Frequently asked questions
Do you have a store in Manila or other cities?
No, we are a dedicated online nursery, shipping our plants nationwide. This saves us from store rental and sales staff salaries and much travel to keep them up and running. If we had a store, we would have to increase prices of the plants, so it is actually better to pay for shipping instead of having more expensive plants, especially if you get more than one. Remember, shipping is free if you order for P4000+ - how can you beat that? Plus many customers actually enjoy selecting our plants in the evening after work or even during working hours :) and then have them conveniently delivered to their doorstep - which also saves money and more importantly time.
I am not from the Philippines. Can I also order?
Sorry, no. We are purely serving the Philippine market. Legal export is a major headache and illegal export is illegal :)
Can I pay the plants upon receiving?
Sorry no. In most online transactions products are paid prior to receiving. For plants this is specially sensitive, as when buyer is not ready to receive, or just changes his/her mind the plants might be dead, after they return - if at all. We have every month several people ordering plants, but in the end not sending the payment.
Can I order by phone?
Please avoid using the phone. It is too tough, spelling the plant names, address, repeating account numbers etc. Texting can be annoying, too as it can take us 30 minutes to sell a single VFT to a customer... And it can take forever to find the customers name, address and order in separate SMS messages, as we can't put names to each number calling/texting us. Often we get a message 'I have paid this afternoon' a few days after initial contact, which is great news, but it takes a bit of detective work to find out who is 'I', what was ordered, what address... :) Therefore it is much easier to use the shopping cart as it will make sure that we receive all information needed and you will get all information needed in return. Please understand that we are insisting on using the shopping cart, as it also automatically generates your shipping permit, packing list, LBC label and sending of tracking information.
I ordered already, but I want to order more or something else. Can I add or change my order?
Yes, if the shipping deadline hasn't passed, there is no problem. Please be aware though, that this situation sometimes confuses us on shipping day and we forget to ship the add-on/changes - most of the time this doesn't happen, but in rare cases it does. Please understand that we can only credit the added payment for a future order in that case, but it does not qualify for a free shipment of the missing plants as it is not totally our fault only. The safest orders are those that have been placed in one piece through the shopping cart, without a two meter long e-mail discussion, text messages, changes etc. If you want to make it as easy as possible for us, just use the shopping cart and order again and put a comment to cancel the previous order (or put a comment that this 2nd order is to be added to the previous order).
Can I cancel my order?
Yes, if you have NOT paid yet. If you cancel, we appreciate if you send us a short message, as otherwise we will get a permit for you and do other preparations, even if you haven't paid yet. We will be kind and gentle, don't be afraid :-)
Can I order a few weeks ahead of paying, so the plants will be reserved for me?
No sorry, we are not reserving any unpaid plants. Why would we, if somebody else offers to pay immediately? I understand if you don't make it to the payment deadline and it is perfectly ok to pay in the 2nd week, but after that consider it cancelled, as it creates a bit of logistics carrying those unpaid orders over to the next shipping batch each week. Preference is that you order and pay - same day. How poetic is that? :-)
I have ordered already, but didn't get an answer. What's wrong?
Normally you should get an answer with payment instructions within a few seconds to minutes. If not, please double-check your SPAM folder and if you gave us the correct e-mail address. Sometimes it is yahoo.com instead of yahoo.com.ph or vice versa or there are minor but disqualifying spelling mistakes. If you haven't used your e-mail for a while there is also a chance that your e-mail inbox is full and you are not able to receive mail from anyone!
How can I trust you? I haven't even met you!
If you Google for Volker Heinrich and pitcher plants you will find me in many corners of the net. selling plants, guiding expeditions, discovering new species, running one of the biggest CP discussion forums on the planet. Carnivorous plants are my life and joy. You will see that people are happy with the plants and the service. Many sales sites are interactive and allow feedback of all kinds. Some people are even posting pictures and updates of the plants that they have received. You can also go to website of Department of Trade and Industries (dti.gov.ph) and see that the Pitcher Plant Farm is registered since 2009 - certificate 03492776.
Where in Manila is your farm?
Take the South Luzon Expressway, do a left at Calamba and keep on driving for approximately 40 hours :-)
Can I visit you at your farm in Bukidnon?
If you stay overnight, or intend to pick up a large plant order (minimum order Php3,000, must order ahead through shopping cart :) ), of course - otherwise we can not accept day visitors anymore, as the disturbance-level got too high. But you will have to let me know ahead of time when you plan to come, as I am the only person authorized to sell plants, so I should be there, too. We will give you info how to find us after that. We even have a wooden low energy guest house for overnight visitors, in our and many visitors opinion the coziest place to stay in Bukidnon. We have cool nights here and a mountainous forest setting. Especially city dwellers, that need to relax from the noisy, polluted and hot city, love it here! Please check pitcher-plants.com for our accommodation page.
