Nepenthes is a genus of tropical carnivorous plants mostly native to Southeast Asia. Borneo, the third largest island in the world, is the pitcher hunter's paradise. The largest and most spectacular plants are found in the East Malaysian state of Sabah, particularly around Mt. Kinabalu National Park, while the state of Sarawak, with 25 species, has greater diversity than anywhere else in the world. The species we grow in Seattle are imported from Sarawak where they are created by tissue culture in the pioneering laboratories of Malesiana Tropicals, a large greenhouse near Kuching in. David has visited this very impressive eco-minded company. They have governmental permission to harvest rare specimens, propagate by tissue culture and introduce the progeny back into the Borneo jungles. They also grow some for export.
The pitchers are modifications on the ends of otherwise normally appearing leaves. They consist of the fluid containing cup, a lid, and a pair of fringed wings running down the front of the cups. The pitcher has colors, scents and nectar glands to attract animals, mainly insects. A waxy substance is produced in the upper part of the pitcher so that the visitor attempting to reach the nectar may slip into the acidic and digestive enzymes contained within the lower half of the pitcher cup. Most are unable to climb back out and the prisoner drowns. As it dissolves, nutrients are released and absorbed by the plant. The pitchers may vary in size from 1 to 16 inches and come in a variety of dazzling colors and patterns. Some Nepenthes grow compactly and others are more vine-like.
Most pitcher plants are found in bright sunny areas where the humidity in high. The soil is usually poor in nutrients. Pitchers plants can be divided into highland and lowlands species. The highland species are found in cool moist regions at elevations from 3,000-11,000 feet, typically, in cloud forests where the days are cool in the 70s Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures usually drop by 15-20 degrees. Humidity remains high. These plants do well in environments such as the Pacific Northwest. Lowland species are found at elevations below 3000 feet, typically in hot day/warm night, continuous high humidity lowland forests. Many species are intermediate and can thrive in the wild in both environments. With proper care, the Nepenthes we offer can be grown pretty much anywhere in the US. The photos on this site are all from Seattle.
It is usually not necessary to otherwise feed the plants, although if you keep a pitcher in an insect-free area you can place a dead insect in the pitcher every few weeks. We will include detailed growing instructions with all plants.