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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I’m in the stage of building a cork mosaic background for my bioactive crested gecko tank( it’s 18x18x36inches)and was a little confused about how to put in the background plants.
Brown Wood Trunk Formation Bedrock
Brown Wood Bedrock Trunk Tints and shades

In the first horizontal cork bark round I’ll wanted to put a 3inch potted pilea depressa in the hole. In the second vertical cork round I wanted to put a 3.75 inch potted golden pothos in the top hole. Would these pot sizes work forever for these plants or should I go bigger? Would plastic net cups or biodegradable ones work better? Lastly how would drainage work for these two plants since they’ll be in the cork rounds? Thank you!
 

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Those rounds, with entrance hole sure would make a nice cubby for a crested, or maybe just one..?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Those rounds, with entrance hole sure would make a nice cubby for a crested, or maybe just one..?
Yeah I agree, but I wanted to have both of the plants in the background some how. If I don’t use the rounds, I guess I could just plant the pothos into the substrate but I wanted the pilea depressa to somewhat hang above, any suggestions?
 

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Do you really need to retain pots? I've siliconed many vertical partial-rounds and back-filled with plant substrate. Usually I'll fill about halfway, set my rooted plant in there (pull it out of the pot and wash the roots as a biosecurity step), and complete the substrate fill with one hand while keeping the plant oriented correctly with the other. Note, it's important to not use dry substrate, but to pre-wet it. I do this while I'm mixing up my own, from dry bags of the constituents. I just mix in a tub, and add water as I'm stirring. Kind of like making cookie dough or something. Anyway if you don't pre-wet you can suffer hydrophobic "soil" issues and plant death. Don't ask me how I know this. As I repeat frequently here, if it can be fucked up, I have probably done it. "Fail early, fail often" is a personal credo. Anyone but an idiot will learn really fast this way! I recommend it. Ha ha ha. Really though - just go for it, and watch what happens.

A very useful tool for shaping the cork is an oscillating multi-tool. I use mine to cut the edges that will lie flat against the glass. There's a couple of ways to not have the substrate pour out the bottom. One is to have a continuous cracked-cork mosaic beneath the planter. Another is to cut your lie-flat edges at an angle, so the top of the planter stands much farther off the glass than the bottom. Pack the bottom inside with a wad of LFS. Another is to not cut the angle, but instead silicone in a little cork "plug" inside the bottom of the planter part-round, and again take a wad of LFS to block the remaining gaps.

Good luck!

PS I agree with KMC that the horizontal round looks like an epic crestie hide. Not sure I'd fill that one...
 

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Oh yeah - I wouldn't put pothos in your terrestrial substrate. A happy pothos is a bastard. Make it suffer some up on the background, and keep it trimmed, or just keep it as a houseplant. Pothos down in the bottom substrate will access the water in your false bottom (right? or...no???) and erupt.
 

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Oh yeah - I wouldn't put pothos in your terrestrial substrate. A happy pothos is a bastard. Make it suffer some up on the background, and keep it trimmed, or just keep it as a houseplant. Pothos down in the bottom substrate will access the water in your false bottom (right? or...no???) and erupt.
They will send roots down into the false bottom definitely and they can be invasive. I didn't mind keeping them pruned back when I used them more frequently though. I've used your idea above very successfully.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Do you really need to retain pots? I've siliconed many vertical partial-rounds and back-filled with plant substrate. Usually I'll fill about halfway, set my rooted plant in there (pull it out of the pot and wash the roots as a biosecurity step), and complete the substrate fill with one hand while keeping the plant oriented correctly with the other. Note, it's important to not use dry substrate, but to pre-wet it. I do this while I'm mixing up my own, from dry bags of the constituents. I just mix in a tub, and add water as I'm stirring. Kind of like making cookie dough or something. Anyway if you don't pre-wet you can suffer hydrophobic "soil" issues and plant death. Don't ask me how I know this. As I repeat frequently here, if it can be fucked up, I have probably done it. "Fail early, fail often" is a personal credo. Anyone but an idiot will learn really fast this way! I recommend it. Ha ha ha. Really though - just go for it, and watch what happens.

