Heliamphora is endemic to the tepuis of Venezuela (Brasilia) where
they have evolved into several different species. Up to date there
are eight known species: Heliamaphora nutans, ionasii, minor,
heterodoxa, tatei and the recently discovered and described
Heliamphora hispida, folliculata and chimantensis.
On top of the tepuis is a harsh tropical highland climate with daily
heavy rains and strong wind, high intensity of sun (including lots
of ultraviolett radiation), moderate warm days and cold nights.
In cultivation Heliamphora needs very(!) bright light, relativly
high humidity above 50%, well drained but always moist soil, warm
days and cold(!) nights year around. There is no dormancy.
I'm growing my sunpitchers in a terrarium (120cm x 60cm x 80 cm)
standing at an east facing window (recieving some direct morning
sunlight). On top of the terraium is a 70 W high pressure sodium
light which emittes additional 6500 lumens for 14 hours during
summer and 12 hours during winter. The Heliamphora are standing
directly under this light (50cm distance) and they seem to highly
appreciate the yellowish intensive light. They are nicely coloured
and have lids almost as big as in natural habitat. Coloration and
lid size is the best indicator for enough light.
Temperature can raise over 30°C for short periods during sunny
summer days but are usually around 24°c during day. Nighttime
temperature drops down to 20°C in summer and down to 12-15°C during
winter (which surely is better). I installed a miniature ultransonic
fogger and a PC fan which is blowing fresh air from outside into the
terrarium on intervalls during the night to get some air movement
and cooling (evaporation). Heliamphora seems to like these "misty"
I use a mixture of equal parts peat and perlite and do not let the
plants stand in water. I had also used pure Sphagnum before and
watered some plants on the tray system and this was successfull,
too. But the peat/perlite mix works very well and doesn't need
frequent repotting. I have one small Heliamphora nutans growing in
pure peat and it is also doing fine.
During summer 2002 I had a Heliamphora minor x heterodoxa growing
outside in my artificial bog and it was growing well and captured
lots of prey (similar to a Sarracenia purpurea standing nearby).
After heavy rains the water level was sometimes as high as the soil
surface without doing any harm to the plant.
Heliamphora can be propagated by dividing larger clumps of
plants. Be careful because the roots and pitchers are quite fragile.
If you have separated a piece of plant with part of a rhizom but no
roots treat it like a cutting and it should survive.
The plants have beautiful flowers and I once menaged to get some
seed even under artificial lights. This flower was directly below
the high pressure sodium light (about 10 cm away from the bulb).
Seems that extremly intensive light and heat around the flower will
stimulate polination ?!?
I will try this again with my next Heliamphora flowers.
I got 15 seeds out of the seed capsule and 14 of them germinated
after some weeks. The seedlings are growing very slowly but
propagation through seed without the use of tissue culture seems to
be much easier than I always thought.