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Thread: Planting in live sphagnum (questions)

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    Veronis's Avatar
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    Planting in live sphagnum (questions)

    I'm curious - I have no plants in live sphagnum yet, but I would like to - so, how do you create the pot? Do you fill it halfway with pure peat (or LFS?) and toss live sphagnum on it, then just put the plants in so the roots are in the live sphagnum? Or is live sphagnum only meant as a top dressing?

    Do you need to add perlite/sand?

    Secondly/lastly..

    For what CP's is live sphagnum an acceptable or even preferred medium?

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    What I do is get a bundle of Long Fibered Sphagnum and break off two handfuls and grind them together over a pail, all the shreds fall into the bucket and then I soak it in distilled water until saturated, squeezing the moss a few times under water to make sure it soaks up all the water it can. Then if I'm going to add any drainage material like orchid bark or shredded cypress mulch (as good as orchid bark but 10x cheaper for 10x more) I add it in the water & moss filled pail and let it soak a while. Before using squeeze out most of the water from each handful so it's nice and fluffy and moist but not sopping wet.

    I wrap the actual plant roots in pure LFS (living LFS if I have it but dead blond stuff is fine too) and then fill in the rest of the pot with the LFS / wood blend. I'm not thrilled with perlite so I don't use it but you can if you wish to use it instead of wood, coco husk chunks, etc.

    Anyway, usually some of the LFS spores released during the grinding and mixing in the pail will germinate and begin to cover the surface of the pot after a few months. You can speed this along by obtaining some live LFS from another CPer and chopping it into pieces and sprinkling on the pots, pressing down lightly and keeping the pots moist and very humid, mist the moss clippings a couple times a day until you see noticeable growth.

    I haven't bothered using a whole bunch of living LFS to fill an entire pot since I believe only the surface (exposed to light) will stay alive anyway.

    Any very tiny plants (like pygmy dews) would likely be lost in live LFS. Otherwise plain LFS or LFS/Wood (50/50) is pretty much my standard mix for moisture & air loving plants like Neps/orchids/ferns/ant plants/... I'm not a fan of peat since it always seems to go foul whereas LFS seems to stay fresh for a couple years provided no algae or slime molds get started on it before the moss germinates and starts to grow.

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    Certain Sarracenia do well in live Sphagnum, as do some Nepenthes. Darlingtonia like live Sphagnum but I think they prefer it to be mixed with an airy aggregate like pumice. I think I read that D. rotundifolia likes it - I was surprised to find that, unlike my other temperate Drosera, they manage to keep pace with the moss. My Heliamphora also seem to like it, so maybe it's something common to all the Sarraceniaceae, but I don't have much experience with those so I won't say for sure. I'm doubtful that 100% Sphagnum would be appropriate for all species of Heli in indoor culture.
    Peat works for Sphagnum - just make sure that some of the dead/dying ends of the strands are a little buried in the peat so that moisture is more accessible.
    I typically dig a little depression and pat down the edges for starting Sphagnum to help keep shorter strands from drying out before they get established. Aggregate, like the pumice I mentioned, works even better; you can use pure peat at the bottom of the pot as it helps wick water but the part where the media meets your Sphagnum should be as much aggregate as possible; use just enough peat to fill in the gaps.
    I recently got a big bag of very coarse pumice and had promising results in a pot where I put several cups of Sphagnum tips (cut from my other colonies) into a depression in the center of the pot (top layer of pumice mixed with enough peat and perlite to bind) and then about 40%-50% covered with more pumice. I did this at the peak of the summer heat, and about four months later all the gaps in between the top layer of pumice have grown in. I think that Sphagnum starts do better with a little bit of shade, and don't mind being somewhat covered by things like rocks and detritus. I bet it helps them hold moisture and raises local humidity.
    You'll see the best rates of all, however, on an established Sphagnum colony. Sphagnum most prefers to grow on top of other Sphagnum.
    ~Joe
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    Veronis's Avatar
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    Whoah, thanks a ton guys.

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    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    Many of the North American Drosera and Sarracenia can be grown in pure Spagnum moss. Darlingtonia does well but as pointed out it may help to add an inorganic to the mix. The Darlingtonia that grow on serpentine seeps and alkaline bogs (mainly the mountain populations) are not growing in Sphagnum since the alkalinity kills the moss.

    Drosera regia is often cultivated in live Sphagnum.

    You can fill the pot completely with live Sphagnum if you wish. It's a waste of live Sphagnum if you ask me but if you got it - flaunt it. It's a waste because without light the moss dies so only top most layers will remain living. But then of course you are not depleting the natural bog supply if you roll your own.

    Here's what a potful of live Sphagnum looks like after 6-8 months:
    Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.

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    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    VFT's also do well in LFS, as well as Cephalotus. The living material, as illustrated above, is a small layer that grows on the dead material.

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