orchidariums, and grow chambers are ideal containers in which to start a collection of
Nepenthes. Many species can live in a Nepenthes "intermediate" environment, in
which the temperatures are kept between highs of 85 degrees, and lows into the mid 60's to
mid 70's. This "intermediate" environment works very well in most homes. The
species you pick to grow in these containers should match their growing potential. For
instance, N. gracilis and tobaica make bad candidates for small containers, as they are
fierce growers, and and grow much too quickly for small containers. N.
bicalcarata can outgrow most enclosures except large greenhouses in a matter of
a year or two.
Terrariums & Aquariums
Containers under 20 gallons are usually too small for long term Nepenthes growing. Most every species will outgrow containers in this size. They are useful in starting a small collection from tissue culture or seed, but eventually a larger chamber or greenhouse will be needed.
These are available in many sizes, and can be easily made as well. I have a 4'wide x 4' high x3'deep orchidarium, and it works well for many species, especially those which can take heavy pruning. Compact growers like ventricosa and burkeii show off very well in one.
I have also made quite a few 4' high x 4' wide x 8' long chambers from 2'x4' lumber and 6 mil poly plastic. Chambers of this size accomadates all but the giant species for a significant amount of time. I also use these chambers to grow on tissue culture Nepenthes that are fresh out of vitro.
I also use chambers that are 6' high x 4' wide x 8' long. These chambers allow large pitchered lowland species to grow well.
Chambers made from 2'x4's aren't usually attractive, and mine by design aren't meant to be pieces of furniture. I design them for low cost, high volume plant propagators in a nursery environment. If you want something that looks better, you'll have to switch over to glass or plexiglass covering, which is much more expensive than poly plastic.
Your chambers will normally use light fixtures instead of natural light. There have been many types of fixtures tried, such as metal halide lamps. But I have found that the most inexpensive of shop light fixtures work as well or better than anything else. These fixtures usually cost about $10 for the fixture, and a few bucks for the 2 4' 40 watt bulbs. For a 4' x4'x8' chamber, I use 6 shop light fixtures (12 40 watt bulbs). For 5' x 4' x 8' chambers I use 12 light fixtures.
You can connect the light fixtures through a power strip that is controlled by a timer that is set for 14 hours on, 10 hours off. The advantage of timers is that you can automate your lights. Also, you can greatly lower heating and cooling costs by modifying when lights turn on. If you grow lowlands in the chamber, then run the lights at night. This will keep the temperature stable and higher. For intermediates and highlands, turn the lights on during the day. That way, the temperatures will drop somewhat at night, and any cooling device wont have to compete with the heat of the lights.
The timers have a max power rating that you must adhere to. If the timer is rated for 1000W, dont try to connect 2000W of lights to it. Use another timer module.
Circulation is an often overlooked, but critical necessity. Good airflow greatly improves the health of the plants, stabilizes the temperature and humidity within the chamber, and reduces fungus and mold outbreaks.