Last year, I started to fertilize the plants that grow on the tree fern panel of my terrarium, to compensate for the near absence of nutrients in that medium. It may or may not be related—Cephalotus are notorious for their unpredictable growth behavior—but both plants have been putting out several pitchers in the span of a few weeks. They seem to be having their best time since I moved them to the tree fern three years ago. None of the pitchers is “giant” by the species’ standards, but the poor substrate does not favor any record-breaking growth either.
The experiment has been quite positive so far. I can’t say that the plants thrive, but they produce pitchers and certainly don’t appear to be in survival mode.
A nicely sized pitcher has just opened on the smallest specimen. Both plants are making new carnivorous leaves—Cephalotus also make flat, non-carnivorous leaves—and they are now accustomed to their new growing conditions. That’s a relief. The viability of a tree fern panel for long-term growing is still a mystery though. I’m also curious about the future shape of the plants on that vertical growing surface.
Late May – Early June 2017
During the first few weeks after such a stress, one looks for signs, either of growth or of decline. Luckily, it’s the former. Much to my amazement, both plants are developing new roots, and the right one is making a pitcher. Cephalotus are capricious plants so eveything can still happen, but it’s hard not to be satisfied.
Cephalotus ‘Hummer’s Giant’ can supposedly produce larger pitchers than the type species C. follicularis. Whether this is really the case is up for debate; frankly any Cephalotus can become stunning anyway. I got one in 2013, but things started to get really interesting in 2017, when I experimented a rather tricky growing method.
After a few of years of growth in a regular plastic pot, I decided to transplant my ‘Hummer’s Giant’ to a tree fern panel, that I would install in my new highland terrarium, vertically. Totally experimental, and a first, I guess. Doing so, I know I would probably not get the biggest pitchers, but it sure can look amazing if it works. After all, C. follicularis does grow on rather steep surfaces in its habitat. Also, I read somewhere that the cultivar did not require a winter dormancy, so it should be fine in a terrarium. So much for reassuring myself…