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Thread: Transplant Shock

  1. #1

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    Transplant Shock

    I got a fairly large (18") Nepenthes x 'Medusa' (bellii x sibuyanensis) in the mail a couple months ago. The plant looked absolutely pristine when I received it in the mail, but the entire plant shriveled up dramatically about 12 hours after being potted up. The next day, I moved it to the tropical Aroid house, the warmest, most humid place I could find here at school (warm intermediate-lowland conditions). I recently "bagged" it like a cutting, and it has finally started to recover, but it will likely be a year or more until it is completely healthy and pitchering again.

    I've heard that N. bellii, one of the parents of my N. x 'Medusa' plant, has a tendency to do the "sudden transplant death" thing when it is repotted. I was still surprised to see this trait in a hybrid. Aside from N. bellii and apparently N. bellii hybrids, are there any other Nepenthes that are particularly prone to transplant shock? Aside from keeping newly potted plants in a humid environment, what can do to prevent this in the future?

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    theplantman's Avatar
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    Sometimes drought stress serves as a stimulus to infection. By this, I mean that when a plant is severely dessicated, root tissues sometimes die. If there are pathogens in the soil, they attack that dead tissue and can often gain entry into the living tissues as well. The plant is already under stress and may or may not be able to defend itself. That may explain "sudden transplant death." I see it on a lot of different plants in the summertime. Usually there isn't any genetic basis to it at all. Personally, I find it hard to believe that any plant other than annuals and biennials is prone to die for no apparent reason. Plants go into shock because they have physiological mechanisms that are affected by stress. All plants with a vascular system will experience some degree of transplant shock if their mechanisms are disrupted by a change in cultural conditions.

    The roots and shoots are probably out of balance with each other, and so the plant is transpiring at a greater rate than it can rehydrate. In many cases, you can reduce the amount of foliage to assist the plant in balancing back out before it completely dehydrates. The way to do this is simply to nip off leaves or halves of leaves until you stop seeing signs of drought stress. Without seeing your plant, I'd suggest starting slow. Maybe clip off the bottom 2-3 leaves. In extreme cases you can even getting away with cutting off half of every leaf, but of course this will mar the appearance of the plant for some time.

    All you want to do to get it healthy is to stop it from losing water. It should begin normal behavior immediately if you are able to achieve this. I seriously doubt that it will be set back for any longer than a month if there are no problems with your growing conditions and feeding regime.
    Last edited by theplantman; 12-20-2013 at 01:53 PM.

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    Moderator Cindy's Avatar
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    Talk about bellii... I just killed my female bellii with repotting recently. It has been with me for 7-8 years and flowered regularly. I didn't do much to the roots except give the plant a few light shakes to remove the dead and old media. Still it didn't like it. Sigh.....

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    I will be receiving a N. merrilliana hybrid in the mail soon. Do they have the same problems with transplanting? (I know N. merrilliana and N. bellii are closely related).

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    Moderator Cindy's Avatar
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    Yes, merriliana is sensitive to repotting/ transplanting.

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    Maiden's Avatar
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    Im sorry for your plant cindy
    Its always sad when a old plant die by our manipulations.

    In my setup, my nepenthes can take as long as 4-6 months to resume growing after a repot.

    SWAGnum: at least your plant is recovering! Well done.

    I just received 3 nepenthes from germany (tenuis, hamata and faizaliana) and 3 weeks after i already saw new growth. I think i was VERY lucky.

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