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Thread: I need some pointers. I built my first terrarium and Need your thoughts on my setup.

  1. #1

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    I need some pointers. I built my first terrarium and Need your thoughts on my setup.

    Its been five days since I've build my first terrarium. 10 gallon tank.
    -The 1st layer are large pebbles,
    -2nd is a layer of damp dead moss,
    -3rd a layer of finer rocks(didn't have any charcoal),
    -4th another layer of damp dead moss,
    -5th potting soil(Miracle Grow brand), I then added the plants:
    -White Anne or fittonia argryroneura
    -Fitonnia "Combo" or again fittonia argryroneura, this one has red striped leaves along with regular White Anne
    -Philodendron "Silver" or Scindapsus pictus argyraeus
    -Pilea "Pan Ani" or Pilea ?? very blurry pic I took.
    -Purple Passion or Gynura aurantiaca
    -6th layer, moist live moss.
    I then realized it was not building any condensation. The top I had in it has many holes...might as well be an open terrarium. Today I taped saran wrap nice and tight to the top. My understanding is that as heat builds in this tiny eco system, the water from the gravel and soil is evaporated in the air causing the environment to be high in humidity and eventually build up as condensation and "rain" back down. As photosynthesis is in action during the daytime hours, the plants create sugar and absorb carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. At night they make carbon dioxide and then it repeats. My question is this? Do I have the science right? Can it self sustain? Are the plants I placed in the terrarium in the appropriate environment I'm attempting? Finally, where on earth(In house really) should I place the terrarium? I had it on a north facing windowsill, but I realized the humidity was much too low and the north side window was completely cloaked in shadow all day. I moved the terrarium into my bedroom with a south facing, but not directly on the windowsill. I placed on my dresser about 30 feet away. I've taken photo's at around 230PM Eastern Time in Zone 6b. I have successfully kept my tropical bonsai prospering in this room and it fluctuates between 69 degrees and 77 degrees. Thanks to any and all!

    Click the underlying link for photos.
    Need advice on closed terrarium and location for placment in my home.
    Last edited by culperwoodhul; 01-16-2017 at 04:55 PM. Reason: Couldnt upload photos

  2. #2

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    Need advice on closed terrarium and location for placment in my home.
    I submitted the same question here. Should have photos. Sorry.

  3. #3
    carnivorous plants of the world -- unite! DragonsEye's Avatar
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    "Self sustaining" sealed rarely last in the long run. Simply too many factors at play.

    Do keep,in mind that a lack of air circulation with high humidity often leads to mold issues. None of the plants you listed need 100% humidity.

    The light intensity at the distance you mentioned will be insufficient. Without supplementary lighting, your plants will become extremely etiolated and the Gynura will lose all the purple hairs.

    Many of those plants will quickly outgrow that size terr should conditions prove adequate.
    "Blessed are the cracked….
    For they are the ones who let in the light."



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    I certainly want to provide an adequate environment....they can outgrow all they like. I'll cut back the roots and foliage if need be. Anyhow, you said it would be inadequate light. I am not one for artificial light. I have done as much for my tropical Bonsai and do not wish to do it again. Where would you recommend that I place the terrarium in my room with the south facing window? Surely not on the sill? Also, you said it does need airflow, what accommodations does my terrarium require for more air flow? Holes on top? Half the terrarium covered in saran wrap vs then entirety? Thank you.

  5. #5
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    A terrarium that small will get very hot in a southern-facing window, especially if sealed. Make sure to keep an eye on your peak temperatures if you choose to stick with natural light.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

  6. #6
    carnivorous plants of the world -- unite! DragonsEye's Avatar
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    Depends upon a number of factors.

    Where are you? Southern exposure nearer the equator is far different than closer to the poles. For that matter, the season can make a great difference. For example, during the winter months, I can leave many plants -- including those that prefer dappled shade to part sun conditions -- in front of my completely unobstructed SE exposure sliding glass doors without any issue. However, were I try such a thing in late spring through early fall, those plants would fry.

    Is the window completely unobstructed, partially unobstructed , or largely obstructed? Is there an awning present that blocks out the more intense afternoon sun? That alone has an enormous effect on light and heat intensity experienced. Even with an unobstructed, unawned window, something as simple as hanging a sheer may provide the protection necessary to make the sill usable (or at least close proximity to such).

    An uncovered terr will fair far better, as you may imagine, on such a sill than a covered one. Whether a half covered tank will work is something you'd have to investigate. But keep in mind, that the results you get at this time of year many change as the seasons do.

    Also, whether or not the high humidity you seem to want will benefit the plants is questionable.

    In addition, your use of MG potting soil could be quite detrimental to the plants. MG has fertilizers already added. Generally they are time release types. In a terr, one of the biggest dangers to plant health is the build up of mineral salts. As the salts build up, root health is compromised and eventually roots die off followed by the plant. For this reason, it is best not to use any media that already contains fertilizer, to be incredibly stingy with the use of fertilizer, and to water only with pure water (rain, distilled, or RO water).


    "Blessed are the cracked….
    For they are the ones who let in the light."



  7. #7

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    Two year update.

    Quote Originally Posted by DragonsEye View Post
    Depends upon a number of factors.

    Where are you? Southern exposure nearer the equator is far different than closer to the poles. For that matter, the season can make a great difference. For example, during the winter months, I can leave many plants -- including those that prefer dappled shade to part sun conditions -- in front of my completely unobstructed SE exposure sliding glass doors without any issue. However, were I try such a thing in late spring through early fall, those plants would fry.

    Is the window completely unobstructed, partially unobstructed , or largely obstructed? Is there an awning present that blocks out the more intense afternoon sun? That alone has an enormous effect on light and heat intensity experienced. Even with an unobstructed, unawned window, something as simple as hanging a sheer may provide the protection necessary to make the sill usable (or at least close proximity to such).

    An uncovered terr will fair far better, as you may imagine, on such a sill than a covered one. Whether a half covered tank will work is something you'd have to investigate. But keep in mind, that the results you get at this time of year many change as the seasons do.

    Also, whether or not the high humidity you seem to want will benefit the plants is questionable.

    In addition, your use of MG potting soil could be quite detrimental to the plants. MG has fertilizers already added. Generally they are time release types. In a terr, one of the biggest dangers to plant health is the build up of mineral salts. As the salts build up, root health is compromised and eventually roots die off followed by the plant. For this reason, it is best not to use any media that already contains fertilizer, to be incredibly stingy with the use of fertilizer, and to water only with pure water (rain, distilled, or RO water).


    I took your questions and experimented. Its made it two years completly sealed off. Here is an update/before and after photos. https://www.houzz.com/discussions/43...in-my-home#n=3
    Last edited by culperwoodhul; 01-27-2019 at 07:53 AM.

  8. #8
    carnivorous plants of the world -- unite! DragonsEye's Avatar
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    The philodendron is looking quite nice in there though I really am surprised the leaves pressed against the glass are looking so good -- those tend to rot out with many plants as the water which gets stuck between the leaf and glass tends to give rise to fungi or bacteria which kill the leaf. Glad it didn't happen with yours.

    The nerve plant (Fittonia) in the 2nd photo of this recent set is showing signs of extreme etiolation .... not terribly surprising.

    Glad it made for an interesting project. :-) Always surprising what plants can endure.
    "Blessed are the cracked….
    For they are the ones who let in the light."



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