Pitcher Plant Fertilizer – What Can I feed to Small Nepenthes(Guide)

If you are curious about pitcher plant fertilizer then before that let me tell you these tropical plants are grown mostly outdoors. It is preferred that growing them outdoors would help them to attract insects and different bugs which again gives them energy and a lot of things that we will discuss here in this article. Lets now find out What can I feed my small pitcher plant?

pitcher plant fertilizer

Pitcher plant fertilizer : It’s not common to fertilize pitcher plant(Nepenthes) with natural plant food. Pitchers are modified leaves, sufficient in trapping prey that gives the pitcher plant its required nutrients. Still if your plant leaves are getting pale and overall pitchers look unhealthy then feeding them alive bugs would help them to restore their energy and fulfill the needs of fertilizer.

These carnivorous plants can be fertilized only if you think the soil is poor or the environment you live in is not able to provide them with fertilizing needs. Requirement for Fertilizer in Pitcher plant is an important step in their growth to make the plant healthy and keep it thriving. There are cases where pitchers are too small which looks like the soil is not fertile & not able to give proper nutrition.

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Pitcher plants are one of the amazing looking carnivorous plants that does attract a great audience like me. fertilizing a pitcher makes them more robust and healthy because it gives them all the nutrition needed to grow in the growing season. 

They have such large pitchers and to capture and hold the insect, they have slippers inside and a liquid which makes the prey stop its movement. The liquid then slowly absorbs all the nutrition from the insect and keeps it going for years, and they have nectar which makes other insects drop down into the mouth of the pitcher plant.

Below I have given the details of pitcher fertilizer.

Buy Pitcher Plant(Nepenthes) – Shop from Amazon

Buy Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia) – Shop from Amazon

Family Nepenthaceae(Asia) and Sarraceniaceae(North American)
Type Carnivorous Plant
Light Requirement Full Sun, Bright Light
Water Keep it Moist
Fertilizer Non Used, External Prey for Food
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings
Toxicity Non Toxic to Cat, Dogs
Pruning Once or Twice Every year With old leaves

How do you fertilize a pitcher plant?

Firstly pitcher plants don’t need fertilizer, they just absorb nutrients from the outdoor insects that pitcher plant traps in its modified leaves called pitchers. They have digestive enzymes, a type of liquid which break down the prey and supplement the plant with nitrogen and all other nutrients. 

If you still want fertilizer for your pitcher plant, use Jessi Mae or Maxsea fertilizer for your carnivorous plant. They have specially formulated this type of plant food for the insect eating plants. Generally Jessi Mae comes with 30ml liquid which can be used by pouring a few drops per week in your pitcher plant. The fertilizer is used only in the growing season of pitchers so apply the plant food in summer to fall. Don’t use it in winters as the plant goes into dormancy that time. Once the winter’s go away you can provide them with good sunlight. 

After frost you can also do pruning because those complete brown pitchers need to be removed so they don’t take pitcher plant energy and food which will be needed to produce new pitchers as it’s kind of waste if the old pitchers used it.

Jessi Mae 30ml Carnivorous Fertilizer – Shop from Amazon

(used for one or 2 pitcher plant)

Combined Maxsea and Osmocote Food Pellets – Shop from Amazon

(If you have multiple pitcher carnivorous plants).

Before going to answer many different questions on fertilizing pitcher plants, Let me tell you my grandpa used to have a lot of pitcher plants. He always feeds the plant directly from nature by capturing insects and different bugs. 

First I feel weird about how they are inserting the insect into the mouth of the pitcher plant. Then after my grandpa explained to me about these are essential things needed for plant growth. 

I asked why not use fertilizer. Then he asked, “When you have a nature gift, why use something which is different?” Still from that day I thought those who are uncomfortable in getting insects into pictures then they can use fertilizer because it is the need for our plant otherwise it starts to wilt or may not grow well. 

But Why do you need fertilizer in the first place for your pitcher plant? 

