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Thread: CP newbie needs urgent help!

  1. #1

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    CP newbie needs urgent help!

    Hello people,

    I'm Emre from Turkey. I've been interested in carnivorous plants for a while and I have recently purchased a shipment for my paludarium, which is still incomplete. I was thinking that I'd done my research and made all the necessary preparations. The plants were well and alive when I received them, but my cat rolled on the sealed bags while I was busy elsewhere, so the plants suffered some physical trauma before I potted them.

    The plants I've ordered were several Drosera capensis, Drosera prolifera, a very small Dionea muscipula, Heliamphora minor, Nepenthes bicalcatrata, and several strains of Nepenthes ampullaria i.e. Harlequins and Cantley's Red. I also have a Sarracenia purpurea which I've bought earlier, a temporary addition to my tank. For Nepenthes I used a custom mixture, long-fibre sphagnum: perlite: peat: sand in a ratio of 2:2:1:1 with a sprinkling of live sphagnum moss. For the other plants I've used an equal mixture of sand and peat. I boiled both the sand and the peat in pure water before potting my plants. The sand is large-grained quartz, and doesn't react with acid as I've tested some in vinegar. (My only concern is that the grains are maybe too large.) The sphagnum peat was sold as specially made for carnivorous plants, so I'm assuming the problem is not in the soil. I water and spray my plants with pure water from a laboratory. They are standing in a large tray with some water at the bottom. I have a 400 W sodium discharge lamp placed at a distance of 30 cm from the plants' soil level, and a small fan to provide air circulation and prevent overheating. They spent no more than a day and a half under this high-intensity light. The submersible heater in the water below is set to 28°C. To provide maximum moisture I close the lid of the tank when the lamp is off.

    So, I was assuming I did my research, but did something go wrong? Why are my plants so unhappy? Are they going to adapt to their environment? I was afraid that maybe the proximity of the sodium lamp was burning the leaves, so currently I'm providing the light through the front glass, which hopefully blocks the heat and the infrared rays. But I know that carnivorous plants require a lot of light (living under full sun) and can tolerate high temperatures as well. I measured the air temperature around the highest leaves, with a sensitive thermometer, and got a result of 28 C degrees. Are they unhappy because of the physical trauma? They were quite an investment I already love my plants, so I'll be very upset if all my plants die!

    Pictures of my paludarium and the plants here (they look happy in the first album, but they seem to have deteriorated in two days!)

    http://img714.imageshack.us/gal.php?g=tankcl.jpg

    Moisture/mist in the tank:



    Unhappy plants (please zoom to inspect individual plants)



    The unhappiest plants are N. bilcatratas (the ones that look like plain green herbs without pitchers) and while most Droseras look fine, one of them is brown all over. Also, the larger N. ampullarias (with red pitchers) have their uppermost leaves turning brownish. Others are relatively better. Should I prune the dying leaves? Should I change the lamp? Should I switch off the light for a few days? What should I do?

    Please help!

  2. #2
    i dont do pots. amphirion's Avatar
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    i suspect it is your soil, but not in the way that you suspect. i think the problem here is that you think that CPs grow in a universal soil mix, but this actually is not the case. While all CPs come from nutrient poor environments, not all of them grow in peat based mixes. Neps for example, in most cases prefer moist yet aerated soil that isnt compacted--they grow much better if given a 50:25:25 Long fibered sphagnum moss, perlite, and orchid bark. Helis require a similar mix to neps. plants that should do well in your present soil mix are the VFT and Dews. there are even other kinds of CPs that require drier conditions, while others prefer waterlogged. as you can see, CPs are not only diverse in shapes and sizes but in their soil requirements as well! Prolifera needs more shadier conditions than most dews.

    Bicalcarata and ampularia are lowland nepenthes and will not appreciate it if the temps go lower than 60 during the night.

    Good luck, and keep us posted!
    " You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." -Inigo Montoya
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  3. #3
    jafvortex93's Avatar
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    Hey emre. it seems to me that you dove headfirst into this. =].

    the only problem i can see from what youve told us is what amp had said. the soil. not particularily the brand or type but rather the way you are putting it together for each plant. nepenthes dont like to be sitting in water. and from the last picture it seems like water pools at the bottom. now, im not sure if that small amount would affect a nepenthes to that great of an extent, but im sure its possible. Just know that any changes you make right now (temps/humidity/lighting) will set the plant back and nepenthes being slower growers might take longer to re-establish themselves, even if its a positive change the plant will still need time to acclimate.

    hope that helps, and you've defenetely come to the right place to find your answers seeing as amp and many others are far more experienced then I.
    Friendship is like peeing on yourself: everyone can see it, but only you get the warm feeling that it brings.

  4. #4
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    Here are some thoughts:

    1. Plant Choice: While lowlander nepenthes may appreciate the high humidity and relatively high temperatures of your setup you have plants in there which expect a more temperate climate with day and night fluctuation. Heliamphora for example expects a significant drop in temperature at night and a decrease in relative humidity during the day. Your sarracenia purpurea even expects to have a seasonal dormancy for part of the year - something which it will not get inside your palludarium. Others will grow to a size that will quickly render your setup too small - as is the case with Nepenthes bicalcarata. When creating a unified display, consider not only current size, but potential growth.

    2. Air quality: You mentioned having a fan in your setup, but it looks awfully humid in there. Excessive moisture in the air will prevent formation of dew in sundews and will increase the chance of fungus attacking your plants. Having them floating on a floating island in the middle of your setup maybe a little excessive. Even those plants that require high humidity appreciate some fresh air. If your fan is completely within the tank, you're merely re-circulating the same stale, hot, moist air over the plants and on top of that, it's laminar air flow - something which plants generally aren't fond of.

