Only a moral and virtuous people are capable of freedom; the more corrupt and vicious a people becomes, the more it has need of masters. -- Benjamin Franklin
I feed mine Betta food, it works pretty well, I use it on my Neps too.
Usually a week or two after feeding (I feed them once every 2-3 weeks) there's a noticeable explosion of growth
"You don't need a license to drive a sandwich"-Spongebob Squarepants
As for feeding / supplementing the pitchers - many will tell you it is not necessary - which is true. However, sticking small bugs in the traps does act as a fertilizer and speeds up growth. If the bug is large relative to pitcher size, it can sometimes cause the pitcher to rot & die (pitcher not plant). Ants rarely, if ever, cause this to happen. The trick seems to be in sizing the bug to the pitcher & also not feeding so frequently that the pitcher gets overloaded. (For me - flies usually overloaded my pitchers & caused them to rot).
FWIW, in the winter, I used to place pulverized bloodworms in the pitchers of small cephs in a terrarium. Almost 100% of the pitchers developed severe mold followed by death of the pitcher. Not sure if this was due to conditions in the terrarium, winter seasonality, issues w/ pulverized bloodworms or something else. Since I stopped doing it, I'm unlikely to find the cause ....
All the best,
You must do the thing you think you cannot do. --- Eleanor Roosevelt
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I've never done any experiments, and it could be entirely psychosomatic, but I'm CONVINCED that all my pitchers last far, far longer with fertilizer versus feeding insects. They seem to last forever. If you're plant can catch bugs, I can't recommend fertilizing it via the pitchers. You don't want to mess up the equilibrium inside the pitcher. You can REALLY fertilize anything (except, IME, D. adelae. At least not at conventional levels.) if you know what you're doing and how to do it. For example, fertilizing the media for something like Nepenthes or Heliamphora is good, but not good at all for something like Sarracenia. Instead, you can spray foliarly or (my preference) just squirt about 20 CC's of your solution directly into the pitcher. Don't do this if the plant catches a lot of bugs. This is like using milk (which many people do) but it will not curdle like milk (gross!). For some reason, people are fine with using milk but get all paranoid when you use fertilizer in the same manner. Spray above your Drosera and let the mist fall and collect on the lamina. Or spray your Utricularia to jump-start it. If you're going to do this, flush the media very well. If you feel uncomfortable because the myth that fertilizer is bad has been too firmly pounded into your head, then start by foliar feeding your Nepenthes/Heliamphora/Cephalotus. It doesn't do too much because of the waxy cuticle on many plants, but it will build your confidence.
Don't add too much to Sarracenia pitchers. They'll fall over if you do. You really don't have to fertilize Sarracenia, I'm just saying you can and that it's safe. If, somehow you screw up, use the wrong fertilizer, go crazy with it, etc., then that's your problem and I'm not responsible for it.
Cephs only get 30% of their nutrient ions from captured prey. With cephs you will also benefit from a good "complex" substrate, or the occasional mild root feeding as Cindy mentioned. I prefer a "complex" substrate for trace nutrients and use direct pitcher feedings for N, P and K.
This is also why Trichoderma and other beneficials are of such benefit to cephs IMHO.
However, YMMV... the plant can only handle what it can process based upon all the other interrelated variables such as light, water etc... proceed slowly and watch for signs of stress
In cephs, P seems to be the "control" variable if all else is correct
What may be the right amount for one will kill another.. you have to find your own balance
patience, observation, experimentation
The amount of nutrients obtained from either
prey or from the soil seems to vary substantially.
Sarracenia leucophylla can get 60 times more ions
from the prey than from the soil (Gibson,
1983b). Nepenthes mirabilis gets about 60% of its
N from insect prey, whereas in Cephalotus it is
only 30% (Schulze et al., 1997). In Drosera
rotundifolia about 50% of the total N is of animal
origin (Millett et al., 2003), and in D. hilaris
68% (Anderson and Midgley, 2003). The protocarnivorous
Roridula gorgonias, which needs
symbiotic hemipterans for digestion, even up to
70% of N comes from animals (Anderson and
For another group of plants, applied mineral
nutrients (i.e. fertilizers) can be fatal: Sarracenia
alata, for instance, grows on soil containing sufficient
concentrations of N, P and K; it is, however,
very sensitive to fertilizer additions, and
dies when growing in such nutrient-enriched
areas (Eleuterius and Jones, 1969).
Another interesting observation is that plants
may take up only some specific nutrients through
the roots, whereas others come through the
leaves from the prey. This is the case for some
Australian Drosera species that grow in habitats
subjected to fires. The soil in this habitat in general
is very poor, but enriched in K after a fire.
Drosera is thought to take up the K+ by its
roots, and the other nutrients from insects
(Dixon and Pate, 1978; Pate and Dixon, 1978),
but this effect has not been quantified. Nepenthes
pervillei sends its roots into rock cliffs where the
cyanobacterium Lyngbia (Oscillatoriaceae) grows.
Lyngbia fixes atmospheric dinitrogen, which is
suggested to be absorbed by the roots, whereas
other nutrients may come from animals that are
caught in the few functioning traps (Juniper
et al., 1989).
The guru has finally spoken.