Cultivation Guide to Pitcher Plants

Filed under: Nepenthes — David @ 1:14 am

Pitcher Plants are actually quite easy to care for. They just need a little understanding. If you can provide them well with at least 3/5 of the conditions mentioned below they will grow well for you.

If all my babling below is still too much information for you to follow, then just remember these 3 points:
- Lots of sunlight
- High humidity
- Wet but well drained media


Generally, most Pitcher Plants do best with dappled sunlight with approximately 50% shade cloth under direct sun. Their pitchers will not have proper coloration if they are not given sufficient sunlight. They can also be grown at a bright window that receives sun for part of the day if all other requirements are reasonably provided.


Humidity has to be high (above 50%). The plant will stop producing pitchers when humidity is low. With proper care, Pitcher Plants can be grown indoors. However, effort has to be made to increase the humidity around them. This can be done by grouping a few plants close together, misting them regularly or placing them next to a humidifier. You could also elevate the pot with a layer of gravel in a water tray so that the pot sits just above the water line. Alternatively, the best way to grow Pitcher Plants indoors is by placing them in a terrarium. The plants are grown in a covered glass tank using artificial lights. Do not grow Pitcher Plants in an air-conditioned room, as the air is too dry.


Pitcher Plants need to be watered regularly and the growing medium should never be allowed to become dry for an extended period of time. However, do not soak the roots in water for an extended period of time or the roots will suffocate and die. Water them when the surface of the growing medium starts to become dry. Drench the growing medium until water drips out from the bottom of the pot. If it is possible, use filtered water. Do not use mineral water to water Pitcher Plants.

Growing Medium

The growing medium has to be either acidic or neutral in pH, well drained and poor in nutrients. A commonly used growing medium is sphagnum moss. Mix the medium with coarse materials (50%:50%) such as perlite, vermiculite, lava rock, silica sand or fern root fibre to help aerate the plant roots. Long fibre sphagnum moss can also be used alone. Do not use normal potting soil that has fertilizer added to it. It does not work well for Pitcher Plants.

Feeding & Fertilizing

Any suitable sized insect such as ants, termites, crickets, etc. can be fed to the pitchers. You do not need to hand feed the plants if they are placed outdoors where they are able to capture their own insect prey. Do not feed the pitchers food other than insects. If you are new to cultivating Pitcher Plants, it is generally not advisable for you to fertilize them. Pitcher Plant roots are made primarily to deliver only water to the plant. When it comes in contact with fertilizers, the roots will burn and die. They are carnivorous for a reason. If you must fertilise them, you may try slow release, organic or foliar fertilizers at 1/5th to 1/10th of the recommended strength. It may also be a good idea to flush the media with clean water the following day to remove access fertilizer.

Important Requirement

Pitcher Plants can be quite forgiving if you do not provide all the above requirements to their liking. However, there is one very important requirement that you will have to note, and that is to ignore them. Resist the temptation to fiddle with them or move them around. They do not like it. Just water them and feed them periodically if there are no insects for them to capture. You will know when your plant has adjusted to its new environment when it starts to grow a few new leaves and pitchers. Sometimes that takes a few weeks to a few months. Be patient.



  1. Another quetion regarding the feeding.My nepenthes in someway able to capture some cochroaches and a few able to catch lizards.Can it really dissolve cockroaches and lizards or it will die because of too much nutrient?

    Comment by Aliamyz — July 3, 2008 @ 6:30 am

  2. It really depends on how huge and fresh the pitcher is. If the prey is too large, the enzymes within the pitcher will not be able to breakdown the insect/lizard body causing an imbalance in the digestive juices. When this happens, the pitcher will rot. However, the plant will not be harmed in anyway.

    Some growers have had experience with lizards that were caught in pitchers of their larger plants. The lizards were digested within a day leaving behind the skeleton of the lizard. But it is not common for lizards to be caught in the pitcher. The pitcher is primarily made to attract nectar loving insects.

    Comment by David — July 3, 2008 @ 10:34 am


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