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Old 03-13-2017, 08:18 AM
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Default Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

Greetings,

After months of work, I finally finished construction of my new vivarium tonight! This vivarium replaces one I built last year, a 3'x3'x7' very vertical vivarium (dubbed the Orchid Shower because I used curved-glass shower doors for the front).

I've noted in previous threads why I am replacing the older viv. Suffice to say it was perfectly fine but various aspects of it were not what I'd hoped - the extreme verticality of it being the main issue.

The new viv is almost the same total volume but much more horizontal (something I hope will make the frogs that may eventually inhabit the viv a little happier). The other main difference is the interior 'scaping. In the Orchid Shower, I experimented with all artificial materials (styrofoam, hygrolon, epiweb). The new viv features a return to natural materials - I collected and used some great manzanita burls from an eroded hillside near Big Sur, CA and used those to create the vivscape.

Tonight was the final installation of the misting heads and hanging the lights. The next week or two will involve the movement of 100s of plants from my old viv to the one one. I'll post more pictures as the transplant unfolds...
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Old 03-13-2017, 08:12 PM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

That is an amazing hardscape...that wood is unbelievable!
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Old 03-13-2017, 11:02 PM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

Quote:
Originally Posted by kimcmich View Post
Greetings,

After months of work, I finally finished construction of my new vivarium tonight! This vivarium replaces one I built last year, a 3'x3'x7' very vertical vivarium (dubbed the Orchid Shower because I used curved-glass shower doors for the front).

I've noted in previous threads why I am replacing the older viv. Suffice to say it was perfectly fine but various aspects of it were not what I'd hoped - the extreme verticality of it being the main issue.

The new viv is almost the same total volume but much more horizontal (something I hope will make the frogs that may eventually inhabit the viv a little happier). The other main difference is the interior 'scaping. In the Orchid Shower, I experimented with all artificial materials (styrofoam, hygrolon, epiweb). The new viv features a return to natural materials - I collected and used some great manzanita burls from an eroded hillside near Big Sur, CA and used those to create the vivscape.

Tonight was the final installation of the misting heads and hanging the lights. The next week or two will involve the movement of 100s of plants from my old viv to the one one. I'll post more pictures as the transplant unfolds...
wow that is some amazing wood...i live in CA as well...Big Sur is located a little north on santa monica right? I wanna get some of that wood!...did you do anything like soak them or bake them before putting them into your viv?
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Old 03-14-2017, 12:13 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

@T1NY,

Big Sur is located more than "a little north" of Santa Monica - it's about 2-3 hours north of LA. Much closer to you are the mountains in Orange and Riverside counties - and the best burls actually grow there. I would have come to Southern California to collect if it wasn't such a looong drive from Berkeley.

Here's a distribution map of Eastwood manzanita:
Calflora: Arctostaphylos glandulosa

Dirt roads over the mountains in the Cleveland Natl forest (for instance) are a great place to find burls. What you want is a road-cut with an eroding slope above it: Manzanita up-slope will slowly be killed by undercutting erosion and then eventually fall down for collection. When forest crews do "fuel reduction" along roads, they've often cut or plow up the manzanitas - and clearing firebreaks in forest fire areas often involves plowing-up manzanitas too.

You're going to need to be patient, though: Both access to Big Sur and the National Forests in Southern California are largely closed right now because of the torrential rains and road-killing landslides that have occurred this winter.
https://twitter.com/RoyalPhoto_/stat...81989340991490
On the plus side, though, those landslides are a great source for burls once the roads re-open!

I dried the burls in my greenhouse for several weeks and then CO2-bombed the stumps for 18 hours in the sealed terrarium - the intent being to kill any termites that might have been left in the stumps. Otherwise, I did not do any special sanitization.

Last edited by kimcmich; 03-14-2017 at 12:24 AM.
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Old 03-14-2017, 02:52 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

I've been trying to find nice chunks of wood for an age, I never even thought about collecting it. Shame about the bridge though, that was going to be my route from LA to Monterey in a week and a half. Your tank looks gorgeous!
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Old 03-14-2017, 03:19 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

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Originally Posted by kimcmich View Post
@T1NY,

Big Sur is located more than "a little north" of Santa Monica - it's about 2-3 hours north of LA. Much closer to you are the mountains in Orange and Riverside counties - and the best burls actually grow there. I would have come to Southern California to collect if it wasn't such a looong drive from Berkeley.

