This stems from the Feeding Nepenthes Coffee thread where a discussion about fertilizer in general came up -
Matt wrote:twigs wrote:Generally, fertilizer used is very specific, using the wrong kind can kill a plant. Also, it is usually diluted. I have just started using 1/4 strength orchid fertilizer on my Nepenthes and Cephs.
Do you put the fertilizer in the pitchers or pour it into the soil? I've been thinking about using orchid fertilizer on my Neps just to experiment as well. How often are you planning on fertilizing them?
I was thinking about starting with 1/4 strength orchid fertilizer and using it once a month.
Also, do you grow orchids? I just got a few myself and I flasked some seed from Steve_D's phalaenopsis that he sent me about a week ago. I might end up with a ton of Phals from that!
Sorry for the mess of "blah blah blah", but here's some details on Nep fertilization. I guess I enjoy compiling data based on research.
First, here are a few Nep ferts people have used:
- 20-14-13: This is the stuff a lot of Nep growers use and swear by it.
- 30-10-10: Several people use this orchid fertilizer as an alternative to the above. It's generally the easiest to find in local stores so it's not uncommon for Nep growers to use it.
- 16-16-16: Several top Nep growers (source: June or July ICPC newsletter, in an article about this fert) use Maxsea 16-16-16 seaweed fertilizer. No it doesn't have an overpowering smell, in case there are any sea-smell haters out there. It's been talked about so much on the forums over the last year that California Carnivores also adopted it as their fertilizer and are still using it today. Note that some people have said they use this particular gentle fertilizer at full strength and their Neps grow like mad, others use 1/2 strength with great results, and still others use 1/4 strength with great results. I'll probably switch to this stuff over the 20-14-13 soon and will probably start at 1/4 strength twice a month to see how it does.
Fertilizer that contains Urea, copper, or zinc should be minimal amounts (although some have used 13% Urea and claim that flushing the medium well resolves the buildup) must be flushed especially, as build-up can cause root burn and kill Neps.
Use 1/4 strength (for the fertilizer above, that's 1/4 tablespoon per gallon of water) and water it into the soil. Water it as though it's regular water - just until it leaks into the pot then water again when the soil just starts drying out. Do this about once every month in off-season, twice a month during summer/high growth season. If you don't flush the soil well (use 2x the water and let it run out) after you fertilize, you can get a buildup (salt/mineral) that will make the plant sick.
Some Nep growers say they put the fertilizer into the pitchers and they take it well (NO bugs in the pitchers if you use this method). Others state that they tried this trap-filling method and their traps died.
Lastly, foliar feeding was considered the least effective method (spraying the leaves). While some said they've seen improvements doing it this way, others have stated that it's not even worth fertilizing at all if you're going to foliar-feed, vs. feeding the roots via watering the soil, or watering fertilizer into the traps themselves.
Here's a good discussion we had on terraforums a while back regarding fertilizing Neps, when I had first started researching it - these guys are really knowledgeable: http://www.terraforums.com/forums/showt ... p?t=112821
After reading countless articles about Nep fertilization, I went with the 20-14-13 and water it into the soil, flushing it out 2 days later if you use a mixture with LFS that holds more water; you can stand to wait a little longer (say 3 days) if you use peat + mostly coarse materials in your Nep soil, e.g. perlite, charcoal, orchid bark, pumice, lava rock, etc. In any case, fertilizing can create algae in the soil but usually this algae is harmless and is nothing to worry about.
Another variable to mention - if your Neps get LOTS of light and are in prime living conditions (e.g. greenhouse, full sun) they can usually take a more concentrated dose of fertilizer.
Here's a slide show of the general size of pitchers forming without the 1/4 strength fertilizer I mentioned above, as well as a pitcher that was formed by the same plant AFTER the 20-14-13 fert was used at 1/4 strength by watering it into the soil. http://s138.photobucket.com/albums/q265 ... 3fb373.pbw - the results are pretty incredible. People have described similar results using the Maxsea 16-16-16 - right now Maxsea has the most attention in the CP world and a lot of people are switching to it.
As fertilizing Neps is not an exact science (yet...) and no two species of Neps are the same, your mileage may vary.