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Thread: Ultramific/serpentine soil?

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    Some of you might know that N. burbidgeae, rajah, northiana to name a few grow in soils that have a high coral, lime, calcium content. Has anyone tried growing their neps in a mix of some component using calcium or granite in their mix? Want to share any of your experiences?

    Michael
    Morticia:\"Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc, 'We would gladly feast on those who try to subdue us.' Not just pretty words. but words to live by!\"

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    I believe that Josh (Nepenthes Gardens) did experiments with rajah and hadn't found any difference between growing them in ultramafic versus normal sphagnum type mixes. I have a feeling a few growers in Germany have experimented as well.
    Demystifying Nepenthes: http://www.nepenthesforeveryone.com

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    Nepenthes Specialist nepenthes gracilis's Avatar
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    I don't think its the soil composition but how it drains. Ultramafic soils/serpentine would be quite gravelly if i'm not mistaken. So planting N. rajah in sphagnum and an N. rajah in an "ultramafic" mimic soil for the same amount of time, I would have to say the ultramafic soil would yield a better plant, number one because it doesn't compact like sphagnum moss does over a period of time and number two, because of its superb drainage properties.

    I'm only stating this because recently my N. rajah was repotted and before was in sphagnum, it was all compacted and it wasn't pitchering, possible death if it wasn't investigated upon. Now, a few months later I have a pitcher developing that I haven't seen in at least 2 years.

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    I got a N. sibuyanensis one year ago and put it in a little cheese pot with living sphagnum moss. The plant was little with few roots. Then, after almost a year, the roots got out the pot.



    You can't see it from the picture, but all the pot was full of roots. I think extreme drainage and high moisture help a lot rooting. On the other hand, the N. sanguinea didn't grow roots at all, potted in a normal pot with peat and beech rotted leafs...

    I hope i gave some information..

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    Hi Michael,
    It's an interesting and contriversial question. I have spoken with people who have actually been to Bau and visited the northiana in habitat, and clain that the plant itself is not rooted in limestone, but in peaty pockets where apparently the acid quality of the detritus has eaten holes in the limestone. We see a similar phenomenon here in south Florida in the glades with "solution holes". It has been suggested that this leads to a somewhat antiseptic condition in nature. Some of these ultrabasic substrates are toxic to certain pathogens, allowing the Nepenthes to grow in an isolated micro-environment. I don't know how much of this has been truly documented, but it is a theory I've heard bounced around for a number of years.
    As for cultivation...it would seem that N. northiana is not picky about its growing medium, and in fact, I know of some growers who experimented with the added calcium only to have no effect-perhaps even a negative effect. Neps (Jeff S.) has grown a beautiful northiana using standard nep media, so it would appear that other cultural factors (such as consistent high humidity) are more important. We have seedlings of northiana, and they are excruciatingly slow growing. This last winter they were moved to the "bicalcarata bench", where they reside in the shade, cloistered under the leaves of much larger bicals. Finally they seem happy.
    As for rajah and burbidgeae: from what I understand thay are not particularly difficult as long as proper temps are maintained. I know a south Florida grower who was successful with N. burbidgeae in a greenhouse here in south Florida where it was subjected to our warm summer nights and it pulled through ever year...until claimed by hurricane Andrew.

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    Many thanks for all of your responses!

    I have also begun my own experimentation regarding these ultramific/basic soils. Living in Hawaii, our natural soil is a coral base. Some regions have an overlay of volcanic cinders or cinder soil mixture. It has been documented that certain species have adapted to growing in soils that begin as an acid preference as seedling and as the plant matures into a tree, can only grow and develop into a tree if its roots are embedded in coral.

    I have learned from Ch'ien Lee (pers. comm.) that he also believes that this is a requirement of some species. He claims that N. northiana only grows and becomes established where an overlay or no overlay exists over a substrate of high calcium bedrock. Other species also grows exclusively on the limestone cliffs and found no where else, this has been the case with newer species such as N. campanulata, etc., which grows only on sheer cliffs of same.

    I am also lead to believe that some species (specifically N. sp. Viking) has adapted to a requirement of salty-alkaline marshes where it flourishes.

    I have experienced two situations where the addition of lime/oyster shell calcium has helped revive or even grow some species faster.
    I have noticed that my N. northiana started out slow and impossible. It was grown in a LFS/coarse peatmoss media. After learning about high pH of some species and to Hoyas (an asclepiad vine also native to areas where nepenthes flourish) I have decided to add some coral chips to the media.

    My hoyas changed its form from a tender soft vine to a heavy coarse wirey one. My N. northiana transformed from a soft lettuce-leafed appearing plant to one with heavy leathery leaves AND pitcher development. While this is the only N. northiana that I had, no comparison with one of the same could be used as a test for a control.

    I have now since been testing this idea on N. burbidgeae, rajah, lowii, stenophylla, macrohylla, and even bicalcarata to see what happens over a two to five year project test. STAY TUNED FOR THE RESULTS IN 2008-2010!

    Michael
    Morticia:\"Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc, 'We would gladly feast on those who try to subdue us.' Not just pretty words. but words to live by!\"

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    Gee we're getting some deep discourse on this forum [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile_n_32.gif[/img]

    Rod Kruger also tells me that one type of mirabilis he discovered in Far North Queensland on a ocean cliff face was regularly assaulted with sea spray. I wonder what adaptations it has made for such an atypical location (for Nepenthes).

    Hamish
    Demystifying Nepenthes: http://www.nepenthesforeveryone.com

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    I should have been more specific with how I am growing them in these mixes and specifics of C.L's pers. comm. explanation.
    I use coral chips at the bottom of my deeper pots with an overlay of coco bark, fir bark, and peatmoss.
    Ch'ien's Lee also tells me that even though the upper layer where N. northiana grows is mostly mossy, peat-like composition, their roots soon travels deeper until it hits its limestone subsoil base.

    As for salt spray, in Hawaii, we have a legume (Sesbania tomentosa) that only grows in the sand of the supralittoral zone of the beach. Which not only gets salt spray, but at high tide, sea water at every high tide mark! This species' closest relative is grown some half way around the world as a shrub in mountainous wet rainforest.

    Adaptions my dear Darwin, Evolution at its best! And we've seen as adaptive as a species can cope with is nepenthes!

    M
    Morticia:\"Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc, 'We would gladly feast on those who try to subdue us.' Not just pretty words. but words to live by!\"

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