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E. Anthonyii Santa Isabels
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m brainstorming some plants to add to my cork background.What are some recommendations, other than bromeliad, that I can grow easily, rooted into the cork?
 

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I personally would plant climbers at the base and train them to (or just allow them to) grow up the cork wall.

So, Marcgravia sp, Pellionia pulchra, Solanum evolvulifolium. Take a look at online vendors' offerings that are 'shingling' plants.

Smaller-leafed philodendrons can be nice for this, too -- I have 'Burle Marx Fantasy' and P. pteromischum sp. 'Costa Rica', and while they need a little more training to go where I want them, they work well.
 

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Microsorum ferns. Some (e.g. "kangaroo paw") get pretty large (but are awesome in XL vivs) but others are very small and dainty, with leaves maybe 1 cm. E.g. M. vaccinifolia. All have nice growth rates, not too fast but also not dead slow. Super tropical look when their fuzzy rhizones and dark hairy "roots" cover stuff.

M. vaccinifolia covering a juniper branch, and crawling toward cracked-cork mosaic / epoxied-foam "rock" background.
297746


"Roots" of M. diversifolium, about 8" down this manzanita branch from the nearest rhizome. More "roots" visible on wall of white PVC cage, top right corner of pic.
297747
 

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I definitely agree with the above posts about vining plants, they'll fill in a background nicely. There are also some rabbit's foot ferns that are good for background because they are epiphytic and grow into the empty airspace of your enclosure, it gives a nice sense of depth rather than laying flat like a lot of vining plants do. Some of the bigger fronds can support the weight of a thumbnail as well.
 

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If you like pruning and cutting every week, may I suggest a “Creeping Fig?”

(they do make cool backgrounds though.)
 

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E. Anthonyii Santa Isabels
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Saxifraga stolonifera
I am definitely thinking of a begonia.

I personally would plant climbers at the base and train them to (or just allow them to) grow up the cork wall.

So, Marcgravia sp, Pellionia pulchra, Solanum evolvulifolium. Take a look at online vendors' offerings that are 'shingling' plants.

Smaller-leafed philodendrons can be nice for this, too -- I have 'Burle Marx Fantasy' and P. pteromischum sp. 'Costa Rica', and while they need a little more training to go where I want them, they work well.
I have looked at philodendrons a bit. I already have some scindapsus pictures exotica, which is very similar, that I’m propagating for my larger tank I’m putting together. Macgravia is neat, but a bit pricey and can be difficult to establish, I’ve heard? I was looking at PellIonia pulchra, but didn’t end up getting it...hmm, i can’t remember why not and I guess I just sort of forgot about that one! I do have some callisia repens climbing up one side, but I’d like something more substantial to take over most of it.

My favorite plant to train is : Paradrymonia campostyla!
Oh, it has nice flowers!

I definitely agree with the above posts about vining plants, they'll fill in a background nicely. There are also some rabbit's foot ferns that are good for background because they are epiphytic and grow into the empty airspace of your enclosure, it gives a nice sense of depth rather than laying flat like a lot of vining plants do. Some of the bigger fronds can support the weight of a thumbnail as well.
I messed up and put my fern up in the front corner. I’ll have to fix that placement in my next build.

If you like pruning and cutting every week, may I suggest a “Creeping Fig?”

(they do make cool backgrounds though.)
Not sure if I ”like” it, but I don mind weekly trimmings too much. :p I’ve seen how thick creeping fog can get, and since I already have tradescantia in there...
 

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E. Anthonyii Santa Isabels
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Microsorum ferns. Some (e.g. "kangaroo paw") get pretty large (but are awesome in XL vivs) but others are very small and dainty, with leaves maybe 1 cm. E.g. M. vaccinifolia. All have nice growth rates, not too fast but also not dead slow. Super tropical look when their fuzzy rhizones and dark hairy "roots" cover stuff.

M. vaccinifolia covering a juniper branch, and crawling toward cracked-cork mosaic / epoxied-foam "rock" background.
View attachment 297746

"Roots" of M. diversifolium, about 8" down this manzanita branch from the nearest rhizome. More "roots" visible on wall of white PVC cage, top right corner of pic.
View attachment 297747
Yes, I was looking at some wart ferns. I’ll keep other microsum varieties as well (probably not something as large as kangaroo paw at this time, though).
 

