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

Ghost Orchid Flasks (Dendrophylax lindenii)

I decided it was time to try something more challenging. So I ordered a couple of flasks of Ghost Orchids ( Dendrophylax lindeii ) on eBay.

The flasks arrived in a few days, everything looks wonderful.

I did have to break the flasks to remove the plants, not a big deal, wrap the flask in a towel and use a hammer.

After removing the orchids, I dropped them into a container of water with fertilizer and rooting hormone while I gently untangled them and removed the agar.

So far so good.

They are currently dispersed across 4 terrariums, worm castings on the bottom, sphagnum moss, then mulch, orchids are resting on the mulch.

For now I’ll keep the light levels low. The largest trick is to keep the humidity close to 100% and keep mold and fungus from killing the seedlings.

I use a light dose of fertilizer with rooting hormone to water my orchids, these included.

I’ve lost two of the ghost orchids to fungus, I’ve dispersed a few that didn’t look good into the carnivorous terrariums.

About a half dozen have grown their baby leaves, these two leaves are temporary and will fall off once the plants get settled.

Sept 12, 14
I admit to slaughtering most of the ghost orchids, of the half dozen to a dozen remaining most are showing new growth. They are in a large southwest facing window, in a not tightly sealed terrarium and I’m spraying them with water in the morning and evening.

Oct 6, 2014
These are tough, every time they start doing well, they start doing poorly a week later. I moved them from the southwest window to a spot under a bright LED which doesn’t get as hot in the afternoon. We’ll see how that goes?

Feb 2015
I killed all but one of the Ghost Orchids. The surviving one is floating on a piece of bark in a fish tank under an extremely bright light. So far it seems to be surviving.

Tips for starting seeds indoors

There are many advantages to starting plants from seeds. It is much cheaper and you have a much larger variety of seeds available than you do plants. The downside is a fair bit of work is required and it takes quite a bit longer to get a mature plant.

Use fresh potting medium and pots. The biggest problem most of us have with starting seeds is ‘damping off’ which is caused by a fungus. When this fungus is present, seedlings wilt or do not even germinate. You can also use bleach to clean out your pots if you going to reuse some.

The less you have to move a seedling the better. If you must separate and replant seedlings loosen the soil with a pencil or skewer. Grasp the seedling by a leaf, not stem or root. Drop seedling root into an already prepared hole in its new pot. Seedlings can recover from leaf damage but not root or stem damage.

As a general rule of thumb plant seeds about twice their depth down in the soil. Some need light to germinate, some dark. Be sure you know which your seeds need, most need some light.

Soda bottles with the bottoms removed, clear plastic cups and take out containers all can be used to make green houses for your seedlings. Do not use saran wrap, it does not let air through. Be sure to only use clear containers for covers. Your seedlings need their light.

Some seeds need a period of cold before they will germinate. Use some sphagnum peat that you have soaked, then wrung out so it is damp but no longer dripping when you squeeze it. Mix your seeds into this mix and place in a clear plastic food container. Lunch containers work great. Leave outside for 2 or 3 warm, sunny days. ( Seeds will take up water and swell. ) Now place the bag of seeds and peat in your vegetable bin in your fridge for 3-8 weeks depending on how much cold time your particular seeds require.

Seeds may be marked F1 or Hybrid. This means that they are the result of hand pollination between two parents. Seeds saved from hybrids may not be true.

F2 seeds are the seeds of F1 or Hybrid plants and have been self or inter-pollinated.

If collect or are interested in heirloom seeds check out Seed Savers Exchange

Seeds should be stored in a dark, air tight container, just above freezing. Your refrigerator will work well.

If you are planting seeds from plants that prefer dry conditions, like cactus or herbs use a vermiculite/perlite mix rather than soil.

The new clear plastic egg cartons make great seed starters