Here's a distribution map of Eastwood manzanita:
Calflora: Arctostaphylos glandulosa

Dirt roads over the mountains in the Cleveland Natl forest (for instance) are a great place to find burls. What you want is a road-cut with an eroding slope above it: Manzanita up-slope will slowly be killed by undercutting erosion and then eventually fall down for collection. When forest crews do "fuel reduction" along roads, they've often cut or plow up the manzanitas - and clearing firebreaks in forest fire areas often involves plowing-up manzanitas too.

You're going to need to be patient, though: Both access to Big Sur and the National Forests in Southern California are largely closed right now because of the torrential rains and road-killing landslides that have occurred this winter.
https://twitter.com/RoyalPhoto_/stat...81989340991490
On the plus side, though, those landslides are a great source for burls once the roads re-open!

I dried the burls in my greenhouse for several weeks and then CO2-bombed the stumps for 18 hours in the sealed terrarium - the intent being to kill any termites that might have been left in the stumps. Otherwise, I did not do any special sanitization.
AWEOME thank you so much...i always bought my wood and those things are pricey never thought of grabbing them from national forests! but keep us updated on the tank it looks lovely!
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Old 03-14-2017, 03:23 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

That orchid shower was amazing... can't wait to see how this one turns out! I'll be keeping a very anxious eye out for this one.
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Old 03-14-2017, 01:43 PM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

Nice display piece. Although, overall it sorta looks like a pile of sticks was just dumped in the tank. I'm sure it will look more organized once planted and the furniture will provide a lot of growing surface. The pile could be problematic if you ever need to get the frogs out.
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Old 03-15-2017, 03:48 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

I've been cleaning-up and resting-up before I start planting since that will be a days' long process. In the meantime I took a few close of the burls and trunks. I should put plant to viv by this weekend :-)
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Old 03-15-2017, 05:58 PM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

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Originally Posted by T1NY View Post
AWEOME thank you so much...i always bought my wood and those things are pricey never thought of grabbing them from national forests! but keep us updated on the tank it looks lovely!
You should be careful collecting manzanita in California. I am pretty sure its illegal to collect anything in the state or national parks without a permit.

In addition, it is not legal to cut a living manzanita bush/tree even on private property. However, it is not illegal to have manzanita branches in your possession. So, make sure the manzanita you collect is already dead (not just dormant) and don't collect it on national or state park property.
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Old 03-15-2017, 06:58 PM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

@Phender,

Luckily for manzanita, it would be prohibitively hard to extract a non-dead burl from the ground. The wood is extremely hard and the substrate usually rocky - even tractor-ploughed firelines often struggle to clear burls.

Dead & downed manzanita is not illegal to collect provided you have a permit - and it falls under the same rules as firewood collecting (in areas of dispersed camping where this is allowed) or other natural material permits (collecting pine cones, fir branches etc). In any case, there will certainly be limits to what is allowed and these will vary with district.

I mentioned fuel-clearing specifically because firewood collection is often permitted in these areas. Usually this will be cut wood (not burls) - but it is often easily accessible near roads. Calling the local forest district is the best way to know when and where you can find it.

My burls, not coincidentally, came from a roadcut along private land where burls are eroding from a dying stand at the top of the roadcut cliff. The torrential rains this winter brought down alot of burls (much more than past winters - I've been watching this site for years) and, indeed, closed that entire area a fews days after my most recent visit.

Live Manzanita is a beautiful red/orange color - but this color will not persist in a moist terrarium. Luckily, long dead and weathered manzanita is actually more attractive, IMHO, because the contorted grain of the wood is more apparent.

