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Thread: Northiana looks like a mutant

  1. #1

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    It is a tiny plant I recently acquired that looks like it has never pitchered. The leaves do not look consistent, much less good.

    I "know" that my soil mixture is wrong, as of last night. I'm using peat. I got that from Savage Garden, I think. It was one of my two books anyway. My confidence is high on that one.

    I "know" that the northiana needs "highland" conditions, as of last night. What? I got that information from a legitimate nepenthes expert here in Florida who was nice enough to e-mail me back with a tip that might help explain why the northiana is my worst looking plant. So, I guess my confidence is high on that also -- except that it's a darn "lowland" plant, I thought. Function versus formalism strikes again?

    Anything else? Am I right so far?

    As I mentioned at the top, it's a tiny little plant that has not pitchered yet. The leaves are growing in some strange shapes. It has some rusty spotting. As you might have seen on the Weather Channel, or heard in my other posts, we've had good "lowland" conditons in Central Florida. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif[/img]

  2. #2
    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    N. northiana is very much a lowland plant. It also seems to dislike changing conditions and does not appreciate the normal high light levels I give most of my plants.

    Tips I would suggest. Easy on the light and keep the temperature steady 78 range without any swings up and down. Also keep the humidity good and high. A peat based mix is fine also.

    Tony
    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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    Hi Beagle,
    Tony pretty much hit the nail on the head, and he's up in northern New York. We got a handful in and they were not happy. They just sat on the bench all summer and did very little. Michelle put them in large, clear plastic containers (we get 'em at Target) after reading Jeff Shaffer's article in CP Newsletter. We treat them like cuttings, and lo and behold, they are coming to life and some of the tendrils are hooking. We keep the containers under the bench in shade, and mist every day. Temps are running about 88 F day, 75F at night. The real trick is providing constant high humidity. A friend of mine propagates cuttings in his Miami greenhouse using mist heads that cut on and off several times an hour-its all automated. He had a northiana next to the propagation bench and it got the overspray from the misters. The plant produced beautiful pitchers. He moved the plant away from the prop bench, and the plant immediately went downhill. It was potted in standard Nep mix, and temps were in the nineties during the day, upper seventies at night. The propagation bench is shaded. Use this as a guide, and good luck!

    Trent

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    As the two venerable members have already contributed their opinions, I will not repeat.

    However, with regards to Beagle's potting media, and what I think he's getting at, isn't northiana more comfortable in alkaline soils? Since it grows on limestone rocks and all that.


    Colin

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    Exactly.

    I'm mixing some sand, vermiculite, perlite, and river rock sand (Savage Garden -- I checked -- inspired) right now. Man, that's a lousy looking potting mix. I could just scrap that whole idea if the media isn't the problem. But, as Colin suggested, smarter people than I think it might be.

    Of course, if YOUR northiana DO grow in some peat...

    GAH! [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif[/img]

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    What I am going to do is transplant the northiana out of the basket it is in -- into a plastic pot which I will tray water and keep at the very bottom of the most shaded grow rack.

    Since I'm transplanting it anyway, I will use more alkaline soil. Plus, it's already mixed. Whatever happens, I'll report back eventually when I know something.

  7. #7

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    The four tier grow house I am now using has its plastic cover on. I'm housing the cuttings and the northiana together. The humidity outside has been around 80% in my back yard for quite some time. The cover should keep it that way, or higher, pretty much all the time. I realized that the soil the plant was shipped in was more like what it should have been. I added the peat. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/alien.gif[/img]

    Our temps have been pretty mild. This will be our hottest day in over a month: 87 F. But, because the neps are on a northern exposure, this time of year they get very little (none in the afternoons) direct sun and the temps are a lot lower back there. I've described the shade / humidity situation in the back yard along the wall before. It's very good for lowlanders usually. Where they are stays a lot more moderate and humid than the weather overall.

    Now, it should be very moderate -- absolutely moreso than it was. I was giving it more light in a hanging basket and not maxing out the humidity -- well, except that ours has been maxed for weeks.

    Thanks for the help. I figured "highland" conditions could not be exactly what I was looking for. I was going to have to put it under an AC vent at night, or something. Dry ice?

  8. #8

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    Actually, from what I've seen, northiana does not care for alkaline conditions. The best plants I've seen were grown in a normal peat- bark-rock type mix with good drainage. I know of two experiments with an alkaline mix that resulted in death. In its native environment, N. northiana does not grow directly on the limestone, but in pockets of collected leaf and moss that has aged to a very peaty substance. The acidic nature of this "soil" actually eats further into the limestone creating pits and sinkholes. This is what was described to me by someone I met who observed N. northiana in the Bau region of Sarawak. He also said it was oppressively hot and humid.

    Beagle, start making plans for the cool weather. The humidity really drops when those cold fronts move through. I don't think your northiana will like it at all, even if the humidity only drops to 60%.
    N. northiana: so beautiful, but such a big baby!

    Trent

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