Help: Lights and just about everything else
I currently have a terrarium setup for highland nepenthes. Everything grows really well for the most part. Although I do not use electronic AC, I think I should get into it (later here). I have various highland plants, however I can confirm that even some of the pickiest plants are doing well.
The problem has arisen from the fact that I would now like to grow sundews (tuberous and normal), butterworts, and cephalotus. I also would like to grow heliamphora, but I know those pair well with highland Nepenthes. I have even seen cephalotus grown with nepenthes…anyway back to my point: I need separated growing areas for these plants.
I was thinking about getting a grow shelf system with 4 shelves, top to bottom: nepenthes and heliamphora, cephalotus and butterworts and drosera, and tuberous drosera. (please excuse my horrible grammar). I need the heat generated by the lights during the day to rise up to the Nepenthes, and not heat the tuberous drosera. I also know I need fans up with the nepenthes at some placement, the humidifier, and maybe an AC unit.
I've never experimented with AC units, nor any other form of lighting except for LED. I currently use only LED, and hate the red glow it produces.
!This is where i need advice!:
What T_ whatever do I need to use? I have never used this form of lighting before and need help. I know it may be different for the highland nepenthes and heliamphora vs. the others.
How should I go about cooling the nepenthes? I know that in my current setup the fans generate just enough wind to evaporate, and thus cool the terrarium; however since the nepenthes would be on top shelf, the heat would be increased greatly. I could position both fans in the top shelf so that they keep air circulating? …
^I also may need an AC unit? It would preferably be one that has a hose that can connect through the shelf? again I've never used actual AC before so please have patience.
Finally we come to humidity management…I know I can surround the shelf completely with insulation mirror padding, however how do I stop humidity from leaving the top and bottom? also how do I create flaps that can open vertically for easy access to the plants?
As for the light mounting ect…I will have plastic trays below all the plants so no water leaks onto the lights. I will also have the plants in individual trays in these larger trays. (nepenthes of course can not sit in water).
Thank you in advance for all who can help!
While not impossible, I think that what you're trying to accomplish is asking a bit too much out of a single grow rack. I'm also unsure if you're trying to grow more HL Neps on this hypothetical rack, or whether you're reserving it more for Intermediates / LL'ers, and keeping the HL'ers in the terrarium you already have.
It's going to be much easier for you if you plan on making separate grow-spaces for any radically different conditions. Drosera and Pinguicula (and probably cephalotus) can be grown in the same temperature ranges indoors, the only difference being their watering schedule. Not sure about Helis, as I haven't tried growing them.
To increase humidity within a rack the simplest solution is to cover it with plastic, such as a large drop cloth or tarp. To make a flap, all you need are some scissors, glue, and an appropriate length of zipper that you should be able to find or order from a craft or sewing supply store. Alternatively, you could shop around online for those off-the-shelf greenhouses (portable tents, really) which come with shelves and built-in flaps. Plan the size of the tent around the best lights you can afford, rather than the other way around.
On lighting, I've been using T8 fluorescents for everything I grow (sarrs, drosera, pings, and nepenthes), with good results. T5HO's, if you can get them, should give you more intense light in a smaller space, and would probably be better for a grow-rack set up if you can source them. My plants seem to do best when I combine color temperatures of the bulbs within the fixture. For instance, in a 4-bulb fixture, I would have 2 bulbs @ 2600-3000k, and 2 bulbs @ 6000-6500k. For T8's, I can only find those in the 48" lengths. The range is much more limited in the 24" bulbs, and plants under a constant color temp of 3600-4100k began to decline after a few months. In my mind, that makes those suitable only for temporary setups or overwintering, not long-term growing.
Hopefully someone else can help you with the AC / cooling issue, as that's something I haven't messed with yet. Hope I was at least marginally helpful, lol.
I plan on keeping the plants on separate shelves, each with a different growing environment. Thank you for the info on lights…i hear T5 for winter drosera.