Anyone collecting *any natural material* in California should assume the activity is regulated (almost all are) and seek proper permission when doing so.
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Old 03-15-2017, 07:32 PM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

@kimcmich,

I didn't mean to imply that you had done anything illegal. In your first post you implied, at least to me, that you knew what you were doing. However, posts by others made it sound like they thought they could just drive up to one of our National Forests and collect all the dead manzanita they wanted.
As you explained in your post, collecting manzanita, even dead wood, requires a permit in most areas. I wasn't sure if others reading this thread understood that.
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Old 03-15-2017, 08:13 PM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

@Phender,

Thanks for your initial post about permits - I had indeed not noted that aspect of collecting on public lands when I mentioned where to look. Apart from avoiding fines and hassle, though, contacting the Natl forest can be useful in finding-out about special opportunities too. I got some amazing manzanita stumps from a road-side clearing site in the Natl forest years ago and I would never have found them myself if a ranger hand't told me while I was getting a permit.
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Old 03-16-2017, 05:00 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

It's also not illegal to cut some manzanita one ones own property unless the property is in the coastal zone.
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Old 03-20-2017, 01:08 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

Greetings,

I started the planting. I have my previous vivarium full of plants and I picked up some new stuff at the orchid show.

Although the viv is first a showcase for plants, I do intend to add frogs eventually. To that end, I've made Bromeliads a larger part of this viv than if I were growing it for plants only.

I decided to start planting at the top so I'd have a sense of where shadows will fall from the upper-story plants. Here are the results so far...
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Old 03-20-2017, 06:39 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

looking dang nice thus far...

cheers
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Old 03-20-2017, 07:28 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

Looks really cool, interested to see how it will turn out
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Old 03-27-2017, 07:46 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

Greetings,

The planting is done. Going into it, I felt like I might not be able to fit all my old plants and all the new things I had assembled for the new viv. When all was said and done, however, I had plenty of room and could have fit more in if I'd needed to. It can be nice to have a few open spaces for the next orchid or weird epiphyte acquisition, though...

Most of the plants are attached by stretchy clear beading cord (for making necklaces). It seems to be a plastic/silicone/vinyl material with a perfect amount of stretch. I wound it between branches on the "back" of boughs and used a few strategically placed stainless steel staples on the boughs without any usable branches. The cord holds in-place some sphagnum. Larger plants are also held with cord but smaller plants may just be tucked and pinned with a toothpick or shishkabob skewer.

This viv has been my main time-suck for the last 2 months and I'm delighted to finally be done with planting it. Unfortunately, my task for next weekend is to disassemble the previous viv - both the old and the new viv were built inside the room they occupy and are too large to remove without disassembly. And disassembling the old viv is going to be an adventure of its own...
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Old 03-27-2017, 07:54 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

wow, your plants are amazing.....looks like some rare ones in there thats for sure! Cheers mate

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Old 03-27-2017, 03:18 PM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

Really amazing! It's nice to see some plant diversity and orchids. Refresh my memory, are you putting frogs in it? If so what and how many? I don't envy taking down the old tank though.
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Old 03-27-2017, 07:44 PM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

@dmartin,

Frogs are in the plan eventually. I'll be waiting a few months for the plants to establish. I'll then need to screen-in the top of the viv.

I am provisionally looking at R. imitator - 'Tarrapoto' specifically. But it will be a while before I actually make that decision and introduce frogs.
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Old 03-27-2017, 08:41 PM
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Greeting all,

I have some manzanita branches and small burls left over from this build. These are too large to ship but if any Bay Area residents want to drop by, they're yours!
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Old 03-28-2017, 01:50 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

Great work, that's a great burl and amazing collection of plants!
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Old 03-28-2017, 02:18 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

Cant wait to see what it looks like in a few months, Awesome job!
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Old 04-15-2017, 02:19 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

I'm scrounging for ideas for the bowfront planting, and had a few questions about this build. What is the secret to such lush and complete mountings with multiple plants like you have here? It just looks so natural and complete already. Is it just a ton of plants? Also, do you think this FEED ME! MSU Orchid Fertilizer - RO/Rain/Tap Water - 16 oz (Pint) would be a suitable fertilizer for the trichosalpinx chamaelenpanthes?

