Pitcher plant care & info | Nepenthes ventrata

Pitcher plants from the Nepenthes genus are one of the most interesting types of houseplants to be found in the hobby. They also have a certain air of mystery: how do you keep them alive? Luckily, pitcher plant care is not as difficult as some might think. That especially applies when you go for one of the easier species, one of which is Nepenthes ventrata.

This pitcher plant is one of the most popular, and for good reason! Even a beginner should be able to grow this excellent bug catcher.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about Nepenthes ventrata care and growing this pitcher plant in your own home.

Name(s) (common, scientific) Pitcher plant, tropical pitcher plant, monkey cups, Nepenthes x ventrata
Difficulty level Medium
Recommended lighting Plenty of light
Water Keep moist
Soil type Carnivorous plant soil
Pitcher of Nepenthes ventrata (carnivorous plant)

Pitcher plant care

An important thing to remember when it comes to Nepenthes care is that there are two types of these pitcher plants: highland and lowland. This refers to the areas the plants naturally grow in. Highland Nepenthes like cooler nights, whereas lowland plants prefer stable, relatively high temperatures all the time.

Nepenthes ventrata is a cross between two pitcher plant species, Nepenthes ventricosa and alata. The first is a highland species, the second a lowland one. That means ventrata is a bit of an inbetween species. It can take a wider range of temperatures and should be less fussy than some other tropical pitcher plant species. Yay!

If you’re a beginner in the world of pitcher plants, this is probably a good one to start with.

Nepenthes ventrata light, location & temperature

Light

Light is an important factor in growing all (carnivorous) plants and Nepenthes ventrata is no exception. This pitcher plant will really appreciate receiving plenty of light. It can handle direct sun relatively well as long as it’s introduced slowly. A South-facing window should work well.

Red or brown leaves are a sign of too much light. Take a bit more time to introduce the plant to the higher light levels or go for a less bright spot.

Artificial light

A light-starved Nepenthes will often drop its pitchers and stop growing. Not what we want here! If you don’t have any windows in your home that supply enough light for your Nepenthes ventrata to thrive you might want to try artificial lighting.

Even one or two simple, cheap fluorescent lights can be of great help.

Pitcher of Nepenthes ventrata (carnivorous pitcher plant) | Full Nepenthes ventrata care guide

Location

Although Nepenthes ventrata is less fussy about humidity than some of its cousins it still likes a relatively humid environment. It will appreciate being placed in one of the more high-moisture rooms of the house, like the bathroom or kitchen. If that’s not an option a humidity tray consisting of a saucer with some pebbles and a layer of water can also help.

If you live in an area that gets warm summers (or even stays warm year-round) another option is to just place your Nepenthes outside.

Temperature

Nepenthes ventrata does just fine at room temperature. If you’re growing this pitcher plant outside be sure to bring it in when things start getting too cold.

Although it can handle quite a wide temperature range anything below 50 °F/10 °C will result in damage for your Nepenthes ventrata.

Pitcher of Nepenthes x ventrata, a popular carnivorous houseplant.

Nepenthes ventrata soil and planting

If you’re looking to replant your Nepenthes ventrata, it’s important to keep in mind that carnivorous plants like this one don’t thrive in the same soil types that most other houseplants like.

  • Like all carnivorous plants, Nepenthes pitcher plants have adapted to catch nutrients themselves using their own insect death traps.
  • The above means they don’t need nutrient-rich soil like other houseplants – in fact, potting soil can kill them.
  • A light, airy potting mix that stays moist and doesn’t contain any nutrients should work much better. Don’t let that intimidate you! The right mix isn’t difficult to achieve at all.
  • Some hobbyists also use other ‘ingredients’ like bark, peat moss, coconut husk or silica sand.
  • Whatever you plant your pitcher plant in, be sure to repot once the medium starts breaking down.
Close-up of pitchers of carnivorous pitcher plant Nepenthes alata.
Nepenthes alata (pictured here) was crossed with another pitcher plant, Nepenthes ventricosa, to create Nepenthes ventrata. The name is a combination of the two parent plants.

