Well, due to some requests from fellow Heli-addicts, I've decided to write an article on how I grow Heliamphora indoors year-round.
Here's a list of the Heliamphora I'm successfully growing at present;
H. minor x H. heterodoxa.
First off, I highly recommend starting with one of the hybrids, such as Heliamphora heterodoxa x minor. It's a great, hardy beginner plant that will teach you some of the likes and dislikes of the genus, without costing you and arm and a leg, if it bites the dust! ;D
Cooling for most species can be achieved by watering with lightly chilled water right before you shut off the growlights and then ventilating with a small, low-power fan which can be purchased at any hydroponics shop. Keep in mind that species such as; H. hispida, H. ionasii, H. neblinae and H. elongata seem to require more of a nightly temperature drop than most other species and hybrids, in my conditions...
Firstly, I have my grow tanks sideways with the opening to the front. This allows the lights to be placed on top of the glass to minimize heating during photoperiod. The glass is the perfect insulator for the bulbs and light spectrum is barely altered. This is especially important during higher indoor average temperatures...This also allows you to bring your pitchers closer to the lights, with less risk of pitcher burn. The constant, light breeze is VERY important if your pitcher tops are within a few inches of the bulbs, even with the glass between them. I prefer mine to be around 4 inches or so away from the glass/bulbs. This safely gives me superb coloration, combined with good size and pitcher form.
Secondly, this allows for the light breezes from the fan to enter and circulate throughout the chamber, via the front. Currently, I run two chambers, a 100 gal and a 75 gal aquarium as such, with a total of twelve 40 watt Agri-Sun tubes, on a 14 hr photoperiod. In Winter, I cut the photoperiod to 11 hrs for three months, since average indoor temps are naturally kept 10-15 degrees cooler than in Summer. By doing so, I have now given my Heliamphora a Winter...or so they think! This practice seems to induce flowering in my mature plants.
Very importantly, I make sure my plants are potted high in their pots of pure living Florida Sphagnum moss and not with the media surface way below the rim's edge. This practice allows for some evaporative cooling to take place during the day and most importantly at night. All of my plants appear to be planted on mounds extending out of the top of the pot. BUT, keep in mind, this also makes them more open and susceptible to the occasional bump or nectar-spoon snag by working hands in the chamber. Never be in a hurry and exercise care. There's no feeling like snagging and breaking a perfectly formed nectar spoon off of a huge Heliamphora follicularis pitcher, two days before it even opens...Uhhhh...not good.
Here's my daily Summer and Winter regime for year-round Heliamphora cultivation indoors, in case you'd like to see what I do. Keep in mind that I live in Florida, which is tropical and everyones growing conditions are different, but this method should work for anyone who keeps their grow rooms about the same temperatures as mine. Never be afraid to experiment to find what works best for you...
Winter- 11 hr photoperiod,
First misting with pure RO water when lights first come on.
Fan runs constantly while lights are on and off, but fan shuts off for two hours prior to photoperiod beginning, to allow for humidity to build in chamber. This mimics the dew or fog that usually occurs prior to sunrise 'in situ'. Since the humidity in Winter is much lower inside and outside, I mist four times daily in Winter, every 2 1/2 to three hours whenever possible. This gives me a constant humidity level of 60 to 65 percent. Proper air circulation is a must and can be monitored with the following method;
If you use Mylar as reflective backing, a 6 inch long, 1/4 inch wide piece taped near the center, six inches away from each end of the chamber makes excellent wind vanes. You want to see them moving at all times. Plants are then watered with lightly chilled RO water stored in a cool place outdoors or indoors. Water around the outside edges of the pots to avoid too much shock to the roots. NEVER immediately use any melt off of RO ice. It's too cold and too much of a temperature drop at one time, and may shock your plants. My patio serves as a perfect natural "fridge" during our mild Florida Winters... I like my water temps to be around the 55 to 60F mark. And so do my plants.
The main challenge is getting your pots and media to cool first at night. If your plant's pots are cool at night, then naturally your chamber will cool some also via evaporative cooling. Getting the pots and media themselves cool at night is an important key. The mounded plantings and constant breeze enhances the overall effect as a whole and my results are plants that are a little less pickier about their nightly surrounding air temperature because the roots and media are much cooler. I call the mounded plantings "The Wicking Effect", due to the ability of the breeze to partially pass throughout the top of the media, thus sustaining the desired effect from using chilled water deep down in the pot, for a longer period. Here's my overall high and low chamber formulas regarding humidity and temperatures in Winter and Summer;
64 to 68F at night and 77 to 80F by day. (11 hr photoperiod)
Humidity; 60-65% constantly, fluctuating up to 70-75% after misting plants and chamber. Misting done four times daily to compensate for lack of humidity indoors. Watered until pots drip with lightly-chilled RO water prior to "lights out". Constant air circulation 22 hrs a day. Fan clicks off for two hours via timer to simulate sunrise.
Alternating between Winter and Summer photoperiod times;
Increase in one hour increments over a three week period.
Decrease in one hour increments for three weeks, to achieve Winter photoperiod.
Summer; 71 to 73F at night, 82 to 84F by day. (14 hr photoperiod) Humidity; 70-75% constantly, fluctuating up to 85-90% after misting. Misting only needed three times a day due to increased indoor humidity. Water pots until dripping with lightly-chilled RO water prior to "lights out". Note; During Summer, on Tuesdays and Fridays, I only run half of the lights in the chambers for 14 hrs. to mimic the cloudier/lower spectrum days Heliamphora would experience 'in situ'. Misting is doubled during these days to mimic rainy, wetter conditions.
And, there you go! I hope that this article helps some growers to successfully cultivate this most seductive and beautiful genus.