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Feeding Nepenthes alata!

May 27, 2011, 4:42

A couple of months ago I started thinking maybe it was time to give the babies a little something to snack on. It didn’t really need to be anything big because unlike what a lot of people believe, carnivorous plants actually don’t need to eat “meat” to survive; it’s just a fertilizer for them. They can actually sustain pretty well without the bugs, and sometimes poo, that they gather in their pitchers which primarily just provides nitrogen for them. I grabbed The Big Tweezers and ventured outside….

The Big Tweezers

Moving some of the big flower planters, I found a veritable smorgasbord of goodies and I chose some small soft-bodied slugs because I figured they would be easiest for the plants to digest. I collected two of the inch-long mollusks and used The Big Tweezers to drop them into the pitchers of my Nepenthes alata. I learned two very important lessons from this experiment.

1. Do not put fresh food in pitchers that do not have any of their own fluid. The fluid contains a natural enzyme that breaks down and digests protein and if you only put distilled water in it (which is what I did) the prey will just decompose, essentially taking the pitcher with it.

2. Do not feed the plants slugs because the little suckers CAN and WILL crawl out. As you can imagine, this is bad for a number of reasons, but mostly because they will devour your beautiful plants the first chance they get.

The perp

Aside from slugs (which I highly DO NOT recommend) there are a ton of things you can feed carnivorous plants, what are some of your favorites?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Intikhab Ali permalink
    May 29, 2011, 1:21 1:21 am

    From autum to the end of winter I feed my ventricosa spiders. I do not know where they hide in my house for the winter every two weeks I am sure to find one. In spring and summer I place my plant outside where the pitchers are always filled in two or three days until they all rot. Yep cannot enjoy my pitchers during spring and summer but my plant grows really fast.

  2. May 29, 2011, 6:36 6:36 am

    I’m sorry that you don’t get pitchers in the spring and summer, but it sounds like it’s worth it. Spiders are also a great idea for the winter months; please tell me you use tweezers?!

    (Besides the slugs, I’ve tried various other things, but I think the second most *failed* feeding experiment was when I put some crickets in my tub of sundews. I grow them tray method, and rather than sticking to the dews, the crickets all jumped out of the tub, into the water, and they all ended up drowning. Sad day.)

  3. Intikhab Ali permalink
    May 29, 2011, 5:38 5:38 pm

    Yes I do use tweezers. I place my spiders in the freezer for approx. 1 minute then use my tweezers place them inside the pitchers. It helps in the spring because there are no spiders inside my house to clean. I have not seen slugs in my garden otherwise I would have used them also. Thinking that they have soft bodies they would have been easy to digest; yum yum for my plants.
    Here are some pics of my plants. Sorry my pics are all mixed up. My ventricosa is about 1 year old. Hope the link works.

    http://s806.photobucket.com/home/intikhabali/index

  4. May 29, 2011, 7:54 7:54 pm

    Your photobucket page is very finicky, but I was able to view some of your plants. You have a nice variety; I especially like the VFT. All of the Nepenthes I saw looked to be about the same size – are you growing them from seed?

    p.s. I am so going to use the freezer trick ;)

  5. Intikhab Ali permalink
    May 30, 2011, 2:53 2:53 pm

    I know I have to put my pics in order. I have 2 nepenthes. The big one I bought about a year ago. The small one I bought a few weeks ago because I saw a few plants in a flower shop and they were all in bad shape so I felt sorry and decided to save at least one. I planted both in one pot even though I know that I will be in for a bit of trouble when they start getting large, but I did not have any other place to put it.
    I do not grow my plants from seed because I do not think I can take care of them when they are that small.
    I like the freezer trick also, before it was a struggle to get them in my pitchers and VFT. Larger spiders usually takes a bit longer before they fall asleep in the freezer. Some of my friends think that I am mean to feed my plant spiders in that way.

    • May 30, 2011, 5:47 5:47 pm

      I have also had some bad reactions from people about feeding my plants. Some people just think it is downright strange that some plants “eat” anything. To me, it’s all just part of the glorious circle of life and that’s what I tell them, with a smile of course.

  6. Intikhab Ali permalink
    May 31, 2011, 7:49 7:49 pm

    I am all with you there. I am going on a two weeks vacation from Thursday. I will miss my plants. Its a habit of mines to look ( more like inspect and make sure they look happy) at my plants every morning before breakfast. Take care.

  7. nepenthes99 permalink
    July 29, 2011, 7:32 7:32 pm

    Most carnivorous plants, aside from annuals like D. burmannii, do not need to be fed, but they do grow a lot better when they are given an insect every few weeks. I prefer to use live crickets from pet stores for my plants. I have not had much success feeding my plants annelids or mollusks.

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