Watering Nepenthes ventrata

Watering is another aspect of tropical pitcher plant care that causes many plant deaths. Although Nepenthes is a little less particular about its water than many other carnivorous plants, distilled/demineralized water or rainwater is still preferable. Tap water has a high mineral content, something that carnivores don’t respond well to.

Nepenthes ventrata is quite forgiving when it comes to watering. It technically prefers to be kept moist at all times, but can survive being forgotten now and then.

Your exact watering schedule depends on the amount of light the plant is getting, although watering two times a week should be a good start.

Feeding Nepenthes ventrata

As discussed earlier, Nepenthes ventrata uses its cup-like pitchers to catch its own food. In the wild the irresistible nectar on the neck of the traps attracts all sorts of bugs and, in rare cases, even mammals and small birds.

This means pitcher plants don’t need additional fertilizer – in fact, it might kill them unless you are very careful about what and when you feed. If you’re not sure, just avoid fertilizer altogether. You can find more specific info about using plant fertilizer for your Nepenthes here.

If your Nepenthes ventrata outside it should be able to catch plenty of food by itself. Pitcher plants that are kept indoors might need a little more help. You can try feeding small amounts of ants, crickets or even fish food, but be sure not to overdo it. Too much food can turn into a pretty nasty soup inside a pitcher and cause rot.

Carnivorous plant terrarium with pitcher plant (Nepenthes ventrata)
Nepenthes pitcher plants can be grown in terrariums. If you’re wondering how to set up your own carnivorous plant terra, click on this image to be taken to a full guide!

Propagating Nepenthes ventrata

Propagating Nepenthes is really very easy and can be done through stem cuttings just like with most plants. Just wipe a knife or some scissors with alcohol and cut the tip off the mother plant to make a cutting. No worries: the original plant will regrow just fine.

Once you’ve obtained your cutting, you can choose to leave it as is or divide it into even more cuttings. After all, each one only needs a single node and a leaf or two to survive and regrow.

Place the cutting(s) into a planter with a suitable, lightly moist soil medium. At this point, many growers prefer to give their brand new Nepenthes ventrata plants a little boost by placing the pot in a plastic bag to create a mini greenhouse and ensure they don’t dry out. Keep the plant like this until it has rooted.

Buying Nepenthes ventrata

Nepenthes ventrata is one of the more common types of pitcher plants available in the hobby. If you stumble upon a pitcher plant in your local plant store there’s a good chance it’s a ventrata, but unfortunately most of these plants aren’t properly labeled.

They are often referred to as “monkey cups” or just “tropical pitcher plants”, which isn’t very helpful when trying to identify them. Try to remember that Nepenthes ventrata pitchers are usually dark red at the top and lighter red at the bottom, although specimens that haven’t received enough light can show some green as well. Their pitchers are not quite straight but not quite as bulgy at the bottom as some other species.

If you want to be sure you’re receiving an actual Nepenthes ventrata, it’s usually easiest to find an online seller like this one. You can also try to get a cutting from a fellow hobbyist, although that might be a bit more of a hassle.

Is Nepenthes ventrata toxic to cats and dogs?

Although like most plants Nepenthes ventrata will cause your pet’s stomach to become upset if ingested, it is not toxic.

Be sure to keep this pitcher plant out of your cat’s reach; those dangling pitchers are irresistible to them. A mess waiting to happen!


If you have any more questions about pitcher plant care or want to share your own experiences with Nepenthes ventrata, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

24 thoughts on “Pitcher plant care & info | Nepenthes ventrata”

  1. Hi! I have a 2 year old plant that refuses to put out pitchers yet is growing like mad. My plan is to cut it into thirds (it is 6 feet long/tall!!) and root the top 4 feet but, any thoughts about the pitchers?

    Reply
  2. Ventrata pitchers should be red from top to bottom with just a bit of two-tone to them, i.e. a darker red at the top and just a slightly lesser shade of red at the bottom. If they have green bottoms or green stems then they are probably not getting enough light.

    Reply
  3. I noticed a bit of rot on one of my pitchers, just a small spot on the very bottom. i emptied out the bug soup and washed the pod out with distilled water, its completely empty now, can i expect the spot to heal or will the rot spread to rest of the pod?

