October 18, 2014
Nepenthes villosa is arguably one of the most sought after Nepenthes by hobbyists around the world. Its popularity can be attributed to its huge fangs and colorful traps, however it is not an easy plant to grow. Nepenthes villosa is found at high altitudes on Mount Kinabalu and Mount Tambuyukon and can be considered a tropical alpine plant, needing very cool temperatures to stay happy. Below are some of the care guidelines that we follow to keep our specimens happy.
In the wild, Nepenthes villosa grows in exposed areas on Mt Kinabalu and Mt Tambuyukon. However, in cultivation it is a good idea to give them a good amount of light, t5 and t8s work very well. A new and promising product is LED lighting, it is much more cost efficient than t5s plus they cover a broader spectrum of light, from 430nm all the way up to 710nm. Some growers report satisfactory growth with ranges of 8100-12000 lx (750-1100 fc).
Nepenthes villosa grows at an altitude of 2300-3240m above sea level, it is the second highest elevation growing Nepenthes, only beaten by N. lamii from New Guinea. Since it grows at such high elevations it is best to keep it cool at all times. Day temperatures can range from the mid low 70s to low 80s; your temperatures should never exceed mid 80s for any long period of time. What is most important with growing Nepenthes villosa is getting the night temperatures right, they prefer a night temperature in the low 50s to high 40s. These low temperatures can be easily achieved by using a chest freezer, an article written by Jeff Shafer goes into the details on how to build a suitable setup here.
Nepenthes villosa seem to benefit from periodic fertilization, just make sure not to get too much on the leaves because they can burn easily. Recommended methods would be 1/4 strength Maxsea© seaweed fertilizer or 1/3 strength Growmore© orchid fertilizer every month or so. From experience, pure coffee works amazing for Nepenthes villosa and the other related toothy species. However, you want to remember to flush the pots the day after fertilization. The effect of fertilizer application is far from guaranteed, but coffee seems repeatedly reported to be safe and exhibiting positive effects.
Nepenthes villosa likes to live in a highly acidic sphagnum based mix. It is important to make sure that the soil you use drains well to prevent the plant from rotting. Any sphagnum and perlite mix will work well; equal parts sphagnum:perlite:choir:peat is a mix that has gotten good reports. The best peat to use the is light, less compact form. Also, watch out for those salts! Make sure all of your ingredients have very low salt content (TDS at 50 or below).
Like most highland Nepenthes, villosa appreciates high humidity at night. However, it is good to let the humidity drop a little during the day to promote root growth. Day humidity in the 60s to 80s with night humidity in the 90s should work well. It is also important to note that you should not have the plants constantly wet as that can make them prone to rot.