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CarniBog Bowl Build

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Jan 23, 2019
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First Post!

Ill be updating this thread as a sort of catalogue/journal for my newest project, a carnivorous plant terrarium bowl. I ordered several carnivores that will be here Saturday, including Cephalotus, Nepenthes, Sundews, Butterworts, flytraps, as well as a bunch of species of moss that I've collected around my house and Campus. In the future I would like to add even more species, such as dwarf orchids, more moss species, and ferns to really create a diverse bowl. I am also aware that flytraps require cold dormancy while the others do not, and will be planning for that.

These bowl hold about a 0.5-1 gallon, if I'm not mistaken. As a drainage layer I'm using about 1" of inorganic bonsai soil composed of mainly pumice and lava rock. Additionally, there will be decorative rock and aquarium charcoal used in the bowl. Because there are several different carnivorous species that I plan on housing in the bowl, substrate has been a major concern and I havent fully decided on anything yet. I believe I will be using 50/50 sand and Sphagnum moss, as the sand will keep the cephalotus dry and happy and will also serve a surface to allow the moss to really thrive. I think that if drainage starts to become a problem Ill siphon excess water out with a turkey baster or perhaps move on to a more advanced solution if need be. I have other soils I really want to try out, but Im not going to risk them on a project with cephalotus haha. Akadama and ADA aquasoil both seem like potential soil candidates.

Attached will be some pictures of the bowls, stones, all the moss I've collected, soil I'm testing out, and an image of a bowl i'm somewhat trying to imitate. If anyone has any experience or suggestions, especially concerning substrate, I'd be happy to hear it!

Joe
 

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Welcome and good luck with your project. You're already aware of the need for dormancy for dionea which is good. I'd also think about the nepenthes. They want a more open mix than the rest and it can be easy for them to rot in a peat sand mix.
 
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Pictures are up now!

Welcome and good luck with your project. You're already aware of the need for dormancy for dionea which is good. I'd also think about the nepenthes. They want a more open mix than the rest and it can be easy for them to rot in a peat sand mix.
Thank you! And yes, a suitable substrate that keeps all of the species happy may be tricky. You said nepenthes wouldnt be happy in a peat and sand mix, did you mean sphagnum and sand mix? Thats what I mentioned in my post. If not, I was considering doing 'pockets' or 'layers' of different substrates if need be, if all the species I mentioned wouldnt be happy with the same mix. As a side note, the nepenthes I have now that is thriving came, and is still in, what appears to be a 100% peat substrate.
 
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Here is a very similar carnivorous bowl that I would personally love to call mine. NOT MY PICTURE. Alas, if only I knew what substrate they used and how theyre so succesful. Also, here are the specimens I bought.
 

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Plants came a day early! Good thing, the heat pack was only slightly warm when I received the box, would not have been good for them.

So apparently I didnt read the descriptions right, as I was under the impression most came potted but in fact none of them did. Plants looked really good, the nepenthes and flytraps are nice and big, but the one species of sundews were pretty beat up and the cephalotus only has like one root. The mexican butterworts are TINY and I am also worried about their survival. It was cool that they sent two of each however. I think they should all be fine though, besides maybe the cephalotus- I've read they dont like to be re-potted and this one has so few roots its basically sitting on the soil. Fingers crossed! Wonder if it would be a good idea to use a humidity tent for recovery?

I tried to make the scape as aesthetically appealing as possible, I sloped it up towards the back and behind the rock. Towards the top is the cephalotus and the long stemmed white sundew, I'm hoping that will grow taller and create some texture. On the right side sloping down is the "frasier Island" sundew, and in the front of the bowl are the butterworts and Ultricularia. On the left is a venus flytrap I brought back from the grave, a Lowe's find. The front of the bowl has some peat mixed in for more water retention since those species prever moister conditions. I intended on planting the nepenthes in the bowl with the stone but I chickened out of it because I think that they will grow way too big for it pretty quickly. So I put on in the second bowl and planted the other in the only pot I had, I wont be keeping it in that long hopefully.

Overall I'm happy with the results, It should look amazing when it grows out. I'm open to any comments or suggestions as always.
 

