Why are the growing tips of my Nepenthes Deroose Alata basel cutting turning brown? I made this cutting in mid-March. It's in peat moss, and I water it with reverse-osmosis water. Is there anything wrong like a black stem rot or something else? It is on the windowsill.
(Submitted in April 2021.)
RESPONSE BY JEFF DALLAS:
Are you referring to the lower leaf in the bottom right? Sometimes larger leaves lower on a cutting will do that. The plant is trying to conserve energy since it hadn't formed roots to uptake water and support plant metabolism. But it also looks like the cutting is shutting down. The two other upper leaves are curling under, which means the plant isn't transporting water to the upper portion of the stem effectively.
The growing medium, 100% peat moss, might be the culprit. We don't recommend using only peat moss because it lacks aeration, which is essential for healthy roots. You may have created an anaerobic soil condition, which can rot the lower portion of the stem. If that happened, your plant won't grow any roots, and the cutting will eventually wither away.
You can use peat moss, but you will need to add perlite, 50-60% by volume. A better medium for rooting cuttings is sphagnum moss and perlite (50/50). Aeration is key for successful cuttings. Also keep in mind that Nepenthes take longer to root than regular plants. In the best of circumstances, you might see small nubby roots poking out of the cutting in 6-8 weeks.
Don't be disheartened. There's always a learning curve when doing cuttings for the first time. Deroose Alata is a great plant to experiment because it grows fast, it's relatively inexpensive, and it's readily available. It took us years to figure out how to do cuttings on a large scale, and we did a lot of experimentations on Deroose Alata.
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