Indoor Pitcher Plant Care: Tips On Growing Pitcher Plant As A Houseplant
By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Pitcher plants are fascinating carnivorous plants that are surprisingly adaptable to the indoor environment. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many types of pitcher plants with many different needs, and some varieties can be a little on the fussy side. Read on to learn the basics of growing pitcher plant as a houseplant and pitcher plant care indoors.
How to Care for Pitcher Plant Indoors
Light – If possible, refer to the tag that came with your pitcher plant, as sunlight requirements vary depending on the species. Some require full sunlight and may need supplemental lighting year round, while types that originate in the floor of the rainforest may need filtered light. If you aren’t sure of the variety, place your plant in moderate to bright light and avoid, direct, intense sunlight. If the leaves turn yellow or the leaf edges look brown or scorched, move the plant into lower light.
Water – When growing pitcher plant indoors, water as needed to keep the potting soil moist, but not soggy. Allow the pot to drain thoroughly after watering and never let the pot stand in water, as wet soil can cause the plant to rot. Most importantly, pitcher plants are sensitive to the chemicals in tap water and benefit greatly from distilled water or rain water.
Temperature – Indoor pitcher plant care generally requires warm temperatures between 65 and 80 F. (18-27 C.) Read the care tag, however, as some varieties prefer very warm nights while others need cooler nighttime temps between 45 and 65 F. (7-18 C.)
Potting soil – Pitcher plants tolerate a wide range of potting mixtures as long as the mixture is relatively low in nutrients and provides excellent drainage. Many gardeners prefer a combination of half perlite and half dry sphagnum moss. You can also use a mixture of half sharp sand or perlite and half peat moss. Avoid regular commercial mix, which is too rich.
Feeding – Pitcher plants generally require no supplemental fertilizer, although you can mist the plants with a very dilute fertilizer solution during spring and summer (mix no more than ¼ to ½ teaspoon per gallon (2 ml.-4 L.)), using a water-soluble fertilizer formulated for bromeliads or orchids). Your adult pitcher plant will be happy if it can catch a couple of insects every month. If you don’t have bugs flying around your house, provide a freshly killed insect once in a while, (no insecticides!). Use only small bugs that fit easily into the pitchers. Don’t overfeed, and don’t be tempted to give your plants chunks of meat. Remember that carnivorous plants have very low nutrient requirements and too much food or fertilizer can be deadly.
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Where to Grow Pitcher Plants?
Though pitcher plants can be grown outdoors as well as indoors, it is best to grow them outdoors. Soggy areas are ideal for growing these plants. The soil must be acidic in nature. If you don’t have such a location in your garden, then plant them in pots (plastic or glazed ceramic ones) that do not drain. The potting mixture has to be 50% sphagnum peat moss and 50% perlite/horticultural sand. If you are using sand, make sure that it is clean and washed. You should not use beach sand, contractor’s sand or limestone sand. The location must provide bright light and high humidity, which are necessary for the growth of the plant. Direct sunlight is also good for some species. It may also happen that too much sunlight can cause sunburns on the plant. If there is a deficiency of sunlight, the plant may become weak and lack color too.
Keep the Soil Soggy
Always keep the soil wet, but use distilled water or rainwater for this purpose. This is because, tap water may contain chemicals that can harm the plant. Bottled drinking water is not advisable, as it contains minerals. The easiest method is to keep the pot (with the plant) in a tray of water. For pitcher plants, you can keep a good amount of water in the tray. The water level in the tray can be deep enough to immerse half of the pot. For other carnivorous plants, the water level (in the tray) should be low, so that it does not cover more than half-an-inch of the pot. In such cases, refill only when the water dries up. For most of the carnivorous plants, watering means refilling the tray.
Even though, pitcher plants can tolerate low levels of humidity, during summers (growing season), high humidity levels (60% and above) are required. It has been observed that in low humidity levels, pitchers are not formed. You can grow them in terrariums or greenhouses, for high humidity. In case of terrarium, there must be some sort of ventilation, to avoid fungal growth and other damage to the plant. Humidifiers can also be used for this purpose.
The temperature requirement of pitcher plants may vary with the species. Most of these plants can grow well in a temperature range of 55-95° F. However, hybrid pitcher plants are considered easier to grow. Apart from that, colorful pitchers are available in hybrids like N. x Dyeriana, N. x Chelsonii, N. x Williamsii, N. x Ventrata and N. x Superba. It will be better to avoid those species that require extreme temperature for growth.
