Nepenthes are perhaps the most iconic of all carnivorous plants (aside from Dionaea, of course), and it's easy to see why - the large, flashy, colorful traps of certain species and tales of large specimens consuming rodents enthrall the public mind. The hotspot of Nepenthes diversity is in southeast Asia, with islands such as Borneo, Sumatra, the Philippines, and Sulawesi playing host to an incredible variety of species (although there are oddballs found in places ranging from Madagascar to Australia to New Caledonia). They are found on shorelines, on cold, windy ridges, growing on cliffs, growing on trees as epiphytes, in hot lowland jungles, in high cloud forests, and sub-alpine tropical forest where it nearly drops to freezing point at night. Some species grow in acidic peaty soils, others inhabit limestone cliffs, and some prefer live Sphagnum hummocks or ultramafic substrate. With over 150 recognized species and even more horticultural and natural hybrids from so many different habitats, there's bound to be a plant that will grow well for you, even if it's only the common N. x ventrata.
Generally, horticulturists divide Nepenthes into two groups (or three, if you count intermediates) when discussing their cultivation depending on the elevation they are found at: highland species, and lowland species. Highland species are from elevations of 1000 meters or more above sea level, and lowland species are found less than 1000 meters from sea level. However, it is important to note that these categories are only general and are even arbitrary in the case of many exceptions - many species have populations that straddle the 1000m mark (which have been called intermediates), or separate populations that occur both above and below the line. Like always, the most important consideration when growing these plants is to know the habitat and preferences of the exact species you have!
The most crucial difference between the cultivation of lowland and highland plants is their preferred daytime and nighttime temperatures, although there are other aspects to consider as well. For that reason, we've split our Nepenthes grow guide into separate categories for lowland plants and highland plants.
Click to learn more!
Click to Learn More!
This altitudinal chart is a great overall guide of the elevations where many Nepenthes species are found. I've been told that there are some inaccuracies and missing information on it, but in general it's a good resource to keep in mind.