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Both the Cephalotus and Nepenthes will eventually likely want pots as big as if not bigger than those bowls, and will want soils very different from each other and from the rest of the carnivores; as the butterworts are Mexican species, same issue with the soil as they want more mineral than anything else tolerates. Though they look cool for a little while, most growers tend to encourage moving away from little project terraria because of how many different requirements are needed to keep various species in them and they often don't stay healthy long. If plants are growing below the level of the lip the amount of light they'll want in order to do well may cook them because it's clear glass (even with the mostly open top it could get very, very hot inside), and if any amount of nutrient builds in the soil the clear sides will also encourage algal growth.
 
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Both the Cephalotus and Nepenthes will eventually likely want pots as big as if not bigger than those bowls, and will want soils very different from each other and from the rest of the carnivores; as the butterworts are Mexican species, same issue with the soil as they want more mineral than anything else tolerates. Though they look cool for a little while, most growers tend to encourage moving away from little project terraria because of how many different requirements are needed to keep various species in them and they often don't stay healthy long. If plants are growing below the level of the lip the amount of light they'll want in order to do well may cook them because it's clear glass (even with the mostly open top it could get very, very hot inside), and if any amount of nutrient builds in the soil the clear sides will also encourage algal growth.
Thanks for the input!

The nepenthes will certainly outgrow the bowl, that’s why I decided to not put any in the main bowl, the rockscape one. Depending on how happy the other one is, once it outgrows the other terrarium I will probably just take the whole thing down and pot everything separately. That one was only used because I didn’t have the materials on hand I thought I did, I thought the plants (minus the cephalotus) were coming potted and I didn’t have any lying around my apartment.

Can you explain by what you mean mineral? I didn’t read anything about that but obviously that doesn’t mean anything. I read many people use perlite, peat, and sand, which isn’t mineral- dense either.

Concerning the heat, I don’t believe that will be a problem. These are being kept in my apartment windowsill that gets sun until about 11:30ish and then the LED grow light I have kicks on. The light doesn’t put any heat out at all really. What you said about the algae may be a problem I hadn’t considered, would algae be a bad thing or just unsightly?
 
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Thanks for the input!

The nepenthes will certainly outgrow the bowl, that’s why I decided to not put any in the main bowl, the rockscape one. Depending on how happy the other one is, once it outgrows the other terrarium I will probably just take the whole thing down and pot everything separately. That one was only used because I didn’t have the materials on hand I thought I did, I thought the plants (minus the cephalotus) were coming potted and I didn’t have any lying around my apartment.

Can you explain by what you mean mineral? I didn’t read anything about that but obviously that doesn’t mean anything. I read many people use perlite, peat, and sand, which isn’t mineral- dense either.

Concerning the heat, I don’t believe that will be a problem. These are being kept in my apartment windowsill that gets sun until about 11:30ish and then the LED grow light I have kicks on. The light doesn’t put any heat out at all really. What you said about the algae may be a problem I hadn’t considered, would algae be a bad thing or just unsightly?

Mexican butterworts grow on extremely rocky or mineral-rich soils, and should be grown in mixes composed primarily of such things as perlite, Turface, vermiculite, sand, or other mineral-based elements. Planting them in mixes high in organic materials such as peat or sphagnum will lead to an extremely high risk of rotting, particularly if they're kept wet (unlike other carnivores, they want to be just damp, and only during their summer growth phases). Algae, depending on what carnivore you're trying to grow and what algae ends up growing, may just be unsightly but it can also turn the soil anaerobic (which leads to rot) and some do release toxic compounds, particularly as they decompose and especially if they're lower down in the soil as opposed to exposed to air on the surface.
 
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Mexican butterworts grow on extremely rocky or mineral-rich soils, and should be grown in mixes composed primarily of such things as perlite, Turface, vermiculite, sand, or other mineral-based elements. Planting them in mixes high in organic materials such as peat or sphagnum will lead to an extremely high risk of rotting, particularly if they're kept wet (unlike other carnivores, they want to be just damp, and only during their summer growth phases). Algae, depending on what carnivore you're trying to grow and what algae ends up growing, may just be unsightly but it can also turn the soil anaerobic (which leads to rot) and some do release toxic compounds, particularly as they decompose and especially if they're lower down in the soil as opposed to exposed to air on the surface.

The mix the butterworts are in is a mixture of sand and sphagnum, with a little bit of peat but not too much. The sand should provide the minerals should it not? Is the sand a problem for the other carnivores?

Since the butterworts don’t like to be too wet I’ll avoid misting them for the most part
 
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The mix the butterworts are in is a mixture of sand and sphagnum, with a little bit of peat but not too much. The sand should provide the minerals should it not? Is the sand a problem for the other carnivores?

