New setup, mounting orchids/epiphytes on terracotta? - Dendroboard
Dendroboard

Go Back   Dendroboard > Vivariums > Parts & Construction
Register Blogs FAQ Calendar Mark Forums Read Advertise

Support Our Sponsors
No Threads to Display.

facebook

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1 (permalink)  
Old 09-25-2019, 04:52 AM
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 24
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default New setup, mounting orchids/epiphytes on terracotta?

Hello all,

I'm working on a small new setup to house some orchids and perhaps some other small epiphytes. I've seen a lot of examples ranging from very low to very high tech of people
mounting things on pieces of unglazed terracotta, and then filling the terracotta containers with water to keep the plants moist as the water slowly seeps through. I think its a cool
concept so I wanted to give it a go. Does anyone have any experience with this? Would it be a good idea to try to grow some moss over the terracotta as well?

Heres what I've put together so far:



I siliconed together two tall pots which will be in the center. Still waiting on some more plastic to come in the mail to make a top, after that I'll attach the bottom ring to the base and waterproof it.

This is currently in the spot I'm hoping to keep it in and I'm wondering if just the sunlight will be too much/not enough light. This is an unshaded south-east facing window in LA.
Tested the light at about 9:30 this morning and the part facing the window was getting about 5000 FC. Would I be better off moving it away from the window and adding some lights?

Also wondering about ventilation, I have a small USB computer fan that I can pop in there, would that be too much airflow?

I'm not super experienced keeping orchids yet so any advice would be appreciated!
Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 09-25-2019, 06:40 AM
Socratic Monologue's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Central WI
Posts: 981
Thanks: 43
Thanked 113 Times in 108 Posts
Default Re: New setup, mounting orchids/epiphytes on terracotta?

Knowing the genera you intend to keep is crucial here. Most Cattleyas, for example, die if kept moist.
__________________
I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd.

Whitman
Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 09-25-2019, 06:32 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 399
Thanks: 0
Thanked 51 Times in 50 Posts
Default Re: New setup, mounting orchids/epiphytes on terracotta?

Quote:
I've seen a lot of examples ranging from very low to very high tech of people mounting things on pieces of unglazed terracotta, and then filling the terracotta containers with water to keep the plants moist as the water slowly seeps through. I think its a cool concept so I wanted to give it a go. Does anyone have any experience with this? Would it be a good idea to try to grow some moss over the terracotta as well?
First objection - "filling with water".
Second objection - "keeping the plants moist".
Third objection - "grow some moss as well".

If you want mosses and liverworts (whether epiphytic or terrestrial) and maybe even some algae, yes you can do it like that and enjoy great success. Or set the terracotta on a saucer and keep the saucer filled. The clay wicks like a champ.

But you say orchids and maybe some other epiphytes, and I'm guessing this includes other vascular plants - e.g., broms, ferns, maybe some trailing flowery stuff, maybe a climbing vine or something. And you've got that air-flow reduction device too, surrounding your clay tubes. That will reduce your watering frequency needs.

I've super-glued broms and mini-orchids to the bottom of upturned terracotta pots, and set those under misters in vivs. They really grab on. Some of the pots I have packed with LFS, others no. Depends how "wet-foot" you need to be/avoid, as SM has noted.

Best thing to do would be play around with different regimes, and watch how long the clay stays dark & damp, how fast it dries & goes pale again, etc BEFORE subjecting a plant to the setup and regime.

You can find mosses and orchids that will grow well together on the very same substrate with the very same micro-climate (it's super-easy in a large viv with lots of microclimates, but that is not what you're talking about). And there are some mosses that will persist - maybe not establish that well, but persist - in surprisingly xeric situations (as long as they get watered now and then). But it will take some effort, unless you just go with the absolutely-soggiest-loving orchids out there. In that case, cohabbing mosses would be no problem.

Be prepared to kill some plants. Or, do your homework, and tinker a lot first.

Good luck!
Reply With Quote
 
  #4 (permalink)  
Old 09-26-2019, 04:16 AM
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 24
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default Re: New setup, mounting orchids/epiphytes on terracotta?

Thanks a lot for the advice, thats all really helpful. I'm still new to all of this so trial and error has been a big part of the process. That being said, on further consideration I dont think this thing will be able to work by the window, its will just be far too bright/hot and would be better off somewhere else with some artificial light. I'll definitely play around with different watering methods and see what works best, I'm not planning on growing anything in the bottom so I can test just filling that with water and seeing how it works.

I've got time before I'll be buying any plants, theres an orchid show/sale coming up here in the middle of October that I was thinking of picking some stuff up from, but if I'm not confident about it by that point I don't need to.

As for the genera, I'm going to find a better place for it and start keeping track of the temperature/light/humidity over time and select things that will work in the environment. I dont have a specific genus that I especially want to house at the moment.

