Nepenthes propagation guide: what you need to know

Propagating carnivorous plants, like Nepenthes, is easy and super rewarding. Of course there are different ways to do it but the most common involve creating a cutting that can easily be rooted and then planted into a new pot of soil.

Nepenthes, also known as Pitcher, is an attractive carnivorous plant with an ornamental appeal while entertaining and educating about a unique nutrition method. These plants may sound exotic, but the propagation of pitchers is no more complicated than the propagation of any other plant.

There are several ways to multiply pitchers, but planting seeds or rooting cuttings is the best way to succeed and is the most common method for growers. Pitchers plants can be propagated using tissue culture, grains, or cuttings.

The ideal way to propagate pitcher plants depends on the type, but you can grow many common varieties quickly from cuttings, divided roots or rhizomes, or seeds.

Propagation Methods for Nepenthes

Plants in nature generate offspring by seed. Baby plants take a long time to grow, and fertilization is erratic. The Pitcher produces male and female flowers on distinct seedlings. The two genders look identical, and it is almost impossible to ensure that you have one of each.

In addition, plants have to flower simultaneously to enable pollen from the male to be transferred to the female flowering. Therefore, rooting cuttings is a much easier and more secure way of spreading pitcher plants.

Nepenthes Male Flower.
The Pitcher produces male and female flowers on distinct seedlings.

If you want to undertake propagation through the seed, you will require patience and luck. Cuttings, however, grow fast and are manageable even for a beginner to take up. Cuttings of mature plants with active growing stalks work better.

Propagation of Nepenthes Through Cuttings

There are various ways to remove cuttings. First, select a plant with one or two basal shoots in the vining phase. By doing so, the plant will inject energy into the base in case the main vine dies. And opt for green vines. Do not cut from the dark wooded stem.

Use a clean, sharp razor blade or scalpel for your cuts. Take three to five knots and make your cut. Check for a tall stem that actively climbs and grows, with leaves widely spaced out. Take your cutting near the tip of the branch, which is where much of the new growth will occur.  

After making your cuts, cut the lower leaf from the stem or cut it in half. You can also leave the two upper leaves and bud intact. Do not forget to cut the tendrils so that the cut does not waste energy in the production of pitchers.

Nepenthes Cuttings.
It takes at least a few weeks for your cuttings to begin growing new roots.

Position the extremity of the stem in the root medium. Choose a neutral or slightly acid medium, like sphagnum moss, 50:50 sphagnum moss, and perlite, or 50:50 coir and perlite. Place the medium in a pot and moisten it.

Do not water it to such an extent that it is soggy, or your cuttings may become moldy. Instead, push the end of the cut stalk into the potting medium deep enough to have at least one growth node below the soil surface.

Place the jar into a clear plastic bag and drill 2-3 small holes into the bag. Alternatively, you can put the pot in a small terrarium. Check the rooting area every 2-3 days to see if it is still moist.

If it feels dry, humidify with water from a spray flask. Place the plant in a bright area close to a sunny window. However, keep it out of direct sunlight, which will be too hard for new seedlings.

Repot the cuttings after you see new growth. It takes at least a few weeks for your cuttings to begin growing new roots. After about one month, try to pull your potted cutting very slowly. If there is any resistance, then new sources are starting to form.

Propagating Nepenthes by Seed

Cultivating new Nepenthes from seeds works, but it will take years for a new plant to ripen and bloom. For Nepenthes seeds to be produced, you must ensure that the female plant is pollinated with male pollen. Seeds should form within a few weeks, and you will need to sow them soon after forming.

Collect Nepenthes seeds at the beginning of fall. You can quickly start seeds of pitcher plants on a bed of sphagnum moss. As is well known, pitcher seedlings are difficult to grow from seeds. However, if your Pitcher is pollinated, it will produce little round pods in late summer or autumn. As soon as you see the pods browning, please pick them up and place them into a wrapper. Allow them to dry for one to two days, open the pods and remove the tiny seeds.

Nepenthes plant with growing seeds.
Pitcher seedlings are difficult to grow from seeds.

