Nepenthes reinwardtiana is a species of nepenthes pitcher plant from Borneo and Sumatra. Nepenthes reinwardtiana pitchers are slender and have two “eyes” on the inner surface in adult pitchers. The plants on offer are red form from Bario, Kelabit Highlands, Borneo. While technically a highland plant, they seem to have no problem with lowland conditions and seem very suited to the Indian climate. Indeed, they seem to grow better in warmer weather. The plants on offer are juveniles of a medium size and will have a leaf span of around 6-8 inches.
Nepenthes plants are notoriously slow growers and take years from germination to form mature pitchers. Adult plants can easily have a span of 2-3 feet and more when they start to form basal offshoots and branches. The size, shape and color of pitchers go through dramatic transformations till adult pitchers are formed. Upper pitchers (on the vine) look dramatically different from lower pitchers (in rosette stage, closer to the ground). Even with adult pitchers, there will be variations in coloring, shape and size as seasons and growing conditions change. It is a good idea to search for images of the species online to get an idea of the variations.
It is a relatively easy grower and makes for a good beginner plant. The plants you will get are about two years old, grown as seedlings (as opposed to cuttings of adult plants) and will start growing adult pitchers this monsoon. The size and color of the pitchers will keep increasing as the plant gets older.
Since these plants are still juveniles, their sex is currently unknown. Sex of Nepenthes can only be identified when they flower – as adults. The sex does not change. A male nepenthes will always have male flowers and a female nepenthes will always have female flowers. This also goes for any cuttings made from them. Most nepenthes in cultivation appear to be male. Females are relatively fewer in number. It is not currently known whether this is a natural sex ratio or something about growing conditions causes the skewed ratio.
Care for Nepenthes reinwardtiana
Nepenthes reinwardtiana doesn’t need a lot of care, as long as you pot it in nutrient free media and keep it watered. Sphagnum moss or cocopeat are recommended. You can add some perlite or sand or gravel or spanded clay pellets or styrofoam or etc to the media to increase drainage, but this species is not picky at least in my growing conditions.
It enjoys bright light and a well ventilated location and seems to be fine with Indian summers in terms of both light and heat. However, our climate is equable compared with central India’s harsh summers. If you think the plant gets stressed, you can move it to somewhere where it gets less light. Misting will help. Larger pots, particularly clay pots can help keep roots cool, as can frequent shallow watering.
It has grown happily wherever it is placed in my growing conditions. Indoors or outdoors should both be fine as long as they get adequate light. They naturally enjoy high humidity, but readily adapt to lower humidity as well. If the humidity is very low, they may lose any existing pitchers and take a while to adapt and form new ones. This is normal.
The plant will form a rosette for some time and then start vining. You can let the vines hang from a hanging pot or stake them up or give them a trellis to climb or they will scramble as they wish. This won’t happen suddenly, You will have plenty of time to notice it and do the necessary. Nepenthes is a slow grower in comparison with most house plants.
When plants are growing strongly in your conditions, you can use fertilizer at weak strength occasionally. You can also use coffee liquid (not grounds) – coffee brewed in good water without anything else added. Please read up and research carefully. Not fertilizing nepenthes will not do any harm, but you can kill your plant with over-fertilization. Never fertilize unless your plant is already established and growing in your conditions and when in doubt, err on the side of caution. Water thoroughly with low TDS water a day or two after fertilizing to avoid build up in the potting mix. It is perfectly possible to grow good, strong nepenthes plants without ever fertilizing them.
As the plant grows, you will need to repot it into progressively larger pots to accommodate its size. Nepenthes grow from considerably small pots compared to most house plants, so this progression is more likely to be overestimated than under. If the plant is growing well, the pot is fine. If the plant seems impossibly big for its pot and growth has stalled, it needs repotting – is a general good guide.
Good quality water with low TDS is preferred, but nepenthes aren’t as fussy about water as say drosera or byblis. Tap water should work well if you are able to drink it without any strong taste. Municipal water in most places in India should be good. Avoid very high TDS water.
When you get the plants
You can rest them in a glass of water or drop the whole plant in a bowl of water while you get the pot ready. Use well draining, nutrient free media only. Depending on the humidity at your growing area, you can protect them with a higher humidity enclosure or a plastic bag or leave them open – particularly if you have many plants or a greenhouse or a misting system.
If you use a plastic bag, put the entire pot in the plastic bag – but don’t close from the top. These plants have been growing in pretty strong sun and breeze and are already hardened. They will not need 100% humidity to recover. Keeping the bag slightly open allows for ventilation. You can open the bag progressively more in coming days till the plant is well adjusted and can be grown openly.
While plants are in a plastic bag, keep them out of direct sunlight or you will cook them.
There are many excellent videos of how to care for nepenthes, potting them, repotting them and so on on YouTube and it is a good idea to watch them to understand how to handle and grow these plants.