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Terrarium plant advice


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#1 Ony

 
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Posted 07 December 2012 - 15:21 PM

Its cold, dark and generally miserable so I need a new project to brighten up this depressing time of year. I've never had carnivorous plants before so I thought it would be nice to start small and do a little terrarium with maybe three species that look nice together and but I'm struggling to find the right plants. I'm ideally looking for species that don't need a dormancy period and won't be damaged by high summer temperatures as my flat gets quite hot. I'm considering cape sundew, a pitcher plant and maybe Utricularia Graminifolia but I could really do with some suggestions. I'm also unsure what sort of container I should be looking for, presumably it depends on the plants I chose. My original idea was to have each plant potted seperately but grouped under a bell jar or inside a large vase or nano aquarium to keep in some of the humidity. Am I on the right track?

PS. heres some gratiutous photos of my happy place :)

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#2 Ony

 
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Posted 10 December 2012 - 14:19 PM

Was it something I said? : /

#3 Math_U_M

 
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Posted 11 December 2012 - 02:19 AM

The plants you mentioned are good choices. Try the drosera capensis, it comes in a few forms. It was one of the first CPs i grew and i found it easy and rewarding to grow. Also drosera spatulata, and a few other droseras are on the easier side. Utricularia gramminifolia, livida and sandersonii are easier bladderworts and make cute flower scapes.

As for pitcher plants (Im a nepenthes fan) most of them end up getting big, needing cooler nights or needing a dormancy period (as with sarracenia) however, smaller, lower growing sarracenia can do OK in terrariums for a few years. Im growing sarracenia purpurea in a blown glass terrarium under t5 grow lights with good results. although I know the plant will tucker out in a few years due to no dormancy, the plant was cheap and when it croaks i will re purpose the container. I have it growing in lava rock/sand/peat/pure living sphagnum, with utricularia livida as a companion plant. I have been thinking of trying sarracenia psittacina in a glass terrarium next. its a low growing american pitcher plant that grows into smaller rosettes.

of you want to really get into CPs, I think nepenthes are the best. in fact, its my favorite genus of plants. you could try the smaller growing lowland to intemediate species, or even try some of the smaller growing highlanders that are considered to be forgiving of occassional higher temps. if you want more advice on these let me know.

Whatever you do, lighting, humidity and temp are important. I would suggest using grow lights - you didint mention your lighting plan in your post but your London windowsills are probably wont supply enough sun for CPs. t5 grow lights are the way to go in my opinion.

Also speaking from experience, i grew heliamphora minor and heliamphora heteredoxa x minor for a few years in a terrarium under lights and found them to be forgiving of the higher temps and easy overall. they grow slowly and stay small, but you have the have the correct soil, good drainage

And of course always use distilled water!

How is that answer?

-Matthew
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#4 Ony

 
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Posted 12 December 2012 - 22:27 PM

My flat (well London in general tbh) barely gets any sun this time of year, even my anthuriums are under a t5. I just got a cheap 2 bulb T5HO unit in the post today 6400k ment to be 4000 lumens total so I hope it will do. I've hung it under a shelf so I can raise and lower it as I need. Lowland Neps look perfect, I will have to see what I can get my hands on. I didnt know what to get and didnt want to be out of my depth so I ordered the educational seed kit from triffid nurseries.

#5 Math_U_M

 
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Posted 13 December 2012 - 07:05 AM

Yeah try nepenthes ampullaria. Its a forgiving, easy lowland nep. It does get large after a while. Theres lots of colorful varieties.

2 t5 bulbs should work well. I mix 6400K with 3000K which gives warmer light. It almost appears orangey-pink compared to the 6500. It may bring out more reds in the plants and makes them look better viewing wise in my opinion.

CPs are so addicting! Let me know how it goes.

-Matthew

#6 Ony

 
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Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:03 PM

Its like some kind of bizarre lighting display in here

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#7 Gaz

 
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Posted 13 December 2012 - 13:05 PM

I've moved some plants back into our boxroom for the winter, like your flat it doesn't get that much light so I'm using a 4 tube 2' T5 unit. We're all central heated too so most of my "indoor" plants are in a covered (unheated) propogator to up the humidity. The plants are mostly duplicates of what I kept in the greenhouse and are just inside in case of any disaster in said GH.

The plants which are all doing quite well so far are: Drosera capensis, D. adelae, D. aliciae, D. spatulata, D. prolifera (new runner cutting), D. regia (seedlings); Cephalotus follicularis (motherplant and 2013 leaf pullings) the leaf pullings have really appreciated the move to this environment; there's also Utricularia longifolia and Nepenthes x [aristolochioides x spectabilis] in there (but not under the propogator cover) plus Heliamphora x [heterodoxa x minor] under an individual dome. These last 3 plants are also doing very well.

The seed kit sounds interesting but it might take a while to fill your terrarium. Btw I wish our own weedy anthuriums looked half as good as yours do. Perhaps we should move them near the T5's.

Good luck with your setup, it would be nice to see some more pics of the final outcome.

