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Nepentes (Nepenthes) - Insectivorous Plant, Species, Conditions Of Detention, Transplantation, Reproduction
Nepentes (Nepenthes) - Insectivorous Plant, Species, Conditions Of Detention, Transplantation, Reproduction

Video: Nepentes (Nepenthes) - Insectivorous Plant, Species, Conditions Of Detention, Transplantation, Reproduction

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A rare nepentes plant from the tropics that can decorate your apartment

The term "nepentes" appeared in Homer's Odyssey. The author does not explain specifically what it is, but the researchers suggest that this meant a mixture of wine with some kind of drug, which the mythical Elena Argivskaya (Trojan) gave to her countless men and consumed herself.

Nepentes
Nepentes

Unfortunately, it is not known whether this name applied only to the drink or extended to the vessel into which it was poured. The word Nepenthes was first used by the great Linnaeus as a name for a genus of plants in 1737. What exactly prompted him to this - the liquid in the jugs of plants or the jugs themselves, is unknown. But the fact that the name is associated with these unusual organs is indisputable. And it is officially translated into Russian rather vaguely - "quenching sorrow".

Nepentes
Nepentes

The first description of one of the types of nepentes appeared in 1658. Its author, the governor of the French colony on the island of Madagascar, Etienne de Flacourt, named it Anramitaco. Today we know this plant as Nepenthes madagascierensis. In the English-language floricultural literature there is a term Carnivorous Plants - carnivorous plants. The Czechs call them "meat-eaters". We are used to the phrase "insectivorous plants." By the way, it most accurately conveys the essence, because these plants practically do not use meat as such. Therefore, they do not need to give them either sausage or minced meat. But they really catch insects and, as it were, "eat". Precisely "as if", because, like other plants, insectivores feed exclusively on carbon dioxide from the air. But for normal life and full development, plants needalbeit in a scanty amount, and other substances. The main ones are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Plants normally get them from the soil. But there are places on Earth where the soil is absolutely barren. And to such an extent that the life of ordinary plants is impossible there. Most often these are steep slopes or tiny mountain plateaus, from which daily rains completely wash away minerals. Often, waterlogged bog soils acquire the same properties.Often, waterlogged bog soils acquire the same properties.Often, waterlogged bog soils acquire the same properties.

But it is not without reason that it is said: "Nature abhors a vacuum." In order to occupy an empty ecological niche and survive in such incredible conditions, in the process of evolution, plants have arisen that can independently compensate for the absence of minerals in the soil. They get them from chitin, which forms the basis of the outer skeleton of arthropods. It is insoluble in water, but under the influence of certain enzymes it breaks down, and the constituent mineral elements are released from it. Moreover, in a form available for assimilation by plants. Plants can only produce these enzymes and … catch the insect. Oddly enough, but in catching insects, plants have achieved real mastery.

These amazing phyto-predators of various species and varieties, having a varied configuration and color of jugs, are very popular among lovers of rare plants.

Nepentes
Nepentes

Types of nepentes, plant features

The birthplace of these interesting plants is the jungles of Borneo, Sumatra and Malaysia. Three species grow in Madagascar, several species in the Indochina Peninsula, the Philippines, New Guinea, and tropical Australia. In total, there are about 70 species of them in nature. All of them can be divided into three groups depending on the height of their natural habitat above sea level: mountainous, flat and intermediate. Oddly enough, the most suitable for growing in rooms were mountain species growing at altitudes above 2500 m.They are less demanding on air humidity (75-80%), allow significant temperature differences (from + 10 to + 27 ° C), but relatively light-requiring.

It is easy to guess that the most capricious are lowland species found in nature at altitudes up to 500 m above sea level. They require maximum air humidity (90-95%), uniform temperatures at the level of + 20 … 25 ° С and rather bright, but diffused lighting.

