Cephalotus Follicularis

These delightful plants are on the whole quite easy to grow. They should be grown in a compost of 3 parts Murphy Moss Peat to 1 part Horticultural Sand. They seem to like quite wide & deep pots to allow their roots to develop. Though they do seem to produce their biggest pitchers when slightly pot bound. Light can also affect their pitcher size. They produce larger but greener pitchers in a more shady situation, and slightly smaller but highly coloured growth in a more sunny position. I sit them in a water tray of soft water in the Spring-Summer growing period. But only put enough water in the tray during the winter period for the plants to take up. It is important that the plant does not get too hot during the summer. A winter temperature of about 45F in a cool greenhouse is ideal


There are a number of ways to increase the number of plants you have:

SEED- Once the plants start to flower you can collect the seed. The flowers are self pollinating. The seeds actually look a little like small Cep pitchers with small hairs on them! Once collected they can be sown onto similar compost the mother plant grows in. I have found it is not needed to cover the seeds. Once sown keep the compost damp and in a light airy position. Germination can take between 1 to 2 months on average. Plants grown this way can take several years to get to a good size.

LEAF CUTTINGS- In the spring you can carefully remove a number of the non-carnivorous leaves that Ceps produce. It is important to keep the whole leaf intact as the base of it is where the new roots will emerge. Plant the leaves in a typical Cep mix and keep it in a light position. Make sure the compost remains damp and try to maintain a reasonable humidity. Make sure any leaves that rot are removed as soon as seen. Good size plants can be obtained this way quite quickly.

SPLITTING- When your mother plant is big enough it is quite easy to split up the plant into several pieces. This can give your good sized plants in the shortest time. Once split up your should expect the plants to stress out a bit and lose some of the older pitchers. Again spring is the best time to do this as the plant will be resuming growth and have the opportunity to establish before the next winter period..


From a personal point of view I have never encountered any pests on these particular plants. But a suitable pesticide such as Scotts Bug Clear should deal with any problems. The main concern with this plant is rot, particularly in the winter. Keeping the crown of the plant dry, reducing watering and keeping the plant in a well aired light position is to be recommended. Removing all dead growth is essential. A common problem with Cephalotus is their tendency to suffer from Powdery Mildew, I find that Scotts Fungus Clear deals with that.






Darlingtonia Californica

This magnificent plant should be in every collection. Often described as difficult to grow, this depends somewhat on the location. Areas with cooler nights are more likely to succeed than places where the night time temperature stays high. In its natural habitat the plant often grows by mountain streams. This condition helps keep the plant's root system cool. And it is this, that seems to be important to growing the plant successfully. A good compost I find is Granulated Peat (Murphy Moss Peat ) mixed with perlite seems to work well. This provides an open compost for the plant roots to develop. I find a fairly large and wide pot is good as the plant develops stolons away from the main plant. These will eventually grow into new young growth which can be separated and potted up. Besides standing in a water tray similar to most other CP's the plant can also be watered from above as well, though I must admit I rarely do!! This is suppose to recreate the effect of running water that the plant would encounter in the wild. The water should be soft (rain water) and cool. On very hot days or in more extreme growing conditions some people recommend using ice cubes placed on the top of the plants compost. In the UK where I grow my Darlingtonia I have not needed to resort to using ice cubes yet! Like Sarracenia they like a cool greenhouse for over-wintering (45f ideal). But can also tolerate frosts as well, and for the last few years have grown a number of mine outside all year round in full sun. They need good light, but in the summer prefer a little shading from direct sun if grown under glass.

They do not seem as bothered by pests & diseases as some of the other CP's. But a usual pesticide/ fungicide can be used to deal with any attacks such as aphids and scale insect.





These beautiful in their simplicity, pitcher plants are now far more readily available thanks to tissue culture. Originally considered difficult to grow I have found them very easy. I grow mine in a mixture of Long Fibre Sphagnum moss and perlite. Other compost mixes I have tried include Irish moss peat with perlite and Orchid bark. These plants like to be watered from above to maintain rainwater in their pitchers. I also do not stand them in water trays but place them on an upturned pot and have kept mine in my Highland Nepenthes house. Recently I have grown some with success in a water tray. I keep it at a lower water level than for my Sarracenia and let it dry out from time to time. They need good light but shading from direct sun. They seem tolerant to quite high summer temperatures if in a humid atmosphere. They need a winter minimum temperature of about 50f/10C. The whole plant including its roots is incredibly fragile and brittle, so great care must be taken when handling the plant. After a few seasons an older plant can be divided into fresh plants rather like the Sarracenia species. But when dividing it is best to use a sharp knife to divide the plants and ensure that the roots are not damaged in the process. They seem to like rather pot bound conditions and this appears to encourage them to produce larger pitchers. Although when first obtained tissue cultured plants are quite slow growers, their growth rate increases as they reach maturity. The very young pitchers seem to resemble Sarracenia Minor pitchers, in appearance. Older plants produced very striking flowers in the winter/spring period.


Fortunately Heliamphora do not seem to be prone to many attacks from either pests or the usual problem diseases. The usual type of pesticide can control any aphid attacks. And a good (not copper based) fungicide can be used with care, to deal with any mould problems.






