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Thread: My plans for 2' x 4' growing chamber - feel free to criticize, it will help me

  1. #1
    Odysseus's Avatar
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    Question My plans for 2' x 4' growing chamber - UPDATE: Work on it has begun!

    My wife has finally given me the okay to go ahead and grow CPs again! But she has limited me to one single tank. With that as a guideline I am planning the biggest tank I can make and still be able to grow a good variety of beginner CPs in 4 inch or greater individual pots using the tray method to water them. I look to only grow VFTs, hardy highland Neps, Drosera in a large tray sitting on a pedestal closer to the light source, and some other easy to grow varieties. (See below for the plants I am hoping will make it in this chamber.)

    http://picasaweb.google.com/aking81/...57027314087506

    Hope the pic is easy enough to read on all your screens. But here are my plans in a nutshell:

    2' x 4' feet growing space
    Three 4' long light fixtures carrying two T12 6500K bulbs each for a total of six bulbs providing loads of lighting
    Two 1' x 4' Mirrors on the back fit snugly side by side
    Four 1' x 1' Mirrors will also be fastened perfectly flush on each side to reflect light
    2' x 4' Plexiglass piece will separate growing chamber humidity from light fixtures
    2' x 4' Plexiglass piece will fit over 2' x 4' growing chamber wood base and will provide a seal between mirrors and wood base to assist humidity and waterproofing
    2' x 4' Plexiglass front cover hinged along upper edge. (Pic doesn't show it, but a 1" x 3'10" wood piece would run the back of the upper edge of cover.)
    Chamber will be in a basement apartment that will never get warmer than 80 Fahrenheit (26 celsius) on the hottest summer day if EVER, and the night drop is mild to maybe 60 degrees (15.5 celsius) on the coldest winter night.
    Tropicals will be fine if the humidity is sufficient.
    Temperates will be easily removed for their dormancy.

    The only thing I am concerned about is the humidity. Having a front cover the length of the growing chamber will release far too much humidity and I don't want to worry about how long or how often I open the front. I am certain the light will be more than enough to get the Neps to pitcher. The space provided should be enough if I keep pruning back when necessary.

    Anyone see a problem with the space and the far too great an opening? I welcome any criticism.

    Perhaps this plan is sufficient and all that is left is to test it by growing some plants in it. So, even if very little feedback is necessary I will continue to use this same thread to provide updates on the building of it and how the plants do when I get some in the future.

    P.S. Here are the plants I am confidant will likely survive after adjusting and that I will certainly enjoy growing them. Some of these I have just always wanted to grow so I am hoping they will survive. Please let me know if you believe these conditions are stretching it for any of these plants:

    Larger pots in back:
    Heliamphora anything lower humidity hardy and warmth friendly
    N. ventricosa
    N. tentaculata
    N. maxima

    Middle size to larger pots:
    VFTs
    D. capensis
    Byblis liniflora
    Mexican pings of any variety
    U. reniformis (always wanted to grow one, but probably do fairly well being a tropical Utric.)
    D. extrema
    N. glabrata
    Cephalotus (Haven't grown one before, but I assume Ceph would like the temps and humidity level if kept around 25% but maybe stretching it here with lighting.)

    Small pots in Drosera water tray on pedestal nearer lighting:
    D. aliciae
    D. prolifera
    D. falconeri
    D. macrophylla
    D. ramellosa
    D. cistiflora (will enjoy a larger pot when older)
    D. pauciflora
    D. paradoxa
    (It is more likely that I can find these drosera through buying seed rather than adult plants, so anyone think seed spread conservatively in a 4-inch pot closer to lights going to be a problem?)
    Last edited by Odysseus; 10-09-2008 at 12:48 AM. Reason: Fixing picture
    Odysseus
    Wife and I in the Netherlands. Sure miss living out there.

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  2. #2
    Californian in DC DrWurm's Avatar
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    Well, you'll catch plenty of flak round here growing VFTs under lights. They do their best in full sun and do not realize their full potential in terrariums.

    I have found humidity to be severely overrated if you buy from a decent nursery that hardens off their plants before selling them. Even if you don't most plants can be acclimated to lower humidity, and are usually more resilliant because of it.

    I'd be careful with neps in a terrarium, glabrata is a good choice, but you're going to eventually have size issues with a maxima. And if you have to move your neps out of their cage, you're gonna have wife issues ^^.

    Good luck!

    -Jason

    edit: Also, look into mylar sheet as an alternative to mirrors

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    Grow Pitcher Plants! DroseraBug's Avatar
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    I just built a chamber near that size myself. I think your design plan sounds really good. The only thing that caught my attention as a possible issue was growing highland Neps in with wooly sundews (D. paradoxa/falconeri) unless your idea is to produce more heat at the top with the lights. Just my opinion. I would turn it into a highland chamber for moderate highlands such as the Neps you mentioned. In my experience the petiolaris sundews like to stay above 70F and would not cut the low temps I subject my tentac, ramispina, spectabilis, and etc. to.

