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    Launceston, Cornwall, England

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  1. If you want an idea of how difficult villosa is to grow, check out how many photos are posted of large ones! Next to none. It is a long slog, and only for the dedicated. Mine is still comparitively small at 14" across with 2-3" pitchers, and I bought it as a seedling back in 2003.
  2. I found a huge difference when I changed the media from bark, moss, perlite etc. to live sphagnum. I grow 3 different types of Jaq and have done so for a few years and they all prefer the new media. Their growth is now much faster, and the bigger plants are putting out basals and vining. As far as humidity goes, keep it higher rather than low or mid-range. If it's on a windowsill then keep a spray bottle handy. Hope this helps.
  3. Hi Francois, What do you grow them in? I always struggled with muluensis and then tried live sphagnum, and it's been far better. They certainly don't seem to like heavier media. Derek
  4. You know how the ladies like to give names to that better part of our bodies? Well, this happened a few years ago. I had this wonderful girlfriend; totally gorgeous and couldn't get enough of me. Anyway, I thought I'd really arrived. I mean, she called me the 'Impaler'!!! She shouted it, the 'Impaler'! Ok, I thought, whose the man? The 'Impaler'! At least, that's what I thought she said. Turns out she was an asthmatic and it's my fault she died.
  5. Anyone who's interested can see it for themselves in June at my open day, although you'll have to travel to Cornwall...
  6. I'll dig some pics out, but in the meantime... 18C in the winter will keep them alive, but they won't grow much. Because this is at the bottom end of the temp tolerance, you must be very careful to onserve them and make sure they're doing OK. Check for Nep rust, which can take over quite quickly and ruin the looks of a plant. I use anti-fungus at half strength one every five weeks or so in a sprayer. It does the job and keeps it at bay. This is important; one of the reasons Neps are so hard to TC is they naturally harbour a lot of pathogens like this, and when the plants become stressed out they come. If you want perfect temps, then read the section on cultivation at the back of Charles Clarkes book Nepenthes of Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia. He conducted an experiment where he monitored the temp in lowland conditions in the wild for one year. On just 2 accasions the temp dropped to 23C at night. So if you want perfection aim for 25C. I'm told that in these conditions, people in the tropics grow their ampullarias in laundry baskets because they get so huge so quickly. As regards light, you don't have to go mad. Light levels are not so critical here as they are for highlanders. Just remember to keep polycarb clean, as it gets far dirtier than glass. Many of my highlanders sulk in the winter without additional lighting, and good lighting at that. I find for lowlanders, sealed unit daylight tubes are fine. Just give them a 12 hour photoperiod and things will be fine. You want sealed units otherwise the high levels of humidity will short them out. At a wholesale electrical supplier, a double 6ft. unit all ready will be about £65 or so. And it plugs straight in. Don't forget all sockets need to be garden safety types. Water and electrics are not really good bedfellows. I heat with electrics; 3kw blowheaters. I'm actually thinking if it's worth putting in a boiler and rads; still thinking. Another good trick is to have a 2 tier system regarding the heat\light. e.g. heat the main lowland house to 18, and build a large box down one side with a thin polycarb cover that fits well. Then light this INSIDE with some more tubes. These tubes will raise the temp in the box about another 7 or 8 C because it's closed in, and also raise the humidity. You can put the really fussy plants in there like; rowanae, tenax and mirabilis from Cape York. Danserii, bellii, and any other that requires hotter temps and doesn't get too big. Above all, use your brains. Every situation is slightly different and you need to come up with ideas to suit your own arrangement. Anyway, it's more fun that way. I still get a thrill when I see all the improvements I've made over the past 5 yaers, and all the experience I've gained from running a lowland house for that long. When I started, there were too few plants, I opened the door in summer, and despite speding on the heating the plants failed to thrive. Now I know how important humidity is; if you can't provide it don't bother. It's as important as heating. Without it, they will die. Fact. If I think of anything else, I'll add it. cheers for now...
