Pitching in

Back in 2015, when the limery was first built, getting some carnivorous plants seemed like a really great way to control the burgeoning fly population, and so it proved (much more pleasant than fly paper). One of the carnivores that I bought, however, was purchased mainly because it was a type of plant that I had always wanted to own – a tropical pitcher plant, otherwise known as a monkey cup or Nepenthes. I knew virtually nothing about these amazing plants other than that I had always admired the collection in the botany gardens at the university in Aberystwyth – a collection put together by an amazing gardener called Don Parker, who had trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh amongst other places. Don collected all sorts of species and was very proud of them and I used to admire his new acquisitions whenever they arrived. Don is no longer with us, but his collection lives on in the tropical house at the university botany gardens (I’ll go and take some photos one day)… and his inspiration lives on in the one specimen that I own.

nepenthes ventxtala

Then: Nepenthes ventricosa x talangensis when I first bought it

I just wish I’d taken the time to learn more from Don about these amazing plants; as it is I’ve had to read up about them as I don’t know another expert. The specimen that I bought in 2015 is, it turns out, a hybrid of two relatively compact upland species of tropical pitcher: Nepenthes ventricosa and Nepenthes talangensis. This upland origin is fortunate because it means it is more suited to surviving cooler conditions than its lowland relatives. It has, however, taken me a while to discover a location for it over the winter that allows it to thrive. But I have now discovered that it loves our bathroom – bouts of high humidity, dispersed light and (it appears) just the right temperature. As a result it has started to produce new pitchers and, for the first time, a flower. Nepenthes plants are either male or female and you don’t know which until they flower, so this event will allow me to find out whether it’s a boy or a girl – probably the former as they are more common (70:30 ratio in the wild, apparently). Here it is now:

Many of the plants I grow have a real practical purpose, but the job of this one is mainly to bring me joy… and it does.

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20 Comments

  1. Joy has a purpose, too. 😉 Wonderful when simple pleasures bring us joy.

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  2. What an amazing looking platn. I wonder if it’s like other plants which you have to stress out before giving them what they like in order to get them to flower?

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  3. Isn’t it amazing! Joy has great value and purpose in your life, so I hope you can find it a mate and you all have a long and happy life together.

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  4. That is so cool! Joy is important!

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  5. Love the idea of matchmaking for pitcher plants! What if they don’t fancy each other? What’s bring me joy in my new garden is several pineapples ripening on the plants! And I’ll always derive enormous joy from my new gardenia bush, one of my favourite smells of all time. I’m sure there’s plenty still to discover…

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  6. This is really exciting. Hurrah for the conditions in your bathroom. And I think we all take joy where we can get it–and how wonderful to get it from something you nurture thriving.

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  7. Pitcher plants are loved by botanic artists ~ their shapes and colours ~ but I can’t remember seeing a flower painted before. It’s certainly loving being in your bathroom. It must be the conditions, but, just maybe, it is a glimpse of flesh!

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    • I guess the pitchers themselves are so impressive that the flowers are a much less attractive proposition for a botanical artist. I will be sure to photograph them when they open.
      I really hope it isn’t getting any ideas about flesh! I’d better find it a few insects to keep it happy since there aren’t many around at the moment.

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  8. That is a great looking plant. I used to have so many indoor plants when I was a city girl, but have only a couple of rather neglected ones now!!!

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  9. So pleased you are enjoying it. Isn’t it great that we can get such pleasure from simple things and plants just go on giving if we treat them well.

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