I’ve been lusting after an Australian carnivorous pitcher plant for a long time and today my first one arrived. This post will likely change as I gain experience with Cephalotus (aka, Albany pitcher plant, Western Australian pitcher plant, fly catcher plant, moccasin plant).
Spring brings non-carnivorous leaves, followed by the pitcher leaves in the fall.
In bright light pitchers turn red but will be smaller, pitchers will remain green under lower light but grow larger. This plant is growing in a south west facing window in Houston which still doesn’t give it enough light to redden up. So it can take a great deal of light.
The plant grows the pitchers in a rosette. Each loop around the circle giving larger pitchers until full size is obtained ~2″ but can reach 3″. Best pitcher size is reached with high humidity and light, but not water logged peat.
The spikes on the mouth of the pitcher allow insects in but not out, as does the slippery surface of the inside of the pitcher. The nectar glands near the mouth attract insects.
There is a digestive enzyme in the pitcher which the lids keep rain from diluting. The digestive juices are released into the pitcher through glands along the bottom of the pitcher.
The lid of the pitcher plant does not move to trap prey but does move to maintain humidity in the pitcher, closing over the pitcher on drier days, pulling back on humid days.
Like many carnivorous plants, they go dormant during the winter months, and prefer to grow in wet peat moss.
Botanist Robert Brown first collected them in 1801.
Terrariums are excellent for growing these at home, they need high humidity (65%-90%).
They grow along with grasses in the swamp so they are a bit sheltered from direct sunlight. Light should be bright, too much red on the pitchers means too much light.
Unlike other carnivorous plants these ones can be over watered and will die from root rot. The crowns also need to be protected from rot.
If grown outside they can handle an occasional light frost. Preferred temperatures are 38’F-95’F
Once the plants begin to maintain fluid in their pitchers a light dose of high nitrogen fertilizer a few times a year can be beneficial, put the diluted fertilizer in the pitchers, do not apply it to the roots.
Things to watch for:
Subject to sudden death from root rot or high heat