The answer would be some people have places which don’t have many insects, many even grow them indoors where your plant doesn’t have any insects. Your plant surely needs some bugs to survive or the owner himself takes one of the dead or alive insects from the outside and feeds it by self putting it in its mouth. Yes the modified leaf, where there is an opening or hole you just have to drop the insect there and the plant has its own digestive juice which just traps the insect. Slowly the plant will digest the insect and absorb all the nutrients from it. That’s how pitcher plants become healthy again and keep it green and strong. 

Insects that you can feed your pitcher plant are beetles, mosquitoes, bloodworms, mealworms, gnats, rolly pollies, spiders , moths, lady bugs, butterflies, ants and many more in the list. Or Just take any wandering flies near your house and put it in the pitcher’s hole, and rest would be the plants duty on how it will absorb and break down the dead body of insects and flies. It is a carnivorous plant so it won’t be eating leaves right, it needs the live insect to fulfill the requirement to grow better and be healthy.

Lets now know about the 2 carnivorous pitcher plant fertilizer & how they can be used to grow our plant.

Jessi Mae Fertilizer

This product comes with a sprayer or dropper. You need to drop 1ml of liquid to a carnivorous plant as it works with many plants like flytraps, sundew, VFT and pitcher plants.

This application can be used by pouring 1ml drop to pitchers, yes where the insect entered into the plant. Some say it is an opening where an insect slips and gets trapped into the stomach of the pitcher plant.

It is a very easy fertilizing supplement that comes in a 30ml dropper. You can use it in any carnivorous plant. The supplement has essential nutrients and vitamins that would support the plant and seaweed extract with bloodmeal. All these mixes would enhance the growth of your pitcher plant in 2-4 weeks. You should give the dose every 2 weeks and directly into the opening or mouth of the modified leaf called pitcher.

I have used it and it works for my pitcher plant as well as venus fly traps. You can see the growth in 2-6 weeks. make sure you are providing them enough light to stay healthy.

Jessi Mae Fertilizer – Shop from Amazon

Combo of Osmocote and Maxsea Fertilizer

Maxsea and osmocote are 2 different carnivorous fertilizers when both are used it increases the life and strength of the plant. Maxsea comes in powder form that can be used for foliage growth like if your pitcher plant is not getting enough insects or the pitchers are not able to catch it. This causes a huge loss to the plant as it doesn’t get any nutrients. What maxsea does is provide the lost nutrients which helps the leaves to stay green and the pitchers to be healthy. 

Maxsea fertilizer is a powder so use 1/4 part of it and mix it in 1 gallon of water. It is used as a sprayer because you are going to mist your plant leaves with this fertilizer solution. 

It is combined with osmocote fertilizer, which has pellets. These are small pellets that slowly release its nutrients. You just need to put 1 or 2 pellets in the nepenthes pitchers(yes inside its mouth of modified leaves which is used to trap preys). This feeding will provide the nutrients of the foliage size and overall growth.  Fresh pellets can be inserted again after 2-4 weeks until you see the result or only in the growing season generally in summers.

Pellets may increase the size of individual or few pitchers that you will see once it starts to work. 

I told you about both of these fertilizers for pitcher plants. You can try one or both and everyone will boost the growth of our pitchers.

Maxsea and Osmocote Fertilizer – Shop from Amazon.

When should I fertilize my pitcher plant?

The best time to fertilize pitcher plants is during spring to summer. Carnivorous plants like pitchers in the growing season take nutrients and use it to produce more pitchers and strengthen its stem and overall body. You can fertilize pitcher plants by dropping dead or alive insects inside the pitchers. Once the insects are inside of it, the digestive enzyme will work to trap the insect and let it die there. Then the plant starts to break down the insect and make nutrients out of it. 