I am from Malaybalay City. Can we do a meet-up?
Even for Malaybalay orders we still go through LBC, BUT we can offer you a discounted shipping rate at P100. The shopping cart will not reflect this, but you are welcome to reduce the payment accordingly. We don't do meetups for small orders (plus I would charge an even higher meetup-fee :) ). For orders P3000+ we can do a meet-up.
I missed the ordering batch. When will you ship again?
We usually ship at least once a week, depending on order volume more often.
Is your website up to date?
Yes always. We update it sometimes several times a day. Still, there is a chance that we will contact you if there is a problem with a certain species in your order.
Can I request a picture of the actual plants before shipping?
Sorry no, it just creates too much logistics. The plants you are receiving are growing since years (mostly "made in the Philippines") on our farm and are very sturdy - unlike some nurseries who just import, keep them "alive" and sell quickly.
Can I ask to send me specially nice plants - "better than the others"?
Sure you can ask :) but since every customer gets the nicest plants, better than the others, it's sort of pointless ... :)
Can I contact you via instant messenger (YM, ICQ, MSN, Skype)?
We really stick to e-mail here, it's most efficient. Chatting can take forever. You can use Facebook, but I will only answer once or twice a day, so it doesn't feel like a chat :-) Make sure to put your whole query in the first message :-) Since you are already viewing the FAQ, you should get most questions answered already. Way to go!
Do the plants come with care instructions?
No, the care instructions can be found here in the FAQ and on top of the Venus Flytrap, Nepenthes, Sarracenia etc pages on this website. Here they stay dry and up to date and can't get lost. If you believe something important is missing, let us know and we will edit the website.
What do I do with the permit in the envelope?
Just keep it somewhere, as this is the proof that you got your plants from a legal DENR approved nursery source. Avoid buying rare/endangered plants from sources that don't issue permits.
How do I pay you?
Just visit our website shop.pitcher-plants.com and compile a list of plants you are interested in - just click on the yellow shopping cart icon when you like to order a plant. You can add as many plants as you like. Once you are done, or you want to change your order you can press the purple check-out shopping cart on the left. If you are ready to pay, press the check-out-button in the cart overview and you will be asked for your name and address. Once you submit this, you will get an e-mail with your order details, total and BPI payment information within a few minutes. We are not publishing the bank details in advance, to avoid that people pay for plants that are not available, forget shipping charge or calculate too much shipping charge.
Why do you only accept BPI payments?
BPI has one of the largest bank networks in the Philippines and we can check the money entrance instantly online and conveniently from our farm, which is very important as many people pay last minute. Further BPI is free to anyone, you don't need to have an account with them to pay in cash. If you don't have BPI nearby, you might be able to ask a friend/relative to pay for you when visiting a bigger city. Some of our return customers even enrolled us for their BPI online banking, so they can pay anywhere, as long there is Internet. There are also Apps for Android and possibly iPhone that allow you to pay to any BPI account at any time. Please note that we also accept Credit Card payments through Paypal (fees apply!) and if you really don't have a BPI nearby, payment through LBC or Palawan Express is ok, too (fees apply!).
I can't visit BPI during office hours. Can I pay through BPI ATM deposit?
Yes, look for the new ATM express deposit machines around (see photo on the right) that will count the money instantly (no envelope). With these we also receive it instantly. Furthermore some Ayala Malls (Centrio, Cebu, etc.) do have BPI branches that are open on Saturday and Sunday.
I don't like BPI, because there are always long lines!
Good news: Most major branches have now ATM deposit machines that allow instant cash payments. Just tell the machine that you are paying without ATM card. Make sure to use the right account number and JAI 02 when asked. Note that ATM machines do not accept P50 amounts, smallest unit is P100. Therefore either pay through a human teller, adjust your order, or pay P50 more and we will credit it towards your next order.
I am at BPI and the teller says the account number is wrong.
We are using more or less the same templates for the payments since 2009 for SMS and E-mail, so the number is always correct. Most likely you are not standing in a BPI bank, but in a BPI Family Savings bank, which looks otherwise perfectly the same, but they can not transact with BPI.
Are credit card (Visa/Master) payments through Paypal instant?
