Heliamphora-the Venezuelan Marsh Pitchers

Heliamphora grow at high elevations on top of the cloudy Tepuis in Venezuela. Although they get frequent misting in nature, we do not recommend misting the plants as it can encourage fungi. It is better to provide a humid environment such as a terrarium or greenhouse. We have grown beautiful plants using both methods. The pitchers on Heliamphora are very brittle and require gentle care when handling the plants. After transplanting, a teaspoon to a tablespoon of water should be added to the inside of the pitchers, as the usual liquid often gets dumped out in shipping. After initial refilling, adding water to the pitchers is usually not needed.

Sunlight: During cool weather (50°-75°F) Heliamphora enjoy 50-75% sun. During warmer weather, the sunlight should be reduced to about 50% to avoid overheating the plants. Tall, thin or spindly pitchers indicate too much shade. Using sunlight, the average foot candle reading (using a light meter) runs from about 700-1,000 foot candles. If you are growing indoors in a terrarium, we find fluorescent lights work very well. many growers use cool white tubes only, but we find that a mixture of 50% fluorescent plant lights, such as Gro-Lux™, and 50% cool white provide abetter quality light and produce better red pigments. Under fluorescent lights, keep the plants fairly close to the lights, 4-5 inches below them. Keep the terrarium cover clean of dust and dirt as this can dramatically reduce light. Optimum light readings using fluorescent bulbs run from about 580-750 foot candles. Do not use spot lights as these are too hot.

Temperature: Cooler temperatures are best, from 50-80°F. Night time cooling is advised, rather than a constant temperature. Most Heliamphora can tolerate daytime highs up to 95°F for short periods. Some of the rarer species such as H. tatei and H. ionasii require colder nights (45-58°F), but most others live happily with night time lows of 55-70°F. Do not freeze!

Humidity: This should be from about 65-90%, with 85% being close to optimal.

Water: Use cool, pure water for best results. Mixing air into the water is helpful. Water around the plant and try not to wet the crown as this can encourage disease. Keep moist, do not dry out. We do not recommend saucers below pots as flooded roots are more likely to rot.

Soil: A mixture of 40% perlite and 60% long fiber sphagnum works well and the ratios can be varied as long as drainage is good and the media doesn’t dry out too frequently. Keep the growing crown above soil level when transplanting and do not allow live moss to cover the crown.

General: Feeding is usually not needed, but adding a few small insects every few months can be beneficial. We have also used very dilute Miracid™ fertilizer in the pitchers. Use 1/4-1/3 teaspoon of Miracid per gallon of water and put about a tablespoon of this solution in a few pitchers every month or so. Do not fertilize the roots. Trim away dead leaves and flower stalks. The flower stalks of Heliamphora can get over a foot long and may bend around terrarium covers, but do not lower the plant away from the light as it will get too dark. The developing flower stalk can be trimmed away at any time. Older, larger plants may need to be divided if they appear crowded. Return to Heliamphora page.