Tom's Carnivores

Nepenthes maxima

Description & Care

Nepenthes maxima is an extremely variable species that is widely distributed across Papua New Guinea, the Maluku Islands, and Sulawesi. It was one of the first tropical pitcher plants to be cultivated by the Victorians, and was used in many of their hybrids including Nepenthes × tiveyi (the name given to N. maxima × veitchii) and Nepenthes × mixta (which is N. northiana × maxima), both produced by George Tivey at Veitch Nurseries.

The species’ name comes from the Latin word ‘maximus’, meaning ‘greatest’. I know many fellow Nepenthophiles who would disagree with this assessment, viewing N. maxima as a common and fairly unremarkable species. But I’ve always found it to be a wonderful and rewarding plant to grow. While many forms of N. maxima are cheap and easy to obtain, the species is so variable that you could build a large and diverse collection of rarer forms - dwarf, wavy leaved, all-green, dark, and so on. The species is also notable for its highly dimorphic pitchers: the uppers and lowers are often strikingly different on the same plant.

N. maxima is a vigorous grower and very tolerant, and so makes a great beginners plant. It’s also an excellent breeder - much like N. ventricosa and N. veitchii, hybrids with N. maxima are often attractive and hardy. I grow three forms of N. maxima: the female clone from Borneo Exotics (used extensively in their breeding program), an old red clone from a nursery in Holland, and seed-grown wavy leaf plant originally from Chris Klein (the ‘Wicaksono’ grex).

How I Grow It

Media Long fibre sphagnum moss, perlite, and - optionally - orchid bark (2:1:1)
Water Damp but not wet
Light Very bright, diffused light
Fertilizer Maxsea or liquid orchid feed in the pitchers, every two weeks
Temperature 12°C (54°F) minimum year-round. Doesn't get as stressed by high summer temperatures as my highland plants.
Humidity 70% during the day, rising to over 90% at night

Learn more about cultivation with my guide to growing Nepenthes.

Day & Night Temperatures

Nepenthes maxima is a widely distributed species, found at elevations of between 40 and 2600 meters. This range is highlighted in orange above, and equates to temperatures of approximately 19 - 35°C (66 - 95°F) during the day, and 9 - 25°C (48 - 77°F) at night.


Native to Maluku Islands, New Guinea, Sulawesi
IUCN Red List status Least Concern
Natural hybrids N. eymae, N. glabrata, N. klossii, N. neoguineensis, N. tentaculata

Where to Buy

Availability Widely available, though the variety in cultivation is very limited compared to the diversity of this species in the wild.
Borneo Exotics codes
  • BE-3067 (1 clone, female)
  • BE-3110 (all green, Sulawesi)
  • BE-3112 (Tinombala, SG)
  • BE-3303 (Tangkoko, SG)
  • BE-3311 (Tentena form, 10 clones)
  • BE-3319 (Watutau dwarf, 1 clone)
  • BE-3433 (Lake Poso miniature, 6 clones)
  • BE-3496 (G. Pendolo)
  • BE-3543 (Wavy Leaf, 4 clones)
  • BE-3735 (Wavy Leaf, 1 clone)
  • BE-3786 (Wavy Leaf, 1 clone)
  • BE-3907 (Wavy Leaf, 1 clone)
  • BE-4081 (Wavy Leaf, many clones)
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