Cephalotus ‘Hummer’s Giant’

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May 2020

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.

Cephalotus 'Hummer's Giant' in May 2020
The plant located on the left side of the panel…
Cephalotus 'Hummer's Giant' in May 2020
… and the one on the right side.

March 2019

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.

Cephalotus 'Hummer's Giant' in March 2019
Aren’t they happy? The biggest trap is about 5 cm high. Zoom in!

August 2017

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.

Cephalotus 'Hummer's Giant' in August 2017
This brand new, 3-cm pitcher will soon become dark red, like the older ones.

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' in May – June 2017
Some fresh roots…
Cephalotus 'Hummer's Giant' in May – June 2017
…and a new pitcher. For those unfamiliar with these plants, it’s the hairy little green thing near the middle of the frame.

Mid-May 2017

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…

Cephalotus 'Hummer's Giant' in mid-May 2017
Cephalotus ‘Hummer’s Giant’, about to start a new life.
Cephalotus 'Hummer's Giant' in mid-May 2017
The original clump yielded two distinct plants. Cephalotus does not like to be uprooted, and I have zero idea if what I am about to do would work.
Cephalotus 'Hummer's Giant' in mid-May 2017
At least, the transplant is successful. I managed to insert the roots between the fern fibers. That took about 30 minutes and I had to stay very, very focused.
Cephalotus 'Hummer's Giant' in mid-May 2017
Ready to grow again!