Q/A #101 - Nepenthes Is Getting Too Long

June 12, 2023

Q/A #101 - Nepenthes Is Getting Too Long

In my collection of carnivorous plants that I have purchased from your site, I have been having difficulties growing my Nepenthes Velvet that I purchased in August. For starters, as you can see the plant grows awkwardly (upright/vertically) and has reached extreme proportions. It is currently 48 inches long. Since I purchased this plant, it has very seldomly produced pitches. I would say no more then two pitchers. My Velvet has only grown an upper pitcher and has never grown the appealing lower pitchers. It is growing in the same media it was purchased in. Only distilled water is given to the plant and it currently grows in an east facing window(I do not have a south facing window unfortunately). I supplement it with compact fluorescent light (CFL) 6500k when the sun no longer peers into my window. My N. sanguinea, N. ventricosa, N. St. Mercury, and N. Exotic Lady have all taken off and are growing great. I was wondering if I could get a replacement on another velvet when in stock. Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated.
(Submitted in June 2021.)


The main issue here looks like light. You mentioned that your other Nepenthes are doing well, but they are hard to make out in your photo, so I can't really assess them. The only other Nepenthes I can see clearly is N. sanguinea. That one looks great, but that's because it's right next to your CFL. However, your Drosera capensis is showing signs of insufficient lighting. It's leaves are curling under. When grown in proper lighting, its leaves will be pointing upwards. 

Be cautious about basing the adequacy of your lighting based on how other species are growing. Some plants can thrive in less light, such as Drosera adelae and Pinguicula. Those plants are growing well for you. Other plants require more light, such as Drosera capensis and Nepenthes Velvet. Even if you think the light is bright enough, plants don't care what you think. They will always be the final judge of what is bright enough for them. Part of growing plants is observing how they are growing and making adjustments to the growing conditions accordingly.

What you can do is cut the Velvet back to encourage dormant nodes to begin growing. Part of the challenge is just to keep it bushier. Cutting the vine back will do help it get bushier. In fact, in your second photo, there is flower stalk that is popping up from the soil. That indicates a new shoot was forming but decided to produce a flower instead of leaves. Cut off the flower to encourage the shoot to produce leaves instead.

With the cut vine, you can root it. Search Youtube videos for tutorials on how to do that.  

You are also going to have to get a more significant light source since this is not only an East window, but one with a tree in front of it. I recommend finding an LED with white lights, 20-40 watts. I have found I get the best result in any kind of grow light when you use something that will give more even light distribution, such as twin tube fluorescent light, or the equivalent. Many of the LED grow lights are built like this now along with the myriad of panel types. Stay away from any bulb, spot grow type lights if you can, or any of the goofy clip on the side of the table types. What you need even, bright light distribution. Of course the larger you can go with a light, the better the results will be, and it will give you more flexibility with what you can grow.

The bottom line is that you will need more light. Nepenthes Velvet likes lots of sun, and when they are at their best the leaves are fairly dark. 

Since you are out of the 30-day warranty period with this plant, you will need to talk to Jacob about a replacement (I cc'd him on this), but you won't get any different results with a new plant unless you increase the light levels. Click here to read more about our 30-day guarantee. 

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