Plants mass dying in new terrarium. Is anyone able to tell me why? - Dendroboard
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Old 02-21-2020, 09:51 PM
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Default Plants mass dying in new terrarium. Is anyone able to tell me why?

I only planted cuttings in the terrarium two nights ago, and this afternoon I came over to see some weird things:


^
Perfectly bright green leaves yesterday.


^
Leaves folding up; last leaf is changing color.


^
Similar story here.

The live moss I'd planted in the LFS is drying and losing color, too, way faster than I would have thought, but:


^This doesn't seem like bad humidity, not, at least, bad enough to cause rapid plant deterioration?

Does anyone have any quick advice? The only thing I can think of being a problem that I haven't mentioned is that I used rooting gel on the cuttings (because it's an animal-free tank), but that doesn't account for the moss.

I know I have a history of being a Nervous Nelly over little things, but this is the first time I remember plants ever doing this poorly this quickly.
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Old 02-21-2020, 10:49 PM
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Default Re: Plants mass dying in new terrarium. Is anyone able to tell me why?

It's a good idea to question whether the fumes coming off the sculpey (or whatever that chemi-clay substance is) is playing a role. I would certainly not put it in any tank that has animals going into it. I've seen the off-gas coming from it melt plastic objects in close contact with it after several years. I strongly doubt that it's chemically stable.
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:09 PM
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Default Re: Plants mass dying in new terrarium. Is anyone able to tell me why?

Can't really help ya, except to say I take reasonable care with any Microsorum cutting, to toothpick their furry stem close to the LFS. And they almost always look a little dry between mistings. I really throw a lot of water at them the first 2-3 weeks or so after cutting & pinning. But in fairness, my (passive) air circulation is super high.

I'm assuming your pic 1 shows a Microsorum fern. I keep 2 species, pteropus (looks just like yours) and diversifolium. They and my one Microgramma (which happens to be vaccinifolium) all behave pretty similarly for me. To the point, when I do cuttings they all look a little crispy like yours between mistings, for the 2-3 weeks. They perk up some after misting. Then eventually they get over it, and by about 2 months they're get busy. Not so much the Microgramma, they're slower, but the Microsorum grow fairly quick under terrarium conditions.

Note though - when I have tried to start them with a lot of their stem sticking out in the air, like yours, I have lost easily half of my cuttings. Tight to the LFS and I lose maybe 10%. I'd fix that. You still have time - hurry though. Like usual, you seem to be trying to do too much too fast. First things first - root that plant. THEN and only then, you can try to get it to reach across to your castle thingie. Think about starting that in, say, April. It won't grow from the cut end, it'll grow from the blunt end and also it'll eventually branch from wherever.

Yeah, your other ones do look a bit like shit. Good luck there!
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:30 PM
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Default Re: Plants mass dying in new terrarium. Is anyone able to tell me why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodswalker View Post
It's a good idea to question whether the fumes coming off the sculpey (or whatever that chemi-clay substance is) is playing a role. I would certainly not put it in any tank that has animals going into it. I've seen the off-gas coming from it melt plastic objects in close contact with it after several years. I strongly doubt that it's chemically stable.
Yes, I am starting to think that this is likely. Although I had thought polymer clay (which is the substance of the white stuff) basically cured into PVC, which I have always thought safe with plants, it does have some kind of smell to it that betrays something else at play.

I'll add some inexpensive plants after I evacuate these cuttings, and I'll see if sealing the castle with something like epoxy does any good.

EDIT: If there is any sort of sealant that could eliminate most of the fumes, which sort of sealant would that be? I was thinking clear epoxy resin or preferably concrete fortifier if that would work. Something that wouldn't mar the appearance of the castle very much.

If it's not possible to seal away most of the fumes, I'll use the tank for something other than this castle, but I'd like to make it workable if possible.

Last edited by Kinstrome; 02-21-2020 at 11:52 PM.
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Old 02-22-2020, 01:17 PM
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Default Re: Plants mass dying in new terrarium. Is anyone able to tell me why?

By the way, no animals are planned to be in this terrarium. It's purely for decorative purposes. So if and when I put the castle back in the terrarium, I don't intend ever to be risking any animal's health in there.
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Old 02-27-2020, 02:06 PM
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Default Re: Plants mass dying in new terrarium. Is anyone able to tell me why?

One time I put in a new wood piece that was soaked in vinegar overnight but washed thoroughly. All leaves close to the wood turned yellow and died. So I think the vinegar fumes did that. I removed the woodand let it dry outside for a couple of weeks and put it back in. It was then OK.

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Old 02-29-2020, 08:24 PM
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Default Re: Plants mass dying in new terrarium. Is anyone able to tell me why?

It's funny that you mention that, because the after-smell of the terrarium, after I had removed the polymer clay-veneered castle, was a distinctly vinegar-y smell. It was so noticeable that I believed maybe the problem was that I didn't let the ASI silicone cure properly.

The odor and its plant-killing potential seem to have subsided after a lengthy airing-out, though:


^
These are "junk cuttings" that have variously died or survived in the tank. After a certain point, they have just stopped dying. Of especial note are the two versions of the same plant (I believe Epipremnum amplissimum), the one on the left having withered within less than twenty-four hours, and the one-leafed one on the right having survived for more than five days, by my best estimate.

So, I think the problem has subsided. I am already building an epoxy clay version of a castle to replace this castle, because the smell that the polymer clay of the castle exudes has never completely gone away, and because the sealant put around it seems to dissolve in water, anyway. My experience with epoxy clay in terraria has been that it does not pose any danger to plants.
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