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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey all,

I was hoping if some of you plant experts could give me some (preferably technical) information on growing TERRESTRIAL plants in the following ways:

1) Coco-mat (epiweb, w/e) with a drip wall running through it. (vertically)

2) Coco-mat (or gravel) in a "river" (slow or fast flowing) (horizontally)

What plants could one effectively grow in the above conditions? I am aiming to grow TERRESTRIAL plants in a pseudohydroponic fashion but from a rough understanding I do not believe that any of the above setups would accomplish this successfully.

I know I can get cuttings to root very well in a coco-mat dripwall....but can I get full-fledged terrestrial plants to grow there as well? Or would it become an issue of too much water at some point?


Is there a method of growing an already established/rooted plant (currently in a pot) onto such a vertical setup?

Secondly, is there a good resource for finding plants that can grow "emersed" for my river conditions? What qualities should I be looking for in plants that will make them good for the above conditions?

I'm sorry this is a stupid question but I really feel like I'm missing something important
 

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Look into plants usually grown in aquariums. Too much water will never be an issue and often they grow better emersed when there's enough humidity (there's plenty in a viv). Some of them also put down some pretty strong roots, so they wouldn't get swept away in your setup.

Java fern and Anubias nana would be particularly good choices.
 

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if you aren't just trying to grow "aquatics" (most of which are actually grow naturally and are grown for hobby use emersed) in an emersed fashion, I suggest checking out this place:

Riparium Supply | Planted Aquariums for Aquascapers and Fish Hobbyists

And his blog, Hydrophyte's Blog - Ripariums and Emergent Aquatic Plants for ideas

But there are a ton of plants from the aquarium hobby that are beyond ideal, such as the anubias and java fern
There are also some really cool anubias beyond the bartleri nana variants if you have a little more room
 

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Look into plants usually grown in aquariums. Too much water will never be an issue and often they grow better emersed when there's enough humidity (there's plenty in a viv). Some of them also put down some pretty strong roots, so they wouldn't get swept away in your setup.

Java fern and Anubias nana would be particularly good choices.
I'd suggest similar as well, but he's asking for true terrestrial plants, which these aren't.

Out of curiosity, why are you looking only at terrestrial plants to place in the water? Something semi-aquatic will do much better (like the previously mentioned anubias etc...)
 

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1) Coco-mat (epiweb, w/e) with a drip wall running through it. (vertically)

What plants could one effectively grow in the above conditions? I am aiming to grow TERRESTRIAL plants in a pseudohydroponic fashion but from a rough understanding I do not believe that any of the above setups would accomplish this successfully.

I know I can get cuttings to root very well in a coco-mat dripwall....but can I get full-fledged terrestrial plants to grow there as well? Or would it become an issue of too much water at some point?

Is there a method of growing an already established/rooted plant (currently in a pot) onto such a vertical setup?
First of all, I edited your post to show the part that I am responding too. In regards to fully grown terrestrial plants grown on a vertical surface, you can cut "pockets" into the material and put the plant, roots and all, into the pocket. The dripwall shouldn't be a problem, as long as it is just that, a dripwall, and not a waterfall. If you find the epiweb/ecoweb becoming too wet, just put a timer on the pump, so that every now and then the substrate gets a chance to completely drain, which I doubt will be a problem with epiweb/ecoweb anyway.

Google "green wall" or "living wall". Should keep you busy :D

Hers a link to save you time ;)

green wall - Google Search
 

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Allowing the roots a lot of oxygen will prevent rot- if you can keep the inital plant roots above the water level for your horizontal option and keep a constant, thin water level running beneath them, the roots will spread across the interface between air and water, and they'll do just fine. Check out the nutrient film technique for hydroponics.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Allowing the roots a lot of oxygen will prevent rot- if you can keep the inital plant roots above the water level for your horizontal option and keep a constant, thin water level running beneath them, the roots will spread across the interface between air and water, and they'll do just fine. Check out the nutrient film technique for hydroponics.
Yes, this is basic hydroponics. From my general reading, it seems I have to stick to emersed plants since I have a 2" water depth I am growing in...I was hoping to just stack some gravel and place plants on top of it (so part of the root is submerged and part emerged, with the entire plant itself above water)....

on the other hand, I am still confused on the vertical drip wall. I realize roots need oxygen and can drown out; if I mount them so that part is exposed to the air and part is "mounted" on the permanently wet cocomatting, this should work right ?

I guess what I am trying to ask is... does the ENTIRE root need to get water and oxygen, or will it suffice for "half" the root to permanently get water (but no oxygen) and the other "half" to get oxygen but no water? I hope that makes sense...