Don’t forget that cultivating pitchers from seeds takes more time than other methods. Store the seeds in a wrapper in your refrigerator until ready to use. When removing the seeds, let the container heat up to room temperature before removing the seeds from the shell to shield them from condensation.

Put the seeds in a plastic bag with moist sphagnum moss. Sphagnum moss should be wet but not damp. If you have no sphagnum, the peat moss works too. Sprinkle the seeds in the bag and seal them. Make sure the bag has air in it when you close it.

Alternatively, sow the seeds in a jar with a peat mixture. A blend of peat and sand works great. Distribute the seeds about 0.5 cm apart in the pot and sprinkle enough sand on top to cover them. Wrap the containers and place them under a lamp.

Place the posts inside transparent plastic bags or place them in a terrarium or under a moisture dome. Put them under a LED light instead of in the full sun. Maintain a temperature between 70 and 90 degrees F until seedlings are ready to be potted.

Propagating Through Rhizome Division

The best time to split the rhizomes is at the beginning of spring. Rhizomes are the fleshy bulb-shaped structures at the base of the plant, underneath the soil. Splitting the rhizome is the fastest and easiest way.

Gently remove the Pitcher from the old jar, making sure to clear the roots and soil as well as the leaves. If the plant is on the ground, carefully remove it. Place it on a clean surface after removing the plant from the pot, such as a table.

Nepenthes Hanging.
Splitting the rhizome is the fastest and easiest way.

After removing the plant from the pot, begin to gently draw the base of the plant, looking for weak spots between the rhizomes. When a soft spot is identified, press carefully to disconnect the rhizomes. Alternatively, you can use pruning shears to separate the harder rhizomes.

Thoroughly inspect divided plants for signs of decay or insect infestation. Throw away any dead or decaying plants or rhizomes to help you grow a fresh, healthy crop of pitchers. Once you have split the rhizomes, use sharp cutters to reduce the leaves.

Put the divided rhizomes back into separate pots. Fill each jar with equal blends of peat moss and perlite. Coarse sand is another alternative to perlite. Plant the rhizomes just below the ground surface, so the bases of the leaves are right on the surface. Place the pot in a sunny place and water the plant regularly to keep the ground moist.

Propagative Mediums in Nepenthes

Pitcher cuttings can be propagated in several ways and rooted in water or a soil-free environment.

Propagating Nepenthes in Water

This procedure for rooting Nepenthes cuttings is straightforward. Make cuttings, put them into the water, keep moisture high, change the water regularly and wait. Use rainwater or distilled water and immerse the end of the cut and the first growing knot in the liquid. Put the glass in a light zone where the temperatures are moderately hot. Change the water a minimum of once a week.

The stem should split within two weeks and begin to produce minute roots. Could you put them in sphagnum moss when the cuttings have six roots? Keep the cutting moderately moist.

Nepenthes in a body of water.
It is relatively easy to propagate the pitchers in water, but you must monitor the cut for signs of fungus or rot.

The plant will develop a traditional pitcher shape in six months or more. It is relatively easy to propagate the pitchers in this way, but you must monitor the cut for signs of fungus or rot. Some Nepenthes have very high success rates, while others have less. In some cases, Nepenthes will continue to develop quite well in the water, producing even pitchers capable of trapping insects.

Propagating Nepenthes Cuttings in Moss

Harvest a cutting and use rooting hormones at the end of the cut to improve the plant’s ability to send out roots.

Sphagnum Moss or a 50/50 mixture of coir and perlite creates ideal conditions when growing pitchers from cuttings. Pluck out the basal leaves and put your stem cutting in the middle.

Moisten the medium slightly, then place the container in a plastic bag. Keep the vessel in a well-lit location. It may take six months to a year to see further growth while rooting occurs. Do not disturb nor repot the plant before observing new growth.

Bottom Line

The fastest way to propagate Nepenthes is to root the individual through stem cuttings. You may also copy the parent individual by dividing the rhizomes and leaves to produce new growth. We recommend stem cuttings because they tend to be slightly faster.

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