Nepenthes in Santa Monica?

Date: Thu Jul 01 1999 - 11:19:46 PDT

Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 14:19:46 EDT
Message-Id: <aabcdefg2421$foo@default>
Subject: Nepenthes in Santa Monica?

Hello Mr. Bigelow and the list.
As was discussed in a previous thread on this list, a few of us here in foggy
San Francisco experiment with highland Nepenthes outside. The climate here
resembles a few areas with highland sp., at least during part of the year. I
grow my outdoor Nepenthes in self-watering plastic hanging baskets under an
eave in a windy, mostly shady backyard, and I water almost every day in
I live in the center of San Francisco just over the lee side of the small
mountain called Twin Peaks ( 900 ft. ), which means I am out of the worst of
the constant summer fog. Daytime temperatures in summer reach 62-75 degrees
F. most days, rarely getting to up to 80. Night temperatures in summer are
mostly in the 50's. Summer humidity usually ranges between 60% to 75% during
the midday, hitting high 90's, or an impossible 100% when the fog blows in
the late afternoon.
Here we have a problem with chilly, wet winter weather. Daytimes in winter
rarely go above 55 deg. F. and nights are in the 40's or lower, but a true
freeze is very rare.
We get almost all of our 33 inches of rain between the beginning of Nov. and
the end of April. The cold dark damp days of winter tend to rot the Nepenthes
root systems. San Francisco is very windy all year 'round.
The highland sp. we find very adaptable are: N. alata ( no surprise )
especially " Highland Luzon" and "Spotted", N. ventricosa, and N. maxima, and
of course, old N. khasiana, which I grew outside even in Oregon. I am now
trying a tobaica, a bellii, and a fusca outside.
Geoff Wong has grown those, and other highland species outside: N.
carunculata, spathulata, and tentaculata. For a number of years he had a
large N. maxima growing in the ground covering a large area of a fence in a
quite unprotected spot. This plant succumbed after a freeze of about 30 deg.
this winter ( Dec. ). Some seedling villosas and raja's bit it too.
Just as easy outside are hybrids of the mentioned sp., and even some less
highland sp. ( when are we going to start calling them intermediate growers?
). My favorite right now is a form of ventricosa x maxima. It has very pretty
spotted tubby pitchers of great substance. It pitchers well and takes some
abuse. The obvious N. x ventrata is very good ( and it never breaks my heart
if I loose one ).
This brings to mind a point -- that experimenters may want to make numerous
cuttings of likely plants to try outside, and place them in a variety of
locations in your backyard and those of friends. Micro-climate is almost
everything ( the rest is luck... ).
Southern California has many suitable microclimates for growing Nepenthes
outdoors; I've seen very healthy ones in backyards in Long Beach and San
Being that you're not right on the beach, you'll find the hot, searing Santa
Ana winds and occasional frosts will do them in. People closer to the water
gain the insulating effects that the ocean provides. Soils are usually
unsuitable, so you'll have to them grow in pots, the larger the better ( but
I'm sure you were prepared for that ).
The structure and plantings in your back yard can go a long ways to help make
the plants succeed; they seem to do best if protected by a vine-covered
arbor, close to planted areas that are regularly sprinkled ( but don't get
So. Cal. municipal water on the Nepenthes! -- too alkaline ). You may want to
go to the effort of installing an intermittent mist system to deliver regular
spraying of pure water in your outdoor growing area -- this is a lot of
effort but the difference in the health of the plants is really astonishing.

The red-flowered Metrosideros sp. you see is indeed a close relative of the
Hawai'ian Ohi'a Lehua tree, but is probably one of the New Zealand sp. called
Rata or Pohutukawa there ( or Ironwood for the rest of us ). The usual one
here is M. excelsa. I get a great kick out of watching the naturalized
Canary-Winged Beebee Parrots feed on the nectar in the flowering trees near
my apartment.

Good growing, and

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