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Thread: Nepenthes & hydroponics: Preliminary results.

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    Nepenthes & hydroponics: Preliminary results.

    I've been experimenting with growing Nepenthes hydroponically since March 2015, so for about a year and a half now. I'd like to share my results in this thread, and then give some details about my method. Thanks to TF member knuckles for sharing with me his experiences growing Nepenthes hydroponically at the start of my experiment.

    So why grow Nepenthes hydroponically? A few reasons:

    1. Some of you may know that I've been interested in growing Nepenthes in inorganic media to avoid repotting. In my experience, Nepenthes don't like repotting, and it's a very difficult task with large plants. Since some inorganic media theoretically never decompose, repotting is no longer necessary.

    2. Automation. Having a system that waters my plants for me is a huge time saver. Since I do not have a greenhouse and do not grow outdoors, I can't rely on misters. A drip irrigation system fits my circumstances best.

    Anyway, some before and after photos should give an idea of how the experiment went. NB: My photos below may be used & reproduced for any non-commercial purposes whatsoever. Attribution appreciated but not required. Click any of the photos below for full-sized versions on Flickr.


    N. Hopeful Monsters (open-pollinated merrilliana hybrid).

    2015-03-29: Growing in rockwool cubes prior to transplant:


    2015-06-22: three months later, after hydroponics, in the same pot. Decent amount of growth.



    Roots before (left) and after (right):



    N. splendiana x Redneck

    2015-04-22: Growing in 3.5" / 9 cm pot before transplant, in rockwool cubes.


    Left, 2015-07-23: After 3 months in hydro, 1 gal. (size #1) nursery pot. Right: eleven months after the photo on the left, 2016-06-22. Same pot in both pics. The plant had 3 vines in the right photo, still holding onto some of its pitchers from the previous summer:




    N. Josefita, clone 2. Unregistered grex name. splendiana x Song of Melancholy.

    Left, 2015-11-08: Just repotted from 3.5" pot into 1 gal (size #1) nursery pot. Right, 2016-04-04: Five months later, same pot.




    Roots after. About 85% of this was grown while in hydroponics.




    N. Los Alamos. Unregistered grex. Splendiana x a different Song of Melancholy.

    2015-10-18: Just repotted into 1 gal. nursery pot, was growing in rockwool cubes.



    2016-05-11: Seven months later, same pot. In spike.


    Roots after.




    For the following plants, I only have after shots, but I think they're still informative photos.

    N. splendiana, 2016-03-06. Fifteen of the 18 leaves pictured were grown hydroponically.


    Roots after growing hydroponically for several months:



    N. ventrata, 2016-04-23. About 15 new leaves in about 5 months of hydroponics. The white rope divides the pre- vs. post-transition to hydroponic growth.



    N. graciliflora (?) aka alata var. boschiana mimic, 2016-02-27. Two-thirds of the vegetative mass shown here was produced while on hydroponics.


    Here's a Fairyland (sanguinea x clipeata) grown in hydroponics, left & middle, and some nice pitchers from other plants grown hydroponically (Josefita, splendiana, maxima x vogelii).



    My splendiana x ((veitchii x maxima) x veitchii) also made its biggest pitcher ever while on hydro. I could not get a whole plant shot, as it's lost in a tangle of other plants:


    In that tangle pictured above are also growing N. Rokko 'Wolfplant', Red Leopard, and Isis (spathulata x albomarginata natural hybrid), all hydroponically.

    Other plants that have succeeded for me hydroponically include
    -additional clones of Los Alamos
    -boschiana x fusca
    -a wild maxima-sanguinea hybrid
    -(spathulata x bongso) x (boschiana x (spectabilis x veitchii)?)
    -lowii x campanulata
    -x Tiveyi
    -poi dog alata hybrid
    -"thorelii" x alata
    -Redneck (Toyoshimae x maxima dark)

    A few plants that have not done well include eymae x ephippiata and a clone of Song of Melancholy (boschiana x (spectabilis x veitchii)?). There are mitigating factors to consider in these failures. I'll discuss those in a subsequent post.

    These plants are all grown in 100% coarse perlite that has been sifted through a #10 bonsai screen. Pots are all #1 size, commonly know as 1 gallon pots in the US (although they are not, in fact, a gallon by volume). Plants are watered 4 times daily for 15 minutes each through drip irrigation on a recirculating system. I fertilize weekly with a 9-3-6 fertilizer. All plants are grown indoors without supplemental humidity. I'm in the process of converting the rest of my collection to hydroponics.

    I'd be happy to answer any questions, but I can't guarantee a speedy reply. Patience is appreciated
    Last edited by mikulas; 09-05-2016 at 05:57 PM.
    Nicholas LeBlanc, Archivist & Webmaster, The International Nepenthes Grex Registry
    My Nepenthes | Medium: 100% perlite, sifted through #10 bonsai screen. 1/4 strength Dyna-Gro 9-3-6 once/week, rainwater

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    nimbulan's Avatar
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    Excellent write-up! While I haven't tried growing Nepenthes in pure perlite, I was recommended to root in pure perlite with the last cutting I received and it worked very well. I am very curious to hear about what went wrong with the plants that didn't succeed, and more details of your setup.

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    Interesting results. Some of those plants seem to have really taken off in the Hydroponic media. Have you considered trying it out on some slower growing highlanders and seeing whether they would take to it as well as the lowlanders?

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    Aristoloingulamata Dexenthes's Avatar
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    Fantastic post and photo-documentary. This is really exciting to see how successful hydroponics can be with Nepenthes. This makes me want to pursue some hydro set ups in the long run.
    LOOKING FOR: N. (argentii x bicalcarata) x {[(lingulata x edwardsiana) x (naga x hamata)] x [(klossii x undulatifolia) x (aristolochioides x rajah)]} Growlist: http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=124586

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    Mikulas - have you ever tried modifying how much you water? Do they need four times a day or is that just to be safe?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Thanks for the interest, everyone.

    @Grey Moss: I grow all my plants as intermediates in household temperatures, so none are obligatory lowlanders. I also grow mostly hybrids since I find they perform better under my conditions. It would be very interesting to test out some highland species in a hydroponic setup like this, but because of temperature and space constraints, I'll leave that for some other enterprising person In general, plants with strong root systems (definitely terrestrials, but possibly epiphytes, too) seem to do well in my setup.

    @FLTropical: I made an educated guess when setting up my watering schedule, and I honestly haven't experimented with it since then. I figured perlite would dry out pretty quickly, so watering 4x/day seemed reasonable. My pumps run for 15 min. at a time at 8 AM, 12 PM, 4 PM, and 8 PM daily. Other schedules might also work (more or less frequently, depending on temps, light, and humidity), but this one works well for me, so I probably won't modify it unless the plants seem to dry out too quickly. Nothing seems to be suffering from overwatering.

    I'll try to get a couple photos of how my buckets & pots are set up in the coming days.
    Last edited by mikulas; 09-07-2016 at 02:27 PM.
    Nicholas LeBlanc, Archivist & Webmaster, The International Nepenthes Grex Registry
    My Nepenthes | Medium: 100% perlite, sifted through #10 bonsai screen. 1/4 strength Dyna-Gro 9-3-6 once/week, rainwater

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