Sunday, April 6, 2014

By Request: "How's Your Robcantleyi Doing?"

I do take requests for this blog and the most common one I get is for how my Nepenthes robcantleyi 'Queen of Hearts' x 'King of Spades' is doing for me and how I'm growing it. This being among the "newer" Nepenthes on the market, most hobbyists have not grown it to maturity yet and many are still figuring out how to best grow it at all.

N. robcantleyi 'Queen of Hearts' x 'King of Spades'

Here's what I've found out about mine. 

1.) It likes it's media wet.
Like really wet, wet. I've partially by accident, because it's been on a rack with another plant overhead, been watering it (from what I consider, having grown Nepenthes for many years now) too much. It seemed happy when I looked at it so I let the plant above continue to drip extra water onto robcantleyi. It's now growing better than it ever has.

2.) It has always grown better for me under artificial lighting in a semi-closed environment.
Back when I first got my robcantleyi it was expensive, still maybe the most I've ever spent on one Nepenthes. So I chose to grow it in with my Drosera and mini orchids in a 10 gallon terrarium. It grew well, and pitchered on every leaf in there. Then it outgrew my tiny terrarium and I grew it on a rack in a window or outdoors after that. It rarely pitchered and seemed to be susceptible to every mite attack possible. It looked and grew like crap, even when I wasn't stalling it out with pesticide. This winter when I brought everything inside for the colder weather I had the luxury of a grow tent. It's now growing better than it ever has.

This leads me to believe one of two things. Either it's the amount of light or it's the consistent temperarures. Or maybe a combination of both. The tent is consistent like the tank was back in the day. Warm, 85 F/29 C during the day, and room temperature, about 70 F/ 21 C at night. I would call that intermediate temperatures. Robcantleyi seems to be ok with this. 

Robcantleyi was not ok with the heat when I attempted to grow it outside here over the last year. It tends to be 90's F/ 30's C during the day and 80's F/ 20's C at night for months. Robcantleyi grew very slow with funky shaped leaves and small pitchers. Not happy, so back indoors it went.

On the other hand, robcantleyi does seem to be ok with inconsistent, wild swings in humidity. I am not the most diligent water-er and I tend to underwater by choice rather than over-water and rot something. Thus the tent has high humidity when I water and for a day or two afterward, then the humidity drops into the 40-50% range for a few days before I water again. The same went for the old tank.

So for all of you that have asked me how my robcantleyi is doing. The answer now is great. I hope what I have discovered about growing this Nepenthes is somewhat helpful to others. Now I don't advocate for any of the above methods for successfully growing yours, this is just what I've found mine to consistently like over it's lifespan and travels since 2010 with me. This being a seed grown plant it may be a stronger or worse grower than yours, or maybe it's pickier or more tolerant than yours.

Oldest picture I could find of robcantleyi in the 10 gallon terrarium, 3.5" pot, late 2010/early 2011. Drosera for scale.

Summer 2012, 6" pot, outdoors in NY

N. robcantleyi 'Queen of Hearts' x 'King of Spades' today. Had to wash it out a bit with the light, otherwise it was hard to capture the detail against the black pot.

N. robcantleyi, 4/6/14
iPhone photo, captures the color better than my digital camera

I'm excited to see what it looks like next year!


  1. Nice pitcher! Strangely mine seems to love the full sun but when there are days are that cloudy/rainy, it doesn't grow as fast. I love RC, they are one of my top 10 my favorite nepenthes. :)

    1. Not too strange that it loves full sun, it seems to be mostly lowlanders that have a hard time with too much sun. I find my particular robcantleyi to be a slower grower than most, but it is starting to pick up speed now that it's gained some size to it. Might just be slower as a juvenile.

  2. You've got a nice plant there! I splurged and got two RCs to be on the safe side. Also, one came labeled as "TC" and I really wanted a seed-grown specimen. My experience has been similar to yours. I grow mine in a Southeast window with an LED array for a bit of extra light. What really made a huge difference was using Max Sea 16/16/16 at 1/2 tsp per gallon. All my neps love this stuff as do my orchids and other plants!

  3. hi I love your blog.
    Could you make another update on your bicals and the Robcantleyi?
    I would love to hear your continued experience with these as I am just starting out with my young plants!