Woodland Terrarium Covering

oohisayMay 2, 2007


I've been searching through the postings about open/closed terrariums, but it seems that the tropical/semi-tropical terrarium is the most popular variety. I would like to build a cool woodland terrarium in my old 5 gallon aquarium. I've got the substrate materials and I have some (possibly ridiculous) ideas about what kinds of plants I would like (tiny evergreens, ferns, mosses if I can find some). I have a spot to put the aquarium that is bright but not in direct sunlight. My problem is that I don't know whether I will need to cover my terrarium or not. Presumably plants like these don't need high humidity, but perhaps they'd still benefit from a cover? I have a hood for my terrarium that I would use, but it is opaque, and I'm not sure if that will be a problem. I would rather just leave the terrarium uncovered than have to find/construct a translucent cover. In short, then, will my opaque hood be too dark/humid for my woodland plants, and, if so, can I get away without a cover?

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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

The main reason the tropical setups are so popular is that it's really tough to keep a terrarium cool lol
Even in air condition rooms the temps will frequently get into the eighties. What temps do you want to maintain and how will you go about it?? Same is true for humidity.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 6:27AM
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Hmmm...I hadn't thought about temperature. I basically wanted plants that would thrive at room temperature, which, in my place, would rarely get about 72 degrees. But for some unknowable reason, I just don't want tropical plants. So what sorts of plants would be happy at room temperature?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 6:25PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Actually the main difference between tropical and temperate plants except for high altitude tropicals is duration of temps between 50 and 85 Temperates require a much cooler dormant period "Winter" lol This is very tough to replicate in an ordinary terraium. Another is consistant humidity levels. Any container open or not will boost the ambient humidity.
if your temps are above 70 for more than 6 months it's actually "tropical" anyway. If you have a way to create "seasons"
All the plant families you name have both "tropical" and "temperate' species..It is usually far easier to maintain temps in the 70's on a year around basis.
Another problem is light. Many tropicals come from very dark forests and not only tolerate but thrive in low light levels. So it's generally far easier to provide "tropical '
if you have some particular species of temperates in mind you could certainly try them. I've been growing a "weeping willow" for almost a year with lows in the 50's
and humidity levels around 60 percent. While not ready for a yard specimen it is hanging on .lol gary

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 5:50AM
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Okay, I guess my forest dreams were a bit ambitious! Perhaps I'll rethink my plans and have a look on the forum for some other plant ideas. Thanks for the cautionary words!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 8:37AM
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I haven't been here in a very long time and thought that I'd chime in on this one. First off, aren't you in Canada?
Keeping lower temps should be simple for you. I've had a temperate palludarium up and running for several
years. I've never had a hood on mine and that's probably why my mosses are so lush and mold free!
All of the plants and fish either need cool temps or tolerate them. I bloom many very temperature and humidity sensitive orchids, from high altitudes with little problem.
My darters, etc have a narrow temp range and have been thriving for years.
While evergreens and the like may not be for hte best, mosses, ferns, etc are simple to do.(Especially if you have access to the starter materials.)
I've added and removed various plants and have found out what works for me. If you're set up correctly from the start, there isn't much to do, other than basic maintainence!
Here is a link to my current photos!
I really need to add more and will as soon as I have the time. I'm in the planning stages of a much larger one, but all of the methods will be the same!(With a few minor improvements that should work even better!)


Here is a link that might be useful: My temperate palludarium

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 2:31PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

What type of orchids are you growing.?/
By temperate do you mean you maintain at less than room temps or do you actually go through seasonal changes??
if so how do you accomplish that??
Have always wanted to have a cool house grow area but have never figures a way to do it without winning the lottery lol. Very nice setup by the way!! gary

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 5:46AM
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Out of my collection, I have many of these in there! Dracula, Lepanthes, Masdevallia, Maxillaria, Pleurothallis, Restrepia, Scaphosepalum, Stelis and Trisetella! Most of my Dracs aren't there, as they get too big. If you look at my grow list, I have all of the specific names listed. They're listed on both, My Page here, and in my profile at Flickr.
There is a huge difference with me growing cool and you doing the same! ;~) I have lived in the Tropics before and couldn't do these specific orchids w/o a certain amount of tech!
This is the same exact system that I've mentioned over the last few years. I've changed out plants here and there, but have done nothing else. The only tech involved are the FL's and two waterpumps.
I'll see about adding some more info this evening! I have to go for now! :~)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 6:25PM
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I guess that what I mean is that the water temps that influence the whole system are kept at or below room temperature.
In the winter, the average temps are in the 50's or lower. I generally keep it in the high 60's to low 70's in the summer.
I can drop the temps back into the 50's with a good water change and frequently have to do so.
I understand that temperate is probably not the correct term, but it helps to show that it's not a tropical set up from the start.
Out of all the setups that I've had, this has been the most stable and easiest ever!
When I lived in areas with hard water, I tried to stay with my Tanganyikan cichlids.
I now have very soft and very cold water, so I'm taking advantage of it. If I didn't and still wanted this setup, I'd have to invest in a chiller.

There is really no top on it.
I think that I have said before, that I never finished building it. I ran out of spare time at a point and just threw the fish in and let it go.
I also could see that I wanted so much more than one this size could do. I've been impressed with how little tech I used and how well it all works.
I have to radically trim the plants back or I'd never see anything.
Nothing has been added for several years, with the exception of live foods for the fish and new orchids.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 6:29PM
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I love the genus lepanthes and have found a good way to keep them cool enough in Florida. I have a thermoelectric cooler with the top taken off, and on top of this I have a fishtank(minus the bottom)attached. This keeps the orchids cool while they are able to get light from the light at the top of the fishtank. This works great, the fan that drives the cooler keeps the air moving at all times. The only thing is that it could be a bit more humid, because the cooling mechanism also dries out the air. I'm currently looking for ways to fix this issue. This terrarium has definately allows me to grow orchids I wouldn't otherwise be able to grow. Also you can position the coolest growing ones toward the bottom of the tank, and the warmer growers toward the top.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 9:47PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Sounds like an interesting solution.IME I've had much better luck with orchids either in the shadehouse or outdoors. Some such as the jewel orchids actually grow better for me in a terrarium but only during the winter.
Have always wanted to have a cool grow area but there are so many warm growers that can be grown so easily i couldn't justify the expense..
One of my favorite families for terraria are Gesneriads.
They love it and flower consistantly gary

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 5:55AM
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