In regards to emersed / semi-aquatics: Yes, I know I can use these but I am specifically trying to grow terrestrials in this manner...its not just about growing "something" in a spot of my tank :p

@Jacobi: I don't know what you mean by "cut pockets". I specifically mentioned coco-matting for a reason...this isn't a thick foam wall and there will not be soil :) Also no can do on the pump timer as I'm using the same pump for my waterfall so it will be on 24/7 tho valved of course
 

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Yes, this is basic hydroponics. From my general reading, it seems I have to stick to emersed plants since I have a 2" water depth I am growing in...I was hoping to just stack some gravel and place plants on top of it (so part of the root is submerged and part emerged, with the entire plant itself above water)....
This may work, provided the substrate you have the plants in now cannot wick water up into itself. If the new roots are able to grow into this environment on their own, it may be feasible. I've seen cacti growing above an inch of water, and their roots grew horizontally where the water met the air. A constant water level is the important thing there. And yes, half of the root was exposed to air, and half to water.

I think that if you really control flow to your drip wall so it is in fact just a drip, you should be able to grow pretty much anything in there. Again, it's just the air to water ratio.
 

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I think that if you really control flow to your drip wall so it is in fact just a drip, you should be able to grow pretty much anything in there. Again, it's just the air to water ratio
.

As I work with constructing and building green walls I can second the above.
You actually can grow almost anything vertically as long as the water/air ratio is trimmed correct.
One of the things that I would steer away from is most of the Bromeliads. As they in most cases dont use their roots for water absorbtion.

Bulky root systems can be trimmed down before mounting. In a "hydrophonic" system as in a green wall, the root system of the plants dont need to be as big as in traditional growing.
 

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Some of the pictures I've seen of green walls are amazing...what is the method you use to secure the plants "in" or "on" the wall??
Do you think the Epiweb is the best for a vertical application??? When you have a drip wall, how does the water not form a natural path that it eventually always follows so that the water doesn't get to the other plant roots...or is there a sort of "mat" material that is also used as part of the drip wall setup?? If so, how is that used?? Thanks
 

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As someone that frequents The Planted Tank frum and others, I can tell you there is a burgeoning number of people growing stuff emersed.

And in fact most of the stuff grown in aquariums are not obligate aquatics. I have a tank with about a 1/2 inch of water in the bottom with no water movement, and so you would expect pretty horrendous anaerobic conditions..but I have Water Sprite, Saginella, some species of Philodendron, begonia among other things growing fine there. I've also experimented with emersed plants in an aquarium. Off the top of my head. The Hygrophilas, Cryptocorynes, Anubias, Bacopas, Micro sword (Liliaeopsis brasilensis), Dwarf hair Grass and Hydrocotyle all will work fine. IME Java Fern can take a while to adapt to an emersed condition but it will.
If you look at my thread about Wabi-kusa you can see what I've been experimenting with, and all of that stuff does fine.
Obviously the humidity of the tank can also play a huge role.
 

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I'm interested to know what "true terrestrials" you're working with - most of the terrarium plants popular here tend to not fit that definition in the way you're thinking, and I'm not sure why you're determined to put a true terrestrial into an epiphytic environment or a semi-aquatic one, when the majority of the hobby is based around those two groups of plants!

I'm not sure it's been mentioned but I wouldn't use cocomatting. Back when drip walls were really popular they were the original product used and tended to last only two years max (or even less with drip walls) before they ripped apart. Epi/ecoweb or treefern will last longer. Tree fern is still organic and will break down at some point, so maybe not the best for significant drip but it's wicking ability makes it a great substrate form most plants to hook into and get water from without actually being in contact with the drip. Epi/Ecoweb is inert and doesn't wick, but it also doesn't rot. I prefer that as a substrate for dripwalls for that reason, but it's an abrasive so you'll have to get most of it covered with plants before putting livestock in or they will get seriously cut up.

By spreading the nozzles across the wall in the back you can get a pretty even flow of water down the back of the wall. The complex structure also keeps breaking up the wall so there shouldn't be too much congregation of water into streams. When setting up the terrarium, being able to see the back of the tank and see the water running down the glass helps.

With appropriate growing conditions a small species of plant will likely have little issue rooting to the strong structure of something like ecoweb, and there is no need for pockets of anything (they can easily become pockets of mush too if they have too much access to water). The walls of veggies with pockets of dirt are usually drip irrigated, not a drip wall in the sense we're talking about here. When talking about a plant that would actually need that pocket of dirt to survive happy, I again kinda have to wonder why you're fighting what the plant wants to do so much when you've got a massive selection of plants that would be more than happy to take their place! There are some plants I'd recommend have the start of the plant in a substrate (hemiepiphytic plants) and let the rest climb on the wall, but those same plants (and even their self heading "terrestrial" relatives) have been started and grown on a wall without pockets.

As for growing in the water... I'm with everyone else about the semi-aquatics. These are a greatly untapped plant resource in this hobby for some reason, which is funny because they are some of the plants that like our (often overly saturated) tanks the best! All my tanks now have 1/3 to 1/2 "semi-aquatic" plants, and you can easily make one completely out of these plants! Many mass distributed "aquarium plants" aren't even actually semi-aquatic, they just take a long time to drown...
 

