Q/A #37 - Nepenthes Needs Time to Acclimate

February 17, 2023

Q/A #37 - Nepenthes Needs Time to Acclimate

I have a nepenthes that was shipped from CA to Denver, CO where I'm located. When I received it, the plant had numerous, healthy and beautiful pitchers but also many brown spots on the leaves. I researched the cause of that and it seemed to be normal aging, so I assumed it would resolve once the plant became adjusted. I cut off any severely brown leaves and one or two struggling pitchers. I filled the pitchers with a small amount of water as instructed. Over the next few weeks, the pitchers immediately dried out and I finally removed all of them. There is one growth that looks like it could potentially come to life, but other than that, she's not looking so great. Would you please be able to tell me how to proceed to bring her back to life? 

My Nepenthes is indoors at a south facing window with excellent light. She was initially further back in the room, I moved her closer to the windowsill. The soil is what she arrived in, so I'm not exactly sure, but it seems to have a bit of bark and peat as well. I might have watered too much initially as I wanted to ensure she had enough humidity. The first day I allowed her to run through with a significant amount of water as I was cleaning her up after transit. I also spray her/sprinkle her down 2x/day, once in the AM and once in the PM. I didn't repot her at all. I've had her for approximately 3 weeks, so perhaps she just needs to adjust from the trauma of traveling?
(Submitted in March 2019.)

The whole concept that carnivorous plants require high humidity is folklore. Much of it was created by how Venus Flytraps have been packaged over the years that die from shock when they are removed from what we call "Death Cubes". Any plant that is put into an enclosed container with no light for weeks to a month will have transition shock when removed. A cactus would behave the same way if packaged that way. 

Terrariums all too often create more problems than they solve because of fungal issues, inadequate light, and lack of air circulation. For temperate species like Venus Flytraps, failure in terrariums can be 90% or better. Back in the 70's I can't begin to tell you how many plants I killed because I kept reading this nonsense about the humidity requirements of carnivorous plants. We currently have a good customer that lives in Apache Junction, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix. He has Flytraps and Sarracenia outside all year. He just started a carnivorous plant nursery of his own.

The majority of Nepenthes commonly found in cultivation do just fine in household humidity with no need for misting. Your plant looks beat up from shipping, but overall, it looks healthy. No signs of anything systemic going on. My only recommendation is to make sure the plant gets partial sun, several hours of direct sunlight each day. Stop misting it. It doesn't do the plant any good. It just makes you feel good like you're doing something. But the things your plant needs right now are sunlight, water, and time. Within a few months, your plant will look lush with pitchers.

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