Feeding and Dormancy
While fertilizers are not usually needed by pitcher plants that have access to insects, others may require feeding in very small amounts, so as to maintain the acidity levels of the soil. This is done by using a foliar spray once during the growing season. Dilute the fertilizer (one teaspoon for one gallon of water) and spray on the foliage and not inside the pitchers. You should not put meat inside the pitchers, but, can use small insects like flies and crickets (occasionally) for this purpose. Usually, two to three insects per month is sufficient for the plant to thrive. Some people use Miracid fertilizer in diluted form. Mix one-eighth teaspoon of this fertilizer with a quart of water and fill three-fourth of the pitchers (and not the plant or soil). Pitcher plants are dormant during winters. In the case of plants in the outdoor soggy areas, you can use three inches of pine needle mulch during late fall. You may also dig out the plant, remove the soil and dead leaves and keep it in a sealed bag with some moss. Refrigerate this plant for around three months, before replanting it.
The above mentioned are some generalized tips and guidelines about tropical pitcher plant care. Requirements of pitcher plants may vary with different species and hybrids. So, you must collect enough information about that specific pitcher plant species, that you intend to grow.
NEPENTHES PITCHER PROPAGATION
The two most commonly accepted methods for propagating a Nepenthes Pitcher plant are through division and stem cuttings. Both are fairly simple, but stem cuttings tend to be a little quicker.
It simply involves a few incisions followed by burying them into a container with fresh, moist soil. You can do this any time of the year, though you’ll have better results if the parent individual is growing actively.
PROPAGATION THROUGH STEM CUTTINGS
- Find a stem that has been actively growing. It should have at least two leaves.
- Remove the bottommost leaf and proceed to make an incision that is about three to four inches in length.
- Complete the first two steps until you have a few stem cuttings.
- Plant your stem cuttings into a pot with soil that has been freshly watered. These cuttings should be placed at a vertical angle.
- In a month or two, you should start to see them grow roots. The pitchers themselves won’t develop until six months. At this point, you can transfer them to a larger pot and treat them as a fully matured individual.
Adele's Gardening Tips
“Can I grow a pitcher plant indoors?” This is a great question for any indoor gardener to ask. The answer is yes, you can. Although there are many different types of plants that can be grown as both an indoor and outdoor garden, the plants that do well in both are the carnivores. They will do best in humidifiers and a fairly moist soil, which make them perfect for container gardening.
If you do not have any carnivorous plants in your home or greenhouse, I suggest you begin with two very easy plants. African Violets and Spider Mites are both great starter plants, and you may want to begin by growing one and see if it takes root. If it does, you can grow another. Both of these plants can do well in containers, and if you have never tried container gardening, I recommend giving them a try, they are so easy to care for and they do not require much maintenance.
One of the benefits of having plants at home is that you can take them with you when you go out of town. Your local nursery will likely carry the seeds for some of these plants. A few of these plants are pretty good for container gardens. Two of the more popular plants are the African Violet and Spider Mite.
These two plants have their own reasons for looking good in a home. The African Violet is a purple violet plant that is very pretty. The spider mite has brownish black leaves that resemble those of a common spider. Both of these plants thrive in the shade, but both will do better in direct sunlight. If you are considering using plants to grow your own vegetables in containers, make sure you know which ones will do well with direct sunlight.
There are other good plants for container gardening that grow very well. Some of these include the Red Wisteria, Shasta Slender, Loblolly pine, California Poppies and Creeping Mazus. All of these plants have their own distinct characteristics. You should be able to choose plants that will work well with the room you are planning on placing them in. If you decide to place some of these carnivorous plants in a window facing an outside east or west light, you should have good results.
Another thing to consider is how well the plants will tolerate the temperature and humidity of the air in your home. This comes back to the need for some degree of trial and error. It can be very difficult to know exactly what type of plants you will like best in your home. For example, if you are placing some of the carnivorous plants inside a refrigerator, you will want to place an air purifier between them.
Some people prefer taller plants. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the tops of the plants, you should place them somewhere where they can be viewed from almost every angle possible. The possibility for people seeing the tops of your potted plants should be as small as possible.
Can I grow a pitcher plant indoors? There are many reasons that people choose to grow plants in containers. One is that home gardening is much cheaper than outdoor gardening. Plants that can be grown indoors can also be shipped to any address in the country. Many people also use their indoor plants as a gift for someone else in the family or for a friend.
When choosing a houseplant, there are some important considerations that should be made. First, it should be easy to take care of. If you are putting the plant into an indoor container, it means that it will probably not get the sun or water that it would get outdoors.
Second, if you have the room for it, you should consider growing a home garden in a larger container. There are some types of plants that grow well when they are planted in small containers. Be sure that you do not place a plant that will be choking on the light from your windows if you have very tall windows. If you find that this is a problem, consider planting your plants in larger pots or containers.
A home garden is a lot of work, but the work is worth it when you see the results. If you are looking to answer the question “can I grow a pitcher plant indoors? “, you are likely looking for a way to bring a little piece of nature inside your home.