Nepenthes Hookeriana

~ 5 yrs

~ 4 years
~ 3 years

These started in test tubes I ordered on eBay. They have been extremely easy to grow.

They are named after Joseph Dalton Hooker who discovered them. The first mention of them seems to be around 1848

Originally thought to be a species they are a natural hybrid between N. ampullaria and N. rafflesiana. They are found deeper in the jungles climbing up the trees. Early descriptions disagree on everything from the leaves to the pitchers to the growth habit. The wings and roundness of the pitcher seem to be all anyone agreed about.

I haven’t seen upper pitchers on mine yet, but read that they are longer and without wings.

Common to lowlands of Borneo, Malaysia, Sumatra where they grow in bogs.

High humidity, 60’F-90’F, easier to pitcher than some other Neps. I find they do best in open orchid baskets filled with sphagnum which are placed in a dish in which I maintain 1/2″-1″ of distilled water.

Nepenthes Alata or Ventricosa

I purchased this as a Nepenthes Alata, yet everyone tells me it’s a ventricosa. Which is it? Most likely it’s a cross between them, ventricosa x alata x alata is very commonly found in shops

Nepenthes Vetricosa

– distinct line between colors on pitchers
– lip at top of pitchers has distinct ridges
– no ridges running up pitcher

Nepenthes Alata

– ridges run up pitcher with hairs (aka fringed wings)

…. And does it matter?
Both plants grow in mountain forests and grow well as windowsill intermediate plants.

I have found my Nepenthes are happiest in open orchid baskets filled with sphagnum moss, which is still in dish containing about 1″ of water. Use distilled water, no fertilizer. A bright window that doesn’t receive direct afternoon sun is best.

This has been the easiest of my Nepenthes to grow from cuttings.
– cut a 6″-8″ stem
– remove bottom leaves leaving only one at the top
– plant in sphagnum and keep in a closed terrarium
– slightly shade it
When new leaves appear
– slowly increase light
– slowly adapt it to grow outside terrarium

Nepenthes Aristolochioides

This is an intermediate Nepenthes from Sumatra, most note worthy for its unusually shaped pitchers. Willem Meijer first found them in 1956, on a mountain about 6000′ above sea level where they grown in sphagnum moss along ridges in the forest, occasionally found in pockets of moss on trees.

It’s a climber, stems may branch.

Upper and lower pitchers are similar, reaching ~ 2.5″ in length when full size. Lower pitchers grow in the moss leaving only the opening visible.

It is unusual among Nepenthes in that it uses light through the back top like many US pitcher plants. Inner walls of the pitcher are sticky, acting like fly paper to trap insects.

This is a critically endangered plant due to poaching. You can find clones at reputable plant sellers. Getting endangered plants into the hands of as many gardeners as possible may be our best hope for saving them.

I’ve found it prefers bright fluorescent light to sunlight and high humidity.

It prefers cooler temperatures (50’F-75F’).

I grow it in an orchid basket filled with sphagnum in a dish with about an inch of distilled water I refill when dry.

Nepenthes Ampullaria

This is my most unusual plant. It is a lowland, swamp loving Nepenthes that was a carnivore and has switched to a detritivore diet. Though they don’t mind an occasional bug. The pitchers have enzymes and bacteria to break down and digest leaves, insects and insect larvea. The pitcher fluid is more basic than is found in other Nepenthes. Many insects will make homes for themselves in the pitchers.

I started with a batch of seeds I purchased on eBay. The first couple years growth is very slow, they make up for it the third year.

They are native to the rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia. You’ll often see them at food stands, the pitchers stuffed with rice. I’ve also seen them called ‘monkey cups’.

In Malaysia a tea made from the roots is used to treat dysentery.

Keep them warm 60’F-80’F humid, wet and out of direct sunlight. I’ve done best growing them in orchid baskets full of sphagnum moss. I seat the baskets in a clear pot and keep an inch or so of water in there. Only use distilled water, they are sensitive to chemicals in drinking water.

I found started Nepenthes seeds in terrariums on top of peat moss works best.

Nepenthes ampullaria are most strongly related to Bicalcarata. Ampullarias are most easily identified by the tiny, narrow lid on the pitcher. There is a large variation in pitcher size, colors are solid green or green speckled with red.

Some leaves do not have pitchers, but instead grow tendrils.

The fluids of Nepenthes pitcher plants are habitats to many specialized animals known as inquilines, which facilitate the conversion of prey protein into pitcher-absorbable nitrogen forms such as ammonium. Xenoplatyura beaveri (Diptera: Mycetophilidae) is a predatory dipteran inquiline that inhabits the pitchers of Nepenthes ampullaria. Larvae of X. beaveri construct sticky webs over the fluid surface of N. ampullaria to ensnare emerging adult dipteran inquilines.

Our results show that a terrestrial, inquiline predator can contribute significantly to nutrient sequestration in the phytotelma it inhabits, and suggest that this interaction has a net mutualistic outcome for both species.


