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Nepenthes Seed Growing Guides

xvart

Doing it wrong until I do it right.
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Below you will find various guides for starting Nepenthes from seed. Most everyone agrees that there are many different ways to attempt seeds so please remember that there is no "one seed growing guide to rule them all." As you test various methods you can post your success rates in the individual threads to help others make educated decisions about what will work best for their conditions.

In no particular order, and titled by the author:

Nepenthes seed by nepenthes gracilis

Interesting seed germination instructions by The Griffin

The ultimate seed-growing thread by PhissionKorps

Hope these guides help everyone! Lets grow some seeds!

xvart.
 
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jimscott

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Thanks for the links! At the moment, I have them in sealed baggies, with slightly moist media, in a water bath where there is a submercible heater, under a Grolux light, right in front of the living room window.
 

jimscott

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Okay, I am doing this wrong. They need little or no light to start out with:

Nepenthes start their lives as extremely small babies. This letter is
intended to help you be more successful at growing _Nepenthes_ from seed to
their juvenile or rosette stage, which most everyone is familiar with.

The seeds should be stored in dry conditions, until sown.

The soil needs to be light and fluffy, well draining, yet it should be able
hold some water. The easiest mixture I have found for _Nepenthes seedlings_
follows: four parts perlite, four parts dried long fiber _Sphagnum_ moss
chopped up, one to two parts charcoal, and one to two parts peat moss. The
size of the particles should be the smallest possible. Take care not to
expose yourself to the dust which can be stirred up from the perlite and
other dry soil components by wetting while still in the bag (also you can
use a fiber glass/dry wall dust mask to help avoid the dust). Moisten and
mix the components together. Break up, any and all clumps; try to make the
soil as homogenized as possible. I have also started to bake the soil I use
for _Nepenthes_ seedlings as this pasteurizes the soil to drastically cut
down on the number of different fungus and other things from growing in the
soil, possibly harmful to the seedlings. Also, a light dusting of sulfur
works very well at keeping fungus away. This is important as a quickly
growing fungus colony can make fast work of seedlings if the conditions
favor it too much.

There are a number of ways to proceed. The soil can be placed into sealed
food containers, put into pots or you can use some other method you are
happy with. I use pots, while Seam Samia uses sealed food containers. If
you are using sealed containers, make sure the soil is moist, but not wet.
Moist means you can only see the wetness by squeezing the soil, you should
be able to feel the moisture, but it should not wet your hand just by
touching it. Also, do not spray the seed with water to settle it onto the
soil, instead just push the seed onto the moistened soil and shut the
container. If there is too much water on the seed, in the soil, or on the
seedling in 100% humidity it will never dry and will probably cause rot
killing the seedling or stunting it for quite a while. Place in pure
darkness for 10 days. That's right, no light at all.

I use pots with the soil filled about 2/3 to the top (six inch tall pots), I
pack the soil in, then sprinkle some unpacked soil for about an inch and
then sprinkle the seeds onto the loose soil, trying to space them evenly. I
use tweezers to push the seed onto the soil surface. Even into shallow
depressions in the soil surface. You can use a spray bottle with pure water
mixed with a couple of drops of Listerine (it kills germs, even those on the
soil/seed) set to mist to settle the seeds into good contact with the soil,
try not to soak. Keep the soil moist to slightly less than wet. If it is
wet, place on news paper for a while so excess water drains. Place in a
plastic bag and put in pure darkness for 10 days. That's right, no light at
all.

_Nepenthes_ seedlings germinate in fairly low light. After ten days of
darkness, move the pots or containers to the area where you are starting the
babies. It should be the dimmest spot in your _Nepenthes_ growing area.
Some folks like to start their seed in 100% humidity, and this can work out
pretty well. I have found it easier to start the seed in elevated humidity,
at about 95% humidity. Humidity conditions lower than 100% humidity helps
keep small plants like mosses in check; it also helps avoid problems with
fungus; also the plants grow more compact are a little stronger. Be careful
though, as it can be easy to dry them out. Also, make sure the humidity
stays very high during the entire length of the seedling period.

The seed might not germinate until some moss starts colonizing the soil
surface, could be up to six weeks before germination starts. A neat "trick"
to try, once five or six weeks have passed and there doesn't seem to much or
any seedling activity, is to drastically reduce the amount of light reaching
the soil surface for about six days. Not to total darkness, but say about
one quarter of the previous level. Then bring it back up to the normal, yet
rather dimmer level for seedling growth. I believe this dimming cycle
'tricks' the seed into thinking the mosses are starting to cover the seeds
and there is enough "soil" for the baby plants to root into. Of course,
there is plenty of soil for them thanks to your efforts; but the plants are
designed to survive in an environment that is eroding, patches of tiny
plants like mosses are actually some of the only soil they have to work in
the wild.

Once the seed start to germinate, ovoid misting or straying the seedlings.
They can be very delicate at first and even a fine mist can cause them to
damp-off, especially if you are growing them in 100% humidity. The plants
should continue to grow larger with each leaf grown and will enter the
rosette stage in about 12 to 14 months. Some will grow better or faster
than others. If your plantlets are nice and green, but appear to be
stretching for light; do increase the light level slightly. As they get
larger, they do need more light.

Problems I have had with my seedlings:
1) Yellowing due to too much light and/or too low humidity.
2) Salt build up on soil due to excess salt in soil (rinsing is a good idea)
possibly released by decay of soil components.
3) Slow development due excessive humidity.
4) Rotting by excess water which could not dry from the plants growing in
100% humidity.
5) Fungus growing from soil (especially cedar mulch component) which I
hadn't pasteurized. Not a problem anymore.

Any questions, please ask.