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I messed up and put my fern up in the front corner. I’ll have to fix that placement in my next build.
The type of fern you have, which looks like it might be Nephrolepis exaltata, is a terrestrial plant so front corner is a good place for it. Definitely research the specific fern species before planting it epiphytically, many ferns are terrestrial. Rabbit’s foot ferns (Davallia fejeensis) also creep via a rhizome, while many terrestrial ferns will just form clumps. I believe other species of Davallia will have similar properties - can be grown terrestrially or epiphytically and creep rather than clumping.
 

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E. Anthonyii Santa Isabels
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The type of fern you have, which looks like it might be Nephrolepis exaltata, is a terrestrial plant so front corner is a good place for it. Definitely research the specific fern species before planting it epiphytically, many ferns are terrestrial. Rabbit’s foot ferns (Davallia fejeensis) also creep via a rhizome, while many terrestrial ferns will just form clumps. I believe other species of Davallia will have similar properties - can be grown terrestrially or epiphytically and creep rather than clumping.
Ah, right. I have the “fluffy ruffles” variety of nephrolepsis exaltata there. No rhizomes, of course. Super burnt out from grading a million undergrad essays last night and mixed up “fluffy ruffles” with “rabbit’s foot” when I read your comment (and was also thinking my fern being an epiphyte didn’t sound right).

I know I was thinking of rabbit’s foot ferns early on in my build, but ended up with fluffy ruffles. Perhaps I’ll add some.
 

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Episcia "Silver Skies" is lovely. It flowers a lot, and cascades down, rooting any place possible, if you plant it high and mist it quite a bit. It kind of booms, so needs quite a bit of pruning. But truly, it's gorgeous in foliage and flower and habit.

...Nephrolepis exaltata is a terrestrial plant ...
Uh, true enough I suppose but it has some plasticity to it. With enough soil and water and decent light you can get a big fat "vase" of fern. And then more vases. Many more. It's invasive in Florida and - besides totally carpeting the ground in places - you can see it growing up in the leaf axils of palm trees, and way up in soil pockets in oak tree crotches and such. Basically it sends out runners with plantlets (just like a strawberry plant) and if the plantlet gets lucky it becomes a big clump. But if it does not get lucky it just grows two or three short fronds (and more runners) and kind of sulks. That is the ideal situation for epiphytic viv keeping.

When I left FL I kept a bit of it for my vivs. It needs to be kept pretty tortured to keep it from getting up and in your business, but with good placement it's easy. Basically, don't give it any more than the bare minimum of water and substrate. But under those conditions it's lovely and well-behaved. I like it in a tiny soil pocket about halfway up the back of my vivs. No terrestrial contact (oh my no!) but also farther from the drippers and misters, so not as lushly watered as higher up. And just clip those runners before they take root with a new plantlet, unless you want it.

This plant is aggressive, but has its uses with close management.
 

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Uh, true enough I suppose but it has some plasticity to it. With enough soil and water and decent light you can get a big fat "vase" of fern. And then more vases. Many more. It's invasive in Florida and - besides totally carpeting the ground in places - you can see it growing up in the leaf axils of palm trees, and way up in soil pockets in oak tree crotches and such. Basically it sends out runners with plantlets (just like a strawberry plant) and if the plantlet gets lucky it becomes a big clump. But if it does not get lucky it just grows two or three short fronds (and more runners) and kind of sulks. That is the ideal situation for epiphytic viv keeping.
This is valid, and I haven’t grown either Nephrolepis exaltata or Davallia fejeensis because they are both too big and unruly. However you can grow lots of terrestrial plants in epiphytic situations, if you can find a place to create a little “pocket” of substrate. And then some things just aren’t very fussy and will poke their roots into whatever corner they find and just manage without soil. The difference is that true epiphytes (most orchids, lots of other plants we grow in vivariums) will not want their roots in substrate at all, and may rot if they are tucked into a pocket like that, so I try to differentiate.
 

