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Is my Cephalotus dead? Help!!!

I've had it for about 4 months now. It's put out smaller new growth that later died off as you can see in the picture. I think it was the hot 90 degree summers. I recently moved it inside about a months ago. The green leaf you see aren't new. They've been there since I moved it inside. Which means there hasn't been new growth. I also am curious at how often I should water the plant. I thought it needed dry soil so i gave it very little water which I think was a mistake. I must admit I got too many different kinds of plants at once and got overwhelmed. So this was one of the neglected ones.....

It's right now sitting under 4 T5HO on for 12 hours.

Please help this cephalotus follicularis


Trim off the dead brown leaves. The non-carnivorous leaves look perfectly healthy. Slow down of growth and non-carnivorous leaves is typical in winter months.
Tray method for watering. Don't use more water than covers 25% of your pot.
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I agree with NaN, trim the dead leaves and be watchful of it. If you are growing the ceph inside under artificial lights, you can let it sit in some water. Too much water, and the fungus gnats will appear, too little water and the ceph will be unhappy. I find that cephalotus enjoy soil more moist than dry, but the amount of water depends on your pot size. If you received the plant 4 months ago and placed it outside when we had the heat wave, I would imagine the plant would not be too happy.
Mine was outside in full sun all summer and saw extended periods of 90F + and it never missed a beat, after acclimating to the higher light levels. It also took a light freeze without issue. The top 1" of the media froze solid. I don't think that a lack of temperature tolerance is responsible for Cephs' reputation for touchiness.
I've never grown any Ceph dry, moist is the closest I've ever went. You many simply be underwatering it, all growth would stop and the newer growth would generally die off under a drought.

Keep in mind you are providing it with a TON of light, without knowing exactly what is going on you may have sun burnt the pitchers too. Moving them from a lower light to a very high light area can dry out the top growth.

I'd submerge the entire pot, not any part of the crown of the Ceph just the pot in as pure of water as you have. For about an hour just to help get out any air pockets in the medium and to evenly moisten the medium.

Then watering tray, some careful trimming and wait. Refill the watering tray only when it has been bone dry for atleast 24 hours, depending on pot size and medium type you can go much longer after the tray is dry. You don't want to break the moist medium wick while your tray is dry or you might start killing off root tips.
Cephalotus is not a dry soil species - in fact, quite the opposite. Adjust your cultivation technique.
Thanks for all the suggestions, will trim, water and get rid of air bubbles, and keep it moist. I'll also bring it away from the artificial grow lights and leave it the windowsill above the grow area that receives about 4 hours of direct sunlight between 8-12 and then dappled+shaded from 12 until 5PM (completely dark). Does that sound like enough light?

When I read avoid root rot I thought of this as keeping the soil dry. Now I know is moist.
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The lights will not be an issue in the long run, just a few weeks/months for the plant to adjust to the increase in light. The increased lighting will give you smaller pitchers with much better colors or the windowsill will give you bigger pitchers with greener colors. Its really just a personal choice of how you want the pitchers to look. Lower light/colder temps for more leaves.

Root rot is mainly caused by lack of airflow into the medium, so mixes like 50/50 peat/sand "can" be an issue. I say can because so many grow them just fine in that mix, again its airflow into the medium, so a lot of factors are working here. I've found 1-2" worms living in my peat/sand pots when repotting so I figure they are a prime reason for increased airflow.

The most important piece of info here is to not give up on the Ceph just because it looks like its dying. These are leaf pulls I almost threw out a while back. Yes, in the 1st photo those are grains of sand.

DSC_0059 by randallsimpson, on Flickr

DSC_0053 by randallsimpson, on Flickr

A photo of the light burn I was talking about, every pitcher/leaf on that plant dried out and died due to the shock of increased light. New pitchers grew out of the base of the plant in a few weeks and everything is fine. I'm now moving them over in stages to keep this from happening.

DSC_0034 by randallsimpson, on Flickr

Here is a Ceph growing in RUNNING water, always completetly wet. This is not the proper way to grow them and they never grew well but it goes a long ways to showing water does not equal root rot.

Cephalotus Typical by randallsimpson, on Flickr
  • #10
It's also best to find a setup and stick with it. The more you move it around the less likely it will get a chance to settle in and thrive for you.
  • #11
I'm now puzzled and I think it's the terminology being used. 'Airflow' through the medium, I'm interpreting as use a coarser mix. Peat / gravel / sand or peat / perlite I've found suitable, I've also used pure live sphagnum.The amount of air going through the medium in a pot standing in water I would say was negligible. The plant will root and shoot underwater and there's not a lot of airflow through that.
Leaving the water tray bone dry for 24 hours I would also discount, it's likely to lead to problems. The tray goes dry and it's not noticed for a few days and then you have to allow another day because you have to go by when you noticed and in high summer you have a dry plant. Just keep water in the tray, if it goes dry, add water. My own plants stand in a couple of inches of water from April to December every year. Once from April to December the following year, 20 months without problems.
The best way to avoid problems is to look. It's amazing just how much your plants' health improves if you look at them frequently., the more frequent the better it is.
  • #12
The best way to avoid problems is to look. It's amazing just how much your plants' health improves if you look at them frequently., the more frequent the better it is.

Fred, you are being FAR too sensible.
  • #13
Keep in mind everything I'm posting is from an indoor growers perspective and the TX heat just will not let me grow a Ceph outside in the elements. We are talking about a Ceph currently being grown inside, so unless the inside temps are really high even 2-3 days of the tray being bone dry should have minimal effect on the moisture in the pot. I have allowed many of my trays to dry out for a week to 10 days for various reasons without harming the Cephs at all. Now these are established healthy Cephs, none I thought were having issues. Even after a week of the tray being dry the medium was still moist.

As for the airflow issue, anytime water is wicked up or poured down through the medium there is an exchange of air, thus some airflow.

But I agree looking at them helps a lot :)
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  • #14
Sorry RSS but when water is wicked up from a water tray where is this air coming from?
  • #15
The surface area of the water tray will attempt to equalize with the surrounding air (oxygen, co2, ect), standing water will do this at a much slower rate than moving water but it will given enough time. The roots of a plant will remove what they need from the water in the wicked part of the medium, as new water is wicked up the newer water will mix with the older water and try to equalize again to replace some of the used up materials/gases.

Basically the same concept of how you end up with salt buildup on the top of your medium when your only using tray watering, the salts are being wicked up and dry out on top. The same thing is happening with gases.

This is a very basic explanation, there are entire books wrote on the subject.
  • #16
You are talking about dissolved gasses now which is entirely different to an airflow.
  • #17
The flow of gases/materials to the roots is what I've been attempting to talking about. If it helps just change airflow to gas exchanges, I have good days and bad days and at this point I can not think clearly anymore so I'm out for a while.

Either way we have strayed away from the original question and are probably not being of any help to anyone anymore.
  • #18
interesting conversation because I was also wondering about airflow. I was confused at how I'd provide air flow into the soil.

I think at this point I've learned that carnivorous plants thrives under various conditions. I'd prefer to try the constant moist option because I sometimes forget to water them when I have to let the try dry out. Thanks everybody for your contributions
  • #19
so, I assume this new growth is a sign of a bounce back? So ya the problem was I kept the soil too dry because I was scared of root rot. Now that it's moist, It produced two new purplish green leaf. Thanks everybody!

  • #20
New growth is usually a good sign, and the new stuff has some red to it which "usually" means it's happier. My 2 Ceph seedlings are in a rather coarse overall mix, lots of perlite, but always kept rather moist, and are steady growing.