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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Full Database: Dendroboard Vivarium Plant Database - Airtable
New Entry Form: New Plant Entries Form - Airtable
Gallery: Gallery - Airtable

After seeing how I keep my plant records, @Encyclia approached me about creating an official Dendroboard plant database that could be a resource for anyone looking for the right plants for their tank. With this database, you can:
  • Find a plant under 4" tall for that really bright and dry spot in your tank
  • Find a vine from Ecuador to use in your biotype vivarium
  • Find a fragrant orchid that will bloom in the summer
...and so much more!

The database currently has about 230 species in it, and is taken from my current owned and wanted list, but it could have so many more, and that's where you all come in. Here is a handy form where you can enter new plants (search the "Main View" of the database first to make sure the plant isn't already in there). Or you can use the form to send us images for new or existing plants - there's a lovely Gallery view, but very few images for it so far! What you can do to help:
  • Use the form to make new plant entries. Fill out at least genus and species, but ideally as many fields as you can. If there are fields or options missing from the form, just put it into the “Notes” section.
  • Use the form to send in images for existing entries (just fill out genus and species, and we'll match the image up with the right plant)
  • Let us know if any info, for instance light or temps, looks incorrect to you.
  • Use the database and let us know how it's working/not working for you!
Fields I have included so far
  • Genus and species
  • Difficulty - currently beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Ficus pumila is an example of a “beginner” plant, and Dendrobium cuthbertsonii is an example of an “advanced” plant.
  • Type of plant - orchid, fern, etc. This is mostly divided by family.
  • Location - epiphyte, terrestrial, aquatic, etc.
  • Growth habit - upright, pendant, vine, etc.
  • Growth speed
  • Images - we will be using images with permission only. I have included a few of my own to get us started.
  • Fragrance - a checkbox, the flowers are fragrant if checked
  • Light - in footcandles at the moment, since my background is orchids, but I would love to find a way to convert to PPFD
  • Size - categories are tiny: <2", small: 2-4", medium: 4-7", large: 7-12", x-large: >12". I am considering adding something after x-large, say for >18".
  • Low temp and High temp - the plant's lowest and highest known temperature tolerance. I have 2 fields for Fahrenheit and 2 fields that automatically calculate Celsius
  • Water requirements
  • Bloom season - multi select, can select months when the plant blooms, and also "Any" (free flowering all year) and "None" (ferns, etc.)
  • Provenance - countries and/or continents where it originates
Edit: I have added some new fields and parameters
  • Common or alternate scientific name
  • “Bullet-proof” option for Difficulty
  • Vendors: have had this in stock at some point
  • Tags: right now, I have Iridescent, Glittery, Stagnant air, and Withstands Trampling - you can get a list of plants with each tag on the Tags table
  • Temperature can be entered as C, F, or ranges like “intermediate” and formulas calculate low-high from there.

Tutorial, for those new to Airtable/databases
"Views" are like snapshots of the database with columns rearranged or hidden, specific filters or groupings, or a different visual format like a gallery. I created a bunch of different views to help you find the info you need as quickly as possible. In order to get to a specific view:


Once you're in the view you want:



If you're looking to fill a spot with a specific moisture level, size, temperature range, etc., go to the "Find the right plant" view and change the filters to suit your needs. There is also a "Find the right plant: Celsius" view with the Celsius temp columns instead of the Fahrenheit temp columns. You can add or remove filters as well:


In the "Biotype" view, it's easy to search by the country or continent you are trying to model your tank after. You can get a little more complicated by searching for epiphytes or grouping by growth habit, but the basic search in place will show you all plants in the database from that region:


The "Need pics" view is just a list of plants that don't have an image yet, so if you have a bunch of images and want to contribute you could search it or scroll through it. The "Could be blooming now" view shows you which flowering plants are likely to be blooming right now - maybe you should check!
 

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This is just excellent, Ariel! Thanks so much for all of your hard work. I think this will be extremely useful to a lot of folks, including me.

Mark
 

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Really impressive work and diligence to put this together... Makes me need to start another vivarium!!!
 