Yes, if you have a Paypal account already. If you are new to it and still need to create one, you will be asked to verify your credit card, which takes around 3 days. Therefore we recommend to create the account early, even if you intend to pay late. Please note that we will only ship to your Paypal registered address and charge extra for the Paypal fees.
Where is my nearest BPI branch?
Just use the Branch Locator. Make sure you vist a Branch indicated as BPI and not BFB as the latter is BPI Family Savings bank, which is not ok.
I am BPI customer, can I pay with the Mobile App?
Yes, that's the most comfortable way to pay. Just use the "transfer to anyone" option and enter the account number for HUMAN teller that we will provide in the payment instructions. With this great comfort, it might be tempting to pay very late in the evening of the payment deadline, but the cut-off is 5 pm, as we still need to print the docs for shipping. We can accommodate an evening payment in exceptions, but please notify us during daytime that you will pay in the evening (if you are VERY sure to do so).
Will the plant die during shipping?
No. LBC takes usually only 24 hours (or 48 if you are far away from large cities, or if the cargo section of the plane to Manila is already full), which is not a problem at all for the plants. When we import, we have sometimes 2 cm size in-vitro plants that still survive 9-14 days of international travel.
Can I pay extra to have the plants shipped in soil?
No, sorry our plants are shipped bare-root. The soil is quite heavy and creates a strong impact when the box is not handled carefully. It can easily smash the plants. Just imagine the box traveling upside down for several hours in a truck on a bumpy road... Further LBC and plant quarantine service doesn't allow soil either and we definitely need to remain friends with them.
Do I have to pick up the plants in an LBC office?
No, normally they deliver at no extra charge directly to your home or work place. However, some customers prefer pickup at an LBC office near their working place, as nobody is in their home during the day and it might be hard to deliver at their work place. In that case they provide us with the desired LBC Branch instead of their address. You will need to bring an ID to pick up the plants then. If you live in a very remote/rural area, LBC might ask you to pick it up in their closest branch.
What time of the day will the plants arrive?
I don't know! If you live beside the LBC hubs in Pasay it might be early morning, if you live in a remote mountain village it might be even after 48 hours. If the LBC motorcycle driver will have a flat tire it will be in the late afternoon. If a helicopter crashes on him, you won't receive your plants :-/ I could tell you that the packages arrive on average around 11am-7pm, but then some people panic if they don't have it by late afternoon (and ask ME what's wrong) - so I rather say nothing :) The official LBC answer is: anytime. Our customers will always receive an e-mail with the tracking number, with which they can track the location of the box on the LBC website. You can also track your shipment by SMS, texting 'LBC STATUS trackingnumber' and send it to 2910 for all networks. You need of course to replace the word trackingnumber, with the number that we will e-mail to you :)
Do the plants arrive on 'shipping day'?
No - they arrive the day (or even two days) after, 'shipping day' means we will go at 5:30 am to the greenhouse and start packing and have to rush to be done before cut-off at LBC. After that they are trucked to Cagayan de Oro, airlifted and arrive in the LBC Pasay hub in the late afternoon - even if they will be flown back to the province (even for many Mindanao destinations). From Pasay delivery and further transportation continues in the following morning. If you live in a remote part of the Philippines, weather is bad, or there are some technical problems within LBC, it might take another day for delivery, but that's rather rare. According to LBC in less than 1% of the cases, according to me more towards 5-10% :-).
Can I have the tracking info immediately after shipping?
I try to send it in the morning, but sometimes it will be afternoon. As the shipping day is very stressful for us and I am usually loaded with other tasks to do, I do the shipping confirmation when I am back in the office and can do it comfortably from my computer. For this reason please understand that I am not answering e-mails and "follow-up" SMS during the day. Our Suki might be interested that there is also an LBC tracking App on Google Play.
The LBC tracking says 'received' but I haven't received the plants yet.
The word 'received' refers to the fact that LBC has received the plants from us. After that it will be shipped and arrive usually a day or two after the receiving. Please note that here in Mindanao the package might not get scanned again, before arrival in Manila. Therefore the tracking gets more interesting on the 2nd day. The final word is btw 'delivered'.
Preparation for arrival
What do I need to prepare for the arrival of the plants?
Prepare the media and do it a few days ahead to soak it very well with rain water and exchange it every now and then, as for coco fibers it takes sometime to saturate with water. The plants will have anyway a tendency to have a mild dry stress after arrival until the roots connect properly with the soil. If the plants look dehyrdrated you can help them by drowning the plants after arrival for 30 mins in a bucket with rainwater, prior to planting. For VFT, Pings and Sundews use 90mm pots, for Nepenthes 135mm pots unless they are rated size large or bigger.
