I received a terrarium for Christmas last year and, I'm embarrassed to say, am just getting around to setting it up now. It's got an elegant design, and I've worked out how I want the inside laid out, but could use some help figuring out how to best water the plants. Other suggestions, thoughts, or cautions on just about any aspect are also welcome though. I've gardened a good bit in my life but I'm new to indoor projects like this. And money is a little tight right now so I really only got one shot at making this work.
For informational purposes, the terrarium is square and approximately 16"x16" (and some 20" or more high). It's completely enclosed by glass within a wood frame, and the top has two sliding glass halves for controlling humidity. I'm building myself a little waterfall that will feed into a stream leading down to a pond, where an intake pulls the water back to dump into the waterfall.
This gift was specifically meant to help me get back into carnivorous plants and I plan to place them throughout the terrarium in 4" pots (for easier removal for dormancy). At this time I don't expect to have any animals in the terrarium, instead using it as more of a cat-safe CP garden, but am not totally against the idea of adding a lizard or turtle or something in the future. But I know nothing about them yet and it isn't something I'm bothering to think much about (other than to avoid design gaffes that could limit my options in the future).
The layout of the terrarium is sketched below from a top down view, followed by a detailed top-down of the waterfall (numbers represent height). The waterfall will reside against a back wall and sit upon a few inches of soil. The waterfall pump will sit under the upper lake with tubing running alongside the stream to the pond, where water is recycled back through. The pots will be buried up to their lips in soil to hopefully hide them from regular viewing. Lighting will be provided by some growlights fitting into the top lattice, as well as possibly some lighting in the waterfall and stream (not sure how to accomplish this yet).
My main holdup at this point is that I would very much like to automate maintenance as much as possible, as I currently work two jobs and have many parental and other responsibilities leading me to sometimes neglect my hobbies. With moving water flowing across the length of the terrarium, and an available water pump, I feel like I should be able to tap into that somehow to water the plants, possibly using some sort of drip system pulled from the main line. That way I would just need to refill the pond every few days with distilled water as I see it getting low.
Again, though, I'm completely green in this area. So that's why I was hoping to get some ideas from you guys. Am I on the right track? Are there spiffy little tools designed to help accomplish this very thing? Are there other methods I should be considering instead of drip lines? Or will this whole system end up being more trouble than it's worth.
As an aside, I also welcome thoughts on the plants I've chosen. I've had D Intermedia and D Capensis before and loved them; hardy little guys. The Sarrs will be a pretty new experience for me (I've mostly had VFTs and Sundews); I'd like to find a variety that will stay relatively small so as not to outgrow the pot or terrarium. D Scorpioides may not be perfectly suited to this environ, but I hope it will work. I've wanted one since I first got into CPs and started visiting Terraforums back in, I believe, the late 90s...it's my little CP fantasy. =P
As for the environment, we live in Pittsburgh, PA. This will probably be residing near a East facing window getting an hour or two of direct early morning sunlight, but mostly indirect sunlight. The house is kept at between 66 and 72 degrees throughout the year (generally warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer for weird medical reasons). Humidity in the house is relatively low, but the terrarium has a sliding top I can use to maintain internal humidity, especially with the waterfall in there. Some grow lights will be placed on top the terrarium shining directly down, probably on a 14-16 hour/day timer.
I will probably try to handle my plants' dormancy using my garage; winter temps in there can go below freezing, but I can always do the dormancy a little early or late to take advantage of the milder weather. As the plants will all be in pots it should be easy to remove them for dormancy or other care. Refrigeration is a possibility, but with two kids I'm not sure how safe it would be.