The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 11.5
- courtesy of -
The International Carnivorous Plant Society

Q: Brocchinia: cultivation

A: In my experience, Brocchinia cultivation is a lot like handball: just about anyone can do it, but it is hard to do it well.

Start with the basics of tropical carnivorous plant cultivation: high humidity, acidic soil, high sunlight, no fertilizers, moist conditions, and temperatures always above freezing. That is 90% of what you need.

Now, for the other 10%. I water Brocchinia almost exclusively by adding water into the central urn. I only add water to the soil if it gets very dry. For no really good reason, I grow these plants in a coarse, well-drained mix of peat:sand:pumice (about 1:1:1 ratio). These plants sometimes live on bare rock, and the main reason I use any soil mix at all is just to keep the plants from falling over. I bet they would do just fine in an empty clay pot if you kept them moist and very lightly fertilized.

I suppose if you were confident you were growing plants from a highland population, you would want to grow your plants at cooler temperatures. (And just how did you obtain such plants? As far as I know such plants have not been legally collected.)

You can throw the occasional bug into the urn, if you wish. Whoo! Wasn't that exciting?

The biggest mistake with these plants is to grow them in anything other than full sun. Plants in low light do not develop the really cool, organ-pipe structure so iconic of the two species. Instead, they produce a spreading form and a dark green color, instead of the yellow or yellow-green of wild plants. I have never seen a plant in cultivation that looked as neat as the photos of plants in the wild.

After flowering, the central rosette usually dies. That is OK, because lateral plantlets (called pups) usually emerge from the base of the parent plant. Very rarely, I have observed that pups sometimes form in the very middle of the urn, too. After a few years, the parent plant rots away entirely, and you can separate the plants. Or you can keep them in the same pot---whichever you prefer.

I have heard reports of some people generating viable seed from these plants. This is interesting, because the plants are reportedly almost completely dioecious (i.e. boy and girl plants). Apparently the "almost completely" is an important disclaimer.

Page citations: Rice, B.A. 2006a, 2009a; personal observations.

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Revised: January 2010
©Barry Rice, 2005