Dracaena compata, Dragon Tree

I was wandering through an Asian market when I ran across a bunch of these in a bucket of water. I had to have one. So I bought two.

Like all Dracaenas they are very easy to care for. These ones are in large vases with clay pebbles. I keep about 4″ of water at the bottom.

Low light, no direct light is needed. Keep them moist. Typical household temperatures are fine ~60’F-80’F

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.

Psychopsis ( Oncidium Mendenhall)

I fell in love with these years ago, and it’s been a very long time since I’ve had one. Now I have four. The first two were lost in shipping by the PostOffice. The seller sent replacements, and three weeks later the originals turned up. The roots were dry but the plants were otherwise healthy. A few hours of soaking in water with rooting hormone and fertilizer, then a week planted in sphagnum moss, and they were as good as the two that hadn’t gotten lost. These are tough plants that clearly don’t mind a bit of neglect.

These orchids want low to medium light, I’m told they’ll bloom in light as dim as you use for your phalaenopsis, but cattleya light is better. The leaves on these are almost a dark solid green, with more light the leaves will get a brown speckling. I’m still experimenting to see how much light they can take you can see the newer leaves beginning to get some color as I increase the light. I put these in a AeroGrow Ultra LED garden, they are in a tray, planted in clay pellets (semi-hydro) and thriving.

Some growers say to let them dry a bit between waterings, others say never let them dry. After the PostOffice experiment I’m leaning towards letting them get a bit dry between waterings. Make sure the leaves and pseudobulbs stay firm, roots should be green to white, the greener the better.

I’ve taken to keeping all my orchids in clear glass containers so I can keep an eye on the roots. If you use bark and or sphagnum moss make sure there is no water sitting in the bottom of the container and use a shallow, wide container. If you use clay pellets ( semi-hydro ) plant the orchid so the roots are above the bottom third of the container and leave water in the bottom third of the container. I have these planted in semi-hydro, it hasn’t been very long but so far they are doing extremely well.

Each spike bears flowers one at a time, after the flower dies the spike will grow a bit longer, then a new flower will bloom on it. Flower spikes can reach 5′ in height. Flowers can be a couple inches or as large as 6″. Flowers will last about a month.

I find these to be very easy to grow, they bloom almost year round only stopping when the house air gets dry in the winter. They are easily propagated by division

Temperatures should be between 50’F and 90’F, 60′-80F is best.

The higher the humidity the better.

Psychopsis Mendenhall is a hybrid between Psychopsis Butterfly and papilio.

Psyche is Greek for butterfly, opsis for like

Psycopsis were first introduced to The Royal Horticulture Society in 1823 but Sir Ralph Woodford, Governor of Trinidad