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Murderizing my first heli - ideas welcome

Joined
Oct 30, 2016
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175
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Washington state - 7b
Well, this isn't a very fortuitous first post to the Pitcher Plants section. But, I'd like to learn from the mistakes I've made, so am welcoming any ideas. Not sure a rescue is still an option here, but maybe what I hear from the community can help me have more success in the future.

I received this H. pulchella in January. I keep it in a terrarium, where I grow cool, high-humidity plants. Winter temps were probably mid-low 60s with lows in the mid-low fifties, humidity is 85% or higher. There is a fan to provide air circulation. More recently, temps have risen a bit (and I've geekified my tracking):

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Pitchers are probably 9" from two led lights (I don't have specs as the retailer no longer offers them, but they are JungleDawn-esque). There is a mister in the tank, so they get some water that way, and humidity stays high. I've used maxsea in the pitchers, but they are probably not *always* topped up. I've tried both top and bottom watering, but recently felt that the mister might have been resulting in water sitting in a reservoir under the pot, so removed the reservoir.

This has been its downhill trajectory...
January - on arrival - I'm not sure, but I think the lower-rightmost pitcher visible in the photo might have a desiccated spoon:
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A few weeks later - note, the additional spoon/pitcher desiccating on the central-top pitcher, which was written off as "new-environment-adjustment or shipping funk":
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And this week:
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With a view of the back of the pitchers (which are in bad shape) and a peek at the only pitcher that looks semi-viable, but which has not changed much in the last 4-5months:
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I have not had the guts to pull it out of the pot, but suspect that's next. Ideas welcome!
 
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Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
175
Location
Washington state - 7b
International Carnivorous Plant Society

Maybe this will help?

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk

Thanks DeadlyCarni - that is indeed a great resource and one I refer to frequently. I think I'm within the preferred temperature parameters and the watering suggestions in the article - either top watering or keeping it with a small water reservoir - are both methods I've tried.

Partially, I'm wondering if the symptoms it's showing (as it is failing to thrive) are indicative of what might be wrong? The pitchers appear to be "drying out" from the top-down, yet (I believe) moisture and humidity are adequate. If the roots are rotted or it's a fungal issue, are there things I could try in a re-pot to better the chances for survival?

Also wondering if folks have used commercially available sources of beneficial bacteria/mycorrhizal blends - like Plant Success Great White or Inocucor's Synergro solution? Or is AmPac Biotech's Trichoderma atroviride the only way to go?
 
Joined
Aug 15, 2007
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Southern Wisconsin
Just a couple of thoughts. If the roots are rotted the leaves tend to die from the bottom up instead of from the top down. You list the winter temps but what are the current temps? How much heat is coming off the lights? Can you measure the temps at leaf level? Finally, is the fan blowing directly on the plant?
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2013
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Hacienda Heights, CA USA
It looks like the plant hasn't grown at all, which is surprising given that it has been 4 months. I had this happen to me with a Heliamphora minor that I was growing on a humid windowsill. It never grew but stayed green until I took it back to the states, where it promptly died.
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
175
Location
Washington state - 7b
Just a couple of thoughts. If the roots are rotted the leaves tend to die from the bottom up instead of from the top down. You list the winter temps but what are the current temps? How much heat is coming off the lights? Can you measure the temps at leaf level? Finally, is the fan blowing directly on the plant?

Good to know re: rotted roots and the direction of pitcher decline. I had also read some accounts of heli "sudden death syndrome" (without pics), which sounded like similar symptomology - dessicating from the top. except this hasn't exactly been sudden. More like a slow (frustrating) demise.

I've been measuring the temps more consistently since April, and I would say temps have been 60-65 (on average); increasing a little in the last two weeks (max: 72, min: 60, since May 1). The tank isn't that large (ExoTerra Med Wide - 24x18x18), but the lights are leds and I don't believe they contribute much heat to the tank. I can move the temp sensor closer to the plant to see if that makes a difference in what I'm measuring. Currently it's on the left side of the tank (pic below), pretty close to the door (to keep it from being misted). Because of the moss in the pot, and its constant moist state, I would imagine the root zone is below ambient (from evaporative cooling), but I haven't measured in-pot temp.

This is a pic of the tank ( in November, before I introduced a couple carnivorous plants):
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The H. pulchella is currently just left of the middle of the tank, towards the back, to be under the brighter light. The fan tilts so that the breeze "bounces" off the glass top rather than blowing directly on the plants.

Really appreciate everyone's ideas and questions!
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
175
Location
Washington state - 7b
It looks like the plant hasn't grown at all, which is surprising given that it has been 4 months. I had this happen to me with a Heliamphora minor that I was growing on a humid windowsill. It never grew but stayed green until I took it back to the states, where it promptly died.

I would agree. At first I attributed the lack of growth to shipping shock (even though it was packaged very well, and with a heat pack) and acclimatization to its new surroundings. But, most of my plants are responding to spring - however, not this one.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Having dipped my toe in the carnivorous pool about 18 months ago, and having had some successes, I thought I was ready for something more challenging (and I've branched out to some new-to-me genera). But, maybe this plant just wasn't meant to be.
 