Are there special measures after arrival of the plants?
Yes, keep the plants away from direct sunlight, until you can see happy new leafs and growth. Sometimes Nepenthes enjoy a high humidity environment, like a closed clear plastic bag for 2-3 weeks, which you then can open gradually, every 3 days a little more until removal. If you have lots of rain around and a sturdy plant you should be able to do without. Just monitor if the plant looks dry stressed (leaves curling inwards).
Can I grow the plants indoors?
Plants naturally grow outdoors :-) Which means inside a house or condo light levels are extremely low, even if a room or window looks very bright to the human eye. The are some plants that can cope with darkness, like those large leaved Spathiphyllum or other aroids coming from dark rainforests. Carnivorous plants usually don't grow in dark rainforest, but in areas where there is something "wrong" with the soil and in which other plants can not thrive. Without competition they usually have excellent light levels, which they also need to synthesize the nice colors, nectar, enzymes and so on.
Where are the seeds in the package?
If we have a free seed promo, we will add small white paper packs with seeds to the package. For the LBC Transpack plastic envelope we staple it in the clear outside pocket, where also the LBC receipt and the permit is located. For larger orders/plants we use boxes. Here we squeeze the seeds from the outside into the folds of the box and also secure them with scotch tape. In case you are wondering, we try to keep them a bit away from the plants, as they are often wet during the packing process. Seeds can be sown without soil cover on some coco peat. Best container is a clear tupperware with clear lid. Never let the sun shine on it, so it doesn't overheat. For Nepenthes it can take several weeks if not months to germinate. Germination is not guaranteed though :-)
Can I immediately display the plants after arrival (for resale for example)?
Don't expect a perfect appearance of the plants directly after unboxing. For packing we do have to fold the plants 'umbrella-style' and put them in groups in bottles or card board boxes. During this procedure or the shipping it can happen that some pitchers get flattened or even break off. This doesn't bother the plant and even if your pitchers survive, they usually don't last long after arrival. The really nice and lasting pitchers will be those grown at your place and therefore we would recommend to grow the plants at least for 4 months prior to public display, etc. Same for VFT, that like to close its traps during transport. The part crucial for survival is the bulb (just like garlic). Sundew will loose the dew or fill it with dust, so they most likely don't look pretty at all, but will replace their dirty leaves quickly with new ones full of shiny dew.
Growing media AKA soil....
I heard coco peat can be harmful to plants. Is that true?
Yes, there are numerous carnivorous plant growers that have killed plants with coco peat. However, this can be avoided. Depending on the source of the coco peat it can contain high amounts of salt and tannines, which can be flushed out by repeated washing. More rarely if it is not completely decomposed, it is also known to compete with plants for nitrogen, which is the main reason to never attempt to grow a plant in fresh sawdust. Having said this, those plant-killing-experiences are mostly from people using fresh coco peat in a closed setup like a terrarium, where excess water can not drain. Since we recommend growing your plants outdoors in drained pots with daily rain exposure the negative effects of coco peat won't affect you. To be safe of course prepare those pots way before arrival of your plants and water them often (if it's not raining :) ). To put some positive light on coco peat: 1. It is readily available in the Philippines, even in the province (do-it-yourself from old coconuts!) 2. It can be sustainably produced. Real-peat production is quite damaging to wetland habitats. 3. Often it harbors Trichoderma, a natural anti-fungus police in your media. 4. Very high air levels. 5. Not very soggy, hard to over-water. 6. pH 5.5-6.5 which is quite good for carnivorous plants. 7. Low nutrient, which is also preferred for CP. 8. No health hazards for humans - careful with Perlite (dust). 9. It's anti-bacterial. 10. It's high potassium.
Can I use coco saw dust instead of coco peat?
No way, saw dust can be very harmful to plants, especially the fresh one. It might look similar like coco dust, but again: no, you don't want to try.
Can I use coco coir instead of coco peat?
If your coco peat looks like the shavings of a Barbie Doll (image on the right) then you have Coco coir. Coco coir are long fibers that can not be used for these plants. Coco peat is dust like and is usually sold in dried hard bricks.
I can't find any coco peat in my area. What should I do?