Best of Luck,
Dave Evans
 
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Wow!! I never tried growing seeds but you guys must be good in starting seeds but for this newbie that is a lot of things to remember? If I ever get any seeds I sure hope I can ask all of you for your help?? cause I will need it for sure?
 

BioZest

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I am trying the method described above by jimscott. I have them in a shallow layer of chopped sphagnum (which I soaked for 30) and some lava rock. I don't have any fungicides or sulfur, but I microwaved the medium for about 30 sec. I now have them in my nepenthes setup wrapped in tin foil to keep out the light. Praying that they will germinate.
 

Nepenthesis

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I am trying the method described above by jimscott. I have them in a shallow layer of chopped sphagnum (which I soaked for 30) and some lava rock. I don't have any fungicides or sulfur, but I microwaved the medium for about 30 sec. I now have them in my nepenthes setup wrapped in tin foil to keep out the light. Praying that they will germinate.

Why no light?

I think people over-think the process of sowing Nepenthes seeds. I've had great success with putting dried Sphagnum in a pot, sprinkling seeds on it and placing the pot in a terrarium with no particular temperature or humidity in mind. All of mine, including attenboroughii, have been grown in a sealed terrarium with virtually no airflow.

Right now I have some I'm trying to germinate outside in the greenhouse. I made a video of how I sowed them, it may interest you...


I always wonder why people take so many steps to sow Nepenthes seeds in captivity, while in the wild they just blow out of the seed pod and land on the ground or in a tree and start growing. It's a lot simpler than people make it out to be -- but it certainly isn't like growing vegetables. As long as you aren't trying to germinate them in extreme temperatures or desert humidity, some will definitely sprout (given they are viable). Good luck!
 
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I question the merit of excluding all light at the start. Does Dave still advocate this method, do you know? I've never sown seed with days of darkness at the beginning, and Ive had no difficulty germinating Nepenthes seed. If anything I have been far TOO successful!
 

BioZest

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Hmm.... I guess I won't doing that will the lights then. I've heard that some people have had success with it...maybe it's just chance.
 

Nepenthesis

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Hmm.... I guess I won't doing that will the lights then. I've heard that some people have had success with it...maybe it's just chance.

Some seeds don't need light to sprout -- some may even like it dark. Most vegetable seeds are planted underground. However, Nepenthes seeds are just scatted on top of the substrate in cultivation and in the wild. Some species produce seeds that need a large temperature swing or certain environmental cues before they sprout.

In my opinion, it would be harder to sprout them in the dark. After they sprout, you'd have to light acclimate them to your growing lights or greenhouse. Also, if you cover them in foil to block light, that also prevents the container they're in from heating up. Nepenthes seeds should be maintained at a temperature you would grow the adults at when trying to sprout them, or a bit warmer even.

Plus, mold and other bacteria like to grow in cool, low-light, humid, low-airflow areas. That's exactly where you're growing your seeds.
 
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I have germinated 100's of Nepenthes seedlings and have never deprived them of light for any length of time. I find a photopause to be completely unnecessary.
 

BioZest

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Some seeds don't need light to sprout -- some may even like it dark. Most vegetable seeds are planted underground. However, Nepenthes seeds are just scatted on top of the substrate in cultivation and in the wild. Some species produce seeds that need a large temperature swing or certain environmental cues before they sprout.

In my opinion, it would be harder to sprout them in the dark. After they sprout, you'd have to light acclimate them to your growing lights or greenhouse. Also, if you cover them in foil to block light, that also prevents the container they're in from heating up. Nepenthes seeds should be maintained at a temperature you would grow the adults at when trying to sprout them, or a bit warmer even.

Plus, mold and other bacteria like to grow in cool, low-light, humid, low-airflow areas. That's exactly where you're growing your seeds.



I was not planning to sprout the seeds in total darkness. If you read Jimscott's post above he recommends them spending ten days in darkness. Not the entire process of germination. I took the tin foil off last night.
 
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I was not planning to sprout the seeds in total darkness. If you read Jimscott's post above he recommends them spending ten days in darkness. Not the entire process of germination. I took the tin foil off last night.

I don't think anyone misinterpreted your information, but I do think the concerns about fungi are valid; ten days of darkness in an enclosed space can start a very healthy colony of various fungi. While I don't think the "ten days in the dark" procedure is particularly counterproductive, I don't think it is really helping either - mostly a waste of time and effort, IMO. In nature, Nepenthes don't get a chance to germinate in darkness. They probably end up in a fairly shady spot, down on the forest floor in with all the mosses and leaf litter, but total darkness? I rather doubt that. It seems wisest to attempt to emulate conditions likely to be found in their native environment.
 
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^ What Whim & Cthul said. I've germinated ALL of the 1000's of Nepenthes seeds I've germinated directly under lights, with 16 hour photo periods. I've germinated highlanders and lowlanders and everything in between the exact same way. If the seeds are viable they usually germinate in 3 - 4 weeks for me.
 
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I question the merit of excluding all light at the start. Does Dave still advocate this method, do you know? I've never sown seed with days of darkness at the beginning, and Ive had no difficulty germinating Nepenthes seed. If anything I have been far TOO successful!

I have used the "darkness method," particularly with highland species -- and am convinced that there were benefits to the technique. Of eight batches of seed (half of which were grown aseptically; the balance grown in a 2:1 compost of milled sphagnum to sand), I estimated that those kept in darkness for ten days, elicited at least a twenty percent higher rate of germination with both techniques than those immediately placed under lights. That may not mean much if one is dealing with hundreds of seeds; but if it is a scarce dozen or fewer of Nepenthes edwardsiana or N. rajah, it's well worth that extra effort . . .
 
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