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Thread: Heliamphora: A Brief Primer

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    BigBella's Avatar
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    Heliamphora: A Brief Primer

    There seems to be a great deal of needless mystique attributed to growing Heliamphora and I am not sure why this should be the case. Growers who will readily cultivate all manner of highland Nepenthes, once only the purview of Kew Gardens and some wealthy nineteenth-century whack-jobs, will quake at the thought of Heliamphora, whose requirements closely resemble that of highland or ultra-highland Nepenthes -- most varieties now fairly common in cultivation. Even some venders in the Pacific Northwest, who have otherwise been great popularizers of carnivorous plants and dispellers of many myths, are guilty of this difficult view of keeping Heliamphora.

    Only a few things have to be taken into consideration for success in cultivating Marsh Pitchers: an open quick-draining compost, composed of a 2:1:1 mix of live (preferred) or dried sphagnum, pumice, and perlite ( though many growers have their own preferences, this one has been a great success over the years), high humidity, moderate temperatures with a nighttime drop, and bright light. Some species are more sensitive (H. elongata, etc.) than others in their stricter requirement for a highland Nepenthes-like Tb drop at night. Much like Darlingtonia, Heliamphora dislike their roots to be warmed to any great degree. This can easily be prevented by keeping the pots in shallow trays of water, especially important in warmer climes and under hot grow lights, though some very successful growers will disagree and swear against that method. I have had plants in and out of trays for years without any noticeable difference, save for the fact that the shallow trays kept me from having to fuss around with the plants on a daily basis, and served as a buffer to overly-warm Tbs.


    Heliamphora folliculata (Akopan)


    Heliamphora can be extremely variable, both in their general appearance in the wild and especially in cultivation (slight shading may promote almost a doubling in size of some smaller species -- H. minor, for example, but there will be a sacrifice in colouration like that seen in Cephalotus); and good leaf development (look to texts or online sources for adult leaves as references and adjust your methods accordingly) and bright color is a clear indication of proper growing practices. In too little light (a fairly common problem among novices), the leaves may be etiolated ("flattened"), lack a nectar spoon, and may not even resemble a given species or Heliamphora at all. Give them as much light as they can possibly tolerate without discolouration or the burning of the leaf edges and they will thrive; and keep them out of Tbs exceeding 30˚C (86˚ F) for any great length of time, though water trays will keep the pots /roots cool.

    Heliamphora heterodoxa x minor


    Heliamphora heterodoxa x ionasii


    If there are any concerns or doubts raised of your cultivation abilities, begin with the more-tolerant -- cheaper -- hybrids to become more accustomed to growing Heliamphora and go from there . . .
    “Sì perché l'autorità dell'opinione di mille nelle scienze non val per una scintilla di ragione di un solo . . ."

    -- Galileo "Biff" Galilei

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    Cardiac Nurse JB_OrchidGuy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the Primer BigBella!! I am trying to get into these plants.
    JB
    Friend me on facebook with JB_orchidguy@yahoo.com.
    Growlist Updated 05/08/13

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    Grey Moss's Avatar
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    I would love to try these if they weren't so expensive.

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    blokeman's Avatar
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    wrinkles

    i am not sure if you can answer this but here it goes, my heli`s are looking like an orchid that i weakened meaning the leaves are like an old persons skin, not smooth and wrinkling am i not providing the right watering method, i water from underneath in a terrarium. i bought it in a 3 inch plastic pot and placed the pot in my medium, i was hoping that the medium they provided would be sufficient due to it being a botanical garden store here in montreal. might it be a humdity problem, my nepenthese ventricosa is doing great, humidity comes up at night and down during the day. could it be temperature or ventilation, i haven`t checked what temp my terrarium is when the lights are on, but a do know i have a stagnant air problem which should be fixed soon. for now there is very little ventilation, just two cracks of 1/2 inch wide at each extremity of the terrarium. so that`s it, tell me what you think!
    thank a bunch
    Steven

    ps it is a heli minor
    Last edited by blokeman; 08-30-2008 at 03:06 PM. Reason: typo

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    BigBella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blokeman View Post
    i am not sure if you can answer this but here it goes, my heli`s are looking like an orchid that i weakened meaning the leaves are like an old persons skin, not smooth and wrinkling am i not providing the right watering method, i water from underneath in a terrarium. i bought it in a 3 inch plastic pot and placed the pot in my medium, i was hoping that the medium they provided would be sufficient due to it being a botanical garden store here in montreal. might it be a humdity problem, my nepenthese ventricosa is doing great, humidity comes up at night and down during the day. could it be temperature or ventilation, i haven`t checked what temp my terrarium is when the lights are on, but a do know i have a stagnant air problem which should be fixed soon. for now there is very little ventilation, just two cracks of 1/2 inch wide at each extremity of the terrarium. so that`s it, tell me what you think!
    thank a bunch
    Steven

    ps it is a heli minor
    Without actually seeing the plant, my first thought is that it is a humidity problem and a response to heat. Heliamphora do require good ventilation, probably more than you are currently providing. You might consider a fan blowing over the terrarium to provide air movement. I would also ensure that the pitcher leaves are always full of water.

    Are the new leaves also withering?
    “Sì perché l'autorità dell'opinione di mille nelle scienze non val per una scintilla di ragione di un solo . . ."

    -- Galileo "Biff" Galilei

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    A yellow M&M Jefforever's Avatar
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    I think a night time temp drop is very beneficial for all species. I can't provide a very good one.

    I've been growing helis for 3 years without much progress. I have:
    Ionasii
    Nutans
    Pulchella
    Tequila
    Heterodoxa x Minor
    Heterodoxa x Nutans
    2 clones of Minor
    2 clones of Heterodoxa

    They're so frustrating!

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    BigBella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jefforever View Post
    I think a night time temp drop is very beneficial for all species. I can't provide a very good one.

    I've been growing helis for 3 years without much progress. I have:
    Ionasii
    Nutans
    Pulchella
    Tequila
    Heterodoxa x Minor
    Heterodoxa x Nutans
    2 clones of Minor
    2 clones of Heterodoxa

    They're so frustrating!
    True, some Heliamphora are certainly touchier than others when it comes to higher night Tbs -- particularly the higher altitude species; others that occur in the lower part of the Gran Sabana are far more tolerant and the source of many of the plants in cultivation today. The plants also have a reputation, as a whole, for being slow-growing to adulthood. Most Heliamphora do appreciate a Tb drop at night though.

    Just how hot are your nighttime growing conditions in Oregon?
    “Sì perché l'autorità dell'opinione di mille nelle scienze non val per una scintilla di ragione di un solo . . ."

    -- Galileo "Biff" Galilei

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    A yellow M&M Jefforever's Avatar
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    I grow everything inside (I've got a fridge hooked up to a terrarium -> inefficient) cause the outside daytime temps and humidity are way too unstable.

    For the summer, most nights it's moderately cool, but some nights it's not too much cooler than the day.

    For winter nights... they'd be dead outside. And I can't heat the greenhouse, it'd cost an arm and a leg.

    I did put a Hetero out in my greenhouse though. Looks pretty unhealthy. I think the temps go up to 90s+ in there.

    I'm sure San Fran is a great place to grow any highland neps, helis, etc. Maybe one day I'll live in a place with such ideal conditions.... or get a really nice, consistently cool basement.

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