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Australian Pitcher Plants (Cephalotus spp.)

Often overlooked due to their mysterious appearance, Australian pitcher plants are unique and unusual. They are an excellent option for any terrarium. With vibrant coloring, an intriguing form, and beautiful foliage, this native Australian species will be a great addition to your garden.

In this article, well discuss why the Australian Pitcher Plant is an ideal terrarium plant, what makes it different from other carnivorous plants, and how to care for it. With the right environment and care, youll be able to enjoy the beauty of this Australian native for many years to come.

Quick Stats:

Scientific Name: Cephalotus Spp.

Family: Cephalotaceae

Common Names: Australian Pitcher Plant, Albany Pitcher Plant, Fly-catcher

Habitat: Wetland/Swampy Bogs

Height: 5 to 8 inches tall

PH Range: 5.5 to 7.5

Temperature: 65°F to 85°F

What Is An Australian Pitcher Plant?

Australian Pitcher Plants are a type of carnivorous plant that belongs to the genus Cephalotus, the only plant in this family.

Their defining feature is a mixture of bright green leaves forming a cup or pitcher-like structure which traps prey inside. This structure is filled with a liquid solution created by the plant to lure prey to their untimely demise.

Drosera spp. "Sundews" Care Guide | Vivarium Plants

Pitcher Plants Facts

The pitcher plant achieves nutrients not present in the soil it inhabits by using the insects it catches as a food source. This plant is equipped with a slippery hood that shelters its capturing cell, making its prey fall further down into the solution.

Description

The foliage of Cephalotus Spp. is green and yellow-hued. The pitcher varies in color between bright yellow-green, dull green, and often even red or purple, depending on the type of plant. Its signature pitcher structure grows to be between 5 to 8 inches tall and 6 to 10 inches wide.

Its inner “trap” is equipped with a slippery hood that shelters its capturing cell, making its prey fall further down into the solution. Flexible lid margins can close inwards by themselves when touched lightly by animals or insects.

The pitcher shape also acts as a digestion system which eventually dissolves the prey leaving the nutrient-heavy solution to be absorbed back into the plant.

Habitat

The Australian Pitcher Plant is native to wet climates located in parts of Australia such as the south and south-west regions, as well as parts of Tasmania, New Zealand, and some parts of western New Guinea.

These plants are found in lowland swamps, marshes, bogs, and seeps. The environment of these habitats is usually humid and hot, providing them with the perfect temperature and moisture for growth.

PH Preference

Australian Pitcher Plant will prefer a slightly acidic pH range from 5.5 – 7.5 and should not be on overly alkaline soil. If the pH is too high, the plant will not be able to access the micronutrients from the soil which can lead to a decrease in growth.

Vivarium Type

There is no set type of enclosure that the Pitcher Plant must be grown in. In fact, they can do very well in a variety of vivarium types.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing the appropriate enclosure is the amount of space available. In addition, Cephalotus Spp. should also be provided with tropical and moist terrain areas.

Here are recommended vivariums it will do well in:

    • Paludariums – Half aquatic/ half terrain-based enclosure.

    • Terrariums – Fully terrain-based enclosures with little to no aquatic features.

Vivarium Placement

The Australian Pitcher Plant does prefer moist soil, however, it does not need to be fully submerged like some of the more aquatic plants. It should not be in direct sunlight, however, provide some indirect light. This can be done with the use of a few fluorescent bulbs.

Substrate

The Australian Pitcher Plant prefers a sandy, moist, and well-drained substrate. This will allow the plant to access both air and water and promote healthy growth.

The substrate should also be slightly acidic terrarium soil, as too basic an environment can lead to the death of the plant. A combination of peat moss or coco fiber soil and sand will help promote healthy growth.

Lighting

The Australian Pitcher Plant is generally an easy plant to manage when it comes to lighting, as it does not require a high intensity of light. As the plant is naturally found in wet, shaded environments, some indirect light is all that is needed for its growth. A basic terrarium light setup should be enough for this carnivorous plant.

Buy Australian Pitcher Plants

When it comes to buying any Australian Pitcher Plants, there are a few things to keep in mind. Making sure that the plant being bought is healthy is essential for its success in a vivarium. Vegetation that is already in poor conditions, will have a very hard time adjusting to new environments.

In addition, always check the foliage closely for yellowing, drying, black spots, or any signs of damage. Pay close attention and look for any pests or fungal diseases. Carefully inspect all around the pitchers to avoid missing any red flags. 

 Click the image below to find out more about the current price and other relative info about this plant:

Pitcher Plants Care and Propagation

In terms of caretaking for Australian Pitcher Plants, the most important thing to keep in mind is to ensure the soil is kept moist, however, not overly wet.

This will allow the substrate to absorb moisture and provide the plant with much-needed micronutrients. There should also be adequate airflow in the tank to avoid the plant becoming too hot and wilting.

How to grow

When growing an Australian Pitcher Plant, the most important thing to keep in mind is to provide it with adequate moisture. This can be done by regularly misting the surface of the soil, as well as providing a clay pot with a drainage hole.

As for propagating the plant, it can be done just by dividing an existing pitcher plant into multiple parts. Each piece should be gently placed into the substrate and the area should be kept moist.

Watering

In order to keep an Australian Pitcher Plant healthy, it is important to water it regularly. This can be done by misting the soil or by gently filling up the drainage layer.

It is important to note that the soil should never be too wet, as this can cause the plant to rot. A good rule of thumb is to wait for the soil to become dry between waterings.

Plants Similar To Pitcher Plants

Adding diversity to an enclosure is key to an aesthetically pleasing setup. Try mixing up the look of your vivarium with different flora that can easily co-exist in the same types of environment.

Furthermore, if for some reason you find Cephalotus spp. hard to acquire or would like to consider something similar to this plant… Here are some other carnivorous plants you might find may do well with or in place of this pitcher plant:

Drosera spp. "Sundews" Care Guide | Terrarium Plants
Heliamphora Spp. "Sun Pitcher Plants" Care Guide | Terrarium Plants
Dionaea muscipula "Venus Flytrap" Care Guide | Terrarium Plants

Conclusion

In conclusion, Australian Pitcher Plants are a great choice as terrarium plants. Its unique shape and vibrant colors will add life and color to your garden. With the right environment and care, this native Australian species can provide you with years of enjoyment.
 
Be sure to use help from this guide on how to care for the plant prior to purchasing. With the right knowledge, you can create the perfect habitat for a happy and healthy Australian Pitcher Plant.
 

Frequently Asked Questions

Australian pitcher plants typically grow to a maximum size of 5-8 inches tall and 6-10 inches wide. They are small, carnivorous plants native to southwestern Australia.

The Australian pitcher plants are special because they are unique carnivorous plants native to Western Australia, and are the only species of the genus Cephalotus.

They are best known for their elaborate pitchershaped traps, which are made up of modified leaves that lure, trap, and digest small prey, typically insects. The pitchers of these plants produce nectar to further attract insects and have a distinctively veined pattern, making them very distinctive and beautiful.

Yes, it is recommended to cut off the brown pitchers from Australian pitcher plants to promote healthy new growth on the plant. This can be done safely with a clean, sharp pair of pruning shears or scissors. Be sure to remove any brown pitchers as soon as they appear to ensure that the plant has enough resources to focus on healthy, vigorous growth.

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