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Thread: Dormancy in the tropics

  1. #1

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    Dear all,

    I have been growing VFTs in Singapore (tropical climate, temperates consistently about 28-30 C a year) for about two years now. I have not given my VFTs any dormancy for the two years that I've had them. Although they still look vibrant and alive, I feel that I need to address the dormancy problem when they are still thriving, and not leave it until they are almost dead because of the lack of dormancy.

    At the same time, I do not want to risk every VFT I have with dormancy since that also carries with it a certain element of risk. As such, my plan is to have an 'experimental dormancy' with just one of my VFTs right now. I will put one pot of VFT into dormancy, have it stay in the fridge for 3 months and see if it's still alive. I figure that since temperatures here are constant, that would be problem with the time of the year these plants are put into dormancy -- especially since this is their first dormancy in 2 years.

    I have had the benefit of reading Scot's very useful pictorial journal of his CPs' dormancy process. I would like to follow the same steps, except that in my tropical climate, it is not possible to rely on decreasing temperatures outside to bring the VFTs into dormancy naturally.

    I keep my VFTs outside in the open. Humidity here is about 98% all the time. Temps, as written, range from 28 to 32 degrees C. I have the plants in a peat/sand mix topped with LFS (some live). They are watered using the 'tray method' with tapwater -- the pH of the tapwater here is sufficiently neutral to support the plants.

    I have some questions:

    1. How should I bring the VFT into dormancy? I can conceivably reduce the photoperiod by bringing it into the shade before sunset, but the problem would be the temperature. How can I adjust this to bring it into dormancy?

    2. After the VFT is sufficiently dormant, can I just follow Scot's fridge method directly?

    Thanks in advance for any views.

  2. #2
    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    Can I refer you to Cindy, our moderator from Singapore, as well as Jason Wong? Is Jalan also from Singapore?

  3. #3
    scottychaos's Avatar
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    hmmm..thats a problem!
    well..since there are 2 factors that slowly cause a plant to enter dormancy, decreasing photoperiod and decreasing temps, and you can only control one of them, maybe that will be enough!
    this is what I would do..

    for all of September and October, 2 months, you can give your plant a gradually decreasing photoperiod..
    you cant do much about the temps, but maybe the plant will think its an unusually warm autumn! and it will still get its dormancy cues from the decreasing light alone..
    technically the daylight starts decreasing on the summer solstice!
    but I wouldnt bother with July and August, (unless you want to!
    2 months, September and October, should be sufficient to give the plant its cues..
    that will be enough work as it is!

    Here are the sunrise and sunset times for North Carolina:
    http://aa.usno.navy.mil/cgi-bin/aa_rstablew.pl

    So, on September 1st, there is 13 hours of daylight.
    2 months later, November 1st, there is 10 hours..

    looks like Singapore has pretty stable daylight. 12 hours every day of the year! thats handy! since your sun sets about the same time all year long.

    so..you could cut your plants' light from 12 hours to 8 hours in 2 months.
    thats 30 minutes a week for 2 months.
    so, get a light-tight box, bucket, whatever, and starting with week one just plunk it over the plant every night 30 minutes before sunset!
    I wouldnt bother with dividing up a week into different daily fractions of an hour.
    I dont think you need to be *that* precise.
    just do 30 minutes before sunset the first week.
    one hour the second week.
    90 minutes the 3rd week.
    2 hours the 4th week, etc..
    make yourself a schedule!

    it would be a lot of work! you would have to remember to "darken" the plant every night for 2 months, then remove the cover either the next morning, or later that night after its dark.
    (well..I guess thats not "a lot" of work really! if you are home at those hours..)

    after 2 months of that, the plant might "think" it is autumn and has triggered itself for dormancy, then it can go in the fridge for Nov, Dec and January..
    its not ideal, but it could work!
    its definately better than just plunking the plant in the fridge with no warning..
    at least this way, the plant at least has some idea that nappy time is coming, and can prepare itself for it..
    you "tell it" for 2 months before it goes into the fridge!

    Scot

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    Ebeyonder, as Scott said there are two factors: photoperiod and temperature. I believe that both are as important.

    1) Ok, firstly, you can decrease the photoperiod by decreasing the amount of time the VFT has each day (taking it out later or bringing it in earlier). You may also want to consider putting the plants under artificial fluorescent lights and switching the operating time on a timer back 15 mins every few days. You can do the math. The timers you get at hardware stores, (eg. at Sim Lim Tower.) The fluorescent lights from Gracelight at Jalan Ampas, Balastier Road. One thing you may think about, is where the plants came from. Be aware that the seasonal cycle of VFTs from australia is very different from those from the US. I was alerted to the fact when my VFTs died of unknown causes. Little did I know the previous grower (Hong Yee) had conditioned them to dormancy. So, now if anyone wants the seasonal timetable for australia they can PM me.

    2) Ok, now the temperature. One option would be to put it in the fridge and decrease the temp gradually but there is a high chance your mum will hound you for screwing up all the other foodstuffs. And also you can't do much about lighting in the fridge. Plonking a VFT straight in the fridge will cause shock and certain death. What I do (or am going to do for that matter) is install a peltier cooler (also known as thermoelectric junctions) to cool a terrarium, which doubles as a highland chamber. It can bring the temps down to 5*C or less depending on the model, and if used properly. It works by pumping heat from one side to the other. You can control the temp very accurately but you could always install a thermostat or place the plant at different places in the terrarium. Or you could buy a chest freezer, but that would cost upward of S$250.

    I myself have left some VFTs out of dormancy for 4+ years (those are from Triffid park, which do not put their VFTs through dormancy), and are still growing avidly.

    You may also want to contact other members such as JK, Cindy and Vistary...they may have some experience - I hear that Vistary bought a wine cooler or something... [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile_l_32.gif[/img]

    If you have any other questions do be sure to contact me. I'll be glad to help.

    Jason

    PS: You can see my post on peltiers at GCS. BTW have you joined this forum? Its for avid singaporean growers.

  5. #5
    scottychaos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] (Jason Wong @ July 19 2005,3:46)]Be aware that the seasonal cycle of VFTs from australia is very different from those from the US.
    there are no VFT's from Australia!
    they are all from the US!
    but I know what you mean..

    in Australia, the seasons are reversed from normal VFT native seasons.
    Australian winter is US Summer, and vice-versa.
    Im sure there are many VFT's in Australia who think winter is June, July and August..because it is! they dont "know" where in the world they are, so they can adapt to any seasonal cycle.

    In Singapore, with VFT's that have been growing 2 years with no dormancy, you could probably just declare "winter" for whatever 3-month period you wished.
    because the climate of Singapore really has no distinct seasons at all..
    then, after you decide, just keep that same "winter" for them year after year.
    right now, it sounds like eBeyonder's plants probably have no idea what season it is. It has been perpetual summer for them for 2 years.
    if they came from TC, they have probably never had a true dormancy..
    so even though I suggested starting in September and October with the reduced photoperiod, and putting them in the fridge Nov-Feb, really those could be any months of the year.
    as long as you then keep the plants on the same schedule every year once you determine what months "winter" is going to be for them..

    Scot

  6. #6

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    Yeah so I say declare an informal winter for the time you are the busiest, or on holidays so you would not have to take care of them. [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile_m_32.gif[/img]

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