A New Way to Grow Terrarium Plants
I have been working on this plant culture concept for quite a while and I am finally ready to explain it. I am developing the idea as a product line that hobbyists can use as an apparently novel and new way to grow plants in their terrariums/vivariums.
Like some already popular vivarium planting methods this system involves a false bottom assembly, but in this case the plate comprising the false bottom is cut with numerous round holes. These holes receive the planters that in turn hold the terrarium plants.
The false bottom is suspended above the enclosure bottom with cylindrical spacers (lengths of plastic pipe) situated in each of the four corners. The view above shows it sitting on top of the stand used for the whole terrarium setup.
I am currently putting together one of these setups with a standard 30 Tall aquarium. I know that this kind of tank is less than ideal as a frog enclosure, but I want to situate it as a peninsula in our reading room and I think it will make a nice effect with open viewing on three sides.
Here is the enclosure with the false bottom assembly situated inside.
For use of this system it is critical that openings to the void beneath the false bottom be well-covered. This cloth screen was cut to dimensions slightly larger than the false bottom plastic plate and with holes to match each of the planter holes. When placed inside it seals the between the glass and the false bottom outside edges all the way around.
I think that the most compelling aspect of this system is that it simplifies the terrarium culture of many kinds of terrestrial plants. I have been having a lot of fun researching aroids, palms and other diverse groups of plants and trying them out with this system. I've observed especially good results with various dwarf palms such as this Geonoma
Since plant roots are contained with the planters, this system makes it easier to manage plants that can become too large or unruly within the terrarium environment. Plants can also be easily rearranged with the terrarium and the plastic assembly components can be reused many times.
The next picture shows the planting accessories with several plants in place and inside of the terrarium. The plants include two more dwarf palms along with a Schismatoglottis
The several holes in the false bottom that do not hold plants will be covered with plastic mesh, then the whole false bottom will be covered with a layer of natural forest leaf litter to create a natural forest floor scene inside. I will have more pictures on the way as I continue to build this display next week.
This picture shows a setup that I made for a Hyla versicolor
gray tree frog. The native ferns that I planted grew surprisingly well.
I also used a finished plywood facade to cover up the void area below the false bottom.
While this system creates a very flat terrarium bottom surface, it is pretty easy to develop the vertical space by adding features such as (real or fabricated) tree stumps, woody vines or boulders. Of course the plants will also help to fill the enclosure as they grow up. By piling the leaf litter to slightly different depths you can also create a sense of gently rolling terrain.
This explains the general way that the planting system works. I am introducing the idea as the "forest floor terrarium", although I know that this term sounds rather awkward and I might change it. I do have a concept for a brand name and logo.
I am currently taking orders for custom kits that include the false bottom cut to match your enclosure dimensions, screen, vertical spacers, planters and potting media. The potting media that I use includes a percentage of perlite. I know that some do not like to use perlite with frogs and I intend to test and customize a material more similar to ABG mix, but with sharper drainage. I also have a number of nice plants around here including some already established in planters.
The forest floor terrarium system and concept is US Patent Pending