Coco peat is most commonly found at Ace Hardware (occasionally out of stock, just try other branches), sometimes also at Zoo-shops, or big garden centers. You can also try to find it on OLX.com.ph . If you can't find commercial coco peat, you can make your own. Look for some very brown, aged coco nut husk and make sure it is not found near the beach (salt!). Then take pliers and pull the fibers apart. While you pull you will notice some dust falling down -that's the coco peat! You will also notice that most of the husk is coco fibers and not peat, so it is a bit of work. You can also mix in the fibers, but you have to cut them to 1 cm pieces, so the air pockets in the media don't get too big (it would dry out too quickly then). Once you are done, soak and wash your new media and keep it in the rain and allow it to get wet every day. Let the water drain away, no saucers! We did this strenous procedure ourselves for several years when we still had "only" hundreds of Nepenthes. Nowadays we drive 2 * 100 km to Tagoloan near Cagayan de Oro to get it from a Coconut processing factory, as no-one sells coco peat in our town either. Sacrifices have to be made :) And no, quarantine does not allow us to ship coco peat. And no, we won't give you our blessing to use alternative media, except real peat, which is even harder to find in our country. PS: If you know of whole sale sources for coco peat, please let us know, so we can share it here.
How to wash coco peat?
Assuming you are buying the standard Ace-Hardware coco peat block - sometimes you can buy it uncompressed in large sacks for very little money - just put it in a bucket with at least 8 times the volume of rain water, make sure it submerges and leave it for an hour or so and then drain the water. You can repeat this a couple of times and keep it wet at all times. Then put the coco peat in pots and leave them to the rain. If no rain, then water them as often as you can. For us we never have plants dying in fresh cocopeat, but sometimes delicate plants like VFT or sundew become smaller initially, while later increasing in size as the media neutralizes. For seeds I prefer old (black), but healthy looking (no mosses etc.) coco peat.
I have read that sand is a good add-on for the coco peat. Can I use river or beach sand?
Some plants like Venus Flytrap or Sundew do enjoy some (up to 50%) sand in the media. However you have to be careful, because only coarse Silica Quartz sand is suitable for the task. Silica sand consist of small Quartz crystals - they are transparent - look closely, when you check. The other sand varieties like river or beach sand have minerals in them that will dissolve due to the elevated acidity in the growing media. And those plants don't want those dissolved minerals. Silica sand is not so easy to find, you can try pet stores, or buisnesses that deal with water filtration. If you can't find any silica sand, just use coco peat alone - no worries.
What kind of container do you recommend?
We prefer regular plastic flower pots, while some people even use ice cream containers or the like. Since carnivorous plants are kept rather moist, clay pots tend to turn ugly after a while and could harbor microorganisms that might return to the media, even after an exchange of media - some clays even leach minerals which are harmful for carnivorous plants. Yoghurt cups, ice cream containers and the like can be used, if you put some drainage holes in the bottom. However they usually break very quickly, if exposed to the sun. If you don't monitor your plants regularly the media might be washed away and the plant can be harmed. Watch also out that your pot/soil doesn't get too hot in the sun, if so try to shade it with a 2nd pot, or other obstacles. Terrariums or aquariums create stagnant conditions, plus more importantly the waste waters can not flow away, which is very critical with (coco or regular) peat soils. You can see nice images of terrariums with plants online, but usually people who use these live in temperate climates, where humidity needs to be increased. In the Philippines increasing humidity is not really needed and esp. temperate plants like VFT, Sarracenia and Butterworth might not enjoy it at all (keyword: root rot, fungus). For indoor growers it might be an option, but make sure they have enough lights or even ventilation and a drainage option.
We live in a very hot area, will the plants survive?
It's a common myth in the Philippines that people believe pitcher plants are mountain plants. But actually pitcher plants were common on Philippine shores just a few hundred years ago. They just dislike the nutrients that come along with human settlements and also suffered from over-collection and thus disappear. While there are pitcher plants that only live in the mountains, many of our plants originate from hot tropical lowland locations. There are actually some (N. ampullaria, N. bicalcarata, N. gracilis, N. rafflesiana, N. mirabilis ...) plants that will grower faster for you than for us. Generally, when we import and propagate plants we are focusing on plants that love warm temperatures, as most of our buyers are in cities like Manila and Cebu.
Some of the "highland" and temperate plants are recommended only for experienced growers, but you will find indications on the website. It's written from a lowland perspective.
How often do I need to water the plants?
Can not be answered, as it depends where your plants are placed and even their pot size has a huge impact on their watering frequency. In full sun and small pots it might be needed every two hours and indoors maybe once a week. You will have to learn to see when the soil needs water. Most of our plants are water loving, while most of them enjoy drying out for a few hours (definitely not days) rather than staying permanently wet. As you can sense you can lessen the watering frequency by choosing a bigger pot or a more dense soil, but some plants don't like that (lazier approach), too.
I live in a very windy area. Can I still grow these plants?