Edited by Gaz, 14 December 2012 - 08:37 AM.


#8 Ony

 
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Posted 14 December 2012 - 00:29 AM

The anthuriums are under a cheap under cupboard kitchen light and I'm using the bulb that came with it. I've not had it that long but all the plants up there have really perked up, lots of new leaves and the apple mint has gone nuts. I realise that it will take time for the seeds to reach a reasonable size but I was seduced by words like 'easy ' and 'beginner'. I'll see what arrives and then buy a few adult plants too, I can't find nepenthes ampullaria but I love the bloody mary hybrid, if its available after Christmas (when I can make sure I'm at home to recieve delivery) then I will get one of those. If there arent any left by then I'm sure I will find something else, so many beautiful plants to covet :)

#9 Hermes

 
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Posted 15 December 2012 - 14:56 PM

A lot of what you select for plants will depend upon the construction and planning that goes into the terrarium. I would highly suggest that you use a potted terrarium. You will save yourself a lot of headaches by keeping all your plants in separate pots. If you don't, you'll find that some plants will out compete the others becoming weeds. The other thing to consider is the lighting that is available to you. If you are growing under artificial lights, some plants do better than others. T5's can be great lights but it depends how many tubes you have going. A 4000 lumen setup is probably only sufficient for plants that do okay in lower light, unless the lamps are within a few inches of the plants. Some require very high light, e.g., metal halides, like VFTs and sarracenias. Sundews will survive under florescents but won't thrive without high light. Pings do well and will even bloom under florescent lights. Utrics can produce great foliage under florescents but need high light to bloom. Neps also seem to do okay under lower light but may not colour up as nice. These are of course general guidelines based on my experience and there are always exceptions.

#10 Ony

 
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Posted 15 December 2012 - 19:44 PM

Im suprised you say the utrics need more light as Ive seen a fair few pictures of people growing them under a little desk lamp with a cfl, I'm quite keen to see some flowers so I guess I'll have a go and rethink it later if it doesn't work. How close should the bulb be to the plants to get the best trade off between baking them and providing enough light?

#11 Hermes

 
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Posted 16 December 2012 - 19:18 PM

Well, it depends. In low light conditions, utrics make wonderful foliage plants. Reinformis and longifolia produce amazing leaves that are happy in practically any light situation. However, if you want utrics to bloom consistently, you need the high light levels. You may still get the occasional bloom under CFLs, but it will probably not be anywhere's nearly as often as if you had the higher light. When I had HIDs, my livida and sandersonii bloomed constantly, my longifolia bloomed two or three times a year, and I even got my aplina to bloom.

As far as the trade off between closest lamp distance and baking a plant, it depends on the plant and the kind of lighting. In the case of T5HOs, you can move them up to a few inches from the plant without any serious damage from heat. In the case of HIDs, it does depend upon the wattage, but you need at least 12" of clearance. It also depends what kind of plants you are growing. Nepenthes are very sensitive to sunburn. They can burn under 150W HIDs if they get too close. However, sarracenia's are very resistant to scorching. However, despite the heat those lamps throw off, they are still much more efficient than T5HOs. A single 400W HPS lamps throws off as much light as 10 54W 4-foot T5HO lamps [Source: ACF Greenhouses]. If you had an array of 10 T5s, you would end up producing more heat than the single 400W lamp.

Even if you don't have HID's, I'd still encourage you to give utrics a try. I found them to be absolutely delightful plants. Like any plant or animal, you have to respect it for what it is and what it needs. If you don't have the high light, then choose a variety which will have stolons that you can still appreciate, and stolon shape/size can vary greatly between utric species and deserves appreciation in its own right. I would especially recommend the terrestrial utrics. Even if I didn't have HIDs (and at the moment I don't), I'd still give utrics a go. They are wonderful, underrated plants. In fact, once I get my sundews re-established, I'd like to trade some of them for utrics.

#12 Math_U_M

 
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Posted 17 December 2012 - 05:24 AM

Ony, I think that 2 bulb t5 light that you have hanging will suit a number of CPs. Are you looking for a terrarium now to go on that white surface?

You will be limited by space in this situation - only about 2 feet wide so look for CPs that stay on the smaller side.

I have success with such setups with nepenthes but also heliamphora, a few utrics, a few butterworts, and one sarracenia over the past year. Youre gonna love using the t5 lighting!

You mentioned N. bloody mary. I looked it up. looks like a good starter nep for you! May end up getting big after a while tho because ventricosa and ampullaria can end up being larger growers.

If you can figure out a way to keep your flat cooler in the summer that will open up your options for nepenthes. I had trouble keeping the nepenthes cool in my last apartment myself, and lost quite a few plants. I moved into my new condo that has central air about a year ago and im now building my collection back up.

