The Nepenthes Pitcher plant, or Monkey Cups, is a part of the family Nepenthaceae, or Old World Pitcher plants. They are found in a variety of environments, naturally existing in only a few places geographically, Madagascar, Australia, and Southeast Asia.
These individuals are identified for their pitchers, which is technically the middle part of the leaf that has become swollen and modified. As you may have heard already, these plants are carnivorous, feeding off of insects.
You may be surprised to find that these interesting plants can be kept indoors. Actually, it’s more beneficial to a Nepenthes Pitcher plant to be a houseplant. They have a number of requests and preferences.
This shouldn’t deter you. The overall care involved in housing your own Monkey Cups plant is relatively easy.
This article will dive into the different aspects of an indoor Nepenthes Pitcher plant such as soil type, humidity, fertilizer, and more!
- 1 NEPENTHES PITCHER PLANT CARE BASICS
- 2 NEPENTHES PITCHER PLANT WATERING TIPS
- 3 NEPENTHES PITCHER PROPAGATION
- 4 NEPENTHES PITCHER PLANT PESTS AND DISEASES
- 5 NEPENTHES PITCHER PLANT PROBLEMS
- 6 5 STEPS TO A THRIVING NEPENTHES PITCHER PLANT
- 7 NEPENTHES PITCHER PLANT FAQ
NEPENTHES PITCHER PLANT CARE BASICS
There are a number of varieties and subspecies under the Nepenthes Pitcher plant. Most of these are pretty easy to keep indoors.
We’ve compiled information from the most commonly sought after Monkey Cups plant in order to provide you with a detailed guide about the basic necessities!
Pitcher plants are known for living in a multitude of habitats where the soil isn’t high in nutrients, or even quality.
These include swamps and pine barrens. This is why they rely upon insects for additional sustenance. You may think that they need soil with higher levels of nutrient, but that’s wrong. Invest in a soil type that is porous and low in fertility.
This can include bark, sphagnum moss, perlite, and peat moss. The soil should also be able to drain properly, which is why porous types are best. The fine roots need to have access to air to avoid problems.
The first fact to know about lighting requirements of a Monkey Cups plant is that they do favor high levels of light. It takes a good amount of energy to create the enzymes that would attract insects.
Digesting them takes just about the same effort. Anything too direct, however, will leave the thin leaves scorched. The best compromise is to find a spot in your house that gets daily bright light without it being all that direct.
You can achieve this with a good mixture of both sun and shade. Some plant enthusiasts even opt for plant lights. These work just fine as long as they’re not directly shining down onto your Nepenthes Pitcher plant.
Pitcher plants don’t do well when they become dried out. In fact, that’s why they are content growing alongside swamps. The reason for this is because they rely on water to flush out any of the salts that has been absorbed by the insects.
They are somewhat picky about the type of water that they want you to give them. They’re fine being soggy, the roots not holding onto too much moisture like other houseplants.
They need a fair amount of water, roughly once every few days. The only thing that you want to watch out for is that they don’t sit in water. We will go over more fine details when it comes to watering needs later on in the article.
Pitcher plants in general can handle a somewhat high range of temperatures. This can be anywhere from 12 to 35 degrees Celsius, depending on a few factors. The biggest aspect includes the specific variety that you own.
Most species of Monkey Cups plants thrive when the day stays between 21 and 29 degrees Celsius, while the night temps don’t go below 12 degrees.
Those who house their pitcher plants outside end up having to bring them in during the colder seasons. Keeping them as a houseplant solves this problem entirely.
We simply suggest that you don’t place your plant next to an open window that can potentially have a cold draft. This will stunt the overall growth of your pitcher plant, and eventually end in death.
Given their natural habitat, it’s to be assumed that they prefer higher levels of humidity. This isn’t far from the truth. Although they can tolerate low humidity, Nepenthes Pitcher plants do best when placed in houses that have humidity levels that exceed approximately sixty percent.
This is what makes them a great candidate for greenhouses or terrariums. If you don’t have these two options, you can very easily increase the amount of moisture in the air.
There are tents specifically designed for plants that have this need. Higher levels of humidity aren’t a necessity, but your Monkey Cups plant will be happier for it.