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The difference is that true epiphytes (most orchids, lots of other plants we grow in vivariums) will not want their roots in substrate at all, and may rot if they are tucked into a pocket like that, so I try to differentiate.
Indeed, and the distinction is worth noting. Obligates vs facultatives.
 

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that I can grow easily, rooted into the cork?
And so OP - I should point out that the aforementioned obligate (more or less) epipihyte ferns will not be happy literally atop the cork, unless misted frequently. And then you're really looking at more of a plant terrarium, not so much a frog viv.

What I do with those ferns is take cuttings - a length of hairy "stem" with a few leaves is all you need - and pin them to the LFS that I stuff between my closely-spaced cork pieces. Mist a few times a day but long enough to keep that LFS moist - NEVER let it dry out. Then, once the cuttings are established, they are free to - and do - shoot runners across the harsh dry cork and find additional receptive spots to grab hold and take nourishment.

The Episcia is only a facultative epiphyte (perhaps it's an "epiphytish"), and prefers some actual substrate, not just a little damp LFS. I provide that - just a few tablespoons, really - behind bits of partial cork rounds that I've cut and shaped a little so their margins lie nice and flat against the glass, while still providing a little cup behind them.

Stepping back a bit - defining "easily" might lead to more targeted advice. Do you just mean "likely to succeed, given proper (but not heroic) effort and attention", or do you mean "likely to succeed, given little effort or attention"? If the latter, the list shrinks rapidly....but then again this is not a hobby for the lazy, or inattentive, so...I have been operating under the former assumption.

Good luck!
 

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I'm astonished no one has mentioned orchids yet, unless I missed something about "except orchids" or notes that this tank has unsuitable conditions. Orchids are such an incredibly diverse group that there's almost something for any planting location, though I don't know what your tank setup looks like or conditions (temps, moisture...crushing animals) are. I go for both flower and foliage interest in orchids, since for many they're only in bloom for a fraction of the year. Actually, half the time, I'm shopping for them based on foliage appearance first, though I'm picky enough that if I don't like both the flowers and foliage, I skip it and move on. (There's no shortage of alternatives.)

You may also get happy Hoya and Dischidia species if they have a wee bit of substrate to root into. I have a years-old Hoya curtisii, for instance, that's happy in its 2" terra cotta pot that I swear is so old there's no substrate left in it...maybe literally about six pieces of coco husk chunks or something. I remember to water it maybe once a week. It's still on a plant stand (so, with regards to my setup, a semi-terrarium) 'till I find a home for it, but boy, has that been a trooper. Similarly, I have a Dischidia ovata (not the individual I posted in the foliage thread) that's in LFS so old it probably would have killed an orchid by now, which routinely goes bone-dry between when I remember to water it and is still growing runners all over the place on top of solid shelving with no alternative substrate in sight. Therefore, probably decent candidates if the tank has the space for rambling.
 

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E. Anthonyii Santa Isabels
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This is valid, and I haven’t grown either Nephrolepis exaltata or Davallia fejeensis because they are both too big and unruly. However you can grow lots of terrestrial plants in epiphytic situations, if you can find a place to create a little “pocket” of substrate. And then some things just aren’t very fussy and will poke their roots into whatever corner they find and just manage without soil. The difference is that true epiphytes (most orchids, lots of other plants we grow in vivariums) will not want their roots in substrate at all, and may rot if they are tucked into a pocket like that, so I try to differentiate.
My plan now is to create a few little “pockets” for some suitable plants.

And so OP - I should point out that the aforementioned obligate (more or less) epipihyte ferns will not be happy literally atop the cork, unless misted frequently. And then you're really looking at more of a plant terrarium, not so much a frog viv.

What I do with those ferns is take cuttings - a length of hairy "stem" with a few leaves is all you need - and pin them to the LFS that I stuff between my closely-spaced cork pieces. Mist a few times a day but long enough to keep that LFS moist - NEVER let it dry out. Then, once the cuttings are established, they are free to - and do - shoot runners across the harsh dry cork and find additional receptive spots to grab hold and take nourishment.

The Episcia is only a facultative epiphyte (perhaps it's an "epiphytish"), and prefers some actual substrate, not just a little damp LFS. I provide that - just a few tablespoons, really - behind bits of partial cork rounds that I've cut and shaped a little so their margins lie nice and flat against the glass, while still providing a little cup behind them.

