Hosta in a terrarium--possible?

Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)April 1, 2012

For a couple of days I've been turning this idea over in my mind, since I got the dwarf-mini-tiny hosta and they look so cute. What would make it NOT work?

I was looking especially at Golden Tiara, which has a beautiful low shape and leaves which glow. It looks like a "real" hosta unless something in the photo gives away the actual miniature size of the plant. Here it is.

I have one terrarium set up now in a huge lidded and footed glass snifter. It's been healthy for almost two years, with only occasional additional moisture or tipping the lid to get rid of condensation.

Surely there would be no pest problems like slugs or cutworms or voles? A bed of activated charcoal could keep it sweet, not souring. Maybe some larger pebbles as a bottom layer. How about a smaller aquarium with a lid too?

A rectangular container would make it possible to grow more than one hosta, to bank the soil on one side for a good slope and a bit of landscaping.

Okay, the problems...the nature of the hosta to go dormant. If you do not interfere with the plant's growth cycle, couldn't you put it in an unheated room for the winter? And also, couldn't you keep it indoors without concern for too much heat, if you are in an air conditioned office or home, where they keep it freezing cold. An Ott light in the lid (if an aquarium) could give it as much light of the proper wave length too.

Of course, I'm not that detailed about my projects, I just do them and tinker to adjust them as I go. If you wait until everything is perfect, you'll never get around to doing it.

Has anyone grown hosta in a terrarium setup? Or have you known anyone to do so? I think it would be a great way to feature a dwarf or mini plant during its normal growing season, and figure out later how to transition to a dormant period.

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You could grow a mini in a terrarium however all hostas require a dormancy period with below freezing temperatures for a few months. The only exception would be plantaginea as this specie often grows in subtropical areas of China however it would eventually need a dormancy period to survive long term. Why not grow one in a terrarium then in the fall plant in the ground. Each year you could select a different mini to grow in the terrarium before planting out in the fall. Unless the terrarium were quite large Grand Tiara would be too big. Mine is over a foot across in total size.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 9:08PM
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Thanks, Scott. I have Golden Tiara, not Grand Tiara, but in the picture above you can see how vigorous it is growing already. I've only had it for about two weeks.

It sure is lovely, just about perfect in my eyes.

Another option might be H. venusta 'Kinbotan', which is small but more vertical growing. I got it too. If I chose a good 2 gallon aquarium with a lid and light, perhaps three hosta would work. Sometimes the container helps to miniaturize its contents, keeping trees smaller, fish smaller, maybe hosta as well.

Honestly, I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around DORMANCY. It's going against my nature. :)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 9:42PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Someone was doing this last fall... Had a lot of empty fish tanks to play with.

Tiaras are small but not mini, maybe something really small like 'Cat's eye", or 'Pandora's Box'. Or just a new tc, if you like.

Hostas do NOT need to be dormant below freezing, just below 40 degrees for about 6 weeks in order to thrive.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 9:44PM
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Babka, no kidding! Did they post on this forum?

And below 40 and with light or with darkness?

I'd like a small and very ornamental hosta, not a TC. I want the feel of a real fully grown plant, just small.

'Pandora's Box' is I believe the top favorite mini hosta. Never heard of 'Cat's Eye' but I'll look it up.

The dormancy you speak of, below 40, is that the same as for tulips and such? Did your plants get six weeks below 40 this winter?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 10:15PM
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Pieter zone 7/8 B.C.

The Top Favored Miniature Hosta in the 2010 AHS poll is indeed 'Pandora's Box'.

TC = tissue culture, as opposed to division or seedling. 99% of the hostas you see in the trade came from TC, propagation by division is too slow for commercial purposes.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 10:38PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Moccasin- Past Hosta Journals showed the difference between plants meeting the dormancy requirement and those that didn't. The ones that didn't were much smaller and less vigorous. When they are dormant, light is not a factor.

We get into the 60's and sometimes higher during the daytime here in Winter, so I keep my pots in the shade (cool)and dry. Our nights often times drop into the 40's, 50's and sometimes the 30's. Those lower night time temps keep the hostas in a dormant state.

A lot of fruit and nut trees require a certain amount of "chill hours". Silicon Valley was once known as the Valley of Hearts Delight, for all the prunes and apricot and cherry trees grown here. So I guess we get enough. Tulips around here need to be dug up and put in the freezer each year if you want them to come back each year. But daffodils do fine.

Aquariums...see the link


Here is a link that might be useful: Hostas in an aquarium?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 10:52PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

since an aquarium is portable ...

why not put it outside for winter???


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 9:10AM
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Ken, there you go again, being imminently practical with the obvious. :)

Sometimes its cooler in the house than outdoors during our winters. But our climate is not as dependable as it once was.
My walkin closet has no a/c or heating vents in it, and it has windows--but light is not a concern, correct?

However, I want it to look pretty most of the time, and I'm not a "closet hosta lover" at all.

Well, gotta go pick up some more pots etc.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 3:00PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Ken, there you go again, being imminently practical with the obvious. :)

==>> i have been accused of a lot things... BUT I AGREE WITH THIS ONE.. lol ...

of course.. drainage would be an issue ... so it would have to have a top on it ...

and after the requisite days of low temps.. you can bring it in.. and force them early ...


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 3:14PM
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Yes for dormancy the magic number is 40 degrees but best results will occur with temps near freezing. Other than plantaginea all other hosta ancestors are native to areas that receive freezing temps in the winter time. Plants are unique like any other living entity and there are always exceptions to the rule so try any one or more you like and see what happens.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 7:21PM
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