Those who have never owned a carnivorous plant may not know the type of fertilizer to buy. The typical flowering houseplant will do just fine with liquid solutions.
There is a much better alternative. Pitcher plants use what are called fertilizer pellets. Water-soluble solutions will only add a level of toxicity to the soil.
Fertilizer pellets are easy to use. All you do is put the small pellet into the open cup while it is actively “hunting”. In case your Monkey Cups plant doesn’t have a ready supply of insects to feed on, you can also add a liquid-based fertilizer to the leaves once a week.
There aren’t a lot of ways that you can propagate a Nepenthes Pitcher plant, to be honest. The quickest method involves rooting the individual through stem cuttings.
You can also choose to copy the parent individual through division. The rhizomes and leaves can be removed from the individual to produce new growth.
Between these two techniques, we recommend stem cuttings. If you’ve never done it before, relax! We will have the instructions listed below in a different section of the article!
Unlike some houseplants, the Monkey Cups plant doesn’t really spread out. This makes them a great houseplant to have since they won’t take up a large section of the room.
The roots themselves tend to be the longest part of the plant, and the most likely to spread out. In some species of Nepenthes, the root system can grow up to fifteen meters in length.
This shouldn’t be anything to worry about for your houseplant. The roots grow to be this length when they can, such as in garden or outdoorsy setting. As for the plant themselves, this ranges based on the species.
They tend to be only a few feet at max. The lifespan of a Monkey Cups plant depends on when they open the pitcher. Once this happens, they can live anywhere between a few months to five years.
There are a few reasons as to why you should consider transferring your Nepenthes Pitcher plant. The breaking down of the soil, an infected or dried out plant, and if it becomes too cramped are all signs that you should repot.
The breaking down of soil will look as though the media has become mushy. You can expect to repot your Nepenthes Pitcher plant either annually or every other year.
This will allow the plant to remain healthy and happy. As you do this, keep in mind that those roots aren’t as tough as some other houseplants. Do so carefully!
Are you curious about the process of transferring? We have an article that discusses the specifics of repotting.
NEPENTHES PITCHER PLANT WATERING TIPS
We’ve touched on a few key points when it comes to watering your carnivorous plant. The first consideration to note is that these individuals don’t do well when allowed to dry out. If anything, try to overwater.
The typical watering schedule that you can implement is every few days. This can depend on a few factors. If you have a particularly warm house, increase the frequency at which you water your Monkey Cups plant.
This might sound a bit strange, but the Nepenthes Pitcher plant is picky about the type of water that you add. Not every water resource will do! They do best when given cleaner water.
This includes distilled, purified, or even rainwater.
Tap water can potentially work if there isn’t much salt and chlorine. Despite the fact that they rely on a good amount of water, don’t let them sit in water.
The moisture should be able to drain from the container that they reside in. Make sure that there are drainage holes.
We have an article that directly talks about the importance of drainage holes!
NEPENTHES PITCHER PROPAGATION
The two most commonly accepted methods for propagating a Nepenthes Pitcher plant are through division and stem cuttings. Both are fairly simple, but stem cuttings tend to be a little quicker.
It simply involves a few incisions followed by burying them into a container with fresh, moist soil. You can do this any time of the year, though you’ll have better results if the parent individual is growing actively.
PROPAGATION THROUGH STEM CUTTINGS
- Find a stem that has been actively growing. It should have at least two leaves.
- Remove the bottommost leaf and proceed to make an incision that is about three to four inches in length.
- Complete the first two steps until you have a few stem cuttings.
- Plant your stem cuttings into a pot with soil that has been freshly watered. These cuttings should be placed at a vertical angle.
- In a month or two, you should start to see them grow roots. The pitchers themselves won’t develop until six months. At this point, you can transfer them to a larger pot and treat them as a fully matured individual.
NEPENTHES PITCHER PLANT PESTS AND DISEASES
It may seem a little silly to say that a carnivorous plant can become the prey. But, this is unfortunately true. Even those who live indoors are susceptible to bugs and fungi that can infect the plant.
