This is my first posting on these message boards. *My name is Matt Miller and I have been growing carnivorous plants and operating my website, Carnivorous Plants Online, since 1997 (although since attending college my cp collection has been cut back). *I have been looking for a way to grow highland nepenthes at home without my constant supervision. *I designed a fully automated grow chamber for them last year and over christmas break I was finally able to construct it (with some christmas present funding from my parents [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img] ). *
The tank is 6' x 4' x 4' and the bottom back and sides are made of 3/4 inch plywood. *The front is plexiglass. *The inside of the plywood has been painted with a white waterproof latex paint to help hold in humidity and the sides of the terrarium have been coated with reflective aluminum foil and the back of the terrarium is fixed with a glass mirror. *The tank is illuminated with four 4' fluorescent shop lights and a sodium halide bulb. *The bottom 10 inches of the tank have been waterproofed with a thick rubber liner used in artificial ponds. *The tank holds about 4 inches of water all the time that is kept heated in the mid 60's (F) *The Nepenthes are placed on egg crating that is held about 2 inches above the water. *The tank is humidified with an ultrasonic mister that is placed in a tub in the water. *I keep the water in this tub in the 80's and this causes the mist to rise and humidify the air more productively than if the mist were cool. *A device made from PVC and flexible tubing waters each pot once per day for 15 minutes. *The water drains free from the pots and combines with the water in the bottom of the tank. *An overflow valve leads to a barrel filled with RO water from which the pump waters the plants each day, recycling the water. *I dont see a possible source for buildup of salts but I will probably fully drain the system every several months just to make sure.
The tank maintains a humidity in the mid 70's during the day and between 85 and 100% at night. *Incandescent bulbs keep the daytime temperature at 75 degrees (F) and the nightime temperature drops to between 55 and 62 degrees (F). *At night a small fan and side vent blows air into the tank adding ciculation and a cooling effect. *The air entering the tank must pass through a course wash cloth that has water running through it by a small water pump and plastic tubing setup. *This running water also keeps the nighttime humidity high. *The temperaure ranges are made possible by building the tank in a basement garage that stays very cool.
This tank will hopefully allow me to grow nepenthes while I am away at college because my parents will only have to keep RO water in the barrel and keep an eye on the temperature and humidity ranges, *I will be able to return home every couple of weeks for maintenance and to make adjustments to the temperature controlling features to adjust for the seasons.
I would love to hear feedback about the grow chamber / terrarium.