Every florist knows from his own experience that the difficulties in growing every pet depend on the ability to recreate the natural conditions that exist in his homeland. In other words, there are no complex plants, there are conditions that are difficult to reproduce. This applies entirely to the nepentes. From the experience of my friends, I know that you can meet the requirements of mountain species by growing them over an aquarium with water. You just need to provide constant heating of water and lighting with lamps. But to aim at growing plain species without having a florarium, even the simplest, is absolutely pointless.

Nepentes
Nepentes

However, do not rush, let's get to know them better. Most of them are lianas reaching several meters, but there are also low bushes. Bushy vines, as a rule, lead an epiphytic lifestyle in the warm and humid jungles of the Pacific and Indian oceans. In tropical Asia, the Seychelles, Madagascar and Northern Australia live the most powerful of all "predators" - representatives of the genus Nepenthes. They can grow in the mountains, and at the edge of the forest, and even in the surf zone. This liana most often settles on tree trunks, twisting them tens of meters in height and bringing narrow inflorescences to the light.

Nepentes leaves are alternate, lanceolate. In addition to the usual, jug-shaped leaves are also developed, in which rainwater accumulates. Their tip lengthens into a thin long tendril, which wraps around the branch of the host tree and ends with a jug with a lid. At the base there is a wide plate that supports photosynthesis. The middle part is endowed with sensitivity, allowing the plant to wrap around the leaves of the trees. And, finally, the apical - a jug with a lid - for catching insects. On the outside of the jug, from top to bottom, there are two serrated wings, which serve both to support the jug and to guide the crawling insects. Along the inner edge of the jug are cells that secrete sweet nectar. Under them there are many hard hairs facing downwards - a bristly palisade that does not allow the victim to get out of the jug. Wax,secreted by the cells of the smooth surface of the leaves in most nepentes, makes this surface so slippery that no claws, hooks or suckers can help the victim. Once in such a jug-trap, the insect is doomed, it sinks deeper into the water - and drowns. The digestive enzyme nepentesin is secreted inside the jug. Above the mouth of the jug, there is a fixed lid that protects the contents of the jug from rainwater and serves as a landing site for insects. Insects, crawling inside the jug, slide along its walls and find themselves at the bottom, where they are exposed to the action of the enzyme. Getting into a liquid containing enzymes and acids, the extraction is completely digested within 5-8 hours. Only the chitinous cover remains. However, nepentes can secrete an enzyme that can dissolve even chitin.

It happens that large prey also gets into the jugs: rodents, toads and even birds. The jugs are painted in bright colors: red, milky white and colored with a spotted pattern, they reach 15-20, and sometimes 50 cm in length, the amount of accumulating enzyme can reach 1-2 liters.

Nepentes is a dioecious plant. The male and female flowers grow on different plants. They are small, with sepals, without petals, collected in inflorescences. It is almost impossible to distinguish flowers of one sex from another.

On the shores of fresh water bodies, on moist soil, there are erect nepentes with lateral shoots creeping along the ground. The jugs of these plants are hidden in the grass. They can hold up to 1-2 liters of liquid, into which up to several hundred insects, less often rats and small birds, enter. Interestingly, the Nepentes are sometimes called "hunting cups" because the liquid they contain can be drunk: there is pure water in the jug on top. Of course, somewhere below there are undigested solid remains of the plant's "dinners". But with a certain amount of caution, you can't get to them, and almost every jug contains a sip or two, or even a lot more water. Depending on the hybrid, nepentes trapping jugs have bizarre shapes, various colors - reddish-brown, green-red, light lilac, yellow, bright red, variegated. The fruit is a leathery box,divided by internal partitions into separate chambers, in each of which seeds with a fleshy endosperm and a straight cylindrical small embryo are attached to the column.

