How To Fertilize Nepenthes

February 7, 2022

Trying to figure out how to fertilize Nepenthes? Then this is the guide for you!

Read on to figure out if you need to fertilize and different ways to provide extra nourishment for your Nepenthes.

Do I need to fertilize?

Fertilizing Nepenthes is commonly debated in the carnivorous plant community. Since Nepenthes produce pitchers to obtain nutrients, some believe fertilizing will stop the plant from producing pitchers or damage the plant.

If you’re growing outdoors, this seems to be anecdotally true. The plant already has ample access to nutrients through the insects it traps.

However, if you’re growing indoors or in a greenhouse, your Nepenthes won’t have much access to insects during colder months. In this case, fertilization can improve a plant’s growth.

No matter where you grow, just be sure to keep the plant hungry so it continues producing pitchers!

How Do I Fertilize Nepenthes?

There are several ways to fertilize Nepenthes. The most common methods are feeding prey, using pellet fertilizer, or using a spray fertilizer. Each option has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to determine which option works best for you and your plants!

Here are some supplies you may need to fertilize your Nepenthes. Your choice of fertilizer, a spray bottle or watering can, and of course a plant!

Feeding Nepenthes Pitchers

The simplest way to fertilize Nepenthes is to feed them. If you live in an area where Nepenthes can be grown outdoors, just put them outside and let them do what they’ve evolved to do!

If you grow indoors and still want to use this method, you can feed them with insects, bloodworms, mealworms, or even fish flakes.

Before feeding, be sure the pitchers have water in them. You can feed multiple pitchers at once and repeat 1-2 times a month.

Using Pellet Fertilizer

Pellet fertilizer is another simple way to accelerate your plant’s growth. It’s the same as feeding a pitcher insects, except you’re using fertilizer pellets instead. Just drop in a single pellet of 14-14-14 fertilizer like Osmocote and you’re all set!

If you use pellet fertilizer don’t be surprised to see pitchers “burn.” This is where the pitcher turns black and dies because of the high concentration of nutrients. Don’t worry, though! The plant is still absorbing the nutrients.

Using Spray Fertilizer

An easier method for fertilizing at scale is to use a spray fertilizer. This is the method Florae uses.

To choose a proper spray fertilizer you’ll want to confirm two things, which usually can be found on the fertilizer label:

  • The fertilizer is water-soluble
  • The correct NPK ratio

It’s critical the fertilize is water-soluble. If it isn’t, plants can get damaged due to inconsistent concentration.

The NPK ratio is the relative amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K) in the fertilizer.

At Florae we use a fertilizer called Maxsea. Maxsea is a seaweed-based fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 16-16-16. It’s a common fertilizer and we see great results with it!

Once you have your fertilizer, follow these instructions:

  • Follow the instructions on the bottle. However, dilute the fertilizer to be 1/4 strength. This means you need to add four times as much water as the bottle calls for. The standard concentration is too intense for Nepenthes.
  • Mix well.
  • Fill a few mature pitchers 1/4 of the way. Scale as needed for smaller plants.

How often should I fertilize?

We recommend fertilizing twice a month during the growing season and once a month in the winter.

A plant’s ability to intake extra nutrients is dependent on the amount of light they’re getting. Since plants get more light during the growing season, they can also get more fertilizer!

Finally, remember to never fertilize the media. We are trying to replicate the plant’s natural environment. Nepenthes have evolved to derive their nutrients from their pitchers and not from their roots!

Learn More About Growing Nepenthes

Whether you’re a new grower or you have hundreds of plants, it can be useful to learn more about Nepenthes. Here are some resources to get you started!

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