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N. merrilliana

nepenthes gracilis

Nepenthes Specialist
Hey all,

      Are you having difficulty with this species growing and or pitchering properly? Well I have discovered something quite interesting. Recently I asked Tony what he thought if my two plants should be repotted, he said they might need it but he wasn't 100% sure as the pots were big enough for the plants by the looks of it. So naturally my curiosity got the best of me so I unpotted one...lo and behold it was rootbound badly! So the moral of this stroy..check your Nepenthes roots if all else fails! This species really does require a very deep pot..not so much wide but DEEP.
I must concur. I have only limited experience with this plant, but it sure does grow better with lots of root room.
Yes schloaty, it is a very deep rooted plant...the root mass is very large but not in a wide fashion....more of a very long 'spike' shape penetrating deep down into the soil. I recently repotted them into nursury grade 1/2 gallon containers. They were orginally in 6 inch diameter, 5 inch deep pots. Now they were transplanted to 6 inch diameter, 9 inch deep pots. I am now sure I will get pitcher production once again.
I was actually planning to cut off the top of a 2 liter soda bottle, and use that. The benefit here is that I'll be able to see the roots when they start getting cramped again!
I have always believed in the concept of over potting my Neps. I believe it helps the roots but it also makes watering a heck of a lot easier. Although it does look a little silly when you have a plant 4" across in a pot twice as wide
Schloaty, that'd be genius but make sure you drill plenty of large drain holes in it!
N. merrilliana does not like it's roots cramped and moist...likes to spread them out in a very airy and loose mix fomr what I've learned.

Pyro, definetly! But plants like N. lowii have hardly any root mass/system at all and can simply be sustained in a pot as long as the roots are covered, the pot is big enough to support the plant and that the soil stays moist enough. But the other guys like N. bicalcarata, N. truncata, N. sumatrana, and N. rajah need very large pots to get bigger...and not die. I need to repot my N. rajah soon! I am afraid to think how many roots are at the pot bottom!
Bical likes a big pot, too? Uh - oh. I have work to do tonight! Another two leaves, and I'll have to do the truncata too, AGAIN.
N. bicalcarata needs quite abit of root space! But remember, plant size doesn't matter....root mass DOES!
Just think of N. lowii...large plant little roots or an ephipyte!
No offense, but just out of curiousity, how many large, well-established, mature specimens of N. lowii have you examined, either in cultivation or in the wild, to arrive at your conclusion regarding the relative extent of the typical root mass for plants of this species?
  • #10
Hi there Jeff,

Regarding all of the wonderful people who go out and observe these plants I am just basically giving schloaty an example to render regarding that plant size isn't always the factor to consider when repotting and I'd thought I'd use N. lowii as an example because of it's tiny root mass for such a large specimen growing as an ephiphyte hanging in a tree as reported by globe-trekkers. Even my little 11 cm across specimen has little root mass. I was just giving an example regarding that plant size doesn't necessarily matter. Can you see what I am trying to get at Jeff?
  • #11
My previous post was simply intended to point out that it is important to be careful about making broad statements about cultivation issues, especially when such statements are based upon very limited personal or anecdotal experience, and/or a sample size of one! Moreover, the fact that N. lowii is ephiphytic does not necessarily mean that it has a small root system!

This is not a personal attack upon you, Dustin. I am sure that you only mean well, and are trying to be helpful. However, it might not be a bad idea to state things a bit more carefully, and to base statements more upon personal experience accrued over a number of years....
  • #12
No offense taken at all Jeff everyone is still learning and I am open to all responses, after all expierence and talking to people is the best teacher in this world of carnivorous plants!

I was just trying to make the comparison of root mass and plant size...maybe lowii was bad to pick as an example.
  • #13
Ok, I re-potted the Merri in a soda bottle. It's only a little bigger around than the 4" pot I had it in, but its over 1' deep! Looks a little weird, but it'll be worth it if I can get this sucker to grow big. I'm also chugging away at the ginger ale to get a new pot for my bical....I won't have a tooth left in my head, but the plants will be happy!
  • #14
Sounds good schloaty!
Just make sure it is very well drained, sounds plenty deep enough!
  • #15
Thanks Dustin,
If I can ever get my hands on my sister-in-law's digi cam again, I'll take a pic.
I'll tell you one thing. $1.29 for a big flower pot is quite a bargin. They even threw in 2 liters of soda...for free!
  • #16
In the wild N. lowii can (and usually does) have very large root systems when mature.  It typically grows in amongst a mixture of moss (not sphagnum) and the roots of stunted trees.  It sends out runners beneath the surface and produces new shoots, sometimes several meters away from the main growing point (in much the same way as N. ampullaria).  Having said that, I've observed huge old plants festooned in tree branches like tinsel on a christmas tree, that have lost their attachment with the ground due to some trauma such as a falling tree, or more usually human intervention.  These massive rootless plants appear to exist and reproduce perfectly, presumably existing on the water the pitchers collect and of course, prey.

So, it's my guess that your plants may "decide" how large the roots will grow depending upon the conditions under which you grow them.

In our highland nursery we used to nurse N. lowii, believing it was a very difficult and slow plant.  We kept the RH high throughout the day and never stressed them.  The result was luscious top-growth and stunted roots.  Customers would then have a lot of trouble establishing them.  Then we tried quadrupling the light levels to near full tropical sun at altitude for several hours per day with a related drop in the RH surrounding the leaves.  The result was hugely improved root sytems and far tougher leaves with larger pitchers.

If anyone has read this far
, I would just add that montaine tropical moss forest isn't always sopping wet and humid.  There are occasional droughts when things dry out quite severely (sometimes resulting in devastating fires).  Old large plants with well-developed root systems may survive this trauma (drought, not fire) and younger plants usually do not.

Sorry to be so long winded as usual  
.  I'm unusually busy at the moment and tend to lurk these days until someone draws me out with a posting I cannot resist.  It usually involves some (I suspect deliberately provocative) comment by Jeff!    
  • #17

Thanks for sharing your observations. Such information is always interesting, and invariably useful!
  • #18
Butt out! You field observers know nothing! All information used in study of Nepenthes should come form "couch Taxonomists."
Just kidding, lol. Actually I wish you would chime in more often, as these tidbits are extremely useful. We can't duplicate many of these conditions in Nature, but it gives us a broader idea of what we are trying to do.


  • #19
Thanks so very much for the reply Rob!

Hmm....this will be a very interesting summer with the nepenthes in the greenhouse and all. Gonna have to record changes in root mass and growth. Course they are all in terrariums and such which is very tough to get high light levels within.
  • #20

Out of curiosity, why are they in terreriums within the greenhouse? To get the humidity ultra high?
Perhaps you could cover the bottom of the tanks with Mylar? That should increase the light a little. That is just an idea, so if anyone has a downside to that, please tell me(ie Mylar contains Flouride and is posionous!-not that I know of , but along those lines).