Stepping back a bit - defining "easily" might lead to more targeted advice. Do you just mean "likely to succeed, given proper (but not heroic) effort and attention", or do you mean "likely to succeed, given little effort or attention"? If the latter, the list shrinks rapidly....but then again this is not a hobby for the lazy, or inattentive, so...I have been operating under the former assumption.

Good luck!
But I’m also thinking more along the lines of things that can grow in the cracks between cork, like this! I guess I should specify, “rooted in the cork” I mostly just meant, growing across/over the cork sections, not just down in some substrate. Anchored is what I’m looking for. And yes, likely to succeed with proper effort, of course--not heroic, though.

I'm astonished no one has mentioned orchids yet, unless I missed something about "except orchids" or notes that this tank has unsuitable conditions. Orchids are such an incredibly diverse group that there's almost something for any planting location, though I don't know what your tank setup looks like or conditions (temps, moisture...crushing animals) are. I go for both flower and foliage interest in orchids, since for many they're only in bloom for a fraction of the year. Actually, half the time, I'm shopping for them based on foliage appearance first, though I'm picky enough that if I don't like both the flowers and foliage, I skip it and move on. (There's no shortage of alternatives.)

You may also get happy Hoya and Dischidia species if they have a wee bit of substrate to root into. I have a years-old Hoya curtisii, for instance, that's happy in its 2" terra cotta pot that I swear is so old there's no substrate left in it...maybe literally about six pieces of coco husk chunks or something. I remember to water it maybe once a week. It's still on a plant stand (so, with regards to my setup, a semi-terrarium) 'till I find a home for it, but boy, has that been a trooper. Similarly, I have a Dischidia ovata (not the individual I posted in the foliage thread) that's in LFS so old it probably would have killed an orchid by now, which routinely goes bone-dry between when I remember to water it and is still growing runners all over the place on top of solid shelving with no alternative substrate in sight. Therefore, probably decent candidates if the tank has the space for rambling.
Which is why I haven been sure about orchids, with the impression that they’re very sensitive and don’t last very long? The tank I’m mainly shopping around for will be my upgraded 20H tank for E. Anthonyii. So not super large animals, but still with humidity requirements (80+) and temps in the 70s. I do have a bit of tree fern panel that I was going to put higher up for some ceropegia woodii and string of bananas succulent. Maybe I could try an orchid, dischidi, or Hoya there?
 

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Which is why I haven been sure about orchids, with the impression that they’re very sensitive and don’t last very long? The tank I’m mainly shopping around for will be my upgraded 20H tank for E. Anthonyii. So not super large animals, but still with humidity requirements (80+) and temps in the 70s. I do have a bit of tree fern panel that I was going to put higher up for some ceropegia woodii and string of bananas succulent. Maybe I could try an orchid, dischidi, or Hoya there?
The impression I got was that you were pretty new to plants and wanted something that would really cover a background, which most orchids will not do. There are a few orchids that are pretty tough and will spread, the easiest one that comes to mind is Epidendrum porpax (or not quite as tough but easy and will spread, Mediocalcar decoratum). If you want a special accent plant somewhere, orchids can be great for that and I love Lepanthopsis astrophora (for a spot that never dries out).
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The impression I got was that you were pretty new to plants and wanted something that would really cover a background, which most orchids will not do. There are a few orchids that are pretty tough and will spread, the easiest one that comes to mind is Epidendrum porpax (or not quite as tough but easy and will spread, Mediocalcar decoratum). If you want a special accent plant somewhere, orchids can be great for that and I love Lepanthopsis astrophora (for a spot that never dries out).
Not new to plants per se, but totally new to plants in a tropical environment for a viv. I’ve lived pretty much all of my life in an arid environment, so my instincts are super paranoid about plants getting rot...which, I realize, may not be an actual significant concern here. I’m also going through an adjustment period with my patio gardening, now that I find myself in a much more humid coastal climate. Maybe it’s just the desert girl in me that’s wary about some of these plants, since I’m used to dealing with barely 10% RH as growing conditions.

So maybe I could look into orchids. Thanks for the suggestions!
 
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