  7. I'm the bloke who's done this. My lowland house is 23 x 12ft and it's stuffed with plants. The trick is insulation, insulation, and then just for a bit of variety, insulation. Even in the summer, the temps drop at night down to 10C and the heating will still cost a lot if we don't wise up. The most important thing is not to use glass; use the thickest polycarb you can afford. 18 mm minimum, 25 if you can afford it. Also the walls of the house. Because Neps vine, we can encourage them to grow up and not sideways by having higher walls. In my lowland house, the polycarb roof doesn't start till shoulder height, and the walls are stuffed with....yep, insulation. In the winter, I also add bubble wrap to the polycarb. A good trick is not to worry too much in the summer when the heat builds up. Remember, these guys endure some really hot temps where they live, and it won't hurt them here. I usually don't open the doors or turn on the extractor fans till the temp hits about 37 or 38. This has the added bonus of keeping the humidity in as well. The moment the door opens in very hot weather, all humidity has gone in 15 minutes and you have to rely on misting\fogging\spray systems etc. This is a serious point, as lowlanders on the whole prefer conditions a lot wetter than highlanders. You need to remeber to try to keep the humidity at 75+. Hot, wet, bright conditions and they behave like weeds. The rafflesianas have leaves more than 18" long now, and even the albos (I grow as lowlanders, not inters) have 15" leaves and pitchers to match. A lowland greenhouse is an incredible thing to own, but it will cost. Then again, it depends where our priorities are in life. Tell someone you spend over £100 a month on a complex of greenhouses and you run the risk of being called mad; spend 25 or 35 grand on the latest car and you're cool, and someone to know. I suppose it all depends on what you want. Me, I've done the car thing and the greenhouses give me far more pleasure, so now I drive around in a 10year old A series that seen better days! Go for it guys! Huge lowlanders are immensely rewarding!
  8. Not yet. But I only tend to pollinate sparingly, so I suppose the plant has a chance to recover.
  9. Welcome to growing Neps
  10. I suspect it will very from species to species and even plant to plant. I grow a cultivar that was originally grown from seed in Kew in 1897, and it's still growing as well as any Nep I've got. On the other hand, like you, I've had plants die for no obvious reason, when they were large and healthy. (I did the usual checks) Not much help, am I?
  11. The cost of heating is very much tied to how well insulated the greenhouse is. If it is to be a permanent nep house, then I cannot reccomend strongly enough changing the glass for thick polycarbonate. I use 18mm triple wall AND bubblewrap AND the solid walls are insulated as well. This will all pay for itself many times over. My nep house is over 60ft. long and 12ft. wide. It's divided into 3 sections; highland house is 23ft(10C min) lowland house is 25ft(20C min) and inter is 12ft. (15C min) Also the sides go straight up to accomodate the vining of the plants. The whole building is more of a giant oblong box. Now with the figures already spoken about, you'd think my bill would be through the roof. It's a lot more yes; between 125 and 150 a month, but consider the size and the high temp in the lowland house. Without the insulation being as good as it is, my power bill would be the stuff of nightmares. Sort out the insulation first, and the bill will be a lot less than the figures being mentioned.
  12. How old is the plant? Is it vining? If you have a vine, an old trick is to let the vine drop below the level of the pot, and this can sometimes trigger a new basal rosette. And the obvious question is how old is the plant? Many of the impressive plants we see in images from around the world are actually a few years old. My most impressive plants are definitely the oldest ones. Neps can take a bit of time to do what we want them to. I heard once of ampullarias being grown in laundry baskets they were so big. (OK, it was in the far East) On enquiry, I was told they were about 15+ years old. Hope this helps.
  13. For me, they definitely grow better in live lfs. I tried for a while in a mix of lfs, bark, perlite etc. and they sulked. Keep it fairly moist but don't stand it in water. If you can use a pond net as opposed to a standard pot the jaq will like this as more air will get to the roots. Highland conditions is right, they don't like to get too hot at night. And watch out for nepenthes rust. They arn't that suseptible but if it does get a hold it can be a **** to get rid of, and the affected leaves will always be discoloured. They also grow well under a variety of different light; natural, artificial, bright, shaded etc. However, someone is bound to say that they grow well for them in totally different conditions to mine, so you might have to end up experimenting and choosing your own system. But this does work for me. Good luck. When they get big they are truly beautiful neps.
  14. Hi, A friend of mine grows his neps in hollowed out sections of coconut trunk, with astonishing results. They really love it. The only downside to that is that the roots embed themselves in the walls of the 'pot', and essentially the plant becomes unmoveable, at least without considerable damage. So give it a go, it should work fine. But like everything, you won't know until you try; it might not work.
  15. Hi All, I know it's late in the day, but next Saturday, 12th. June, I'm having an open day for my Nepenthes National Collection. It is housed in a 60 x 12ft purpose built growhouse, and anyone who wants to come along would be most welcome. There's also a large Sarracenia collection grown in several ponds which are constructed of sleepers and butyl liner, all housed in a large polytunnel. PM me if you would like to come and need directions. Derek.