A very useful tool for shaping the cork is an oscillating multi-tool. I use mine to cut the edges that will lie flat against the glass. There's a couple of ways to not have the substrate pour out the bottom. One is to have a continuous cracked-cork mosaic beneath the planter. Another is to cut your lie-flat edges at an angle, so the top of the planter stands much farther off the glass than the bottom. Pack the bottom inside with a wad of LFS. Another is to not cut the angle, but instead silicone in a little cork "plug" inside the bottom of the planter part-round, and again take a wad of LFS to block the remaining gaps.

Good luck!

PS I agree with KMC that the horizontal round looks like an epic crestie hide. Not sure I'd fill that one...
Do you really need to retain pots? I've siliconed many vertical partial-rounds and back-filled with plant substrate. Usually I'll fill about halfway, set my rooted plant in there (pull it out of the pot and wash the roots as a biosecurity step), and complete the substrate fill with one hand while keeping the plant oriented correctly with the other. Note, it's important to not use dry substrate, but to pre-wet it. I do this while I'm mixing up my own, from dry bags of the constituents. I just mix in a tub, and add water as I'm stirring. Kind of like making cookie dough or something. Anyway if you don't pre-wet you can suffer hydrophobic "soil" issues and plant death. Don't ask me how I know this. As I repeat frequently here, if it can be fucked up, I have probably done it. "Fail early, fail often" is a personal credo. Anyone but an idiot will learn really fast this way! I recommend it. Ha ha ha. Really though - just go for it, and watch what happens.

A very useful tool for shaping the cork is an oscillating multi-tool. I use mine to cut the edges that will lie flat against the glass. There's a couple of ways to not have the substrate pour out the bottom. One is to have a continuous cracked-cork mosaic beneath the planter. Another is to cut your lie-flat edges at an angle, so the top of the planter stands much farther off the glass than the bottom. Pack the bottom inside with a wad of LFS. Another is to not cut the angle, but instead silicone in a little cork "plug" inside the bottom of the planter part-round, and again take a wad of LFS to block the remaining gaps.

Good luck!

PS I agree with KMC that the horizontal round looks like an epic crestie hide. Not sure I'd fill that one...
Thanks a lot this is all super helpful! Thank you for the tip about pre-wetting the soil! I’ll heed the advice and leave the horizontal one as a hide. So just to be clear you’re saying don’t use any pots? The vertical one won’t be siliconed to the glass and will just sit on top of the soil (a bit more straighter than the shown position). If I plan to fill the vertical one at the top with a pothos, I’m a little confused on how drainage would work if I close it off with the cork bark mosaic method, should I still leave a space for a piece of tubing to run down into the soil? I’m worried about so much water running through the cork bark inside and there being a mold problem. Also what is LFS, all I could find looking it up was local fish stores lol.
 

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So just to be clear you’re saying don’t use any pots?
Quite right. No pots.

I’m a little confused on how drainage would work if I close it off with the cork bark mosaic method, should I still leave a space for a piece of tubing to run down into the soil? I’m worried about so much water running through the cork bark inside and there being a mold problem.
Uh...gravity does its thing? "Close it off"? Ever done any plumbing, my friend? Do you personally, in your heart, know and understand and appreciate why plumbers are well-paid people? Ha ha ha. Water will find its own way out. Oh yes. Water is a real fucker, that way. But in this case, its properties are perfectly aligned with your interests -

Nope, no need to leave any spaces, use any tubing, or worry about mold. It'll all be fine, all on its own. Any of those methods I gave will work, the sole determinant is which one suits your aesthetic preference, and your design. Like, maybe you don't want a full-wall cork mosaic and just want the single planter look. In that case I'd cut the angles and have the "tilted" planter. But in your pics it looks more like the full-wall mosaic. Oh, when I mentioned siliconing a little piece of cork as a "plug" - I mean silicone it, just like the partial-round, right to the glass. You don't really need to worry about tight tolerances in wood joinery - just something that'll block most of the hole. Your wad of LFS will do the rest.