Thanks again!
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Old 09-26-2019, 05:58 AM
DPfarr's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: SACRAMENTO
Posts: 339
Thanks: 0
Thanked 20 Times in 19 Posts
Default

You can check for them. I’ve seen people use that Epiweb.

https://magpieaesthetic.com/nano-vivariums/
Reply With Quote
  #6 (permalink)  
Old 09-26-2019, 11:36 AM
Bunsincunsin's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 750
Thanks: 28
Thanked 67 Times in 55 Posts
Default Re: New setup, mounting orchids/epiphytes on terracotta?

Have you tested the porosity of the clay pipes you’re using? You may already be aware, but the porosity of those can vary widely, making some not as suitable for this application if they are too porous or not porous enough. Even products from the same manufacturer can vary slightly. If what you have now doesn’t end up working, there’s a Japanese aquascaping company called ‘DOOA’ that recently released a similar product.

You will likely get moss colonizing the pipes, whether intentional or not, but that may be welcomed in order to cover up the clay pipe, and depending on the look you’re after. It may also function to improve wicking of water through the clay and retention of moisture on the surface.

Check out some of Justin Yeager’s projects under his ‘Planted Glass Boxes’ guise. He’s had a few displays over the years (not of this style, however) that were lit strictly with light available from nearby windows and seemed to have success growing some of the more sensitive Pleurothallids, like Lepanthes sp., and various filmy ferns and liverworts. I don’t believe he uses any fans in those low-tech setups, but I, personally, have always found them to be beneficial, especially when growing genera such as Lepanthes, as I’ve found it helps to prevent their leaves from staying wet – though, that may not be an issue here if wicking of water through the clay will be the sole water source.

You’ve already mentioned it, but heat will be an issue if you rely solely on ambient light (i.e. sunlight through a window). You will want some sort of passive ventilation - if not also active circulation - if you go this route. I think you will find that this sort of setup lends itself well to evaporative cooling when paired with both some amount of passive ventilation and active circulation via evaporation of moisture from the clay and so the temperature at root level may be acceptable even if the air temperature is not ideal for a short time during the day. If you decide to try a fan, I’ve had success with these; they seem to have a good balance of CFM to dB noise level for the price, and have held up well in my vivaria.

Keep in mind, very few individuals keep and maintain displays like these, so it may difficult to get good information or even relevant opinions regarding the subject unless you get in touch with someone who has first-hand experience. Try to get in touch with Piotr, as I think he could give some valuable insight. You might also be able to get in touch with Mikael, directly. Obviously, it will take some experimentation, but that shouldn’t stop you from attempting something different. I think there are a large number of species that will do well in a setup like this once you’re aware of the environmental parameters you can provide it. I might suggest starting off with some of the smaller Pleurothallis sp. orchids, as I have found many to be quite adaptable in vivarium conditions.
__________________
Shaun
thefictionsthatpersist

Last edited by Bunsincunsin; 09-26-2019 at 11:39 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 09-27-2019, 12:00 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 399
Thanks: 0
Thanked 51 Times in 50 Posts
Default Re: New setup, mounting orchids/epiphytes on terracotta?

Others make some great points here. I will add the notion, that you could reduce infrared heating through the window with window film. The Gila stuff at Home Depot cuts heat gain about 75%. It applies with a watery spray, not an adhesive, so it's not too bad getting it back off if you're renting, or just if you change your mind.

https://www.gilafilms.com/for-home/g...um-window-film

I've got this on my hot windows. It works well. Having help putting it up is essential unless you're doing a very small window. Read the instructions in advance (they're rolled up with the film - open the box and see the 8.5x11 sheet of paper) and follow them to the letter. Otherwise you may invent some choice cuss words. Ha ha, no joke though. Nobody pays me to say this. Save the light money and buy more plants - just a suggestion.

Good luck!
Reply With Quote
  #8 (permalink)  
Old 09-27-2019, 04:34 AM
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 24
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default Re: New setup, mounting orchids/epiphytes on terracotta?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunsincunsin View Post
Have you tested the porosity of the clay pipes you’re using? You may already be aware, but the porosity of those can vary widely, making some not as suitable for this application if they are too porous or not porous enough. Even products from the same manufacturer can vary slightly. If what you have now doesn’t end up working, there’s a Japanese aquascaping company called ‘DOOA’ that recently released a similar product.

You will likely get moss colonizing the pipes, whether intentional or not, but that may be welcomed in order to cover up the clay pipe, and depending on the look you’re after. It may also function to improve wicking of water through the clay and retention of moisture on the surface.

Check out some of Justin Yeager’s projects under his ‘Planted Glass Boxes’ guise. He’s had a few displays over the years (not of this style, however) that were lit strictly with light available from nearby windows and seemed to have success growing some of the more sensitive Pleurothallids, like Lepanthes sp., and various filmy ferns and liverworts. I don’t believe he uses any fans in those low-tech setups, but I, personally, have always found them to be beneficial, especially when growing genera such as Lepanthes, as I’ve found it helps to prevent their leaves from staying wet – though, that may not be an issue here if wicking of water through the clay will be the sole water source.

