Preserving Cut Nepenthes Pitchers

Filed under: Nepenthes — David @ 2:27 pm

There are several ways to preserve the pitchers of Nepenthes. If you surf the internet you will find a few suggestions been forwarded by enthusiasts and experts around the world. I found that the best way to preserve the Nepenthes pitchers is by dry freezing them. At least that is my conclusion after experimenting with a few ways of doing it. It worked very well on pitchers with harder and sturdier walls. Species with softer pitchers like N. mirabilis did not produce perfect specimens but the pitchers crumple a little in the process.

Dry Freeze Method

Freshly cut pitchers need to be clean from insect carcasses, digestive fluid and dirt. I find it easier to use running water from the tap. When the cleaning is done, vigorously shake off water from the pitchers. Make sure you do not break or tear the pitchers in the process. I also use a hair dryer to blow cool air on the pitchers to dry them. Try to dry them as quickly as you can before they wilt. Pitchers that have been cut and do not have fluid or water in their pitchers will wilt within an hour or so.

Once you are satisfied that there is no more water on the pitchers, place them in a dry container and leave them in the freezer for a couple of months. When I did mine I left them in the freezer for almost 5 months. Do not cover the container. After taking them out of the freezer, leave them outside for a few days to dry off any moisture from condensation that might happen. The pitchers would last longer if you spray them with clear paint.

Drying Using Washing Detergent

I have also tried burying freshly cut pitchers in powdered washing detergent for washing cloths. The result was not satisfactory as the pitchers turn brown and it was difficult to clean the detergent from the pitcher. the detergent has hardened in the process due to moisture. Perhaps moisture was absorbed from outside as I did not cover the container. Even so it would also absorb moisture from the pitchers. However, the pitchers maintained it’s perfect shape even for those with softer pitcher walls.

Drying Using Silica Gel Mixed With Baking Powder

The same results also shows on pitchers that I tried drying using silica gel mixed with baking powder. The pitchers turn brown, but it is much easier to remove the mix of silica gel and baking powder from the pitchers as compared to using powdered washing detergent. Silica gel is the small (about 2mm diameter) spherical grandules that are used to keep camera and medicine dry. I also noticed that the pitcher walls are uneven. This is because when the pitchers dry they follow the shape of the silica gel granules that they are buried in. If you can get your hands on powdered silica gel, this problem can be solved.

Preserving Fresh Pitchers

I’ve tried preserving freshly cut pitchers for three weeks by making sure the pitchers are always full to the brim with water. I hang them by the tendril in my office cubicle. I was surprise that they can last for three weeks. N. xventrata pitchers seem to last longer for more than 3 weeks.

Soaking them in water will only help them last for about a week. They become soft and start to rot/melt. But for the short period you can have a nice decorative table piece. Get a nice glass vase and place a few cut pitchers in there, preferably from different species to get the contrast and colours. Fill the vase with water. Oh yes, place some small pebbles in the pitchers to make them sink to the bottom. Freshly cut pitchers will float. Arrange the pitchers in the water to your liking and… Waa laaa… You’ve got a beautiful table decoration. More unique and exotic than just cut flowers. I use an oval glass vase that seem to look great to me.



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