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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've seen a number of terrariums that seem to use various mosses throughout. I understand it's not the best on top of ground substrate, but it seems to promote growth on brances and backgrounds and maybe provides good areas to mount certain plants.

Are there certain mosses to avoid? Or are most going to be ok assuming I avoid the ground? Again, I'm mostly thinking of having it creep across branches and the background.

Wondering about Java Moss, Sphagnum mosses, Christmas Moss, etc... Or if anyone has other suggestions, I'm open to them.
 

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Moss tends to require wetter conditions than are ideal for frogs, especially to establish itself. People who want that lush moss background look should probably start it before frogs and before adding most other plants, and will need to mist it very frequently for a few months as it gets established.

You can also place moss in your wettest spots - places where the mist heads hit directly that never fully dry out.

I personally have avoided Java, I think it looks stringy, but lots of people use it. When it comes to Sphagnum, you could try some live Sphagnum if you have a very bright and very wet spot high up in your tank. People use dead Sphagnum to retain moisture around the roots of epiphytes, and in my experience this usually doesn’t come back to life. Live Sphagnum can overwhelm a very small plant, and will need to be trimmed. Same with most mosses - I regularly have to trim them around my smallest plants. However, I still like live moss around my pleurothallids and other water-loving orchids because it’s a good indicator that they’re getting enough water.

When you have darts, though, you need to make sure that there are always bare, dry spots on branches and on the ground where frogs can rest and dry off their feet.
 

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The fancy AAA New Zeeland long fiber sphagnum comes back to life all the time for me. I hate it.

It doesn't take a ton of moisture for it to start growing, but the live form REALLY holds on to moisture, making my wet spots too wet. I regularly have to harvest it from a few vivs or it will drown the epiphytes.

Looking around my collection, there a few different types of moss growing here and there. Life uh, finds a way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So to green out the branches and other areas, I should just try to stick to creeping plants? I’m trying to find oak leaf creeping fig, but may have to order it.
Lets say I have a cork branch going ocross the tank, how do I mount plants onto that? Do I need a hole for substrate?
 

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So to green out the branches and other areas, I should just try to stick to creeping plants? I’m trying to find oak leaf creeping fig, but may have to order it.
Lets say I have a cork branch going ocross the tank, how do I mount plants onto that? Do I need a hole for substrate?
There are tons and tons of different plants that will "encrust" cork. Some, like ficus, prefer to have a proper substrate to root into. These guys should start at the floor of the viv and be trained to follow a path. Others are true epiphytes, and can simply be mounted to the cork with a little bit of (dead) sphagnum. Search the board for "mounting epiphytes" for tips. A few genuses off the top of my head for good encrusting epiphytes; Rhaphidophora, Microsorum, Microgramma, Peperomia.

In my experience, trying to make pockets of substrate away from the viv floor never quite work how I'd like.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wow. I told my mother I was building a dart frog terrarium and she seems even more excited then I am. She’s going to every garden center around and shopping for plants. Looks like I now have a variety of non moss creeping plants. I think I’m in good shape.
 

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I don’t know if this is a good suggestion, but some people find moss from outside and use it in their viv. Assuming that you bleach dip it and quarantine it (because it will probably have a ton of bugs and pests) You should be able to use it. Most moss from outside that isn’t growing in wet conditions doesn’t need a lot of water. So it doesn't have to be very wet to grow. I put a small clump of moss that was growing outside into a zip lock bag (after I washed it off and removed the soil) and I gave it just a little bit of moisture. I left the bag partially open since it was used to the outside environment with lots of airflow. I forgot about it and after about a month I found it, and it had grown a lot. But there was hardly any moisture in the bag. So my point is that this moss didn’t need a ton of moisture to grow, which would not be too wet for the frogs while having a nice look (for the person looking at the tank)
 

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Hello,

In my case, I spent about 5 months with "showers" of 45 seconds, 8 times a day (the maximum that the timer allowed me).
No frogs and no other plants in the viv, until the moss was fully established. (Christmas moss).
The result has been very good, but of course, you need a lot of patience and I don't know if I would do it again. Too long and I don't have that much patience. You should value it.
 