I loved my Nepenthenes Miranda so much that when I started rebuilding my carnivorous plant collection I put them at the top of the list.

Right now there are 10 small Nepenthenes scattered about the house and just as many jars of seeds I’m hoping to germinate.

I ordered seeds on eBay from several different sellers, eBay has the best offerings for the price and a jar of the ampullaria just germinated today. The apullaria seeds took about a month to germinate, some N. Madagascarier took only a week. The seeds are on a south west facing windowsill. The temperature varies from about 100’F-70’F. I spray them in the morning and evening with distilled water to keep them damp. The seeds are on peat moss that has sphagnum moss on top.

While digging for information on Nepenthenes I ran across Growing Nepenethes Around the House which has more information than any other site I’ve found on these plants so far. My seeds are germinating in 60-70 days.

Terraforums has lots of information on growing them from seed.

My nepenthes addiction has superseded my orchid addiction. The house is now full of them. I’m growing all lowland nepenthes. They are divided into lowland, intermediate and highland. Depending on where you live you’ll want to chose some that like your growing conditions.

Lowlands prefer light shade, or dappled light, and warm temeratures 60’F+
Intermediates fall between the two and make good house plants for most climates.
Highlands wants lots of light and cool temperatures 40’F-70′
All of them prefer very high humidity.

Both do well on windowsills where humidity tends to be high and there’s difference in day and night temperatures.

The lowland ones mostly grow in swamps, keep them pretty damp. The highland ones like it slightly drier but don’t let them dry out.

Nepenthes have black, thread like roots and not a lot of them. Keep them in small pots.

I’ve done well with them planted in net pots ( like you use for aquarium plants ) and sphagnum mosss. I also have some in plastic wine glasses and peat moss. Some I have planted in clay pellets like the orchids. The clay pellet semi hydro is a bit tricky for the nepenthes. A few were lost when I switched them over.

Water storing crystals and carnivorous plants

July 14, 2014
I only recently heard about water storing crystals and couldn’t find much information on them. I had hoped I could grow my carnivorous plants indoors with out a terrarium using the crystals.

I planted a new batch of carnivores in nothing but crystals, with in 24 hours the plants had mostly dried out. I am not sure if this is due to the lack of a terrarium, the crystals or both?

I took most of the crystals, put them at the bottom of a terrarium, put a thin layer of moss on top and replanted the plants. We’ll see how that works out.

Looking at the photos, you’ll see the healthy batch of carnivorous plants right after I placed them in the crystals, and the same plants dried out quite a bit just after I transplanted them into the aquarium.

July 15, 2014
Some one on a forum claimed the water crystals super heated some container plants she had, every one told her that wasn’t possible. The two terrariums with the water crystals became significantly hotter than the other ones today. I took pity on the plants, rescued them before they cooked. They are currently outside in a mix of crystals, peat moss and sphagnum moss. I wouldn’t use the crystals in a terrarium that receives a great deal of sunlight.

Sept 6, 2014
I have a bunch of flytrap and nepenthes seeds germinating, some on peat moss, some on water crystals. As soon as I see some progress I’ll post back here on how they do. * These failed to grow while the ones in moss or peat moss thrived under the same conditions.

* The house humidity ranges from a high of 45% late at night to a low of 41% in the late afternoon. The temperature is about 79’F this time of year. The plants are in a south west facing window and I’m in Houston so they are receiving a long, high intensity amount of sunlight each day.

* The crystals typically last 3-5 years but are broken down by heat and light, and carnivorous plants love both. So they may not be practical for carnivore plants.

New Species of Carnivorous Plant found

A new species of carnivorous pitcher plant has been found by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) in Cambodia’s remote Cardamom Mountains.

The discovery of Nepenthes holdenii is an indicator of both the stunning diversity and lack of research in the forests of the Cardamom Mountains.

The large red and green pitchers that characterize Nepenthes holdenii are actually modified leaves designed to capture and digest insects. The pitchers can reach up to 30 cm long. The carnivorous strategy allows the plants to gain additional nutrients and flourish in otherwise impoverished soils.

A further unusual adaptation seen in this new species is its ability to cope with fire and extended periods of drought. Cambodia’s dry season causes forests to desiccate and forest fires are common.

Nepenthes holdenii exploits the clearings caused by these regular blazes by producing a large underground tuber which sends up a new pitcher-bearing vine after the fires have passed.

British photographer Jeremy Holden, who first found the plant on the FFI survey and after whom it is named, said: ‘The Cardamom Mountains are a treasure chest of new species, but it was a surprise to find something as exciting and charismatic as an unknown pitcher plant’.

This discovery is the latest in a series of new species described from the Cardamom Mountains, including a green-blooded frog and a number of new reptiles.

Jenny Daltry, FFI Senior Conservation Biologist said: ‘The flora of Cambodia is still poorly known and potentially holds many new species for researchers to discover’.