Joined
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Greeley, CO, USA
Root issues do not always mean the plant will die from the base up; if the entire root system and then the rhizome rot then yes that will happen, but root damage and the subsequent loss of water uptake function can mean the pitchers rapidly wilt or die back like a normal pitcher would, but far more quickly and often before the leaf turns fully brown. Most of what I am seeing though looks like natural old leaf senescence but without replacement by new growth, which I take to mean the plant doesn't like something in your conditions; perhaps the soil is too wet, the humidity is not quite high enough, or you do not have a great enough temperature swing. Or, as some Heliamphora are rather picky and they are altogether generally slow, it might still be acclimating and developing new roots etc. so that it can grow properly.
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
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Location
Washington state - 7b
Root issues do not always mean the plant will die from the base up; if the entire root system and then the rhizome rot then yes that will happen, but root damage and the subsequent loss of water uptake function can mean the pitchers rapidly wilt or die back like a normal pitcher would, but far more quickly and often before the leaf turns fully brown. Most of what I am seeing though looks like natural old leaf senescence but without replacement by new growth, which I take to mean the plant doesn't like something in your conditions; perhaps the soil is too wet, the humidity is not quite high enough, or you do not have a great enough temperature swing. Or, as some Heliamphora are rather picky and they are altogether generally slow, it might still be acclimating and developing new roots etc. so that it can grow properly.

Hmmm. Seems like checking on the roots may narrow down the list of "what's wrong". It would also likely help me understand the potting media...either to adjust watering, or at least see what state it's in (deterioration-wise). I've been nervous to disturb the plant since its trajectory has been so poor. We're having some warmer temps at the moment, but if/when it cools back down in the coming weeks, I'll take a peek in the pot.

Thanks for chiming in - I have much admired your heliamphora thread.
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
175
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Washington state - 7b
I may have to consider renaming this thread to "zombie heliamphora" as it's coming back from the almost-dead.

I didn't do anything with the poor plant for the last year (my fear of disturbing it ran deep) ... and then, earlier this spring, growth!

This is what it looked like in March - it's ALIVE!
42607841212_a735018007.jpg


And today when I finally sucked it up and went for a repot. The roots are not impressive, but they are alive, and the new pitcher growth gives me hope.
42607848722_1d4a03d0ed.jpg


For those more familiar with these plants (as this is my one-and-only until I get better results), am I not developing nectar spoons because it is basically forming a whole new plant as it grows back from the base...or do the pointy pitchers (excluding the clearly juvenile one on the left-side of the pic above) just need more light/age to initiate nectar spoons?
 
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
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Providence, RI
Huzzah! This gives me hope for my own struggling heliamphora lol.

Those to me look like they want more light. They aren't at all red and the shape is odd and flattened at the top.
 
Joined
Aug 4, 2008
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The root growth looks pretty good to me. Congrats on getting it to pull through the adjustment phase. I recently got some heliamphora so I'll be keeping an eye on yours to compare notes.
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
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Location
Washington state - 7b
Huzzah! This gives me hope for my own struggling heliamphora lol.

Those to me look like they want more light. They aren't at all red and the shape is odd and flattened at the top.

Thanks for the cheer - and vote re: light. I think I'll give it a bit to adjust to its new pot/media...and then maybe give it a small raise up to the light source to see what happens.
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
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Location
Washington state - 7b
The root growth looks pretty good to me. Congrats on getting it to pull through the adjustment phase. I recently got some heliamphora so I'll be keeping an eye on yours to compare notes.

Enjoy your new acquisitions! I do want to get better at heli culture - they are such intriguing plants. I'll add updates as they're warranted. And, if you learn any tidbits as you get to know your new charges, do share!
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
175
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Washington state - 7b
Time for an update.

The recovery was slow - but I think I might be ready to try another heliamphora. I've heard H. 'Tequila' is robust. Any other recommendations for "easier" helis?

48503440512_835d3a0621.jpg
 
Joined
May 7, 2019
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Wow! That was an amazing recovery!

'Tequila' is robust and hardy, but it's expensive and hard to find.

I know this one is a little difficult to find too, but tatei x folliculata is great. It grows really fast (for a heli) and gets nice, lime green pitchers under typical lighting. CC offered it for $35 + shipping a while ago.
If you can't find that one, H. minor, H. heterodoxa, and the hybrid of those two are easy.
 
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
175
Location
Washington state - 7b
Wow! That was an amazing recovery!

'Tequila' is robust and hardy, but it's expensive and hard to find.

I know this one is a little difficult to find too, but tatei x folliculata is great. It grows really fast (for a heli) and gets nice, lime green pitchers under typical lighting. CC offered it for $35 + shipping a while ago.
If you can't find that one, H. minor, H. heterodoxa, and the hybrid of those two are easy.

Thanks for the ideas - and the note on price. I won't splurge until I am more confident in my heli-culture skills - clearly I am still on the learning curve here, so affordability is also a criteria. I appreciate the suggestions!
 
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