Keep us posted on the tank/enclosure that you end up getting and then we can give you more advice on appropriate plants

-Matthew

#13 Ony

 
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Posted 18 December 2012 - 00:42 AM

I was planning on getting an aquarium or something but after a bit more reading it sounds like a large water tray would provide enough humidity for a good range of plants without encouraging the fungus and algea that seem to plague terrarium growing (correct me if I'm wrong here). I did see some enormous specimens of N. bloody mary on google images but the specimen I'm looking at is so small that even if it thrived it would be a long time before it would need to be moved. Larger specimens are also quite pricey so I'm sure someone would trade me for it even (maybe especially) if got really monstrous.

#14 Math_U_M

 
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Posted 18 December 2012 - 07:45 AM

It depends on what you want to grow.
I dont think nepenthes would do well in a London apt under lights unless in an enclosure. im speaking from experience growing them in nyc. they will grow leaves but wont pitcher due to the low humidity.
If you do go with an aquarium tank, You can always vary the amount that the tank is open on the top in order to control humidity.
With water trays, the humidity will be more around the base of the plants.
the tops of the plants will still dry out too much, in my opinion.
nepenthes like 75% humidity or higher.
drosera also prefer very high humidity to create the sticky dew that they are known for.
what about an enclosure with a sliding front or a front door that opens?


you might be able to get away with sarracenia without the terrarium as long as their substrate is on the boggy side.

#15 Ony

 
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Posted 18 December 2012 - 14:56 PM

Hmm probably a 30" clearseal tank then, it fits the space nicely and it should look good once de-rimmed. A viv with sliding doors would be a bit more convenient but I cant find one that size for less than 3x the price of the aquarium.

#16 Hermes

 
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Posted 18 December 2012 - 15:09 PM

Neps generally do fine in England as long as you have enough light to support them. Humidity will probably not be an issue, unless you are growing certain lowland varieties, e.g., n. hirsuta. As you must already know, nothing dries out in England. In Canada I grew sarrs and neps on a window sill without issue; however, I did move the neps to a terrarium during winter to prevent cold damage.

#17 cookie0117

 
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Posted 18 December 2012 - 15:43 PM

Im growing plants inside a water tray under just a single 30watt CFL, it 1900 lumens and about 20cms from the plants. Ive boxed it in to keep the light inside as it far to bright in the room otherwise!! Ive had it set up for about a month now and D. Capensis planted as seed in june are thriving and dewing up really heavy, some even beginning to turn red. My little (unknown) nep is beginning to grow much stronger and is putting out new leaves, although the pitchers have yet to develop much in size, they are growing.

#18 Ony

 
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Posted 18 December 2012 - 16:21 PM

Just goes to show how complicated our little green (and red) friends are. I've completely failed to grow 'easy' aquatic plants that are ment to be perfect for my water conditions and for some reason a few wildly inappropriate and tricky species have decided to thrive. I'm guessing its exactly the same with CPs.

Edit: I wish it was true that nothing dried out here, my big aquarium loses about 20 liters of water *per week*. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother topping it up, two days later and the waterline is below the rim anyway. Maybe that will help with the humidity though.

Edited by Ony, 18 December 2012 - 16:27 PM.

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#19 Math_U_M

 
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Posted 19 December 2012 - 23:19 PM

Ony, Im basically in the same boat as you! Im also looking for a 30" terrarium. Im in the process of re establishing my nep collection. I used to grow them in a 30" aquarium that was ugly (black plastic rims) so I sold it last year and was on break from nepenthes.

Im in the states so I have few options for good looking terrariums (I feel like europe is ahead of us on this.) I wanted an ADA tank but they are so hard to get. I think im going to get a Mr Aqua rimless tank and have a glass top made. Right now im growing my baby neps in a humidity dome, which is about 20" wide by 8" deep.

Since neps get big and vine, and we only have 30" of space, its important to look for smaller growing species, which IMO tend to be more tender and finicky about humidity. I personally would not waste my time trying to grow them out in the open, as I know they love humidity and will be so much happier in a (partially) enclosed enviroment where humidity can be kept high. Its not really an issue of just "not drying out" For example, many of the species like to grow in living sphagnum moss, and like to touch the tendrils or even bury them in the moist moss in order for pitchers to form. Its hard to grow nice living sphagnum without a greenhouse or terrarium in the colder climates like london and NYC. Ive tried to grow living sphagnum under T5 lights on top of gravel in a tray of water in my NYC apt and it didnt work.

I know many people grow neps on windowsills successfully, so Im not trying to push the terrarium idea on you. I just think you will have more options and more control of your growing, and will be happier with the results.

#20 Ony

 
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Posted 20 December 2012 - 12:34 PM

You can usually de-rim an aquarium with nothing more than a razor blade and a bit of patience and its not like you need the bracing if your only using it as a terrarium. Even derimmed the clearseal types don't really compare Mr aqua and do!aqua tanks but tbh I doubt I have the skill to match their optiwhite loveliness anyway XD.

My seeds arrived! I have:

Sarracenia sps (hmmm useful!)
Dionaea muscipula
D. Spatulata
D. Capensis
D. Binata var dichotoma

Ive bagged up the VFT and sarracenia in some moist filter paper in the fridge and I'm planting the rest in the pot provided. Very excited now.