Houseplants forum: Desert, bog, or something else? Have container, want garden.

Views: 304, Replies: 10 » Jump to the end

Image
Fishkeeper
Feb 29, 2016 9:34 PM CST
I have a rubber stock tank that I tried to use as an indoor pond. It didn't look as cool as I thought it would, fish kept jumping out, and the water evaporated far too fast. I've re-homed all the fish, and now I'm trying to figure out what to do with the container. It's about four feet long, three feet wide, and a bit under two feet deep, so there's enough space for something pretty cool.
It's next to a west-facing second-story window, and I have a light that holds two F24T5/HO Bloom Spectrum bulbs, though I'm not certain what that means in terms of what the plants will think of it. It was sold to me for a dart frog vivarium that I no longer have, and those plants seemed to like it.
Now, I am not great with plants. I prefer plants where I can just set up a good habitat, get them established, and then let them do their thing. So my first thought was a desert garden. Big thick layer of pebbles on the bottom for drainage, some nice rich sandy soil on top, and a bunch of nice little desert plants.
My next thought was a bog garden. I could set it up with about ten inches of the tub sides above the soil to help hold in the humidity, and then I'd have a nice wet place for all sorts of cool plants and ferns. I'd rather not try to feed them any live foods, but I can give frozen (then thawed) mysis shrimp or similar to something like a pitcher plant that's simple to feed.
Or would some sort of rainforest garden be possible? No trees, of course, but what about the underbelly plants that like damp places and not much sunshine?

Does anyone have any suggestions? I like small plants that stay small without much pruning, and I'd rather have flowers with neat shapes than flowers with bright colors. I also like foliage and cool-looking plants. I can't have anything toxic, we have cats. I won't let the cats mess around in the garden and eat stuff, I usually keep them out of my room, but I don't want to risk them getting in and nibbling something.
The tub is right next to a 65g tank with a bunch of messy fish, so I can use what's essentially a mild manure tea on the garden. Thing is, we have a water softener, and all the faucets in the house are hooked up to it. Will that upset the plants? The fish are fine with it, and so are a number of aquatic plants, but I'm not sure about terrestrial plants.

So basically I'm looking for ideas for a small indoor garden of easy-to-keep plants. Does anyone have any general advice or suggestions for a habitat I could try?
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
Image
sallyg
Mar 1, 2016 6:52 AM CST
Your ideas are so much more creative than mine would be.
DO you have a good indoor nursery nearby? My suggestion would be not to try something so specialized, but just browse (in person or online) a lot of tropical or potted plants and see how much you like (the rainforest idea, I guess) There is a lot of variety out there.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)

Image
Fishkeeper
Mar 1, 2016 6:06 PM CST
We have a nursery nearby, but it's mostly outdoor stuff. Plus, I don't have the knowledge to tell if someone at a nursery is telling me the truth about something being easy to maintain or is just saying that so I'll buy it. That sort of thing is unfortunately very common in the aquarium trade, and I'm not certain if that's really a problem in gardening, so I'm looking for maybe some suggestions on easy-to-keep plants.

Houseplants
MacnCheese
Mar 1, 2016 6:31 PM CST
Sadly, I'm not sure if there are any plants that would "fit the bill" if being grown like you desire.

I don't believe that cacti would do well even with the artificial lighting (they need a high amount of light and are generally better grown outdoors with direct sun).

As for a "bog," I don't know of any plants that appreciate wet feet. They enjoy being moist, but not wet. I think a 'Peace Lily' is a plant that grows in bogs in the wild, but from what I understood, the water isn't stagnant. They're poisionous to animals though, so that wouldn't work anyway. A fern would also not do well if kept wet. They do thrive in humidity though.

I am confused about the mysis shrimp; what are you referring to with feeding frozen fish foods?

Image
Fishkeeper
Mar 1, 2016 9:07 PM CST
How do cacti do against west-facing windows? That's quite a lot of sunlight in the summer, this is Central Texas and there's nothing between my window and the sun except a few twigs. Or maybe some sort of scrubby desert planet that wouldn't really care about much of anything?