Many carnivorous plants are very small and not bothered by wind at all. The bigger ones like Nepenthes hold themselves on with their tendrils and will do so pretty automatically if they are given something to grasp on. For Sarracenia you can give them some support, as the pitchers have a tendency to topple over, which is mostly caused by strong rains making the pitchers full and heavy. What we would do, if we had more time or less plants :), put 4 BBQ sticks on the outside of the pot and put a string loosely around the pitchers.
I don't have rain water. What are the alternatives?
First of all, we are in a country with one of the highest rain falls in the world, so there should be a way to get rain to your plants, while it might be not as comfy as charging an Iphone :). We advise to use a large storage drum or even tank, that can fill quickly during a good rain fall (no, with a few Coke bottles you won't get far into dry season). Rain water can be used not only for plants, but also for the car wash, CR, washing machine and more, investing in a tank usually pays back quickly. If you just live in an apartment without rain-access, you might know someone where you can collect rain-water, and fill some bottles from their drum, or you can also try collecting the run-off water of air-conditioners. If this is not an option, it gets a bit more expensive: You can buy distilled water (Wilkons brand etc) or even look into a reverse osmosis (RO) unit, which is very costly to buy and run. If you have an emergency you can use (2+ day old) tap or well water, but on the long run it will harm the plants, as the unfavourable minerals will accumulate in your media. Best of course is, if your plants are fully exposed to the rain (exclude Butterworth and most Sundews here), as pitcher plants are known to be more deadly to insects during rain, due to the vibration and added lubrication. With full rain exposure a single shade cloth can help cutting the rain into fine mist, so the new coco peat doesn't get washed out.
Should I use plant hormones?
No, carnivorous plants are very modest in their requirements. Your worry should be about light levels, moisture content and possibly pests - that's about it. There is also no need for rooting hormones. These are mostly designed for wooden plants and even for Nepenthes they don't have any beneficial effects. Plus there are way too many hormones floating around these days...
My Nepenthes is loosing one or more pitchers. Is it dying?
After transplanting, sometimes even if you just move the pot within your patio, Nepenthes can get a dry stress and loose pitchers. Latest by then you might want to consider the closed plastic bags technique. Don't worry though it is pretty normal and the first or 2nd new grown leaf at your place should have a healthy nice pitcher.
I am a beginner. Which of your Venus Flytraps is the easiest?
Venus Flytrap is only one species: Dionaea muscipula - therefore they are all the same despite some optical differences and don't require different cultivation measures. Having said that we and some of our customers believe that the red flytraps grow slower and thus are harder to keep happy. Please also consider starting with Nepenthes pitcher plants first, they are way easier to grow and much bigger.
There is only one species of Venus Flytrap Dionaea muscipula and it originates in North Carolina (USA), a region that has real winter with snow etc. This species has winter leaves that lie down and summer leaves that are long and standing. Since in the Philippines we don't have seasons with a big temperature difference, Venus Flytraps tend to make winter leaves only (but as a bonus also not get totally dormant!). However our traps will also become very large and active starting around every June, so this has nothing to do with unhappiness :) There are some clones that don't produce winter leaves like 'Red Long Finger' or to some extend 'Royal Red' which is still in propagation.
Will Venus Flytrap bite my fingers off? Will the pitcher plant digest my finger if I put it in the pitcher?
People, you have been watching too many cartoons! These are plants! Humans harm and eat plants, but not the other way around! While these plants might strike back at some insects, they won't harm you or your pets (unless you are collecting insects :-) ). Or maybe if you keep your finger for 3 weeks in a pitcher plant, maybe you finger gets also a little softer :) I am actually amazed, how often this topic is raised...
Are carnivorous plants poisonous?
Carnivorous plants are known to never have harmed a human or any typical pets as in "dog", "cat" or "bird" - while of course a huge pitcher plant is capable of eating a bird, or possibly a kitten - but we are talking poisoning here. Carnivorous plants like Venus Flytraps are grown in the millions since decades in many childrens bedrooms without any incidents. Some carnivorous plants like Sundew are consumed by humans like a medicine, while others served as cooking containers like Nepenthes. The only ever mention (out of more that 1000 carnivorous plant species) of a poisonous alkaloid is Coniin, which was found in Sarracenia flava, obviously to make the insects disoriented and easy to catch. Now, while Coniin is a strong poison, it depends on the quantity of such substance. According to "Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases" the Coniin content of Sarracenia flava is 1 ppm. The lethal dose LD50 of Coniin being 6-7 mg/kg of bodyweight, so it boils down that a 20 kg kid would need to eat 120 kg of Sarracenia flava to be in danger. Children being occasionally close to smokers, inhaling floor wax, or walking along a busy road in Manila might be in much higher danger... While you are at it, check also if you have any Gabi (calcium oxalate), Cassava (cyanide), Dieffenbachia (calcium oxalate), or even Cashew-trees (urushiol) around, and don't ever eat green tomatoes (solanine, glycoalkaloid) as those are seriously poisonous.