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This is a great resource, I submitted a record in but I made a mistake in the species name, inadvertently including the genus twice... Fittonia verschaffeltii
 

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I'll have to comb through my photo library, most of which is admittedly for outdoor temperate plants, but would pics be helpful if they happen to show the plant not in a terrarium? I imagine it would still help illustrate its aesthetics and give the viewer a sense of size/scale either way. For instance, I might have some orchid pics from botanic gardens or orchid show exhibits, but not in a terrarium of my own.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'll have to comb through my photo library, most of which is admittedly for outdoor temperate plants, but would pics be helpful if they happen to show the plant not in a terrarium? I imagine it would still help illustrate its aesthetics and give the viewer a sense of size/scale either way. For instance, I might have some orchid pics from botanic gardens or orchid show exhibits, but not in a terrarium of my own.
Sure! I think giving people an idea of growth habit and flowers would be great, no matter what the location of the plant.
 

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After having added some entries and photos, I have a few ideas for supplementing category options:

  • for growth habit, adding "clumping" or some other designation between "upright" and "trailing/cascading"
  • generic temperature range if exact measurements not known, such as "warm," "cool," though I realize this is subjective
  • generic light range if exact foot-candles range is not known, such as "low," "moderate," "bright/strong"...again, realize this is subjective
  • allowing multiple height selections to overlap, since with wide genetic diversity (and influence of growing conditions) some species may cover more than one size category
  • add "aroid" to plant type listings, since they're a major-enough group in terms of popularity
  • add an intermediate listing for water requirements, since some orchids don't want to dry completely between waterings (which is what the current entry implies to me) but also don't want to stay damp; perhaps "dry slightly..." or "approach dryness between waterings"; maybe also add a "drier in winter/dormancy" though that's more applicable to orchids than the rest, I think
  • perhaps add a notation/checkbox for humidity needs (as they can be separate from root moisture; maybe just something like "average" or "high" given that terraria will presumably be already fairly humid above ambient) and tolerance for poor air circulation (or necessity for good air circulation), which I know comes up a lot in plant queries for more closed containers or those without a fan
  • maybe a field to enter any apt alternate names, to make it more keyword-searchable (may not be an issue); for instance, orchids that have been re-assigned a new genus but are just as often as not sold under the old one
 

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Oh - also - is "size" the overall entire size, the size minus blooms (such as with orchids with added-length spikes), or mature (vs. juvenile)...? For a plant that can climb but also may not, that's a wide range. :) At the moment, it looks like the field only allows for one selection at a time.

Edited to add: what about plants that grow upright but flop over? Or are surface-hugging but very long-stemmed? Is their size measured as whichever is greater, height or width, or just height from the ground/support? 🤔
 

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Discussion Starter #13
  • For growth habit, is "spreading" distinct from "clumping" for you? There's a spreading option. If clumping is distinct, give me some examples of spreading vs. clumping and I'll add it and try to separate out plants.
  • Adding more generalized temperature categories complicates sorting and filtering. Currently the set temperature is nice because you can filter on the lowest and highest temps you see in your tank, and see everything that will most likely be OK with that range. Cool, intermediate, and warm do have pretty standard designations, here they are from the American Orchid Society:
Cool: 50-55 nights, 60-70 days​
Intermediate: 55-65 nights, 70-80 days​
Warm: 65-70 nights, 80-90 days​
So if someone puts "warm" in the notes I'll go manually set the low temp to 65 and high temp to 90.​

  • Adding more generalized light might be more doable than temperature, I'll think about formulas to accomplish that. We would want to have a footcandle designation for "bright" etc., so that when people search on "bright" they also get orchids labelled with that specific footcandle range.
  • Sure, I'll add an aroid option. I actually don't know what aroids are, time to Google I guess...
  • "Approaching dryness between waterings" is a useful, very common watering category. Most of the plants currently listed as "dry between waterings" actually fall into that category. I'll try to separate them out. I assume the bulbos you entered are in that category
  • I don't know about humidity, personally I find that some plants need humid environments but I haven't found it to matter whether it's 50% or 90%, given adequate airflow and consistent moisture at the roots. Are there plants you know of that really need 90%? Maybe filmy ferns...however, I have been considering adding a field for "plants for special locations" which would include a "stagnant air" option.
  • Added a field for "alternate or common names"
  • I'm not sure whether to include flowers in size...might need a second field for "size including inflorescence". It's definitely referring to a mature plant, that should be what people are planning for when they pick a spot (should be, not that it always is, but hopefully this database will assist with that). And vines are just hard to size, I'm not sure how to list them. But I can certainly make it a multi-select, it just makes groupings a little less pretty if you end up grouping results - for instance, instead of the entry showing up in multiple groups, it creates a new group for plants that have both "tiny" and "small" selected.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
On second thought, I might be able to make a formula that accepts either "cool", "intermediate", "warm" or a temp range in numbers as an input and outputs numbers. Let's see...
 