Since the butterworts don’t like to be too wet I’ll avoid misting them for the most part
If you're using sand, then the soil for the butterworts should be almost, if not entirely sand. A little peat is fine to help maintain moisture and add what little organic material they do want, but it should not be a primary component. And sand is a main component of most other CP mixes as well; the standard is 50:50 peat/sand or perlite.
You should not really mist any of your plants; most do not like water sitting on their leaves (butterworts will rot, Nepenthes may attract fungus, it washes the dew off sundews etc.) and it does little other than temperature shock them and barely raises local humidity for more than an hour or so, so they experience fluctuations they will not like. Let them acclimate to your conditions, and they'll be fine with just getting moisture from the soil.
 
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If you're using sand, then the soil for the butterworts should be almost, if not entirely sand. A little peat is fine to help maintain moisture and add what little organic material they do want, but it should not be a primary component. And sand is a main component of most other CP mixes as well; the standard is 50:50 peat/sand or perlite.
You should not really mist any of your plants; most do not like water sitting on their leaves (butterworts will rot, Nepenthes may attract fungus, it washes the dew off sundews etc.) and it does little other than temperature shock them and barely raises local humidity for more than an hour or so, so they experience fluctuations they will not like. Let them acclimate to your conditions, and they'll be fine with just getting moisture from the soil.

Hmm maybe I should add more sand to the area where the butterworts are, I’m worried about disturbing the roots too much though. And okay I’ll lay off the misting, I figured in an apartment as dry as mine they would need it. I’ve been misting my Nepenthes specimen several times daily and it’s really doing well, so I figured the others would benefit too. Note taken
 
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Hmm maybe I should add more sand to the area where the butterworts are, I’m worried about disturbing the roots too much though. And okay I’ll lay off the misting, I figured in an apartment as dry as mine they would need it. I’ve been misting my Nepenthes specimen several times daily and it’s really doing well, so I figured the others would benefit too. Note taken

It would be better they be planted in a separate container, not just adding more sand to their "spot" in a terrarium. The moisture levels the other carnivores will want will leave them still rather wet even in a highly drained sand mix. And in acclimation, if they came from a high humidity location you will want them started out in a closed system (covered with plastic, in a bag, etc.) that is slowly opened up a little over the course of a few weeks until new leaves developing are developing within your household conditions. Old leaves will wilt and dry up, but this is expected.
 
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It would be better they be planted in a separate container, not just adding more sand to their "spot" in a terrarium. The moisture levels the other carnivores will want will leave them still rather wet even in a highly drained sand mix. And in acclimation, if they came from a high humidity location you will want them started out in a closed system (covered with plastic, in a bag, etc.) that is slowly opened up a little over the course of a few weeks until new leaves developing are developing within your household conditions. Old leaves will wilt and dry up, but this is expected.

Would it be a good idea to repot them now, even after the stress of shipping and everything? If so, what’s your preferred mix?
 
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Would it be a good idea to repot them now, even after the stress of shipping and everything? If so, what’s your preferred mix?

Mexican butterworts do not have sensitive roots, and use them more to hold them in place than anything else. Putting them in a proper mix now won't hurt them. I use a mix of 3:3:1 Turface/perlite/peat.
 
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Just a little update-

As you can see in the pictures, the bowls have matured quite bit in a short amount of time. Small flowering plants are popping up, and so far Ive left them as I think they add a nice touch to the bowl. They also help to keep the soil aerated. I ended up swapping out the substrate in the lower half of the bowl to a mix that I think the species down there would prefer, and I did notice when repotting the butterworts that the larger one already had two baby shoots, so I separated them and they are now in a different container. Note, also, that the larger one managed to catch a decent sized insect- super cool!

Additionally I've added a species of Liverwort that I don't have a definite ID on, hopefully the pure water I use wont affect it. This bowl is very much a trial and error run.

The cephalotus is the only one not showing much progress. It came with a lot, maybe 15 small traps, and all but about three have turned brown. However, the actual plants leaves look great still and are a nice green. So I'm not too concerned yet, I know they don't tolerate their roots being messed with so hopefully its just recovering. It was the most expensive plant I bought and I was more excited about it than any of the others, so hopefully it pulls through.
 

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Are the pictures blurry? they look fine for me until I upload them, not sure whats happening, or why some pictures get rotated.
 
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