(Growing conditions) Nepenthes species

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I have little experience in growing nepenthes. Well, okay, not really little. But the larger part of my experience consists of killing many plants instead of them flourishing for me. Of course, any competent grower goes through the same learning process – killing many plants, coughs coughs – but still.

There are various media the nepenthes plants can be grown in. These range from live sphagnum moss (LSM), long-fiber sphagnum (LFS, known also as fried sphagnum), and peat, either all purely used in their own states, or mixed with draining media like river sand, or perlite.

Most of the growers I know live in landed properties, which means that in general, their nepenthes get long hours of sunlight. Since it is essential for the roots and media to not dry out, these growers mostly use 90% of LFS with the occasional sand or perlite mixed in.

However, I find that that growing media causes a huge problem for me.

Since everyone must take into consideration the growing conditions at their place, and I live in an apartment where my carnivorous plants growing area gets only four to five hours of morning sun, many nepenthes have actually died on me due to root rot, even if they like their roots moist-to-wet. Many a time, sheer laziness in changing the media they were grown in have resulted in their demise.

It took many tries to finally get a good combination of media for me: 50% volcanic sand (from World Farm) and 50% peat moss from the Horti brand. There is a reason for this success: while most other growers may have little need to pay attention to how wet their media is (as long as it remains wet), with a lessening amount of sunlight, complications will occur.

It is a lot easier to handle how much water a plant needs if a relatively well-draining media is used. If it dries out, one can always simply water it. Easy-peasy. However, if the media is too wet, the plant might suffer instead. To rectify that, one must take out the whole plant, and either use newspaper to soak up most of the water from the media (which might not work to the fullest effect), or halve the original media, adding in new and dry media. What a trouble.

With this combination of potting media I’ve found out, none of my nepenthes have died on me till date. It has been a lot easier for me to judge how much water to pour into my tray a day using the tray watering method. And each day, the media of my plants dry out just the tiniest bit, enough so that the roots can breathe, and they get fresh, new water each morning to keep them through the day.

(Planting media) Volcanic sand

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Ever since Green Culture Singapore member sixhunter introduced me to this particular type of gravel-like planting media, I haven’t touched anything like perlite, vermiculite, or even the higher quality Indonesian burnt earth (IBE) at all. The volcanic sand from World Farm looks like coarse gravel, and is slightly dusty.

Before using the volcanic sand, it is preferable if you do one level of sifting, to separate the finer gravels from the much coarser ones. You may use it unwashed on ornamental or edible plants without any problems. However, I soak and wash the fine gravels over two days if I want to use them on my carnivorous plants, because CPs are a lot more finnicky in terms of their growing conditions and demands.

I have found it best to line the bottom of the pot with a layer of coarse gravel to improve drainage, and then mix up the subsequent layers with whatever organic planting media along with the fine gravels. This ensures that your media retains moisture but dries out easily so waterlogging doesn’t become a problem.

So far, my edible plants love this particular mix of volcanic sand from World Farm along with Tref potting soil/mix from Far East Flora. My mints are thriving on the moist but not too wet mix; and my carnivorous plants are much easier to handle because I’m able to control the amount of water that remains in the media with a mix of volcanic gravel and Horti moss (peat moss).

They contain no minerals so for edibles or ornamental plants, you’d need to add in fifty percent of organic media; for CPs, the lack of minerals is just fine.

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