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Did I kill my Ceph?

Hey Everyone:

I acquired a nice Ceph specimen at the NECPS show in September. At first, I was growing it alongside my Sarrs, but it seemed to be languishing, so I moved it inside, under the grow lights, seated in a tray alongside D. binata. There, it didn't put out any new growth, but didn't deteriorate until early Dec. At that point, I noticed a few leaves had turned brown and died off. I figured it didn't like the waterlogged conditions and moved it to a tray that had fluctuating water levels, usually drying for a day before rewatering. There, it seemed to improve for a couple weeks, but, about a week ago, all the leaves and pitchers turned yellow and the plant died back. At this point, I assumed that I've killed it, although the roots seem to be intact. I'm not exactly sure what I did wrong or whether I should keep the potted roots or toss it. Advice?
You never want to keep Cephalotus sitting in water unless you're putting them through dormancy. They should be top watered and allowed to drain freely.
I would place it indoors under lights, I would not toss the pot for atleast 3 months as I've had them come back after a few months. If the crown did not rot you have a good chance of recovery. Just make sure to keep its conditions pretty consistant for the next month. Wet is generally bad, dry is generally bad.

The best piece of advice for Cephs...when your main plant is healthy take a few leaf pulls just in case. I lose about 1 in 50 for no good reason, right next to very healthy Cephs.

Without knowing a lot more information its hard to recommend anything. If you have a peat heavy medium than watering trays can be very bad. A more inorganic mix and watering trays can do very well. I have all my Cephs in watering trays, if I top watered all of my plants 1/3rd would die of crown rot :-)). Everyones conditions are different, that's why you read 50 ways to care for Cephs.

One from a long time ago http://www.terraforums.com/forums/showthread.php/116483-Why-you-should-never-give-up-on-a-plant!
From what I've experienced with the species, crown rot only occurs in conditions with poor air circulation. A lot of people who keep them in terrariums with very high humidity and low air movement often have this problem. If the plants are allowed to dry shortly after watering then crown rot should be a non issue. I keep a greenhouse fan blowing over my plants at all times in order to provide good air flow. I have on the other hand experienced root rot on several occasions from keeping the plants in trays of water while in active growth. There's definitely something to be said though about different things working great for one grower and proving fatal for another.
See above, I have about 1/3rd of them growing in terrariums with very high humidity and poor airflow, top watering would kill them quickly I know from experience...They are mostly transplants/leaf pulls that recover much faster for me in there. Ceph Med bay if you would.

I've never had any issue with watering trays, however I am looking for a solutions to the "poor air exchange" watering trays provide. Top watering 50+ Cephs on windowsills my wife would kill me...

Its just a pet peeve of mine that excess water leads to rot, its the lack of airflow not the excess of water. Peat + water is very bad for airflow. I've grown a Ceph for years with all its roots completely in water, it grew and was healthy but never grew well. It was eventually potted up into a normal mix.

Enough of me hijacking this thread thou.
I agree with RSS, and also think you should keep the pot for a few months. I had some small sprouts regrow. These also appeared dead and desiccated (from my neglect). I can't say if the symptoms were the same (yellowing), because it was already too late when I discovered them. Personally, I try a bit of everything - stagnant air flow with top water at constant 70F, good air flow with the tray method under UHL conditions, and minimal airflow at room temperature (low 70F-high 86F). I don't keep them too wet, and all the ones sitting in water are in tall pots, 5''+, with a 1/4'' water. I am going to try the windowsill method, and see how that fairs.
You never want to keep Cephalotus sitting in water unless you're putting them through dormancy. They should be top watered and allowed to drain freely.