My Venus Flytrap has black traps. Is it dying?
No, it is pretty normal for Dionaea to have black leaves. You can cut them off if you want. A leaf lives only about 2 months for this plant, but in the same time new ones are emerging. If you got the hang of it they should emerge at least at the same rate as the old leaves are dying (recommended) :)
My Venus Flytrap arrived and all traps are closed. Why is that?
The traps have been triggered during transportation and might react to water stress. They will open again after a week or so. Latest the newly grown leaves will perform as expected.
How many leaves (traps) does a VFT or pitcher plant have?
This is a somewhat strange but common question. Strange, because how would I know how many leaves the individual VFT taken out of hundreds, that I will send to a specific customer in two weeks will have? Even if I would check it, would it still have the same amount of leaves next week?? Anyway, a Venus flytrap should have at least 4 traps to be allowed for dispatch. For pitcher plants it should have at least one healthy pitcher, but depending on the species it can have 2, 3 or more.
What and how often do I have to feed my plant?
No, you don't need to feed your plant. The plant is fine without extra feeding and smart enough to capture its own prey. Food for a carnivorous plant is like vitamins for a human. It's not definitely needed, but makes it stronger and healthier. Some sundews for example really prosper if they are fed and you can find a lot of talk about feeding them online. The talk exists, because people from temperate countries grow their plants indoors and some of them don't have insects at all in their homes. However, since most of us are blessed living in the insect infested tropics :-) we don't really need to worry about supplying additional insects, fish food, milk or whatsoever. If you still want to feed, don't use very large insects as they can make the trap mold. Insects should be alive though. Also ants are not recommended as they defend themselves with an acid that can be damaging to the leaf tissue. Don't feed meat, cheese, eggs or other things that don't belong into plants :) Just for fun I tried feeding some expired coffee creamer powder, which the plants enjoyed, but once the dogs sensed that sweet topping on our sundews, I have to strongly warn to attempt the same ... 8-/
I want the easiest carnivorous plant. What do you recommend?
Nepenthes are the easiest plants, as they are native to the tropics. Within this group you can start with the cheap hybrids. N. hirsuta x spathulata, N. Gentle, N. Miranda, N. Trichocarpa being for us the fastest and thus easiest. N. Dyeriana might be even faster for you (heat loving) and has very spectacular pitchers. If you want the fastest plant then you might want to look into N. Ventrata. N. Hookeriana, N. mirabilis MT, N. maxima and N. ampullaria are also lovely and very sturdy.
Do I need to do dormancy?
This applies mostly for Sarracenia and Dionaea, while most others are tropicals. We are growing some of our Sarracenias since 10+ years without dormancy and can say that they are fine. Even the most cold loving Sarracenia purpurea is happy as can be, but is has to be noted that our night temperatures are a few degree below the typical temperatures in the Philippines. Anyway we have super-mild winter here in the Philippines, plus the following dry season can also keep plants dormant. Just Google around and build your own opinion. For VFT we have 5 year old plants that are happy and big without dormancy, they just rarely flower. But you don't want VFT flowers either, they are boring and drain the energy of the plant. Don't be to eager for seeds, they require lots of patience and error-free care to turn into full size plants. We find it way too hard and slow to grow from seeds.
So, if a plant needs a dormancy, I can not grow it?
Sure, you can! Just put it in the refrigerator for 3 months. Procedure is, get it out from the soil, wash it, cut at least for Sarracenia all pitchers off (they die anyway when cold), clean the roots, drown the whole Rhizome in a fungicide solution (we are using Dimethane, which you find in any Agrisupply) and then transfer it in a tupperware. As a luxury you can make a bedding in the tupperware from Long Fibred Sphagnum (LFS), available at Garden 2000 at the corner EDSA -Quezon Ave, Quezon City. Put a date on the tupperware and place it in the warmest area of your refrigerator, which is usually the upper door. Be nice to your family members, that they tolerate that weird container and advise them not to throw it away (been there done that...) :)
How do I grow plant XY? What soil do I use?
