Thursday, October 11, 2012

A "Death Cube" seedling Nepenthes ventricosa

"Death Cubes" are an old term, (not really so relevant anymore) for the carnivorous plants the company Botanical Wonders used to supply to big box stores like Lowe's. Why the nickname? They we're literally sold in a sealed, plastic, square or rectangular box. Recently Botanical Wonders uses a thinner plastic box that's breathable, not nearly as bad for the plant, and probably much cheaper to produce so I wonder why they didn't do this sooner.

I wish I had pictures to show you guys but I had thrown out all my cubes long ago. I threw out the new style box I got this Nepenthes ventricosa in too, but it would be pretty worthless to show you without a comparison to the old style anyway. I had even asked a few people that had pictures of their Death Cubes online for permission to use the photos, but no one wanted to share. So you can always "Google it," and see some of the same photos anyway....

Here's what the N. ventricosa looked like after I got home and repotted it back in May. It had almost no root system so it's taken it a few months to get going. Then we had the mite outbreak and it got sprayed with systemic insecticide like everything else. No damage, but it sulked for a month before deciding to grow again.

Below is what it looks like today. Still quite small, leaves about the width of the plant tag, but much healthier. I repotted it again before I took it inside for the winter, and to check on the progress of it's root system. I'm happy to report a significant amount of root growth at least. The leaves are also much thicker, (a good thing.)

Temporary home with the orchids until I get my winter set-ups all organized

Awww, look, my 1st ventricosa pitcher. Despite it's lack of color, the size of it, (compared to the leaf size,) is a good sign that my ventricosa will do fine here. I always worry about Nepenthes that are so small, they're much hardier and tolerant of adverse conditions as adults. The pitchers all look similar on seedling Nepenthes no matter the species (for the most part.) As the plant matures each pitcher starts to look more and more like the species it is. This is my favorite part about starting off with such small specimens.

The pitcher is thin enough to see where the water level is, all self produced.

I'll probably still refer to these plants as being from Death Cubes, because they do still come in a plastic box, just not quite as sealed in and doomed to death without imminent purchase and re-pot as before. My Nepenthes 'Judith Finn' is a Death Cube plant from back in 2007(ish?) as well. I cannot remember for the life of me if my Sarracenia purpurea was from a Death Cube or not, but I highly suspect it was. (I'm not the best record keeper, but trying to get better.)

So many people pick up their first carnivorous plant at a Lowe's or a Home Depot from this company, the name may stick long past when people forget about how bad the original box was. I really hope so because "Death Cube" is one of my favorite nicknames for anything ever.


  1. I just discovered your blog, and I'm going to love it. You are growing the very plants I've never tried to grow, although I worked in the garden center at Lowe's and sold plants in death cubes. My grandmother used to say, "Just take your courage in your hands and do it. It's not like buying a farm!"

    1. Thank you so much, always glad to hear that this is interesting to people other than just myself! I always hope to at least inspire someone to try the more "difficult" things and grow whatever they want to, wherever they live.

      Plants like these can be real intimidating, I totally understand. It's a learning curve, especially with carnivorous plants, but not a steep one. Plus then you go online to do some research and you're inundated with issues, problems, and people telling you how hard they are...really doesn't help confidence. However, Death Cubes being between $5-$9, not a big loss if it fails on your first try, nothing like "buying a farm," LOL! I love it!

  2. You found my blog and I found your blog. I grow carnivorous plants, cacti, succulents, bromeliads and orchids and so do you. Your plants look like they have been taken good care of plus you know how to take good photos of them. Lovely blog. :)

    1. Thanks, I appreciate it. Yeah, I laughed when I saw you grew the same plants that I did, not many people around that pretty much cover all the bases of "difficult" plants, lol!