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Thread: Nep. noob needs help

  1. #1

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    About two weeks ago I helped a friend set up a terrarium for his son (I'm new to CPs myself). We are using a 10g tank with three fluorescent tubes (GE PLant & Aquarium Brightstiks--33W each). Lowes happened to have several Nepenthes, no species name given, so we took home two.

    The plants were quite moist as we got them, and nicely green. There were no pitchers, but most leaves had short tendrils growing. Now the plants appear to be fading in color, the leaves drooping somewhat, and the tendrils have gone brown. I'm afraid we've messed up our first attempt at a terrarium, but hoping it's merely a bit of temporary shock.

    The lights are on a timer (16hrs), and I applied mylar around the sides and back. A piece of acrylic sits on top of short strips of weatherstrip on the tank rim, leaving air slots all around. During daytime the tank temp is about 80F, and humidity varying usually 60-70%. Night temps drop to about the lower 60s (elevation is ~5200ft). The 3-inch pots sit in trays with distilled water about 1/2 inch deep or less.

    Have we made a serious mistake somewhere in our setup? Since I don't know which species of Nep. we have, I don't know whether a cooler or warmer regime is appropriate. Are the Neps sold at homecenters more likely to be lowland or highland plants, or some sort of hybrid?

    Any help would be most appreciated. Because of the elevation here, and the mountain climate (usually dry air), we thought a terrarium would be our best bet for keeping CPs.

  2. #2
    Capslock's Avatar
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    It doesn't sound so wrong. Hmmm. First, I'd NOT use the tray method. Neps don't like to sit in standing water. Second, it sounds a little like there isn't enough air flow. I'd see about increasing that - maybe cut the lid back so it only covers about 75% of the tank. Depending on where you live and the ambient humidity, you could have even less; I grow my plants in open air using no terrarium. It's pretty humid here, though.

    Finally, you can't trust what the store did with the plants. I'd repot them in larger pots in long-fibered sphagnum and orchid bark and/or perlite and/or pumice. Use about half lfs and half crunchy bits. Stores like Lowes generally sell N. ventricosa or N. x ventrata, and in any case will sell easy, hardy plants, so your temperatures and light should be fine.

    Make sure, also that your lights aren't cooking the plants. Recheck the temperature after the lights have been on for a couple hours.

    Good luck! Let us know if they die. We can help with that! LOL!

    Capslock
    Malo Periculosam Libertatem Quam Quietum Servitium

    My photos are copyright-free and public domain

  3. #3

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    Thanks for your suggestions. I was under the impression that these plants prefer fairly wet conditions, though not saturated, and so have been using shallow trays. Should the plants be top watered, enough to get some drain-though? If so, how often is sufficient?

    As to humidity, under typical conditions the air feels decidedly dry up here at 5200ft, but then I am accustomed to more usually humid coastal air where I have my apartment. We are in southern Calif. (Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino Co., where the terrarium is; my apartment is in inland Orange Co.)

    I will make a point to stock up on potting materials appropriate to the plants we try in the terrarium. I don't intend to give up if these plants don't survive. That's why I made sure to put a thermometer and hygrometer in the tank--I wanted to be aware of the conditions we have going as much as possible. Although this project is for somebody else, I'm sort of in charge of doing the research and getting things in motion.

    (My apologies for originally posting my query in the wrong forum. I'm not using my own computer at the moment. This computer's display resolution is such that the text is much smaller than my middle-aged eyes are comfortable with.)

  4. #4

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    Tom,
    Yes they like damp soil, but they also like well-drained soil. I do the tray method, but I only pour enough water in to just barely cover the bottom...so it all gets absorbed. I have quite a few and I don't recommend doing that to a beginner.
    I would say the way you have the acrylic is not too much, if that raises the humidity to 70%. Ideally, as Capslock is hinting at, you would like more air movement.
    An easy potting medium is you can't find what he suggested(but you should be able to where you got the plant) is 50/50 peat/perlite. It makes a good transitional medium if they are in pure peat(as many of these tc plants are). If you can find what Caps suggested, I would go with that. It's a fool proof mix, for the most part.

    Cheers,

    Joe

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