot in a more even configureation. The old pot, that the plant was happy in for years, tapered at the bottom.

Hi Bill,

The root system looks great.  What looks like is happening is your soil media is too loose and not holding enough water for the plant.  People have lots of different concoctions they use for Nepenthes media, but most have long-fiber sphagnum moss, which retains lots of water.  Your orchid mix, which looks like it has large orchid bark pieces, is probably not holding enough water for the plant.

What I recommend is mixing your orchid mix with some long-fiber sphagnum moss.  That should give it better water retention, but still maintain good drainage that Nepenthes need.  Keep the mix a little wetter than normal for a couple weeks.  If you can put your plant during that period in a place with higher humidity, that will help too.  It has to get past the transplant shock, then you should see improvement.  There's a product called Superthrive that can really help with this too.  Most garden centers carry it, and it a mix of Vitamin B-1 and a rooting hormone.  It's a concentrate that you mix with water and then water the plant with it.

Let us know how it goes.

Good Growing!

Jeff Dallas
Sarracenia Northwest

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If your carnivorous plant is showing poor growth, discoloration, abnormal leaves or possible infestation, the expert growers at Sarracenia Northwest can help! They have a great depth of experience dealing with diseases, pathogens, and abnormal growth in carnivorous plants.

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