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Nepenthes Durability


The Nepenthes plant can be an extremely durable plant, coming back from the dead. Durability varies upon species. In the wild, N. rafflesiana has been seen to come back after severe habitat burns from the lower bases of the old burned vines. 

In cultivation, I have had certain Nepenthes species to come back from the crispy brown abyss. Plants that appeared dead for over 8 months suddenly budded near the base of the former stem. Even though the main stem and roots appeared dead (they truly could have been dead), the stem was still able to bud. I have had many species to appear dead for up to 3 months and fully recover, with 8 months being the longest time so far. Of course, I didn't really look at plants that had been dead for some time until the last couple of years, so I may have thrown away many a good plant unknowingly.

The plant below is a plant that has appeared dead for 8 months. It was initially killed (or entered the brown crispy stage) back in July, 2000, when we had our unfortunate greenhouse overheating incident. It remained in this state, and endured 30 degree low temps for about a week during the winter. I ripped it out of its pot to throw it away when I noticed something.

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Although a little difficult to see in the picture, a new bud is shoot from the lower base of the stem.

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The lesson here is to not throw away a Nepenthes that has appeared to die, at least in the near term. Keep growing it in the same conditions. It may take some time, but there's a chance it may come back. Based upon my experience, I would keep plants for at least a year after they appeared to have died. Monitor the plant to ensure it doesn't start growing fungus or mold. Otherwise, leave it alone for an extended amount of time and see if it will resurrect itself.