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  • For growth habit, is "spreading" distinct from "clumping" for you? There's a spreading option. If clumping is distinct, give me some examples of spreading vs. clumping and I'll add it and try to separate out plants.
  • Adding more generalized temperature categories complicates sorting and filtering. Currently the set temperature is nice because you can filter on the lowest and highest temps you see in your tank, and see everything that will most likely be OK with that range. Cool, intermediate, and warm do have pretty standard designations, here they are from the American Orchid Society:
Cool: 50-55 nights, 60-70 days​
Intermediate: 55-65 nights, 70-80 days​
Warm: 65-70 nights, 80-90 days​
So if someone puts "warm" in the notes I'll go manually set the low temp to 65 and high temp to 90.​

  • Adding more generalized light might be more doable than temperature, I'll think about formulas to accomplish that. We would want to have a footcandle designation for "bright" etc., so that when people search on "bright" they also get orchids labelled with that specific footcandle range.
  • Sure, I'll add an aroid option. I actually don't know what aroids are, time to Google I guess...
  • "Approaching dryness between waterings" is a useful, very common watering category. Most of the plants currently listed as "dry between waterings" actually fall into that category. I'll try to separate them out. I assume the bulbos you entered are in that category
  • I don't know about humidity, personally I find that some plants need humid environments but I haven't found it to matter whether it's 50% or 90%, given adequate airflow and consistent moisture at the roots. Are there plants you know of that really need 90%? Maybe filmy ferns...however, I have been considering adding a field for "plants for special locations" which would include a "stagnant air" option.
  • Added a field for "alternate or common names"
  • I'm not sure whether to include flowers in size...might need a second field for "size including inflorescence". It's definitely referring to a mature plant, that should be what people are planning for when they pick a spot (should be, not that it always is, but hopefully this database will assist with that). And vines are just hard to size, I'm not sure how to list them. But I can certainly make it a multi-select, it just makes groupings a little less pretty if you end up grouping results - for instance, instead of the entry showing up in multiple groups, it creates a new group for plants that have both "tiny" and "small" selected.
Granted, as with many parameters, descriptions can be subjective. I think I'd call something "clumping" that grows as a distinct tuft/patch of stems/foliage, as opposed to having stems that may spread to form other clumps (so, colony-forming, I guess) be they self-supporting or pendant. Or, as a way to distinguish a plant that grows as a tuft that may still flop/drape over the planting site but not have runners or ever-lengthening stems the way a true spreading, trailing, or vining plant would. If that makes sense. It's just that I read "upright" as more "rigidly" upright than it may have been intended. I'll try to think of examples...whatever what in my head making entries when I thought of that is conveniently absent now. Hmm...maybe, like orchids that may have a short rhizome between pseudobulbs but not really wander all over their mount. I'd need to think about it because it might not matter.

Good point on the orchid temps.

The popular aroids with terrariums that I've seen used are (when size-appropriate) Anthurium, Philodendron, Epipremnum, Pothos, Rhaphidophora, perhaps Monstera, Alocasia, maybe Caladium, and Syngonium. Probably others; I don't have too much aroid experience myself yet.

I'd have to go back and double-check the Bulbophyllum entries but overall, yeah, few of my orchid database listings actually say the plant should totally dry between waterings; most I phrase as "slightly dry between" or "let dry lightly between"...basically that.

Good point on the humidity. I guess I was just thinking about orchid recommendations that sometimes say "high" or list a percentage, like 70-90% or something. Here too, though, I suppose the assumption of fairly-humid terrarium conditions makes that less necessary to single-out.

For something not often in flower, I think not including floral add-on size is fine, but the trait could be mentioned in the "notes" field by someone. As we orchid aficionados know, some of the orchids have spikes that would effectively double or triple their overall height, while wouldn't have a measurable difference in and out of bloom. And yes, I agree, one should plan on the final size or expect to relocate the plant later (or trim, I guess).
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
I have added some new fields and parameters:
  • Common or alternate scientific name
  • “Bullet-proof” option for Difficulty
  • Vendors: have had this in stock at some point
  • Tags: right now, I have Iridescent, Glittery, Stagnant air, and Withstands Trampling - you can get a list of plants with each tag on the Tags table
  • Temperature can be entered as C, F, or ranges like “intermediate” and formulas calculate low-high from there.
 
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