Self feeding your pitcher plant(or Nepenthes, Cephalotus, sarracenia) would help the plant to grow more and be healthy because sometimes it is hard to trap the insect that makes the plant dull and pale. You can also use external fertilizer that are available in ecom websites. My favorites are Jessi mae and osmocote with maxsea fertilizer. Both are easy to use and mostly I already told you in the above section. But both applications need to be dropped inside the pitchers. One helps with the overall plant growth while the other boosts the size of the pitchers. 

Some fertilizer is used every 2 weeks while some drops only once in 3-4 weeks. That is why I want you to read instructions that come with every product.

Also Growing pitcher plant in a good location is recommended. They generally prefer full sun and make sure they get adequate water. Soil should not be dry often and get moist meaning the owner needs to pour water more to save it from dying.

How much should I feed my pitcher plant?

Pitcher plants should feed in every 2-3 weeks with the dead or alive bugs, or using a fertilizer used solution. Feeding takes place in May, April till the end of summer. This is because when pitchers are growing that is the time they require more nutrients, if they don’t find then they grow smaller and become pale sometimes. For Nutrients using a dead bug would work if you want a free solution and if you don’t want to drop bugs in pitchers that seem ugly then I would recommend using a natural fertilizer. 

Nowadays there are many fertilizers available, you just need to order it. Some fertilizer like Jessi Mae and Maxsea are ones that I used and gave me results after using it for 4 weeks.  Jessi Mae fertilizer gives dropper which you need to drop 1ml of liquid inside the pitchers & that’s it.

while Maxsea is plant food which needs to be mixed with 1 gallon of water and Maxsea is 1/4 part that needs to be blended with that gallon of water. I provided the links of both fertilizers and explained them in details that you can find in the above article. Please check that as well.

Also there might be questions regarding overfeeding pitchers? So they can be Feeded with many insects but you should limit 1 every 2-3 week in the growing season only. These insects that you drop will work as fertilizer while the sunlight is actually the one that makes the food of every plant through photosynthesis. 

These plants if grown indoors then just catch some of the bugs outside and carry them indoors and drop inside the pitchers. You may see the result in 2-3 weeks because once the plant gets something to get nutrients from, they will definitely grow and thrive. You may find them producing more pitchers, larger pitchers size growth, and looks more healthy. 

Pitcher Plant Care

It requires special care for pitcher plants as you need to give them their food manually indoors or if they are hard to find. I am talking about feeding them prey or insects, bugs that are used as fertilizer for plant growth because it includes nitrogen and nutrients which are needed to support the plant. With that pitcher plants prefer full sun because even though they are getting growth food from prey but still if they want to prepare food they need some sort of sunlight. Nepenthes are carnivorous plants that grow best in full sunlight.

The temperature needs to be just like inside in an ideal room and pitcher plants best grow in 65 to 85 degree F and below 30 they may not be able to grow. In winters they go to a dormant stage which is sleep so you need not give excessive water at that time. 

Also I know a good soil is an important need for any plant, but in the case of a pitcher plant it is recommended to use sphagnum moss or if you already have peat moss it can also work. Water needs to be more often because they generally like to grow in moist soil, also do not wet it like dripping all soil for hours. It’s because when they have too much water it creates problems for roots that can lead to root rot.  You can always check nepenthes soil for dryness if the soil is 2 inch dry then pour water. There are many people who just water it whenever they feel the soil is dry upto 70-80% then they simply water it to save the plant from foliage loss.

If sometimes your plant is underwater, this may impact the foliage that results in dried, pale, curling because plants generally prevent water loss by curling the leaves so it minimizes the impact of transpiration. Same way leaves get dried out which simply means they cannot handle this much sunlight or with no water the plant will not transfer water to leaves because supply of water gets limited.

All these care tips are my personal & You can do what best is for your pitcher plant according to the location.

Here know more about the pitcher plant care.



Wrap Up

I hope you get the answer on “pitcher plant fertilizer” and if you like to read more such articles check below:

Pitcher Plant Pitchers Turning Brown – 5 Reasons Why & How to Fix It

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