    Reply
    • Hi! I don’t think it’s likely that the pitcher will recover, although I guess it’s always worth a shot. If it does spread, just cut the pitcher off. Come springtime your plant will grow new ones if it’s receiving enough light 🙂 Good luck!

      Reply
  4. My Nepenthes Ventrata has been doing great for over 3 years. Some ups and downs. I give it 1 T. Distilled water almost every day. I noticed 2 large leaves (out of 13) have brown spots and the pitchers are beginning to shrivel. Not sure what to do.

    Reply
    • Hey! I’d personally recommend giving more water less frequently. As for the trouble your plant is appearing to have, is it possible something changed in the environment? Colder, hotter? Are they bottom leaves (which plants shed naturally once in a while)? It’s quite hard to tell what’s wrong with a plant without seeing it and the environment it’s growing in, but let’s see if we can figure it out.

      Reply
    • Hey! This happened with ours as well. It turned out it wasn’t getting enough light. We moved it right into a window and it sprouted a ton of pitchers! Could this be the problem?

      Reply
  5. Thanks for this information, I bought a Nepenthes on Etsy, not knowing that there were so many different species & Varieties! The Seller only labeled it Nepenthes “Pitcher plant”, and as you mentioned “Monkey Cup”. I saw a YouTube video & recognized it as a Ventrata, so found your posting on it, GREAT Info! How can I tell if it is a male or female plant, or do I have to wait to see if it flowers, and what does the flower look like? Thank you for all your work on this plant!!

    Reply
    • I’m glad you found it helpful! For your flower questions, I’m pretty sure you can’t see it unless the plant flowers. This guy has a pretty handy video on it on YouTube that I think should clarify things. I hope that helps 🙂

      Reply
    • You mean like a seed pod after flowering? If you Google “Nepenthes seed pod”, is that what it is? Because in that case, you could indeed use it to germinate new pitcher plants, although it’s a bit of a project. If that’s not what it is, you could post a picture in the Houseplant Central Facebook group so we can take a peek for you.

      Reply
  6. I HAVE A NEPENTHES VENT . I AM NOTICING A WEIRD THING , THE PITCHERS ARE GOING DARK ONE BY ONE HOWEVER THE PLANT IS GROWING AT A DECENT RATE . I LIVE A HOT CLIMATE . I WATER 2 TIMES AND SPRINKLE SOME ON THE LEAVES AS WELL. I HAVE PLACED MY PLANT SOUTH-EAST FACING. THE POTTING MIX IS PURE COCOPEAT . WHAT AM I DOING WRONG ?

    Reply
    • Hi! Maybe a stupid question, but are you watering with distilled water? If not, that could be it. In any case, it is actually not unusual for a Nepenthes to drop pitchers, one of mine did the same thing even though it was growing new leaves. It needed more light in the end. How close is it to a window? If it’s right next to it, that should be good. Other causes are: feeding too much (it makes the pitchers rot), not enough water (it should be lightly moist), shock from being moved, the plant going dormant (although this doesn’t sound likely in a hot climate).

      I hope this helps! It’s a bit difficult to diagnose from a distance. Good luck!

      Reply
    • As far as I’m aware, well water is unfortunately actually one of the worst things to use. It has a very high level of those dissolved solids that carnivorous plants are sensitive to. I would just go for distilled water – sold as ironing water or cpap water in some places. Good luck!

      Reply
  7. Hi, I have a question. Could you tell me where have you found information that Nepenthes is not toxic? If you have any article which prove it, please send me it 🙂

    Reply
    • So I found a few sites that mention Nepenthes is not toxic, although the pitcher fluid is very acidic. It can also become pretty bacteria-filled with the rotting insect soup inside, I imagine. No scientific articles though, I’ll admit that.

      The most interesting sources are on the traditional use of the plant in Indonesia, though! Traditionally, according to this interesting source for example, they were considered medicinal plants and used to treat various ailments. Since the plants were/are ingested, that makes a pretty good argument for them not being toxic 🙂

      Reply
    • Hi! It’s really hard to tell you what’s going on without knowing exactly the conditions the plant is growing in. Have you looked over this care guide to make sure you’re following all guidelines like only giving distilled water? If you could give me some more details I might be able to say something more useful about the matter. 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.