The Encyclopedia of House Plants

Click a link for description, or click a picture to see a larger image


Family: Insectivores.

Common name(s): Monkey cup, Tropical pitcher plant
Nepenthes Family: Nepenthaceae. Genus of about 70 species and numerous hybrids of dioecious, evergreen, carnivorous, climbing, terrestrial or epiphytic perennials from Madagascar, the Seyshelles, S.E. Asia, Borneo, and Queensland. These tropical climbers produce pitchers containing a pepsin liquid that drowns insects and digests them. The pitchers also have a lid that keeps the rain out. Carnivorous climbing vine to 4m high. Passive pitfall traps produced at the tips of the leaves trap and digest small insects. Colour of the pitchers light-green, often with light or dark-red or violet spots. Nepenthes enjoy loose, open soil that remains wet to moist but allows drainage of excess water. They are tolerant of a wide variety of soil mixes. The best include a portion of ling-fibered sphagnum, the rest of the medium being a combination of course materials. All containers must have drainage holes. Place a thin layer of sphagnum at the bottomof the pot to prevent the gradual loss of soil through the holes. This will also retain moisture. Plastic pots work well, as do terra-cotta or glazed ceramics. Wooden boxes or orchid baskets work wonderfully. 6 to 10 inch pots are recommended for mature plants. In greenhouses avoid the tray method of watering entirely and place the containers on benches or hang them so water can freely drain away. Terrariums and on windowsills, place the pot in a shallow saucer and water overhead as soon as the water in saucer evaporates. Don't allow the pot to sit in deep water for extended times. All Nepenthes are tropical plants, roughly divided into lowlanders and highlanders. Lowlanders require temperatures in the 60's and 70's at night, 80's and 90's during the day. Lowlanders are not tolerant of low temperatures. Highlanders do best in the 50's and low 60's at night, 70's and low 80's during the day. Nepenthes
Growing conditions Watering and misting Propagation
Average warmth in summer - minimum 60 F in winter. Brightly lit spot away from direct sunlight. Keep compost moist at all time. Reduce watering in winter. Misting is necessary. Use rainwater. Take stem cuttings at 70-81 F (21-27 C) in spring. Sow seed as soon as ripe on the surface of moist peat or fine coconut fiber, and place in a tray of water in a shaded propagator at 81 F (27 C). Air layer in spring or summer.

User-submitted additions and corrections:

9th Aug 2008
I've had my hanging pitcher plant for 5 years now. The secret is to pot them in a ceramic or plastic pot (minerals leach out of clay pots and will kill the plant). Only use sphagnum moss (no soils) to plant them in. Only use tepid rain water ( no tap water - it also will kill them) and always keep sphagnum moss soggy (pots without drain holes are best). Every 3 months use a weak solution of orchid fertilizer (about 1/2 - 1/3 the amount instructed on bottle for orchids). And, never let the "pitcher flowers" go dry - keep them 2/3rds filled (I use an eye dropper to put rain water in the pitcher flowers). Indirect light from an east or north window is best. Temps. in the 70's. These are amazing plants!
23rd May 2010
i have had mine for awhile and i have mine in a wicker (hang) basket lined with plastic ,my plant is hung infront of a window ( it is shaded all day,no direct sun)(also its kinda hot in that lil area,good for them ) i water mine one time a day (just alil each day to keep the dirt alil moist) the only thing is if you dont have a pot that has the drainer mke sure you give plenty of water but dont overwater (only worrie if you pot doesnt have a drain (cut-out in bottom) )but other than that my plant isnt fussy she is getting big the one at the store was almost as tall as iam (im 5'4) lol ( i have lil ring of moss around the plant itself nd not the whole basket)
23rd May 2010
Also you should never mess with the "pitcher" of the plant if you are takeing care of the plant right and it has the right water/heat/light it will make its own liquid . messing with the "pitcher" is setting the plant off it ntural inst. leave it be ( i do sometimes have a pitcher that dies nd you can clip it off at the end of the leaf with your prune clippers not a big deal) this is a easy plant nd very fun to have =D
These materials are freely provided for instructional and educational purposes. Any duplication or publication of text or images herein for commercial gain without explicit written permission of the owner or photographer constitutes breach of trust and violation of copyright.
Copyright © Galka Okhapkina 1998-2024