Also what is LFS, all I could find looking it up was local fish stores lol.
Ah, sorry, it's a DB acronym. Long Fiber Sphagnum. The good stuff. Not chopped or milled or shite sphagnum. NOT the sphagnum you see as a soil amendment in big bales. It usually comes fully dehydrated and pressed into flat little "bricks" that have a plastic wrapper and a paper label inside the plastic. Sometimes you'll see it not compressed - that is usually crappier (but actually more expensive!) moss. Well, some people prefer it - there's grass and sticks and crap in there. It tends to come back to life easier, which is actually NOT a positive feature to most folks. Sphagnum is an inferior, weedy moss in a viv. It's too "shaggy", small animals can have a hard time getting across it.

LFS is sort of miraculous. It is both water retentive and also has great drainage. Gravity will empty it of excess water, the LFS will slowly give up the rest to the air, to capillary action elsewhere (e.g., the substrate above it), and to plant roots. It is gold to the viv keeper. Gold. When I need to use some, I take a dry packet (from my hoarded supply - I save on shipping by buying enough for several builds) and toss it in a bucket of warm water for a few minutes, then pour out the water. Here's one example (you can find packets in different sizes, 100g, 150g, 500g etc): 150g-Long-Fiber-New-Zealand-Sphagnum-Moss
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Quite right. No pots.


Uh...gravity does its thing? "Close it off"? Ever done any plumbing, my friend? Do you personally, in your heart, know and understand and appreciate why plumbers are well-paid people? Ha ha ha. Water will find its own way out. Oh yes. Water is a real fucker, that way. But in this case, its properties are perfectly aligned with your interests -

Nope, no need to leave any spaces, use any tubing, or worry about mold. It'll all be fine, all on its own. Any of those methods I gave will work, the sole determinant is which one suits your aesthetic preference, and your design. Like, maybe you don't want a full-wall cork mosaic and just want the single planter look. In that case I'd cut the angles and have the "tilted" planter. But in your pics it looks more like the full-wall mosaic. Oh, when I mentioned siliconing a little piece of cork as a "plug" - I mean silicone it, just like the partial-round, right to the glass. You don't really need to worry about tight tolerances in wood joinery - just something that'll block most of the hole. Your wad of LFS will do the rest.


Ah, sorry, it's a DB acronym. Long Fiber Sphagnum. The good stuff. Not chopped or milled or shite sphagnum. NOT the sphagnum you see as a soil amendment in big bales. It usually comes fully dehydrated and pressed into flat little "bricks" that have a plastic wrapper and a paper label inside the plastic. Sometimes you'll see it not compressed - that is usually crappier (but actually more expensive!) moss. Well, some people prefer it - there's grass and sticks and crap in there. It tends to come back to life easier, which is actually NOT a positive feature to most folks. Sphagnum is an inferior, weedy moss in a viv. It's too "shaggy", small animals can have a hard time getting across it.

LFS is sort of miraculous. It is both water retentive and also has great drainage. Gravity will empty it of excess water, the LFS will slowly give up the rest to the air, to capillary action elsewhere (e.g., the substrate above it), and to plant roots. It is gold to the viv keeper. Gold. When I need to use some, I take a dry packet (from my hoarded supply - I save on shipping by buying enough for several builds) and toss it in a bucket of warm water for a few minutes, then pour out the water. Here's one example (you can find packets in different sizes, 100g, 150g, 500g etc): 150g-Long-Fiber-New-Zealand-Sphagnum-Moss
Awesome! Thank you for clarifying I totally understand now. I actually have a 150 gram and a 100 gram of that exact spaghnum moss from glassboxtropicals so that will be perfect! I’ll use that with the siliconed cork plug method.Thanks again for all of your help, I really appreciate it!
 

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Awesome! Thank you for clarifying I totally understand now. I actually have a 150 gram and a 100 gram of that exact spaghnum moss from glassboxtropicals so that will be perfect! I’ll use that with the siliconed cork plug method.Thanks again for all of your help, I really appreciate it!
Sure thing man. You may be surprised at how much moss you go through, with any expanse of the cracked-cork mosaic method. You can pack a lot of LFS into the cracks between your cork pieces. If it's not packed tight enough, it'll fall out sooner or later. If tight, it'll stay put for years. I like to pull wads out of the rehydration bucket, kind of shake it into less of a tangled mess and more of a "everything is hanging in the same basic direction" sort of mess, and then sort of twist it into a "plug" or "unit". It's just faster and easier and tidier than trying to cram the right-outta-the-bucket floppy mess into the cracks.