You’ve already mentioned it, but heat will be an issue if you rely solely on ambient light (i.e. sunlight through a window). You will want some sort of passive ventilation - if not also active circulation - if you go this route. I think you will find that this sort of setup lends itself well to evaporative cooling when paired with both some amount of passive ventilation and active circulation via evaporation of moisture from the clay and so the temperature at root level may be acceptable even if the air temperature is not ideal for a short time during the day. If you decide to try a fan, I’ve had success with these; they seem to have a good balance of CFM to dB noise level for the price, and have held up well in my vivaria.

Keep in mind, very few individuals keep and maintain displays like these, so it may difficult to get good information or even relevant opinions regarding the subject unless you get in touch with someone who has first-hand experience. Try to get in touch with Piotr, as I think he could give some valuable insight. You might also be able to get in touch with Mikael, directly. Obviously, it will take some experimentation, but that shouldn’t stop you from attempting something different. I think there are a large number of species that will do well in a setup like this once you’re aware of the environmental parameters you can provide it. I might suggest starting off with some of the smaller Pleurothallis sp. orchids, as I have found many to be quite adaptable in vivarium conditions.
Thank you for the advice!
I think that my terracotta is just porous enough. A few minutes after filling with water the surface is slightly damp and cool to the touch. Not enough water to form droplets, but enough to feel moist. I'll have to see how that changes once its in an enclosed environment, I'm hoping a bit more water will condense on it but if it doesnt I dont mind hand watering as well.

Thats actually a really good point about the evaporative cooling. Im hoping that it works out to pick up some plants at the orchid show next month so that I can ask the vendors some care questions. Will definitely ask about root temperature vs air temperature. I'll definitely be adding a fan for circulation, and I've added a few extra holes for more ventilation. Maybe the airflow combined with the evaporation will keep it at a cool enough temperature next to the window, I'll run some tests once I get the whole thing put together!

Thanks for the references too, I can definitely see if I can get in contact for some advice. I'm happy to approach this on a trial and error basis, hopefully I can get something going but I'm definitely prepared to lose a few plants. I'll keep the Pleurothallis in mind too, I have a Pleurothallis Stricta growing in a different setup and its been really hardy. Definitely feels like a good beginner plant.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jgragg View Post
Others make some great points here. I will add the notion, that you could reduce infrared heating through the window with window film. The Gila stuff at Home Depot cuts heat gain about 75%. It applies with a watery spray, not an adhesive, so it's not too bad getting it back off if you're renting, or just if you change your mind.

https://www.gilafilms.com/for-home/g...um-window-film

I've got this on my hot windows. It works well. Having help putting it up is essential unless you're doing a very small window. Read the instructions in advance (they're rolled up with the film - open the box and see the 8.5x11 sheet of paper) and follow them to the letter. Otherwise you may invent some choice cuss words. Ha ha, no joke though. Nobody pays me to say this. Save the light money and buy more plants - just a suggestion.

Good luck!

Hey thats a really good idea, (just in general too, its too hot here...) I might look in to that. I'm definitely happier to spend money on plants when I can!


Anyways, once I get the full setup together I'll get a thermometer and hygrometer in for some different tests and report back.

Thanks again!
Reply With Quote
  #9 (permalink)  
Old 09-28-2019, 04:25 AM
Wyofrogs's Avatar
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Westminster Co
Posts: 45
Thanks: 9
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Default Re: New setup, mounting orchids/epiphytes on terracotta?

So i am really interested to see your results, but have always had reservations using low fired ceramic it a consistently humid environment.

After having an extensive education in clay and clay properties, I believe that for me at least, I would use high-fired clays such as a stoneware in humid environments. Clay begins to act like a filter when it has not reached a temp to vitrify the clay. I believe that's one reason why you see mineral deposits on the outside of low-fired clay pots after a while. These deposits might form, more slowly, but can accumulate under roots that grow against the clay surface potentially burning the plant. The other issue is that even though the clay is more porous and can transfer water through the actual body of the ceramic, roots might be able to find small fissures on the surface and compromise the structure. While this can take years it is a possibility if you begin to love your layout and then have it crash.

I am still really curious to see the project progress!
Reply With Quote
  #10 (permalink)  
Old 09-29-2019, 12:02 PM
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Germany
Posts: 15
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default Re: New setup, mounting orchids/epiphytes on terracotta?

Quote:
Originally Posted by casbsp View Post
I siliconed together two tall pots which will be in the center.
Will you ever have to carry the tube? For maintenance for example.
Silicone does not really stick to terracotta, especially when the terracotta is going to be moist all the time.
But aslong as you wouldn't have to move it around I think it would be alright.

I personally would rather use epoxy resin mixed with a filler material to make a "modelling mass".


Be aware that most miniature orchids are low light species. You would have to find out which ones are naturally growing in direct sunlight, place those at the surface facing the window. And use the low light species for the opposed side.
Having the enclosure directly at a window will of course always lead to very different grow rates of all plants - with mosses getting burned on one side and some plants on the opposed side not getting enough light.

I don't know how the enclosure is made (is it plastic?), but I can't see any passive venting. As soon as you close the cap and have water in the tube, the humidity will reach 100% rather soon without passive or active venting.

I hope I'm not sounding too critical! Please take it as "unfiltered" feedback.


Jan
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT. The time now is 10:15 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.