    Your design sound good to me. Wish I had a basement.
    "And this is what happened, and this is why the caribou and the wolf are one; for the caribou feeds the wolf, but it is the wolf that keeps the caribou strong."
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    rattler's Avatar
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    Well, you'll catch plenty of flak round here growing VFTs under lights. They do their best in full sun and do not realize their full potential in terrariums.
    ive got one growing under lights......but ive killed plenty cause they didnt like it.....ppl have done it so if yah want to go for it have at it, but i killed near 100 VFT's before i found one that tolerates being grown under lights well

    ill echo DroseraBug.......petiolaris like it warm............
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    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    I haven't looked over your list of plants really.. You will have to decide what temperature range you are planning on keeping and take it from there. I would determine what your normal day and night temps are going to be and take it from there compiling your growlist.

    How tall is the unit inside? The thing with regular T12 fluorescent.. they are only so bright and the plants need to be fairly close regardless of how many you have. If you want to have your plants not be right up against the bulbs then you need to use something that is going to produce more intense light so that it is bright enough further away from the bulbs. Like high output or compact fluorescent etc. Don't skimp on the lighting.. it will make or break your success with the terrarium. Particularly if you are looking to grow plants that normally are out in the full sun. Even with a sweet set of T5 high output tubes you wouldn't have too much light for any of the plants on your list.

    My only other concern is the plexiglass across the top between the light fixture and the terrarium. Plexiglass in a horizontal orientation needs alot of support under it or it will sag horribly. Personally I would use glass. It is more fragile but it won't sag, light transmission is better, much less prone to scratching when cleaning and it's cheap!
    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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    blokeman's Avatar
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    wow, quite thorough, hope everything works out as you planned, sounds ideal to me, great idea for the mirrors, you`ll definately up the lumens that way (just make sure they are close enough, i use t5 High Output lights and they don`t heat up as much), about the sliding door, i can`t think of anything that comes to mind to solve your humidity loss prob, i agree with tony about the plexi glass, especially with the length of your setup, it will definately sag without proper support
    Good luck with your project!
    Happy Growing
    Steven
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    Odysseus's Avatar
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    I feel a bit ashamed that I never responded back to all your thoughtful replies.

    I had a major hiccup in my plans and that hiccup was my wife. But almost two years later, her little brother moving out from our small apartment, and through my constant begging I have been able to convince my wife to allow me to grow CPs again! WOOHOO!

    The catch is that I won't be building as massive a growing space although the corner she has kindly "allowed" me to keep a terrarium is giving me just enough space to fit a 2' deep and 4' long setup.

    I am looking around for an appropriate setup to build this on top of, but I fully expect to have something that looks like the picture I originally posted. The question about my setup I am curious about most is whether I should make the growing chamber shorter. With 6 x T12 bulbs being the most likely choice for lighting from the given space, should I make this chamber shorter?

    2 feet seems too short already, and I am hoping the mass covering of mirrors on all surfaces will help make the loss of light minimal.

    Plants: Wooly sundews are out of question, and many neps are out of the question too.

    What I am going to do is get this setup up and running on the light timer and then I am going to take humidity and temperature readings throughout the days for a week. Once I see what kind of conditions I have, perhaps some of you will be willing to offer your two cents on what I can expect to enjoy growing in there.

    Thanks again for your replies ... er um... 2 years ago!
    Odysseus
    Wife and I in the Netherlands. Sure miss living out there.

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    Odysseus I think I responded to you on CPUK but maybe I just think I did! I read your post a few times over there anyway. Get rid of the wife then you can have all the plants you want!


    If you use 6x 40 W T12s (240 W apx. 18000 lumens) I don't see why Nepenthes are out of the question in a tank that size. I used six T12 over a 4 L x 4 H x 2 W for many years flowering a number of species as well. I also put the same amount of light over a 75 gallon tank which is either 20" or 24"H. It's plenty big enough to grow Neps to short vine stage, some will even flower I'll almost guarantee it depending on what species you've got and regardless, as long as you keep the growing tip you'll have the most mature part of your plant which will one day god willing, flower for you! lol When Neps get too long just chop them back and make new plants out of the stem sections. Sell the cuttings to pay for replacement bulbs or R/O filter cartridges or trade them to others for new species. I mean you can even have a N. rajah or N. bicalcarata (depending on what temps and humidity you have obviously), not up to maturity in that size container of course as these two get huge in diameter but in a year or two maybe the wife will start to get into the plants and let you go one step bigger in your growing arrangement. Or you can simply concentrate on the smaller Neps like N. jamban, N. aristolochioides, N. jacquelineae, etc. But of course you'll need highland conditions to keep most of the smaller Neps happy and flourishing.

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