Nepentes
Nepentes

Plant conditions

Small nepentes can be grown in a glass aquarium, on the bottom of which wet expanded clay is poured. A large nepentes, grown in a hanging pot as an ampelous plant (away from the radiator), will feel good if there is a wide vessel with constantly evaporating moisture below. An ideal solution for increasing humidity in a room is an air humidifier. You should not purchase a plant if you cannot provide suitable conditions for it. Nepentes looks spectacular in hanging compositions or wooden baskets, from which jugs can hang freely. They grow well in bright diffused light; from direct sunlight, they should be shaded with a translucent cloth (gauze, tulle) or paper.

When growing on windows with west and north orientation, you should also provide diffused lighting. In the autumn-winter period, it is recommended to illuminate the nepentes with fluorescent lamps for 16 hours. They prefer moderate temperatures. The dormant period in room conditions is forced (from October to February) due to low illumination and humidity, but it does not harm them.

Nepentes is moisture-loving, but more demanding on air humidity, and the soil should not dry out, but also not be excessively waterlogged. For irrigation, it is desirable to use at least rain or settled water at room temperature with a low content of mineral salts, more correctly - distilled water, it is preferable to use bottom irrigation. The same water should constantly fill the jugs about 1/3 of their height. In the summer, watered abundantly. In the autumn-winter period, watered moderately, a day or two after the top layer of the substrate dries up. At a temperature of 16 ° C and below, watered carefully and with a little water.

Catching flies or any other insects to feed the nepentes is not required at all. You can feed in the summer every 2-3 weeks with an ordinary flower complex fertilizer, only use the concentration three times less. A number of gardeners use organic fertilizers (cow or horse manure) instead of flower fertilizers. It is also believed that water lilies are not formed with too frequent fertilization. From time to time, you can feed the plants naturally through water lilies, but not more often than 1-2 times a month, and you do not need to feed all the jugs at once, but in turn.

Nepentes
Nepentes

Plant transplant

For the transplant of overgrown nepentes, an orchid substrate or a loose substrate for epiphytes, composed of peat soil, sphagnum and sand (in a ratio of 2: 1: 0.5), is suitable. When transplanting, the roots of the pitcher must be protected from injury. The composition of the substrate for transplanting may be as follows: leafy earth, peat, sand (3: 2: 1) with the addition of sphagnum and charcoal. The following composition can also be used as a substrate: 2 parts of high-moor peat, 2 parts of perlite and 1 part of vermiculite or polystyrene. The plant reacts poorly to high soil acidity. So that the roots are not damaged during transplantation, nepentes are transferred into a new pot without disturbing the root ball, adding fresh substrate. After relocation, its long shoots are cut to a well-developed bud. The growing young shoots are pinched over the 5-6th leaves.

Reproduction

Propagated by cuttings nepentes. Cuttings are cut below the leaf. Rooting is carried out at a temperature of at least 25 ° C. The substrate for this is sphagnum. The main care is to maintain high humidity, uniform moisture content of the substrate and shade it from the sun. Rooting occurs within 1-1.5 months. Such plants are planted in epiphyte baskets. Substrate composition: coarse leaf earth, charcoal and sphagnum. Sprinkle with water that does not contain lime. Peat soil is not used, as it increases acidity, which causes yellowing of the leaves. The most versatile composition of the substrate: a mixture of sphagnum and perlite (1: 1). In the second year, pruning is done. The shoots are pinched to stimulate the development of the pitchers. The color of the jugs is best shown when the plants are kept in bright conditions. Plants are transplanted annually.Before this, the shoots are cut to a well-developed bud in its lower part. Reproduction by seeds is also possible, but they are not stored for long.

You should also be aware of possible difficulties in maintaining nepentes. With a lack of lighting, trapping jugs can form only a small amount (2-3 pieces). Excessive doses of nitrogen fertilizers weaken the plant and can cause rotting of certain parts. When grown in pure peat or moss, nepentes develops chlorosis. The plant can be damaged by mealybugs and aphids, and also does not respond well to spraying with chemicals.

I hope that my story will rather prompt you to get to know this wonderful plant more closely than stop you in front of possible difficulties in caring for it.

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