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My growing setup. Any pointers?

Joined
Apr 10, 2014
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I am new to this, my goal is to get these plants nice and healthy and ready for some extended time lapse sequences in my studio

For now, i have them in my workshop, this is the current setup. They seem to be doing ... ok... but im seeing some strange things. The pitcher plants are sort of elongating, my red-dragon flytrap is half red/half green and is also elongating. I think this had to do with my prior setup and it was stretching to reach the light from the window.

I am using an LED setup in my current timelapse set (non carniverous) and the plants are just bursting out in flowers. However in a few weeks i plan to scrap that set and move to the CV set.

Here are some pics of my setup for growing and maintaining. I am using 4 x four foot T5 flourescant lights from Hydropharm. I have this sitting about 3 inches above the 3 10 gallon aquariums. It is set on a timer that turns on at 6am and off at 9pm. I have a small fan that also turns on to keep the temp from skyrocketing. I use saran wrap to create a cover and have a little opening / flap in the front that i can easily adjust to change humidity.

It generally stays around 70% humidity and 84-87 degrees Fahrenheit when the light is on.

Does anybody see any obvious newbie mistakes? I have been trying to search through the forums and learn as much as i can, the problem is i am extremely taxed on time, and i am hoping somebody may be kind enough to just glance over this and let me know if there is anything i am doing wrong. So far the plants are still growing. The sundew put out some lovely purple flowers, but my red dragon trap looks strange and elongated. Sae with one of the pitcher plants.

Every week or so i pull the entire set out, i reduce the sphagnum around the plants to keep it off the center of the plants, and i have been cultivating it in these tubs. So far the sphagnum just LOVES this setup. hahahaha

What i really hope is to find the ideal and perfect conditions. I am very good at automation and would love to be able to track humidity and heat levels, add humidity, water, drain, etc all without having to touch the plants. But first i need to try to find the ideal conditions.

Im using distilled water and a sphagnum pete mix with no additives.

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the sphagnum is a little bit full, i just added more water after this week cleaning.

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and here are the pretty sundew flowers :)

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BioZest

zesty.
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All of the plants look good so far, but if you are planning on growing your collection at all, you should look at a bigger setup. You have multiple smaller tanks (are they ten gallons?), which is not very good for using up space efficiently. I would go for a 30+ gallon tank or a custom setup.
 

Tacks

The sticky ones are my favorite.
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You don't have nearly enough light for that square footage of growing area and distance from the lights. Also, you don't need a terrarium for any of those plants. I would ditch the aquariums, set up a communal tray for the sundews, the Sarracenia, and the flytraps. Keep the Nepenthes separate because their water needs are different. Bring the T5s down to within 6 inches from everything but the Nepenthes. Put up mylar or at least aluminum foil around 3 sides of your growing area to reflect light better.

Proper light intensity is the single most important cultivation requirement for sundews, flytraps, and Sarracenia. Humidity, temperature, water levels are all things you should think about, but access to bright enough light makes the plants much more tolerant to wider ranges on these factors. With enough light your growth will be more compact and upright, firmer, and with better color, and the plants will be much happier.
 

jimscott

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VFT's & Sarracenias are outdoor / direct sunlight plants. They need the solar energy and they will need a dormancy.
 
Joined
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I suppose i should add that i live in Colorado. Humidity is pretty hard to come by here, and i dont think carnivorous plants would survive. A greenhouse MIGHT be a possibility but not in the near future. So increasing light output should be a big priority?
 
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w03

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I don't think that the sarrs/vft will have a big problem with it, as long as you acclimate them to outside conditions. My local nursery has a bog garden with sarrs, vfts, and some sundews that easily withstand our 90-100 temps and essentially no humidity during Santa Ana wind season.
 

Radagast

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@Chronos: I'm a newbie as well, but it really is amazing what setting your plants in a large water tray will do. I personally have my plants (mainly drosera) on a shelf with a 4-bulb T5HO fixture about 8inches above it. I do not have them in any kind of tank and they are full of dew. The temperatures are good because they're not in an enclosed tank, I don't need a fan, I can adjust the light as close/far as I want, and the humidity is just fine. People commonly use large storage bins (like the "under the bed" kind). These have lower walls so you can still look at your plants without having to look straight down at them, but still allow enough humidity. I currently have my potted plants set in a standard "seed starter" tray without any drainage holes. This would allow you to get creative and find a bin/tray that would fit your collection. Or as someone stated you could build something custom.

Check out www.growsundews.com for more info on the tray method and how to set up your collection. Hope this helps.
 
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I have been thinking hard about everybodys input and advice, all of which I am very grateful for. I realize this is not a perfect setup by all means. However, this is sort of what I can work with, i just need to maximize its efficiency.

I realize they are not terrarium plants, but this is Colorado. These plants do not grow in the wild here, at all, anywhere, whatsoever, because Colorado is a hostile environment to these sorts of plants. Every time i have seen them they are in very well build large greenhouses at local nurseries, or in terrariums. I could try dumping hundreds or thousands into an outdoor bog, but I am not building a permanent fixture, I am just trying to do plant time lapse of carniverous plants. Once this series has been shot, I am moving on to cactus. I realize this will not be easy, but nothing worth doing is ever easy. I enjoy the challenge.

