From: CMDodd@aol.com
Date: Wed May 05 1999 - 17:55:55 PDT

Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 20:55:55 EDT
From: CMDodd@aol.com
To: cp@opus.hpl.hp.com
Message-Id: <aabcdefg1551$foo@default>
Subject: Heliamphora

     I was asked to talk about Heliamphora cultivation.

     Heliamphora are without doubt the easiest CP that I grow. This may come
as a shock due to their relative rarity but they have become more available
in recent years and within a few parameters can be grown by anyone. Their
ease is due to the cultivation method in a lighted terrarium.

     If you are not maintaining a huge collection go to you local pet store
and buy a 29 gallon aquarium or perhaps a 55 if you need more room. It can
even be a leaker (which you can get at a bargain) and you can seal the bottom
few inches of the sides with 100% silicone sealant since it will not be
holding much water. You will need a glass cover that fits the entire top. Do
not use the reflector hoods that come with most aquaria, they generally only
have one 'Gro-lux' bulb per hood and this is not nearly enough lumens for the

     Media is very simple, pure sphagnum has worked very well for me. I have
heard of other medias including peat/perlite and pure cypress mulch and am
trying one plant in the latter at present. New Zealand sphagnum is best as
it is cleaner and has fewer weed seeds than domestic. It is more expensive
but if you only have a few plants it is the way to go. Plastic azalea pots
are best (pots that are broader than tall).

     Next you will need lighting. For a 29 gallon tank you will need 2, 2
light, 36 inch fluorescent fixtures (four bulbs in all) or 2, 2 light 48 inch
fixtures for a 55. One nice thing about Helis is that they do not require
special lighting. Cool white bulbs are fine, the plants grow well and flower
under these bulbs. You can use full spectrum bulbs but they are expensive
and not necessary. The fixtures should not sit directly on the glass as it
will make the tank too warm. Suspend it a few inches above the glass for
maximum light.

     The only other thing you need is a cool room. Most of the species do
fine if you can keep them at 65-75 degrees F. Sit the tank over an A/C vent
if possible. Find an area out of direct sun and set up your tank. Plant your
Helis in an appropriate sized pot in the sphagnum, top dress with live
sphagnum if you have it and water with pure water. I dip all transplants and
divisions in Clearies 3336 flowable fungicide and then drain the excess from
the pitchers before planting. It will get rid of any internal fungi and make
the plants healthier.

     If the plants are small or very low in the tank, raise them by placing
them on an inverted pot so they will get maximum light. Keep 1/2 of pure
water in the bottom of the tank, and the plants can sit in it. Don't keep
the water level too high or the plants may rot. Remember to water the plants
not sitting directly in the water. If heat is a problem you can run an
aquarium air pump to an air stone in a glass of water in the tank and that
will provide air exchange, reduce heat and humidify all at once.

     The easier species are H. minor and nutans, followed by heterodoxa and
ionasi and then the varieties of H. tatei. Some hybrids are now available
and minor x heterodoxa is very easily cultivated and not as fussy about

     If all goes will you will be giving away divisions of your plants in a
year or so. It is true the plants are somewhat fragile but they are tough
enough to handly carefully. If you desire more plants make sure you have
more than one growth point and that both growing points are well enough along
to make two (or more) good sized plants. Remove enough media to see where
the rhizome has branched and carefully pull the plants aparts, trying to get
a bit of root with each plant. Should you break off a cluser of pitchers
with no roots, pot up just the same as these almost always root anyway. You
can also use a razor blade or exacto knife if you are afraid to tear them
apart. Always keep one plant of each species that you do not divide. These
undivided plants will build up large rhizomes and produce very large pitchers
compared to constantly divided ones and will make beautiful specimen plants.

     You can fertilize the plants with 1/8 strength Miracide every now and

     Using this method you may not even have to open the terrarium more than
every three month to water so it is a very low maintenance setup.


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