Just visit our website and look for the plant. On top of that page you will find genus specific care instructions. If there is anything special about the species, it will be mentioned in its description. Don't forget that the Internet is full of information. If you google 'VFT cultivation' you will get 27900 hits... If you want to read more than you can find at our site, then head to our forum, which is filled with ten thousands of posts. It even has a Philippine section for local growers. My favorite resource is ICPS, but you can also try Flytrapcare or Nepenthes around the house - those should keep you busy for a while. If you are tired from reading try Youtube, lots on there, too!
Why are some of your plants so small?
First of all the size is usually indicated in the website, as in S=5-8cm, M=8-15cm, L=15-25cm or XL. When we import plants they are usually at S or even smaller and are not cheap either. Carnivorous plants are generally relatively slow growing, sometimes it takes us a year to grow them from S to M. Often they sell out prior to reaching large size and we have to re-import or reproduce. For shipping it is of course also convenient (which means cheaper for you) to have smaller plants. Often our sizes are outdated and the plant you are receiving is already larger, but we have to play safe with our size indications. Keep also in mind that some Sundews for example are fully adult when they reach the size of a Peso coin, so please use the Wikipedia buttons to learn as much as possible about the plant prior to ordering to avoid surprises.
My house is insect infested. Are your plants my solution?
Frankly spoken, I prefer people who grow these plants being fascinated by their beauty and sophisticated ways how to prey, capture and digest insects. If your main purpose is to get an insect free house, you might want to stick to Baygon or move to Alaska or such :). Insect eating plants do catch a bit of insects, but they don't eradicate them (only humans are 'smart' enough to eradicate their food sources (think dynamite/cyanide fishing)). Further on you won't make these plants happy by growing them indoors - they might even die when attempting. Having said that, there are people who bring their sundews or butterworths inside at night and even assist them with a desk light and can watch them catching huge amounts of flying insects including mosquitoes. We have some poultry owners, who are very satisfied with Sarracenia taking care of their fly populations in their homes - although they do need huge amounts of plants to make an impact on their whole farm. Nepenthes are always filling up with dead ants and even roaches if the pitcher size allows. And Venus Flytraps sometimes seem to have their traps permanently closed, as the open traps will be closed quickly by the next victim.
Money related matters
When I buy a more expensive plant, is it bigger?
Our prices are reflecting how fast the plant is growing, propagating and how demanded it is. Size is secondary here. N. rajah for example takes 10 years until it has a 30 cm diameter, while N. mirabilis can do the same in a year. If you have very spectacular plants like N. veitchii, N. northiana or N. glabrata they will also come at a higher price, even when N. northiana is still tiny as of the moment.
Do plants also become cheaper?
Yes, as we are rarely importing these days and rely more on propagating ourselves, we can offer SOME species at even lower prices. But before we can release plants for very low prices, we really need to produce lots to keep up with demand sustainably. However sometimes the demand gets so strong that we have to increase prices until the quantity is safe again for lower prices. You might feel it already: The customers are actually generating the prices.
Do plants also become more expensive?
Yes, when they get bigger, especially from Size M to L. But usually I will keep smaller or re-propagated plants at the same base price.
Do you have wholesale sales?
Yes, for some of the cheaper plants, you will find it indicated next to the species. For the more expensive plants I can not give any discounts. And yes, the plants need to be the same species and clone - otherwise it is not whole sale :) No need to ask for whole sale on plants that are not indicated as such. This includes VFT, which are selling fast enough without any wholesale offers...
Off topic matters :-)
Are you Filipino?
Also a common question, but probably triggered because your text messages are always answered in English. We have several Filipinos working at the Pitcher Plant Farm, but the one answering all the questions and doing the customer related logistics is usually me - Volker - a German national. Since I live since 1997 in the Philippines I understand Visaya and Filipino quite ok, but I do my written communication in English to avoid any misunderstandings, plus I like to use the English spelling correction of my phone, which makes writing a lot faster as typos get corrected while writing. Since in the Philippines most signs, papers and newspapers are - unlike in Germany - written in English I have a strong feeling that my customers understand me very well. You are welcome to keep on using your own language despite the English responses - it's a good exercise for me to fill the missing gaps in my vocabulary. Anyway, with the shopping cart system and FAQ things are fairly automated :)
Do you also sell solar systems?
Yes, we have another business called Highland-Solar specializing on solar panels, batteries, controllers and solar water pumps. The shocking :) news is, that our prices are unbeatable! Because even if you find a competitor that has lower prices, we will add so many free carnivorous plants that you won't have a choice!
What if my question is not here?
Ask us! And it will appear here afterwards including answer!