I have kept Cephalotus sitting in water throughout the growing season for quite some time. The longest period being for about 22 months without draining.
I have had new shoots growing underwater and also through the pot drain holes. This does not quite conform to your declaration.
This, of course, is in an unheated greenhouse not in a terrarium.
Alright, I'll keep it and see what happens. Seems like everyone his or her own formula that works, none of which are the same. Worse comes to worse, I'll try again in the future with different conditions. Thanks for the help, everyone.
I water from the top, with no regard to how much water splashes around the crown, etc.
I water as often as 3X a week during warm weather, or as little as once every 2 weeks in the dead of winter.
I do NOT let plants sit in water; all pots drain freely from the bottom.
My soil mix is almost 50% coarse silica sand (recycled sand from an irrigation sand filter system, washed) and it drains very rapidly: most of the water poured into the top of the pot drains out the bottom within 30 seconds.
My Cephalotus are sited on the south exposure wall of my Nepenthes greenhouse, year round: they received unfiltered, full sun (when there IS sun!0 year round.
All of my Cephalotus are planted in pale colored ceramic (glazed) pots, which prevent the pots and soil volume from warming significantly from sunlight absorption.
Air flow around the plants is 24/7, and gentle - but omnipresent.

I have yet to lose a plant in 2.5 years of working with them. For me, they are effortless plants.
  • #11
That's an impressive record.

My "formula" is based entirely on the sum of recommendations made to me by experienced growers, both in private conversation and by reading published web info. There's plenty of that available; look under the "cultivation" tab) I simply assessed the data I gathered, extrapolated the most common approaches to materials and methods, and implemented them. Basically, I just followed a recipe, with zero experimentation to determine limitations and "failure points". There's enough data out there to extract a good recipe - the rest is just assembling your materials and applying that recipe. Of course, there are reasons to tweak some of the parameters to account for your climate/grow conditions, but the essentials remain the same.

Regarding your own experience, I would say that the combo of stagnant water + no air movement is an oft-fatal mix, and to be avoided. YMMV of course, but its something I wouldn't do.
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  • #12
My plants have been sitting in "stagnant" water for years, the oldest has had this treatment for 31 years. When do you think it will become fatal? :-O
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  • #13
I was about to throw the same stick in the works - my ceph sit outside in about 1cm of water perpetually and it seems to be alright (aside from the damn birds...)

EDIT: And it gets rained on all winter...
  • #14
Whimgrinder, that is an incredibly useful website. Thanks!

Huh, well, after reading all this, I don't know what happened, except that it may have had too much water for the size pot it was in. I didn't have the plant locked in a terrarium, so there should have been some air movement. I guess I'll try again, if my plant does not recover, using different conditions (and soil) when I get a larger grow space/reconfigure the one I have.

Thanks for all the help, everyone!
  • #15
I've grown Cephs inside in mostly-closed tanks, under lights (in & outside tanks), on windowsills and outside in the summer. They grow well in all of these conditions (but generally dislike the hot NJ summers outside & sometimes need time & TLC to adapt to change). Due to the intense heat (& occasional days of rain), the outside plants sometimes sit in water. All of my other plants get top-watered & allowed to get at least partially dry before watering again. IME, they do not grow as robustly & are more susceptible to 'bad things' when kept in very wet conditions inside. In general, they are little weeds - quite adaptable to different environmental conditions and assorted media.
  • #16
Ah, the wonders of pride and vanity. Other than the basics that plants need light, water and a temperature range there are few absolutes. If there were only one way to grow certain plants then everybody would be growing them that way. As soon as somebody says there is only one way to grow certain plants somebody will prove them wrong. When it comes to watering practices and soil mixes there is probably more superstition than science. Everybody has their favorites.

I've often quoted Jerry Addington whose humility is refreshing (emphasis mine):
After a long career in horticulture one thing is clear to us that may surprise some newbies - starting out it seems all one has to do is learn the best way to grow a certain plant and follow that recipe to success. Gradually one discovers that there are almost as many "best" ways as there are sucessful growers. Some practices work great for one person and not another. Climate can be a big factor and so is personality.

Local "cultures" of cultivation practices evolve as enthusiasts share information. "Truth" we hold self evident may be contigent on factors specific to local conditions. We keep our fly traps and sarracenias sitting in water constantly year round - a practice excellent cultivators in the southeast have informed us would rot out plants in their climate. We treat cephalotus the same way - works for us. Others strongly dissagree. Our best cultural advice is to consult many sources and find your own way.

Thank you, Jerry Addington
  • #17
Exactly Not a Number.

I am very successful with the plants that grow for me. The dead ones don't do so well.