Q/A #9 - Pitcherless Nepenthes

January 3, 2023

Q/A #9 - Pitcherless Nepenthes

I have a Nepenthes, but I don't know anything more about it. It still has very small pitchers, and is one of two in the pot. But sorry to say recently one pitcher died. I have it in a south window in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. and I mist it every day. I've had it for about 8 months, and it still has very small pitchers. What can I do to make it more fruitful and happy? 
(Submitted in January 2021.)


Two words - more sun. I can tell from the color of this plant that it needs more light, and that's why you're not getting pitchers. Winter is part of the problem, so you may consider adding some artificial light over the plant. By doing that, and bumping the daylight cycle up to 12-14 hours you should see a big improvement. 

It looks like your windows are double, so that is probably blocking some UV light as well which can be an issue. Also, your temperatures in the room the plant is in should be in the upper 70's (approximately 25°C) during the day. That will help as well. Lastly, stop misting.

Misting is one of those old urban legends about houseplants that seems to be as much of a vampire rising from the grave as is growing Venus flytraps in terrariums. With regular plants misting is of minimal benefit in raising humidity since it is so short term and then drops right back down. With Nepenthes, anything that causes disturbance can inhibit pitcher production - transplanting, being moved around too much, rapid temperature changes, misting etc. The constant see-sawing of humidity causes the plant a little stress and they just won't form pitchers.

My best guess is that this plant is  Nepenthes x ventrata, also known as Deroose Alata. This variety of Nepenthes is very common and grows just fine as a houseplant with average home humidity. I've had these in my home numerous times with fan-forced heat and relatively low indoor humidity. As long as they are being watered regularly and they are getting several hours of direct sun, they usually produce lots of pitchers.

Give your plant more light to the point where you see subtle yellow hues in the leaves. After that, the plant may begin producing pitchers. Wait at least 4 weeks to determine if your light levels are strong enough. But it may take longer for pitchers to resume growth.

(For reference on how the leaves on N. Deroose Alata would appear with sufficient lighting, see Q/A #1.)

Submitted in January 2021. The original question and response have been edited for publication.
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