Nepenthes gracilis comes from Thailand, Peninsular
Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, Sumatra and Sulawesi. It is
found at low altitudes, growing below around 750 meters.
Nepenthes gracilis is a lowland plant being found mostly
in shaded jungles. It is a very easy plant to grow under
lowland conditions. Tropical pitcher plants generally
grow as vines, climbing over other plants, and may grow
as epiphytes, growing on other plants in the forest
canopy, or as low shrubs. That plant grows well as a
hanging basket plant. It makes an excellent terrarium
plant due to its small size.
This small vinging species produces elegant, narrow
pitchers that dangle from the tips of narrow green leaves.
The tendril is used both to support the plant as it
climbs up through the undergrowth and the trap itself
which forms from it. The vine is notorious for dividing
as it grows. You will have to prune this plant frequently,
as it grows faster than grass when it is kept hot and
The traps start out at first as a small swelling, but
quickly expand to their full size over the course of
several weeks. The slender pitchers, which average around
6-10 cm in length, are usually green in colour with faint
red-purple markings. The lid opens to reveal digestive
fluids in the bottom of the trap. Prey is attracted by
the gaudy colours and nectar produced by the trap, under
the lid, which does not close and around the rim. The
pitchers of Nepenthes species have a smooth lining.
Insects and other small animals that are attracted to the
pitchers cannot maintain a grip on this slippery surface
and fall into the pitcher. Once they move their way
inside, they lose their footing and slip into the nectar.
The nectar is also quite intoxicating. The lower section
inside the trap is covered in digestive glands and these
quickly dissolve the soft parts of the prey, leaving the
remains to drop down to the bottom into the soup.
The plant has two types of traps, lower and upper. While
in some species the upper and lower pitchers look similar,
there are others where the two are so distinctly
different that you would swear they are two different
species. The upper pitchers are generally smaller than
lower pitchers, often lacking wings, and attached to the
tendril at the back. These upper pitcher tendrils, before
forming a pitcher, will often curl around an object such
as a branch, to give the climbing stem support. Nepenthes
are dioecious, male and female flowers exist on different
plants. If you have several plants, and a few are
blooming, then you may be able to pollinate them.
Hardiness zone 10, (1°C/35°F) in Winter. The key to
this plant is keeping it warm with very high humidity. It
will make it grow extremely fast. Use diffused light and
keep it out of direct sunlight, although in the wild it
does grow in full sun. Light will color the traps of a
distinctive red mottling color on the tops of the
pitchers. Growing Lowlands usually requires a hot house
or a heated terrarium. It seems fine at 80°F. Short day
periods and cool temperatures are the most dangerous for
the plants. Expect stress in Winter.
Species of Nepenthes grow on soils that are poor in
nutrients or on other plants where nutrients are not
readily available. Plants, such as some Nepenthes, that
grow on other plants, but do not take nutrients from the
supporting plants, are referred to as epiphytes. In order
to grow in places that are poor in nutrients, Nepenthes
have adapted a carnivorous lifestyle, which supplements
their intake of nitrogen and other nutrients. The soil
needs to be light and airy. All the plants grew in a very
wet acidic sandy soil. Use pure part peat moss. You can
also use a mix of equal parts of peet moss, perlite,
vermiculite and long-fibred sphagnum moss.
The plants should be watered regularly but should not be
left standing in water at any time. Try too keep them
warm and humid but not stagnant and wet. Use rain water
or distillated water, hard city water will kill your
carnivorous plant. Lowlands and Highlands Nepenthes like
high humidity, but more for lowlands, and watering should
be done when the soil starts to look dry on the top.