Keeping a close eye on the leaves and overall condition of your plant is key in preventing and aiding in case of an invasion.
Nepenthes Pitcher plants feed upon insects, so why do you have to worry about bug pests? Well, the fact of the matter is that these individuals eat insects that fly. The small, pestering bugs are still a threat.
In the event that you do have one of these pests, do your research before attacking the problem. Neem oil, pesticides, and certain sprays are the most effective methods.
Remember how we mentioned that you shouldn’t add fertilizer directly to the soil? Well, it turns out that doing this can increase the chance of a disease overtaking your plant’s root system.
Fungal diseases, such as Rhizoctonia and Fusarium, are a result of direct fertilization.
They attack the root system, thus eventually affecting the leaves and pitcher cup. Various fungicides will help to solve this problem.
NEPENTHES PITCHER PLANT PROBLEMS
Even if you’re a plant enthusiast, you may not be able to pinpoint the subtle hints that your pitcher plant is experiencing some kind of problem.
These individuals are slightly different from the typical houseplant.
We’ve taken the liberty of identifying a few of the most common problems, how to know what’s going on, and what to do to solve such issues.
PROBLEM #1: YELLOWING LEAVES
You may think that the yellowing of leaves can be a sign of trauma. In all reality, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there is. Older pitcher plants tend to yellow in appearance. The only problem that may result in this is too much light.
Adjust where you place your Nepenthes Pitcher plant. Find a spot in your house that doesn’t have bright, direct light. Doesn’t work? Then, your plant may just be getting older.
PROBLEM #2: SHIFTING TO BROWN
Just as with the yellowing of the foliage, your Monkey Cups plant could just be aging. Browning usually isn’t anything to worry about. If you have a young plant, there may not be enough humidity.
There are a few ways that you can combat this problem. Place a plastic bag over the plant and container, or simply mist the individual more frequently. Your plant may not shift back to the green hue as this may be a result of getting old.
PROBLEM #3: CURLING AND DYING BACK
There may be a time where you notice that your pitcher plant has stopped actively growing. This, in combination with the leaves dying, could be a sign that your plant has been sitting in water.
The best course of action is to remove it from the current container and transfer into a pot with fresh soil. Once repotted, pay close attention to how much water you add. They want a good amount, but the roots also need to breathe.
PROBLEM #4: DRY PITCHERS
Upon closer inspection, you can see that those pitchers aren’t actually completely dry. Well, not when the plant is healthy. There should be a bit of water at the bottom of the cup.
You don’t need to add water to the pitcher itself. Instead, just make sure that the basic needs are met. Add a little more water than usual to the soil, place it in a spot with lots of warmth, and increase the overall humidity.
5 STEPS TO A THRIVING NEPENTHES PITCHER PLANT
After reading through the various tips and tricks of caring for your own Monkey Cups plant, you might be left a little overwhelmed. They aren’t like most plants – and we’re not simply talking about the fact they feed on insects. To give you a head start, we’ve listed the five most important takeaways!
- Only use soil that is porous and low in nutrients, despite what you might want to do!
- Rooms that get a mixture of speckled shade and bright sunshine is best.
- Add plenty of water so that the roots can be fully saturated. Be careful to make sure that it doesn’t sit in water for too long.
- Although they can handle lower levels of humidity, consider implementing a misting schedule.
- Fertilizer isn’t required, but lean towards pellets if you do!
NEPENTHES PITCHER PLANT FAQ
Do Nepenthes Pitcher plants flower?
They do, in fact, bloom but they aren’t particularly grand. Their energy is spent on the pitcher and digesting insects.
How do pitcher plants catch insects?
The pitcher plant has that deep tunnel with digestive fluid located at the very bottom. This liquid emits a sweet scent that will attract insects. Once inside, it is nearly impossible for the bug to escape since the pitcher is lined with the same slippery liquid or nectar. They are then broken down by the enzymes and digested.
Can the Nepenthes Pitcher plant hurt a human?
Even if you were to put your fingers down into the pitcher of a Monkey Cups plant, you wouldn’t be consumed or even hurt. You’d instead do more harm to the plant than to yourself!
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.