Q/A #67 - Nepenthes Stem Looks Rotted and Black

April 8, 2023

Q/A #67 - Nepenthes Stem Looks Rotted and Black

I am having a pitcher plant emergency. I am worried it will die please help. The plant seems okays still green but the base of the plant looks like it is rotted and black which makes it lean not having a stable stem. It hasn't grown pitchers since I bought it, and I have had it for about 6 months I bought it from another nursery in my hometown, and they couldn't help me. They have no clue.  
(Submitted in May 2019.)


The plant is likely Nepenthes Deroose Alata. It's a very common hybrid that's mass-produced and readily available at a lot of nurseries. The plant looks normal, and it's normal for older leaves to die off. Nepenthes are also woody vines, so they will  lose their lower leaves as the vine matures.  The lower portion then turns brown and produces a bark. In nature, the plant will produce tendrils that wrap around other plants and structures. That's how they "climb." If there isn't anything to grab onto, the plant will grow along the ground. In cultivation, that means it will hang over the pot.

The media looks like straight bark, and it looks like it had broken down because of being too wet. The bark also looks like softwood bark and not hardwood bark. Hardwood bark is commonly referred to as orchid bark. Softwood breaks down quicker and doesn't provide sufficient aeration in the long term. I recommend transplanting it to fresh media with equal parts long-fiber sphagnum moss and perlite.  (You can substitute perlite with pumice if perlite is unavailable in your area.) This is the mix we use at our nursery and one that we recommend for all of our customers.

Also, read our Nepenthes care guide and compare your growing conditions to what we describe there. If what you're doing doesn't line up with this, make the appropriate changes. Most of the time plants not pitchering is due to inadequate light, disturbance to the roots, or being moved around too much.

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