Also, when packing a crack I find it best to work from one end to the other, filling to the full crack depth before I move sideways. If instead you put some in, and then put some more in on top of that, and maybe do it again, the last addition (or two) is very prone to popping out. So I take one of those "units" or "plugs" I described above, and I stick it in the crack right alongside my working LFS face, and push the newest plug sideways up against the LFS already in there (the previous plug I inserted). I push (and thus flatten) the plug sideways until the crack is filled to its depth. You might only get an inch or so of filling, side-to-side, per plug once you've done that. The same plug might have started out filling 3 or 4 inches of crack, fairly loosely.

Again, loose will fall out, but tight will stay in. For years. This especially matters if you've got plants growing on the wall, rooting into the moss (and pulling on it from the weight). That weight of rooted plants will easily pull out loosely-packed LFS, especially if the moss dries out a lot (LFS expands with moisture, and since you put it in wet, if it dries a lot it shrinks a little & gets looser in the crack). For many reasons I don't like to let the LFS dry out way too much - it's sort of hard to re-wet all the way through, the plants don't love it, I'm not getting the humidity-buffering benefit of all that moist moss releasing water vapor into the air, etc etc. I soak it maybe 2x / week, and it also gets misted a couple times a day for a fraction of a minute. It dries out a fair bit (maybe 1/3 of the way to all dried out?) between soakings, which is healthier for the plants I believe.

I hope that's all intelligible. Just something I picked up from trial and error over the years. It's a tad annoying to have your crack filler (or LFS-rooted plants) plop out. Looks pretty sad on the viv floor when you come into the room. Ha ha.

good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sure thing man. You may be surprised at how much moss you go through, with any expanse of the cracked-cork mosaic method. You can pack a lot of LFS into the cracks between your cork pieces. If it's not packed tight enough, it'll fall out sooner or later. If tight, it'll stay put for years. I like to pull wads out of the rehydration bucket, kind of shake it into less of a tangled mess and more of a "everything is hanging in the same basic direction" sort of mess, and then sort of twist it into a "plug" or "unit". It's just faster and easier and tidier than trying to cram the right-outta-the-bucket floppy mess into the cracks.

Also, when packing a crack I find it best to work from one end to the other, filling to the full crack depth before I move sideways. If instead you put some in, and then put some more in on top of that, and maybe do it again, the last addition (or two) is very prone to popping out. So I take one of those "units" or "plugs" I described above, and I stick it in the crack right alongside my working LFS face, and push the newest plug sideways up against the LFS already in there (the previous plug I inserted). I push (and thus flatten) the plug sideways until the crack is filled to its depth. You might only get an inch or so of filling, side-to-side, per plug once you've done that. The same plug might have started out filling 3 or 4 inches of crack, fairly loosely.

Again, loose will fall out, but tight will stay in. For years. This especially matters if you've got plants growing on the wall, rooting into the moss (and pulling on it from the weight). That weight of rooted plants will easily pull out loosely-packed LFS, especially if the moss dries out a lot (LFS expands with moisture, and since you put it in wet, if it dries a lot it shrinks a little & gets looser in the crack). For many reasons I don't like to let the LFS dry out way too much - it's sort of hard to re-wet all the way through, the plants don't love it, I'm not getting the humidity-buffering benefit of all that moist moss releasing water vapor into the air, etc etc. I soak it maybe 2x / week, and it also gets misted a couple times a day for a fraction of a minute. It dries out a fair bit (maybe 1/3 of the way to all dried out?) between soakings, which is healthier for the plants I believe.

I hope that's all intelligible. Just something I picked up from trial and error over the years. It's a tad annoying to have your crack filler (or LFS-rooted plants) plop out. Looks pretty sad on the viv floor when you come into the room. Ha ha.

good luck!
Making a note of all of this, thank you so much! Making plugs definitely does easier and I’ll make sure it’s packed tight! Looking forward to this build even more, thank you!
 
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