Nepenthes Spp.: How To Grow And Care For The Monkey Cup Plant

Few plants are as curious as carnivorous plants, and when it comes to the Monkey Cup Plant, otherwise known as the Nepenthes species, there are very few that attract such attention as these plants with their striking pitches and curious hanging habit.

The pitchers serve to attract insects through their bright colors, but also for the nectar it produces. 

These clever traps lure the insects in and are coated in hairs that point downward, stopping the insects from climbing out, and eventually, they are eaten by the acid in the bottom of the cup, where the plant gets its nutrition from the insects. 

The common name, Monkey Cup Plant, comes from the curious belief that monkeys drink out of the cups, which is not true.

Interested in growing your own Monkey Cup Plant, but not sure if it will grow in your own home? Here’s everything you need to know. 

Nepenthes Monkey Cup Plant Care

Exactly how easy a Monkey Cup Plant is to care for depends on the species, and how well it can adapt to the space you have in mind for it. 

There are largely two different types of Monkey Cup Plants within the Nepenthes genus to choose from, the Highland species and the Lowland species.

The majority of these plants hail in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Highland species are found on mountainsides, while the Lowland species grow in coastal parts and balmy foothills.

Highland species will withstand cooler temperatures and lower humidity, while Lowland species require lots of warmth, humidity, and light, and are better suited to terrariums or heated greenhouses.

Where To Grow Nepenthes

Exactly where you should grow your Nepenthes plant depends on the species you have. 

Typically, Highland species are smaller than Lowland species and grow slower. Lowland species tend to have more delicate-looking leaves and larger root systems than Highlander species.

In terms of light, give your Monkey Cup Plants a position as close to a window as possible.

Depending on what type you have, an Eastern-facing window is ideal, as this gives these beautiful plants direct sunshine in the morning when it is gentle, avoiding any sun damage while stopping the plants from suffering in lower light levels.

Western-facing aspects would also work, but this is more suited to the Lowland species, as direct sunlight is stronger in the afternoon than in the morning, and they can take the heat a little easier.

Temperature And Humidity

The majority of Nepenthes species want stable and warm temperatures, between 64°F and 80°F (or 18°C and 27°C) during the day, getting a little cooler at night.

Highland species tolerate cooler temperatures, while Lowland species like temperatures to be higher.

Neither type will tolerate sitting next to drafts or sources of heat, so keep this in mind.

As for humidity, all species do well in higher levels of humidity, but remember, as you increase the humidity, you’ll also need to up the airflow to avoid fungal problems. 

What Soil Does The Monkey Cup Plant Need?

Standard houseplant compost will not do the job for the majority of carnivorous plants, as they are a little more particular than that, Nepenthes included.

Most of these plants like acidic soil, though you will get a couple that grow in alkaline soil or even sandy soil, so it’s worth checking.

For best results, use a compost mix that’s been specifically formulated for carnivorous plants, which will give your Monkey Cup Plant everything it needs.

If you’d prefer to make your mix, equal parts (one part of each) peat, sand, perlite, bark, and sphagnum moss will do fine.

When To Water A Monkey Cup Plant

These plants like to stay damp, but they hate soil that stays soggy, so there needs to be a delicate balance.

Do not let your Nepenthes plant dry out completely, as this will damage the plant, but neither should it stay wet for too long.

Check the soil every few days to see if the plant needs watering, and don’t bottom water them, as this can cause rot.

Always water the top of the soil, as near to the surface as you can to avoid splashing. 

Should You Feed A Nepenthes Plant?

Most of the nutrients these plants need they will get through trapping and eating insects. But you can give these plants a boost by feeding them with orchid fertilizer, specifically, the kind that you spray onto the leaves, called foliar fertilizer, once a month or so in summer.

Do You Need To Prune A Monkey Cup Plant?

Only if the plant outgrows the space available to it, whether that’s a hanging basket, windowsill, or terrarium.

Only prune the plant during the growing season, and only cut it back by a third.

Propagating Nepenthes Plants

You can propagate Nepenthes plants through cuttings, as long as there is at least one node attached to the cutting. 

You’ll need to wrap the cutting in damp sphagnum moss and cover it in plastic wrap, being careful not to seal it completely. Pop it into a propagator or a tray with a clear lid, and put it somewhere warm and bright, but away from direct sunlight.

It’s worth noting that there is about a fifty-fifty chance that the cutting will take!

Growing Nepenthes: Problems To Watch Out For

Fluctuating Conditions

Most problems that occur with these plants are due to the growing conditions changing more than these plants can handle.

Try to keep the conditions as stable and as steady as possible to help give your Nepenthes plants a helping hand.

Leaf Tips Drying

If the leaf tips on your Nepenthes plants are drying up or going brown, this suggests that conditions are not humid enough for your plant. 

The majority of Nepenthes species need humidity levels of about 80% (at a push, 60% is the lowest they will go to), so either invest in a humidifier or grow your Monkey Cup Plant in a terrarium, where humidity levels are easier to manage.

No Liquid In The Traps

If you order your Nepenthes plant through the mail, it’s important to know that they may come with no liquid in the traps. 

If this is the case, put a little rainwater in each open trap, which will help the plant out a little until it forms the liquid itself.

Final Thoughts

Monkey Cup Plants are very striking, and unlike most plants, they can be as difficult to care for as their unusual looks promise. The best way of making sure your plant can handle the conditions inside your home is to match a species that’s used to similar case conditions.

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