These tropical pitcher plants can be divided into two groups- Lowland & Highland.


These Nepenthes plants need fairly constant high humidity & high temperatures. In the wild they are used to temperatures of 70F at night and up to 100F during the day. Winter temperatures might drop to 65F at night, but rise again during the day. It is therefore important that similar conditions can be maintained in their growing environment. They can be grown in a hot greenhouse or stove house. Or the smaller species could be grown in a suitable heated terrarium. However I am now finding that some can now be grown on a sunny windowsill! Growth is slower and usually stops in the winter, but they do grow and pitcher successfully in the summer. So while I cannot guarantee it will work for you it is certainly worth a try!


I now am now of the conclusion that while lowland Neps will tolerate the lower humidity and temperature of growing on an indoor windowsill for a while, they do deteriorate long term. In the last couple of years several of mine which had looked good and were pitchering, have now stopped pitchering and look quite unhappy. My N. gracilis/ N. truncata have died & the N. bicalcarata / N. rafflesiana look poorly. In many ways the outcome was predicable but I still feel that Nepenthes on the whole are able to adapt to less than perfect conditions. But in this case the low temperatures and reduced light levels in the winter I think gradually weakened these particular plants. The main snag of growing most lowlands in a heated tank is while they way well flourish, they will soon outgrow their home!

All Nepenthes need a very well drained compost. Many different & often exotic mixtures have been suggested over the years. From a personal point of view I have found a mixture of NZ Long Fibre (DRIED) Sphagnum moss mixed with either perlite or clay pellets works well. I am also using a mix of Live Sphagnum and Orchid Bark with charcoal added with some success.

The plants should be grown in either hanging baskets or pots with plenty of drainage holes. They must never be stood in water, as the roots can rot very easily. If in pots I usually stand my plants on another upturned pot to allow excess water to drain away.

I personally do not fertilise my plants. There are suggestions that it might improve the plants growth. But fertiliser can affect the compost the plant is growing in. Also it can cause the plant to stop producing pitchers. So I prefer to allow my plants to catch their own food!

Most Nepenthes need good light but not direct sun. So a 50% shading on the greenhouse using blinds or Cool Glass spray on/wipe off shading paint, is ideal. I usually remove the shading in the winter when the light level is a lot less anyway.


In the last few years I have tended to leave up the bubble wrap on my greenhouses all year round. This tends to reduce the light levels some what and now do not usually use any shading on the greenhouses. Overall I find that most Neps actually like a lot of direct sun as long as the greenhouse temperatures do not let the plants over heat. I also have found that a good breeze, from either a fan or just wind through the roof vents/louvre benefit the plants a lot as well.

A high humidity is required. This can be provided by water trays under the plants (not standing the plants directly in it) & spraying the plants by hand. Or using an automatic misting system. In my greenhouse I have rigged up a water pump to a water tank which them feeds the water to misting nozzles. This fine mist can raise the humidity very quickly. I am however currently experimenting to see how low a humidity a plant can tolerate before it stops producing pitchers or becomes unhappy. I will put my findings here in the future.

High Humidity Findings January 2006

Over the last few years I have been experimenting with lower humidity conditions. As mentioned above I am currently growing a few lowland Nepenthes on my bathroom and kitchen windowsills. They stand on upturned pots above a small saucer of water. I do not spray them. In my Highland Nepenthes house I no longer use my misting system and rarely hand spray my plants. There is humidity from the compost and where water collects on the staging and floor. In the summer the roof vents are open and the greenhouse door is left open. So truly high humidity does not seem to be as important as used to be suggested. The plants do need time to adjust and can sometimes looked stressed and stop pitchering. But most (not all) species do adjust and often seem to do really well. You need to treat each species as individual cases as some of the more fussy ones still need more tender care. So the experiment continues...


As mentioned above I have been finding that good air movement seems to be more beneficial than really high humidity. Highland Neps grown outside during the summer on the whole do really well!


Most of the growing advice above can be applied to the Highland varieties as well. With the exception of their growing temperatures. These species experience a much lower night time temperature, and need this contrast between day & night to flourish. An ideal Summer daytime temperature is about 65/75 F dropping to about 50 F at night. During the winter the daytime temperature can be about 65 F and can be allowed to drop to about 45/50 F at night. Some of the species such as N. alata are quite tolerant of higher temperatures as this species can be found in both Highland & Lowland situations. Other varieties like N. villosa are far more fussy. This plant grows so high up in the mountains it can experience frost. So is unforgiving of too high a night time temperature.


All Nepenthes plants will eventually need to be pruned back as their growing stems become woody and bare. These cuttings can provide new plants. Cuttings should be trimmed at an angle at the base with a sharp knife. It should also be notched to encourage roots. I no longer use a rooting hormone liquid or other special treatments. These just seemed to reduce a successful strike rate! I now plant the cuttings in my usual Nepenthes mix and treat them like growing plants. Some species and hybrids are still difficult to get to root. But an ever increasing number of species & hybrids seem to take very well. The important thing is to be patient and even if the cutting looks brown or black quite often they eventually sprout from below the compost!


