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HELP! Moldy terrariums!!!

Posted by ohsixthirty Zone 6 (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 16, 09 at 0:17

Approximately a week ago I made several new terrariums in jars, but now I'm having troubles with a few. I seem to be growing white fuzzy mold on my plants and the leaves and blooms are getting brown and mushy. Its happened in 3 terrariums to 3 plants so far.

Now, one plant I think was just a bad terrarium choice, but the other two were an african violet and an artillery fern, both of these are listed as great plants for terrariums in the book I have. The blooms on the violet turned fuzzy and gross virtually overnight and then today I noticed the tiny pink blooms on the artillery fern were brown, moldy, and mushy.

These are both in apothecary jars, kind of planted in a mixture of left over soils. I think its mosly cactus soil, orchid soil(a barky, dusty medium), and sand. I was trying to make a high drainage soil. Everything is layered correctly with the rocks, charcoal etc... I did water them quite a bit when I started, so I wonder if I overdid it?

Otherwise, I'm not sure why I'm having such mold problems. Are these plants simply not suited for a closed top terrarium? Any help would be greatly appreciated as I REALLY don't want any of my plants to die.

Also, here is a picture of the offending jar with the artillery fern. You can't really see the mold, but I wanted to provide some idea of the setup here.

Oh, and also if anyone knows what the tall plant in the back is, please let me know! I bought it at Smith and Hawkin with no information.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: HELP! Moldy terrariums!!!

I would say that you DID overdo the watering.this is an easy fix. simply take the lid off, and dont water for a few days. african violets HATE having water standing on their leaves.the water gets trapped between the hairs on the leaves, and eventually molds over.
the plant in the back, other than beautiful, looks like a peperomia species. it may not be, though, im not sure. peperomia do pretty well in terrariums.

RE: HELP! Moldy terrariums!!!

Sounds like you overwatered. That is one of the most dangerous things with a terr. With a closed terr especially, overwatering --even once -- is the kiss of death. Wet conditions plus no air movement equals mold city.

Take the lids off the jars and keep them out of direct sun but where there will be good air circulation. Better yet remove the plants and the media and start over. A sealed jar can be used BUT you must adjust the water content for the plant in question -- and that is not easy in most cases.

I currently have a 10 gal tank that is essentially sealed -- this one is basically a bog terr. I generally have to add water maybe once a year and have had this set up for over 10 years. Over time some plants have died out. Currently it houses a carpent of moss, a large volunteer fern, and a couple of dendrobium orchids which should have died years ago but refuse to do so. The media is wet and humidity is usually around 100%. Most plants would not survive this set up.

I also made some sealed terrs for friends and family. With av's it is essential that the media be just barely moist. It is far better to err on the side of caution and have the media too dry as opposed to too wet. If after sitting sealed for a day in bright indirect light there is a little condensation along the soil area you should be okay. If you have condensation appearing above the soil area you have too much and must remove the lid to let it dry out. If there is no condensation at all period, wait another day or two. If there is still no condensation you may add a few drops (literally) of water. Repeat condensation check.

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