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Does this moss have a close resemblance to Christmas moss? Because if so it could be used as an alternative. It would not need lots of moisture, it’s called Hypnum cupressiforme.
298755
 

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On the ground, for example, you could use the emerse form of Hemianthus callitrichoides 'Cuba' around branches and obstacles. This very small, low-growing and slow-growing plant from North America does well in our moist warm vivs and looks just like moss that you see at the bottom of tree trunks.

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Wow. I told my mother I was building a dart frog terrarium and she seems even more excited then I am. She’s going to every garden center around and shopping for plants. Looks like I now have a variety of non moss creeping plants. I think I’m in good shape.
Just in case you haven't heard this tip yet -- always "process" your plants before putting them into the tank -- this is to prevent pests (bugs and microbes) from hitching a ride on purchased plants and making your nice new viv their home. I didn't do this on my first viv and regretted it.
This is the guide I have used for plant processing: NEHERP - Vivarium Plant Processing Procedure
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Just in case you haven't heard this tip yet -- always "process" your plants before putting them into the tank -- this is to prevent pests (bugs and microbes) from hitching a ride on purchased plants and making your nice new viv their home. I didn't do this on my first viv and regretted it.
This is the guide I have used for plant processing: NEHERP - Vivarium Plant Processing Procedure
Yes. Thanks. I had heard that. For now I’m waiting for the silicone to fully cure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So can I take any potted plant, wrap the roots in sphagnum moss and string it to a branch? Or does that mostly apply to Bromeliads?

I have about 12 plants, and only 5 “holes” on my foam wall to put them in.
 

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So can I take any potted plant, wrap the roots in sphagnum moss and string it to a branch? Or does that mostly apply to Bromeliads?

I have about 12 plants, and only 5 “holes” on my foam wall to put them in.
You should make sure you're up to speed on some terminology - terrestrial vs epiphytic, bromeliad, etc. That being said, some terrestrial plants can be grown as epiphytes (rabbit's foot fern, haven't done it myself but apparently it responds well to being placed on backgrounds), some terrestrial plants are climbers that should be planted in soil but will ramble around on the background, and some terrestrial plants need at least a pocket of soil to grow in. So it really depends on what plants you have.

Many people do not wrap the bases of their bromeliads in sphagnum. Some people have great success doing that, and some find it rots the bases. It really depends on your conditions, and I would recommend using a very small amount of sphagnum around the base and making sure the area can drain - but drainage is important for almost any plant, terrestrial or epiphytic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You should make sure you're up to speed on some terminology - terrestrial vs epiphytic, bromeliad, etc. That being said, some terrestrial plants can be grown as epiphytes (rabbit's foot fern, haven't done it myself but apparently it responds well to being placed on backgrounds), some terrestrial plants are climbers that should be planted in soil but will ramble around on the background, and some terrestrial plants need at least a pocket of soil to grow in. So it really depends on what plants you have.

Many people do not wrap the bases of their bromeliads in sphagnum. Some people have great success doing that, and some find it rots the bases. It really depends on your conditions, and I would recommend using a very small amount of sphagnum around the base and making sure the area can drain - but drainage is important for almost any plant, terrestrial or epiphytic.
After asking the question, I reread about epiphytic plants. So it seems that I need to figure out which will allow that type of mounting. I found a few. Looks like I need to update the spreadsheet I made with an epiphytic checkbox.
I’ll have to do more reasearch on some of my “creeping” plants.
As I should’ve guessed, it seems to depend entirely on the specific plant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
298765

Here are some of the creepers my mother picked up.
Creeping fig, wire vine, sallaginella.
She also picked up a nice Fittonia and a larger fern.
When I watched a Youtube video about the Salaginella, I knew I wanted it. When she first saw it, she was very excited and impressed.
 

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Nice plants. :)

I'm not sure most of those are distinctly useful to frogs, though, which is a (maybe the) relevant consideration in viv plants. Given how ridiculously small all of our vivs are relative to wild habitats, I think it good to maximize every square inch (this is one of the considerations against water features, and one of the reasons I don't do foam backgrounds).

It isn't any easy thing to figure out, I'll admit -- just because someone reports that their frog walks all over some plant, whether that is because the plant is useful to the frog, or the frog just really has nowhere else to go might be hard to sort out. And given how easy (and common) it is to swap out plants over time, this might not be worth losing too much sleep over at this point in your project.

Just my $.02. :)
 
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