Fortunately Nepenthes plants are not affected by too many pests. Occasionally greenfly might be seen on the younger growth. Also I have found damage caused by earwigs. Usually the earwigs eventually find themselves in the pitchers- providing a good meal for the plant! A bigger pest I have found in recent years now I keep most of my Nepenthes in an open greenhouse are caterpillars! These often tiny pests can hide themselves away as they do their damaging work! So keep an eye out for the chewed leaves and characteristic tiny black droppings! And search out the blighters! Checking the plants at night can also reveal them eating. A good insecticide such as Scotts Bug Clear used in moderation should keep most pests at bay. This can also help control mites that sometimes attack greenhouse grown plants. Those mites are now however becoming resistant to most chemical treatments. Another useful insecticide is Provado Ultimate Bug Killer Concentrate which contains sunflower oil which can also help control mites.

Rot & grey mould from the damp atmosphere the plants grow in is a possible problem. Spraying with a suitable fungicide & removing all dead and old growth is the best way of keeping it at bay. As with all CP's the fungicide should not be copper based which is poisonous to all these types of plants




These beautiful Pitcher Plants are amongst the easiest CP's to grow. A number such as the Flava & Venosa can be classified as hardy. All Sarracenia should be grown in a mixture of 4 parts Murphy Moss Peat to 2 parts Perlite. You can also add one part Horticultural Sand as well if you like.

They should be stood in a large saucer or tray. About 1-2" of soft or rain water should be kept in the tray throughout the late spring & summer. During the autumn & winter the water should be allowed to dry out between watering to keep the plant soil moist rather than wet. All Sarracenia need good light, with a number like the Leucophylla needing full sun. Aim on giving them as much light/sun as you can.

A cool greenhouse makes an ideal home for these plants. During the summer I find that in the UK they can also be stood outside as well, in a sheltered position. They can also be grown indoors during the summer on a sunny East or South East facing window ledge. But it is important to put the plants in a cool place (45F) or less during the winter to ensure a dormancy period.

During the spring mature plants can be repotted and divided. New mature plants can be produced this way. Cutting the plant rhizome into several sections and potted up is another way of propagating these plants. Also seed collected from the often large & beautiful flowers can be sown in the spring. Plants grown from seed can take some years before they reach maturity.


The main pests are greenfly/aphids which can cause distorted stunted growth. You can either spray the plants with a suitable insecticide such as Scotts Bug Clear. Or a more user friendly approach is to immerse the whole plant in a bucket of water for 48/72 hours- drowning the pests! Scale Insects can also sometimes be found on the body of the pitchers. These brown scale is often found if your plant has an excessive amount of sooty mould ( dirty sticky markings) on the pitchers. These can either be scraped off, or a systemic insecticide such as Provado Ultimate Bug Killer can be used. Botrytis cinerea also known as Grey Mould can develop on old growth particularly over the autumn/winter period. Removing the dead growth regularly and ensuring the green house is well aired usually reduces the problem developing. Alas, there is now no fungicide on the market which will deal with this disease. I have tried "Sulphur" dust on my plants as a preventive measure. This has the advantage that it doesn't wet the plant, which itself increases the chances of rot. But cannot say that the sulpher stopped it either! Some people are also trying Trichoderma which is a powder that is dissolved in water and poured onto freshly potted plants or divisions. It is suppose to provide a coating of " friendly " bacteria around the roots of the plant and therefore protect it. It is still to be completely proven whether this actually does reduce the risk of Botrytis Cinerea ( Grey Mould). But its certainly worth a try... This winter 2007/08 I have tried a fairly new product call Bud Rot. This particular product is sprayed on the affected plant and is suppose to encourage the disease to develop and them stop it in its tracks! From experimenting it certainly encouraged it and alas had no positive effect :( Back to the drawing board for that product I fear!



Venus Flytrap

Despite its reputation as being difficult to grow nothing could further from the truth! Thankfully the days of buying those "dried bulbs" AKA as "dead" plants are now mostly over, with healthy mature plants easier to get. They should be grown in a reasonable size pot ( 5-6 inch) to allow their roots to develop. The compost should consist of 2 parts Murphy Moss Peat to one part Horticultural Sand mixed well. The plants should stand in a large saucer or tray of soft water (1-2 inch of water). During the growing season April- October the tray should be quite constantly filled. During the dormancy period November-March the tray should be allowed to dry out between watering. An ideal winter temperature is about 35-40F to allow the plants to become dormant. The plants should be given plenty of light, to encourage healthy growth and good coloration of the traps. Plants can be grown on a sunny windowsill, cool greenhouse or outside during the summer. Do not feed the plants, as they will catch plenty for themselves. When they produce their flowers in the spring, remove the buds before they develop as they can weaken the plant.

After a number of years, the plant can be re-potted and divided. Once out of its pot it is easy to see how many crowns you can split up into new plants. Plants can also be propagated by leaf cuttings & from seed, if you do allow the flowers to develop.


See the Sarracenia section, as the same advice applies.