Nepenthes hamata in cultivation
Asian Pitcher plant species: Sulawesi, Indonesia
Altitude: 1400-2500 (4590-8200 feet) meters above sea level
Nepenthes hamata is one of the most desirable and iconic of all nepenthes. Although it has been described for over 30 years, the shear demand and relative difficulty in cultivation has kept this as a collectors plant and very expensive. I have one clone that originate from Malesiana Tropical, this originates from the Gunung (Mount) Lumut in Sulawesi. I also have seed grown plants that originate from Gunung (Mt) Katopasa and an undisclosed mountain in Sulawesi.
I would say the biggest thing to watch out for with Nepenthes hamata is root disturbance. They really dislike to be transplanted and have the roots damaged. This will cause the plant to sulk and fail to produce pitchers for up to 6 months. It is helpfull to be especially gentle when removing the media and possible retain the original media when transplanting to help minimize broken roots.
This is a highland plant and needs the nighttime temperatures to drop for it to thrive. In my experience this plant is not as excessively temperamental about temperatures and can do fine with more intermediate night temperature 65 without ill effect. That being said, hamatas are reluctant about changes in humidity and will actually close there lids within a few hours of the humidity dropping and then re-open when the conditions have returned to higher.
There is a few growers I have seen that have successful acclimated N. hamata to household humidity on a windowsill. This is a long process and will result in a sulking plant for several months, but once successful you will be able to maintain the plant in lower humidity. Although it will adapt, as with most Nepenthes, hamata will grow faster maintaining more, and bigger pitchers when grown in ideal conditions.
Same as any nepenthes I feel the major factor is good strong, but not too hot of lights. So a shade cloth and or florescent lights work very well and give Nepenthes pitcher plants their best color.
N. hamata is used heavily in hybrids for obvious reasons. The spectacular color and some of the toothy peristome is passed on to the progeny. This gives growers an opportunity at lower cost and with greater ease of cultivation. I feel like the hamata hybrids tend to really gain the color and shape, coming up short in teeth. That being said they are still toothier than many other plants, and much more vigorous than pure Nepenthes hamata. Perhaps further breeding and/or back-crossing can bring out even more traits in easy to grow hybrids.
Due to it location, being widespread in a very inaccessible part of a mostly inaccessible island, most information I have seen does not put its survival in extreme peril. It still is something that must be looked after simply because of the sheer demand for this plant. Although clones are available from multiple sources, they are rather expensive and do not completely feed the demand which can put pressure on the species.
Also because of where it lives not much research has been published regarding specific prey or ranges of this and other the taxa of Sulawesi. Recently I have seen a few more pictures of the N. hamata showing a further variation than what I was familiar with based on the few clones available in cultivation. Pitchers exhibit wide variety of colors and peristome teeth.
There is aleo a “Hairy Red variant which is quit debatable a different species but does have strikingly similar peristome teeth. This was discovered by Chien Lee in 2005. (Ch’ien Lee Red Hairy Hamata photo) ) This version of hamata is even less available in cultivation and reportedly even slower and more sensitive than typical N. hamata. Hopefully more will be learned about these amazing plants and more will be available in the future.
Nepenthes hamata Cultivation and Care Notes
- Appreciates higher humidity (not surprising since it comes from a cloud forest)
- Is possible to acclimate to lower humidity but it will take time.
- Tissue Culture and Seed grown plants available,
- Expensive for a plant that not particularly new to cultivation, $100 and up for tiny specimen
- Has no problems growing happily in intermediate with days around 85F (29C) and nights around 65F (18C)
Find information about Nepenthes hamata hybrids here
More information available at Nepenthes hamata wiki
If you want to learn more about cultivation of carnivorous plants, I highly recommend the comprehensive grow guide The Savage Garden, Revised: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants by Peter D,Amato. It is very easy to follow and reference and contains pictures and cultivation techniques for every genus of carnivorous plants.
If you want to learn more about Nepenthes or other pitcher plants, and see pictures of these spectacular species in the wild, I highly recommend reading Pitcher Plants of the Old World Volume One and Pitcher Plants of the Old World Volume Two
by Stewart McPherson it is over 1300 pages of exclusive pictures and notes from observation of habitats of nepenthes and cephalotus.