-roundfrog
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Old 04-15-2017, 06:21 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

@RF,

Having alot of plants certainly helps things look full - but you can get a similar effect without needing to splurge quite as much as I did on my setup.

Here are a few general tips - and these are good for all kinds of garden and planting setups (I use them in my front yard too).

Many times when people are planting a blank slate, they try to maximize the spread of the plants they have. That often means spacing the things out since I new viv is otherwise empty.

In nature, however, plants rarely grow so spaced-apart. Particularly in the kinds of habitats like rocky slopes and tree branches which lend themselves well to imitation in the terrarium, one plant is often the anchor for others. A large Tillandsia or Bromeliad, for instance, will grow and create additional habitat for smaller orchids, ferns and vining or pendant-growing plants.

I try to imitate this in my 'scaping. A few larger plants, near their mature size (so they won't overgrow their neighbors) can act as "landmarks." For a viv, I would suggest a mature-sized, but small-growing, Tillandsia or Bromeliad. Pick spots for these larger plants in areas where plants tend to grow naturally - in the clefts of branches, tucked beside a rock, emerging from a knot in a trunk.

From there, start thinking like Mother Nature: Tucking other plants of gradually smaller sizes into the well-lit pockets and gaps created by the larger anchor plants. A cutting of a vining/creeping fern, a clump of selaginella, or a mini-orchid are some of my favorites. You'll find as you plant that each smaller plant creates new spots to tuck-in a smaller-still plant near it.

Now, obviously this clustering strategy means you need to plant well-behaved plants that won't smother their neighbors in short-order. In addition to Broms and Tillandsias, I suggest rhizomatous ferns with 1" or smaller leaves, small orchids, trailing African violets, Sinningias, small club mosses, mosses and liverworts.

Clustering also means you will have empty spaces between clusters... but so does Nature... and those empty spaces provide basking spots for critters and more places to add new plants eventually!

As for fertilizer, any orchid compatible fertilizer will work - the one you suggested should be fine. I fertilize my viv one every week or two with a half-strength solution of the suggested fertilizer mix dispensed from a pump sprayer. When I had a smaller viv, I used a plastic squeeze bottle to apply the fertilizer. All the plants - orchids, broms, ferns and mosses will appreciate light feeding.
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Old 04-17-2017, 06:56 PM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

Love this build! Some day I'd love to build something so ambitiously large, but not until I'm sure I won't be moving in the next decade or so.
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Old 04-18-2017, 05:16 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

Greetings,

So, it's been over three weeks since I planted. In the meantime, a few more mini bromeliads and jewel orchids arrived and have been planted. I took some new images with a real camera (rather than my phone).

I'm still observing and tweaking the watering schedule - I'm aiming for conditions in which the lowest plants don't always have standing water on their fronds, but the mid-canopy is still moist enough for epiphytic mosses to be mostly hydated. At this point, I'm reducing daytime duration but increasing frequency of misting, while increasing nighttime duration but decreasing frequency of misting.
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Old 04-18-2017, 12:49 PM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

OMG!!! I love the "lush-ness" of your tank. There are some really interesting looking plants in there. Could you tell me what the following are:

2nd pic, the light green grassy looking plant in the middle?
4th pic, the red tillandsia looking plant on the right side?

Love it!!!
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Old 04-18-2017, 07:12 PM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

@rjs

The light green plant is actually an orchid, Phymatidium tillandsioides.

The red bromeliad is an awesome cloud-forest species, Racinea crispa. It's one of my favorite viv plants. It has pupped well for me - so well that I ran out of space in the upper canopy and placed this one on a stump further down. The redness and crinkliness of the fronds are enhanced by bright lighting.
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Old 04-19-2017, 12:56 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

I'll take a pup or 2... let me know when you need to move some.

Thanks for the info. Good luck.
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Old 04-20-2017, 02:16 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

Man, this is one of the coolest projects I've seen...very well done!
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:18 AM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

that looks pretty incredible, I'm really jealous of that display
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Old 04-21-2017, 08:12 PM
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Default Re: Finally ready to plant! 5' x 5' x 2.5'

I wish I had the time and creativity to do a set up like this. It looks awesome
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