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Thread: VFT Hydroponics Experiment

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    mobile's Avatar
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    VFT Hydroponics Experiment

    As some may have noticed in my signature, one of my other hobbies is hydroculture, which is basically passive hydroponics. I have tried growing various carnivorous plants in hydroculture but, perhaps with the exception of Nepenthes, it has not been very successful.

    This year I decided that I would try an active hydroponic system on a Dionaea muscipula (VFT). For this experiment I have used a homemade hydroponic system. The growing medium I used is small rockwool cubes (1cm x 1cm x 1cm), with a top dressing of gravel to keep them in place and to make things look a little neater. The base of the VFT bulb and the roots are in the rockwool, therefore the rockwool is the growing medium, not the gravel. This is all contained within a mesh pot, with air line tubing running through the pot to an airstone underneath it. This is then placed into a watertight container and rainwater is added to a level just above the base of the pot. The idea is to get the rockwool wet but not have the roots actually sitting in water at this stage. The other end of the air line tubing is then attached to an air pump which oxygenates the water via the airstone, this runs continuously. I have added a little fulvic acid to the water to acidify things a little but I don't know if this essential, I just had some so I added it. As you can see from the pictures, I've used a clear container, this is perhaps not ideal as light may encourage algae growth, though the rainwater that was added was initially a little green but has cleared. I will keep a close eye on this and cover the container if algae starts to appear. The plant has been in this system for a couple of weeks and it has put on new growth. This is encouraging as I expected the plant to show signs of stress but there has been no evidence of this so far. I will update this post on the progress of this experiment.

    Overview of system:


    Plant in place:


    Rockwool cubes:


    Pot containing rockwool cubes:

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    Very interesting. I've been curious about how rockwool would work for CPs for a long time. What were your results like with Nepenthes? I'm looking forward to seeing your results with the VFT - my money is on it working. Do you know if there are any significant root temperature differences with this type of hydroponics vs. traditional methods? Seems like evaporative cooling might play a much bigger role in this system when compared to a typical soil-potted setup.
    ~Joe
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    My results with Nepenthes in hydroculture weren't very satisfactory. Although the plants survive, they do not thrive. I think that an active hydroponics system like deep water culture (DWC) or aeroponics might be more successful.

    I've not measured the root temperature but I think you are probably correct in that evaporative cooling might come into play.

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    I've played around with some Utric's in rockwool a bit and had good results. They were completely passive. I would think any CP's would do well with aeroponics, but I don't have the space to test it out.

    Have you tried any of the Ping's that can grow submerged? I would think they could take the "wet" of rockwool.

    Another thing to try would be a flood/drain system with some expanded clay pellets. The entire thing could be put on timers. Oh if I only had the space, I have a perfect 18" X 48" drilled tank......

    I've used clay pellets with a few CP's with acceptable results.

    Are you using any nutrients?

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    RSS,

    Unfortunately, limited space is an issue for me too. The above is the only hydroponics setup that I have at the moment, though I do have a number of plants in hydroculture.

    I have not tried nutrients on the VFT and I'm a little wary in doing so as they are typically not exposed to any in nature and I don't want to risk root burn.

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    Very cool experiment.

    I'd be interested to see the changes in the water quality and rate of use with this. Are you monitoring pH, TDS, etc? What kind of lighting setup are you using? I'm guessing there isn't a very long outdoor season for VFTs in Scotland... heh.

    A thought - one potential difficulty I see might be in repotting. I don't know how long rockwool cubes hold up, so I don't even know if it would ever need to be repotted, but it seems to me that over time it might be difficult to get the tube out easily or something. Adding water would seem to be more of a pain with a hydro system, but it also seems like you'd lose a lot less to evaporation than pots sitting in a tray.

    I wonder if dessicated insect bodies getting down into the media would be a problem...

    Keep us posted. I'm sure a lot of people who have to grow indoors would be interested in using soil-free setups for their CPs if it's viable.

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    Rockwool more or less never decays. It's stone that's been melted down and extruded into a steel-wool-like lattice. Think really porous concrete. You're guess is probably very correct, though - it will probably be a real pain to repot if the roots start knitting the cubes together.
    ~Joe
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    Quote Originally Posted by grumpus View Post
    Very cool experiment.

    I'd be interested to see the changes in the water quality and rate of use with this. Are you monitoring pH, TDS, etc?
    I've not been monitoring it but I have the equipment to measure TDS. I wouldn't think that the TDS would change significantly as nothing is being added.

    What kind of lighting setup are you using? I'm guessing there isn't a very long outdoor season for VFTs in Scotland... heh.
    The sun is my lighting setup The plant is on a south facing windowsill. Being northerly, we have long daylengths in the summer.

    A thought - one potential difficulty I see might be in repotting. I don't know how long rockwool cubes hold up, so I don't even know if it would ever need to be repotted, but it seems to me that over time it might be difficult to get the tube out easily or something.
    As per seedjar's reply above, rockwool does not break down significantly. It is in quite a large pot for the size of plant so I don't think it will outgrow it for some time but when it does I will transfer it to a larger pot retaining the rockwool that is not easily removed.

    Adding water would seem to be more of a pain with a hydro system, but it also seems like you'd lose a lot less to evaporation than pots sitting in a tray.
    It's very easy to top up, just pour the water over the surface of the rockwool and it drains through into the reservoir quickly. At the moment I am having to top up once a week. That will increase when the weather gets hotter. Eventually the roots will probably grow down into the water reservoir so the level will be able to go lower. The frequency can be reduced by using a larger reservoir.

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