A greenhouse / bog garden would be awesome, but very costly, and by the time i have it setup it will be too late to start filming them. Also, spending thousands of dollars is a bit out of the question for this project.

To give you a better idea of what i am doing... www.biolapse.com

I just need to keep them alive as i cycle them through the timelapse set I am building. When i am done with them, I plan to offer them for free, shipped for free, to anybody who would be willing to accept them. :)

In their current environment they are all growing. The pitchers are constantly sprouting new pitchers, the flytraps new stalks, the Sundew even produced flowers (it was in terrible shape when i got it). The red dragon is a bit green, but it is growing. The Sphagnum is growing like crazy.

So pretty much I am restricted to what I have or something similar.

What i am picking up here is
1) I need more light
2) probably need more airflow.

I think I may try moving them out of the aquariums and over to a large but shallow Bin as Radagast has suggested. This way I can get the light much closer. While I might not be able to build a perfect habitat, I would like to maximize my efforts using things i can work with.

Thank you everyone!
 

w03

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Nashville, TN
You are correct in that they need more light and airflow. However, I think that the light problem far outscales the airflow problem. Removing the tops from the terrariums would probably allow for adequate air exchange, and humidity would still be maintained by moisture evaporating off of the soil surface/water trays. On the other hand, several plants show clear signs of light deprivation. Although the flytraps are growing, they are getting longer and more spindly as you observed. These are indicative of etiolation, which is a plant's growth response to inadequate light.

Can you provide the lumen (measures light intensity) and kelvin (measures color temperature/spectrum) ratings on your lights? Usually they'll have something like "2500 lumens 6500k" marked somewhere on them. This will help give a better idea of the light conditions that you have currently. Wild flytraps and sarracenia generally grow in full sun, with many tens of thousands of lumens per square meter. Many of the colors you see in healthy plants only develop in strong light as these pigments are used by the plant to protect itself in very bright light. Please reference this thread: http://www.terraforums.com/forums/showthread.php/102862-Calculating-Light-Amounts .

Just as as side note, if your nepenthes is growing entirely in long-fiber sphagnum, it may be too wet (especially as you keep it in a cup of water). Nepenthes generally like an more open and airy mix that is kept moist, but not wet. Low airflow and excessive water tend to cause root rot, which can very rapidly lead to the demise of the whole plant.
 
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I suppose i should add that i live in Colorado. Humidity is pretty hard to come by here, and i dont think carnivorous plants would survive. A greenhouse MIGHT be a possibility but not in the near future. So increasing light output should be a big priority?

Doesnt matter about Colorado humidity..they will *still* be much better off outside than in a terrarium.
yes, light output is a big priority..use the sun, outside. ;) its bright and its free.

I realize they are not terrarium plants, but this is Colorado. These plants do not grow in the wild here, at all, anywhere, whatsoever,

Doesnt matter..they will *still* be much better off outside than in a terrarium.


because Colorado is a hostile environment to these sorts of plants.

No it isnt..people grow VFT's and Sarrs sucessfully in dry climates.
as long as they are always in a tray of water, they will be fine.


Every time i have seen them they are in very well build large greenhouses at local nurseries, or in terrariums.

Thats only because local nursery happen to have large well built greenhouses..and if you see them in terrariums, you have found ignorant growers..
of which you are no longer one! ;)

I could try dumping hundreds or thousands into an outdoor bog, but I am not building a permanent fixture, I am just trying to do plant time lapse of carniverous plants. Once this series has been shot, I am moving on to cactus. I realize this will not be easy, but nothing worth doing is ever easy. I enjoy the challenge.

A greenhouse / bog garden would be awesome, but very costly, and by the time i have it setup it will be too late to start filming them. Also, spending thousands of dollars is a bit out of the question for this project.

hmm..well ok then..and the fact that you want to give them away when you are done is great!
your time-lapse project sounds cool! I wish you success with it..
(if you can, you should try to give them away by the beginning of August, so the new owners will have time to keep them outside through Aug, Sept, Oct..
so they can go dormant properly for this coming winter, and survive the winter..)

and you dont need to spend thousands of dollars to grow them properly..
in fact, growing them properly requires LESS money than you have spent so far! ;)
outside, in trays of water..done.

Its actually much cheaper and easier to grow them well (outside)
than it is to grow them badly (inside, in a terrarium)

Scot
 
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Tacks

The sticky ones are my favorite.
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Outdoor growing is ideal for Sarracenia and flytraps, but I believe Not a Number said that he grow flytraps indoors under lights and they look great. He just gives them a cold dormancy. The main reason Sarracenia aren't good indoors is that the tall pitchers make overhead lighting extremely ineffective (and that cold dormancy). This is much less a problem with S. purpurea. He can totally grow them indoors, especially for a short while. He just needs light!

The plants you're growing don't need high humidity. Period. Stop thinking about humidity. The very evaporation of water off the media will provide plenty. They need light. Nothing is more important right now than light. Either with outdoor growing or with more, closer tubes indoors.