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Not sure if you were talking to me about true terrestrials.

I did the exact thing you are talking about a number of years ago. I had a small pump in one corner, a pipe riser and a pipe with holes horizontally across the back. My back was foam with coco glued to it, worked great for about a year but the holes got plugged up and the pump stopped working, but it was pretty poorly put together.
Mosses grew like gangbusters and even Java fens did fine that tank had, Jewel Orchid, Seliginella, a couple of other ferns, anubias and a few other things and all did well.

As for true terrestrials, I guess the best approach is to go by family so like Aroids or Begonias etc. Locally I've collected and used Pennyroyal (a small mint), Galium (a bedstraw) and Mazus reptans, all of which are submerged for weeks in the spring but grow fine once things dry out too. They don't go dormant during my cold winter just sit there waiting and I've grown them inside all winter.

Hope that helps! I can't wait to see a photo of finished product and progression.

The other thing you might do is contact or look over Black Jungle website they do stuff like that and I've been to their store/greenhouse which are both pretty cool!
 

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Nah, was referring to the original post by EvilLost where he seemed very determined to use Terrestrials. I was trying to determine what the definition was for terrestrial was for him because I think he was using the very simplistic definition, and few plants we use may fall into that... not many of us growing trees in our tanks!

There are very few Aroids or Begonias etc. that are really a "terrestrial" and I've not seen them used in tanks like ours because those suckers get BIG. There are a number of terrestrial bromeliads for example... I wish I could find it on the site but I remember a pic of Evan Twomey sitting next to a terrestrial brom listening for the frog that was in it to call. Since I've seen Evan in person and can use him as a scale, you're talking a brom around 4 feet across and just as high! Most Aroids we use are semi-aquatic, epiphytic, or hemiepiphytic, and the begonias are usually lithophytic or epiphytic. It's amazing how much of the tropical plant life works to NOT grow on the ground in soil, but rather on rocks, around streams, on trees, etc. Just not enough light on the forest floor when you have to try and not have leaves fall on your and smother you to death!

The drip wall it sounds like you're describing is a bit of a different style... it's a bit more like a seepage. I used to love working on those, because you could get a little bit different look on it where the water would congregate and travel down the walls. The Hidden Life Exhibits at the National Aquarium in Baltimore are an excellent example of this, as are some of the tanks by Black Jungle. You just check where the water runs and make sure your water sensitive epiphytes aren't mounted in those areas LOL. These types could also include molded pockets in them for plant substrate but you had to be careful to build in a way for them to drain. Otherwise they can end up as soppy messes or just end up as a pond for your frogs to put tads LOL.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
@KeroKero: I merely asked a question about growing plants. Since many users here grow plants, it seemed to be a relevant post. I don't know why you are assuming that I am talking about tropical plants only, frog tanks only, small builds only, etc....I never made mention of any such limitations.


The air:water ratio was what I was looking to learn from my question :)
 

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Ahhhhhh that actually puts it in a totally different light - usually stuff here is based on those limitations stated or otherwise. This is a site about keeping tropical frogs in little homemade jungles after all!

So by terrestrials, what types of plants are you talking about? Some plants may need to have more modifications that others (like root veggies vs. fruiting plants for example). Carrots may just not play nice in some versions of what you're talking about, while herbs could go bonkers. Just have to remember to make the wall pretty damn strong if you grow larger things like tomatoes.

I imagine the larger the plant, the more "substrate" (vertical or horizontal) will be needed, and I really only think of the epi/ecoweb stuff as kinda the top coat (coco husk matting does NOT hold up long term and you don't want your gorgeous wall to get all grown in just to fall apart at 1.5 to 2 years - plus it's weaker to begin with and may not be able to hold large weights without ripping). It's handy for small plants to grow into, epi/rheo/lithophytic plants to grow on, but I'm not sure layers and layers of the stuff would be the best idea for some of the plants you may have in mind. I grow in semi-hydro, and imagine a vertical version where I'd use that stuff to actually hold a layer of LECA behind it, and have the solution (water/ferts) actually get dripped down that part. I also have had one plant that was mounted on epiweb, got way too big for it, and I then just cut the epiweb to sit as a kind of "lid" peice on top of semi-hydro pot. The greedy roots quickly took over the pot, and I don't have to worry about loose LECA when moving the pot :)

There have also been some vertical wall threads here and on other forums that may give you more ideas for the "top coat" - the larger the surface and the larger the plants the stronger it and the support it's built off of have to be. There are a number of synthetic fabrics that have been used for this as well in place of the epi/ecoweb stuff.

Both First Rays orchids and Brian's Botanicals have done living walls that may be of interest, but I can't find anyplace where there is a good write up on how they were done. I just know both involved epi/ecoweb and circulating water.
 
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