How to Care For The Carnivorous Pitcher Plant (Monkey Cup, Nepenthes)

Since the pitcher plant is native to bogs and swamps, here are tips on how to mimic their natural environment for maximum growth solo or as part of an urban jungle.

Planting Media For The Monkey Cup Pitcher Plant

Although Pitcher Plants will do wonderfully in sphagnum moss, which is airy and loose, while also maintaining the wet, bog-like conditions where Pitcher Plants are found in the wild, leca clay substrate also works wonderfully for Pitcher Plants. Using leca clay balls for your Pitcher Plants will give the roots of your Pitcher Plants excellent air circulation, while maintaining a constant basin of water for your plants. Leca clay balls is an excellent choice for people who prefer to see the roots on their plants, want to use transparent or otherwise, glass containers for their plants, or who just prefer the cleaner, less messy use of leca for plants, in general.

The Importance of Humidity In Maintaining And Growing Your Carnivorous Pitcher Plant

As Pitcher Plants are native to marshes, bogs, and swamps– areas that never drain and are always saturated with water– these areas have a naturally high humidity because a heavy load of water is always in the air. Therefore, to mimic this environment, you must also keep your Pitcher Plants in a place with high humidity.

You can achieve this high humidity in several ways:

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  1. You can purchase a humidifier for your home, office, or greenhouse.
  2. For people who are fish keepers, having many open-top aquariums can naturally raise the humidity in a closed space.
  3. For the urban jungle plant parent, a massive collection of plants may be able to provide the needed humidity to keep your Pitcher Plants thriving. This is called creating a microclimate (of high humidity) using your house plants.
  4. The keeping of water gardens or water jars in the area of your Pitcher Plant(s) will serve the same purpose of the open-top fish aquariums, adding humidity to the air by way of evaporation from the water jars.

Of course, adding the humidifier is the quickest, and likely, most dependable option, but if you are a plant collector, “companion planting” your Pitcher Plants among other plants that have lots of leaves and are well-established becomes a less labor-intensive option as it does not require maintaining additional water jars, water gardens, fish tanks, or refilling humidifiers.

How To Fertilize Your Nepenthes Pitcher Plant

The Nepenthes Pitcher Plant has no need of fertilizing as the function of its “monkey cups” is to catch food that will serve as nutrition to keep the plant alive and thriving. You can, quite literally, feed your plant by giving it flies, worms, and other insects by dropping these unfortunate creatures into the pitchers of your Pitcher Plant(s).

Though your Pitcher Plant will naturally attract prey with the scent of the liquid it makes in its cups, you can also move your Pitcher Plant to another humid environment nearby an anthill or a place where you may be having a gnat problem, or even outdoors (in the warm season), where it should be given some shade from the afternoon sun which may scorch the leaves of your nepenthes.

Check out these beautiful pitcher plants and add to your plant collection!

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