I remember your thread about your project, and I'm really excited to see more of it. Don't be discouraged! There are common misconceptions about carnivores, one of the biggest of which is that they need super high humidity. That's only true of a few small groups of plants. Light first. Light is the number one priority. Carnivory reduces photosynthetic efficiency. Give them crazy amounts of light.
 
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Joined
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This is all fantastic information thank you all. A lot of my questions have been answered! :banana2:

I ditched the tanks and went with a low tub, i have the T5 lights sitting just a few inches above the plants to maximize the brightness.

I also got another smaller tub and put the Red Dragon and a couple of the weaker looking VFT;s in it, filled it a few inches of water, and left it outside while i was at work. It sits under a pergola with a slotted roof, giving 3-4 hours of direct light, then shaded/mixed for the next 3-4 hours, then a couple hours of evening light.

So now they get more artifical light when inside, when the forecast predicts nice days i will put some of them outside to get some direct sunlight.

Now to figure out how to keep my dog from drinking out of the tub. ;)

As for the T5's they are 6400k, i have 4 tubes, each is 4 feet long.

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tommyr

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VFT's & Sarracenias are outdoor / direct sunlight plants. They need the solar energy and they will need a dormancy.[/QUOTE

I agree of coarse but EVERY TIME I tell someone on a forum that they get ticked off real bad. I have resorted to ignoring threads of people that grow them indoors. I'm sick of explaining to them why. It's like banging your head against a brick wall.
 

Dragoness

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I used to grow my Sarrs indoors, and while they did get a dormancy, they were pretty dull. I moved them outside last year, and they have done about 1000% better. They are much happier now, and I am much happier with them.

It CAN be done, but as someone who has done them both ways, I recommend outdoors no matter what. As long as you don't let them dry out, they can tolerate quite a bit of abuse that would make other plants wilt. High and low temps, fluctuating humidity, etc. are no problem for them as long as they can keep their feet moist.

Plus, no amount of canned light will ever make them look as pretty as the real thing :)
 
Joined
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VFT's & Sarracenias are outdoor / direct sunlight plants. They need the solar energy and they will need a dormancy.[/QUOTE

I agree of coarse but EVERY TIME I tell someone on a forum that they get ticked off real bad. I have resorted to ignoring threads of people that grow them indoors. I'm sick of explaining to them why. It's like banging your head against a brick wall.

Forgive me if i misunderstand, but I think your frustration may be a little bit misplaced here? Nobody here is getting angry, I am certainly not going to get angry if i ask for advice and people are willing to take the time to educate me(as long of course as they dont act like children about it). I felt I needed to mention i live in colorado because i have never seen anything like this growing out here, every VFT i have bought came in a mini terrarium, all the literature (that comes with them) says to keep them in there, even one of the larger local nurseries told me to do so. I got fed bad information, I get it. I would rather be corrected than to argue something that I am wrong about. There is nothing wrong with ignorance unless it is willful ignorance.

I am not sure if you read my last post, but I did mention that I have started putting them outdoors.... we have getting blasted with hail here on a weekly basis, so i prefer to only put them out if the weather is going to be clear. When im at work i cant run home if it starts to hail so i have to be careful, by keeping them indoors when it looks like they might get damaged. Even indoors with exception of the Red Dragon they all look better than when i got them in the mail. I really dont want them pulverized by ice and have to go buy new ones and try to get them looking good again :)


However, once I start the filming, they HAVE to be indoors, as it is impossible to control the light levels outside for a proper timelapse sequence. I normally take an image every 10-15 minutes for weeks on end. The main reason of trying to grow them indoors is because they would be filmed indoors, and I figured it would make sense to be sure it would not be a problem. If all i need is to stick them in a tub of water outdoors to get them in their best condition then ill be happy to do so. But while they are in my set they will be getting blasted with some high power LED grow lights, it should be enough to get them through the filming sequences. I realize that filming them outdoors would be best, but unless anybody can eliminate wind for a month or two and shut the sun off for me for 5 seconds every 15 minutes while my studio lighting fills the scene, sometimes we have to work within limitations and do everything possible to maximize the situation. I plan to cycle plants in and out of the set, shooting maybe 2 weeks at a time, then moving them out, changing up the set, etc. I have another camera on its way to double my output to make it as low stress on the plants as possible.

Anyway, how about we just let this thread die?

Im not too interested in this devolving into an indoors vs outdoors debate, I'm interested in growing plants, filming thier development, and hopefully growing some friendships within this online community. My apologies if i hit a button or started a controversial thread.

I think i have managed to get some pretty sage advice here.
 
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based on post 14, I would say you are on the road to success. Good luck and thanks for sharing! :)
 
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So now they get more artifical light when inside, when the forecast predicts nice days i will put some of them outside to get some direct sunlight.

Step 1. - grower switches from 100% indoors and 0% outdoors, to some of the time indoors, and some of the time outdoors. its a start! :)
Step 2. - grower will realize its SO much easier and better to just keep them outside all the time! ;)

Scot
 
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