    3. Lights: 400W of light is a lot of light - but it maybe the wrong kind for your plants. Sodium vapor is a very hot, yellowish kind of light which may not provide your plants with proper photosynthetic wavelengths. As I understand it, some people will turn on sodium vapor lights to induce flowering, but it may not be the best kind of light for day-to-day growing. Lowlander neps don't appreciate super-strong light. A more difused, richer spectrum of lights may give you better results.

    4. Acclimation: Remember that your plants will almost certainly have been growing under different conditions. It's normal sometimes for them to become stressed when those conditions change. Give them time to adjust to your conditions. Monitor new growth: Though the old leaves maybe dying, are the new ones adjusting to their new environment?

    5. Experience: Some of the plants you mentioned would probably be happier growing outside of your palludarium. Drosera capensis, Sarracenia purpurea... they would probably be happier growing on your windowsill (so long as you keep the cat away) than inside your setup. Start with the easy species and see what works for you. Your experience with CPs does not have to be an expensive and elaborate setup. Look for plants that grow in climactic conditions similar to your own and experiment by growing them outside. Turkey is the gateway to the Mediterranean. See if plants will grow for you outside.

    Good luck!
    "There is no pain as great as being alive,
    no burden heavier than that of conscious life. "
    -Rubén Darío-

  5. #5

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    @Amphirion: Regarding soil, I was merely following the guidelines described in The Savage Garden, by Peter D'amato. I did use long-fibre sphagnum and perlite in the Nepenthes soil mix, though no orchid bark, and used the same mixture for Heliamphora. My paludarium is supposed to imitate lowland conditions. The temperature is a constant 28 C degrees.

    @jafvortex: Yes, there's some water at the bottom. I know that highland Nepenthes don't like sitting in water, but I read some people who say it's OK for lowland species.

    @Brokken: I was planning to sell my bicalcatrata once it became too large, but they are currently my worst-looking plants. I read somewhere that Heliamphora minor tolerates lowland conditions well. VFT and purpurea will get their dormancy when I remove them from the tank (if they live that long.) The fan is not inside the tank, but on the lid, so it blows fresh air. Regarding light, would a 250 W metal halide be better than my 400 W sodium?

    My plants have stopped deteriorating. My VFT accepted a small fly yesterday. I bought a giant clone, I wonder how long will it take for my plant to fully develop its traps? Droseras look fine, they have begun to sprout new tendrils. I had to remove the dead pitchers of my N. ampullarias. They are not any worse or better. Only my N. bicalcatratas look like they're going to die. I cannot grow my plants outside the paludarium because my flat receives very little light. I'd have to install another lighting fixture and that'd be even more expensive.

    How can I induce basal rosette growth in N. ampullaria? How long does it take?

    Thanks for all the answers! I'll keep you updated. Also, are there any ideal plants that you'd suggest for my setting?

  6. #6
    I hate bugs. Carnivorous plants get me. jpappy789's Avatar
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    Metal halides get very warm too, but I'm not sure how much a difference they would make compared to sodium vapors. Do you know what the humidity is like in the tank?
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  7. #7
    Brokken's Avatar
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    Emre,

    In terms of lights, I was thinking something along the lines of T5, T8s or compact flourescents. Looking at your equipment it looks like you may have kept reef aquariums in the past. When you do, you have to have these really intense and focused lights to be able to provide penetration in deep tanks. That's why the metal halides and sodium vapors are necessary. In this environment you're better off with something which is more diffuse and creates less heat - like a fluorescent tube.

    As far as plants that like it hot and humid - maybe you want to consider the Drosera petiolaris complex. In the past, I grew D. falconeri under similar conditions as yours and they simply loved it in there.
    All kinds of lowlander neps will like it in there. N. campanulata is a nice, compact species which will appreciate the heat. I would definitely stay away from putting any type of sarracenia or heliamphora in there. You should, however be able to grow your helis in a sunny window and your sarracenias outside - in a yard or sunny balcony or window. Stay away from the tall sarras and concentrate on the low-growing ones and their hybrids: Sarracenia psittacina and purpurea.
    "There is no pain as great as being alive,
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by jpappy789 View Post
    Metal halides get very warm too, but I'm not sure how much a difference they would make compared to sodium vapors. Do you know what the humidity is like in the tank?
    A lot. During the night, I close the lid of the tank and the walls get all misty. During daytime the lamp is on, I leave the tank lid ajar and switch on the fan. The mist on the glass walls evaporates in approximately an hour. So there is actually a moisture drop at daytime, as Heliamphora would like, even though the temperature is always constant. The moisture never drops to critical levels, I think, because the styrofoam block is floating over warm water all the time. It takes only minutes for mist to accumulate on the walls when I close the lid. (If you're questioning why that stupid white block is there, I am going to carve and paint it so that it'll look like a floating island.) I spray the plants a few times during daytime with pure water.

    The plants get 11-12 hours of sodium light. Originally the lamp was 30 cm above soil level, but that cooked the plants somewhat (big mistake! especially the upper leaves of N. ampullaria) so now I've positioned the light in front of the glass tank. That way, the heat emanating from the lamp doesn't enter the system. This is temporary, though. I am going to buy a metal halide and suspend it approx. 50 cm above the soil level.

    I don't really like the idea of fluorescents because I cannot make them fit into a triangular tank.

    @jpappy789: apparently, metal halides have more white-blue light. I may use the sodium for my cacti.

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