I wouldn't have to keep specifically wet-foot plants, just the types of plants that don't get mad if kept in a container with pretty much no drainage. I don't have to have some kind of swamp/bog-esque environment, but I thought plants from a bog would be more likely to tolerate soil that doesn't drain at all. Are there any low-light, relatively commonly available plants that like wet soil? Maybe some sort of reed?
A lot of carnivorous plants seem to live in bog-like conditions, and since carnivorous plants don't take in much through their roots, I assume I'd need to feed them something. I'd rather not deal with live insects, but I do have mysis shrimp on hand for my fish. I'm not sure if they'd work, but they're the closest thing I have to bugs. I especially like pitcher plants- would any of them be suitable?

Or what if I put a few inches of stones in the bottom to help with drainage, used leaf litter as mulch, and kept the types of plants that grow in the underbelly of your average forest? There must be some plants in that category that don't mind being wet all the time, especially from places like Californian redwood forests.
Name: Dee Moore
Arroyo Grande, CA (Zone 9a)
Seed Starter Winter Sowing Garden Photography Greenhouse Container Gardener Region: California
Cactus and Succulents Annuals Garden Art Butterflies Seller of Garden Stuff I helped beta test the first seed swap
Image
DomehomeDee
Mar 1, 2016 9:34 PM CST
I've done carnivourous plants in an aquarium inside. They are quite nice and you would probably have better luck with them than desert plants. You don't need to feed them insects. Go to Sarracenia Northwest, it's an online carnivourous plant site. They have bunches of information as to what the different plants need to survive. The one I set up in an aquarium was a tropical bog garden. But you might be able to get some larger specimins for such a big container, that would be cool, giant pitcher plants indoors! At any rate Sarracenia Northwest is a good site for learning something about the plants. You could also find a local nursery that has water garden plants.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
Image
sallyg
Mar 1, 2016 9:53 PM CST

Bog plants are NOT going to be 'easy care'. I think it'd be expensive getting enough to fill such a big planter.

You could fill it with decent potting mix and plant a variety of tropicals. The large volume of soil 'might' make for good conditions as long as you don't drown the plants. Elephant ears are one plant I have grown and think does cope well with wet feet. They would make a large striking display, do you have room for top growth up to four or five feet? Surround the elephant ear(s) with a few pothos, or other basic easy plants, and you could have a big planter such as shopping malls do.

Easy plants: Pothos, Aglaonema, Dracaena, Tradescantia (wandering jew/inch plant). If you have a Home depot or Walmart with any kind of indoor plants, you can find these. Elephant ear may have to be mail ordered. I think you could have fun with this plan.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)

Image
Fishkeeper
Mar 2, 2016 4:03 AM CST
Are there any hardy pitchers that I could try to learn to care for? Any mosses and such that I could try to grow around other plants? I don't need this thing to be packed full, in fact I have a few rather nice pieces of driftwood that I think I'd like to include.

I like elephant ears, and yes, I have plenty of room up top. What sort of light do they need? Would the window work?

Is there such a thing as a low-light succulent?

I did some Googling about plants that like shade and wet soil, and I found a mention of Acorus gramineus 'Minimus Aureus'. It's a grass, but it looks pretty cool. Anyone know anything about it?
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
Image
sallyg
Mar 2, 2016 6:36 AM CST
You seem very interested in the carnivorous plants- here's a link
http://www.carnivorousplants.org/howto/

If you think you have enough light for succulents, then you have enough for elephant ears, I think. Mine grow in shade or sun, and even try to grow in the dim basement when they are supposed to be dormant for winter.



That's all I can add.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
Image
tarev
Mar 8, 2016 6:04 PM CST
Hello Fishkeeper..easy to keep plants will be a relative term..it may look easy for me, but you may find it time consuming and with lots of things to consider. Well, such is gardening..there is always something to consider. Often times it really takes some trial and error to find out what will grow nicely in your area.

I grow 2 Sarracenia pitcher plants, Sarracenia purpurea and Sarracenia psittacina. Both prefers to be outdoors year round and always with wet feet even during their winter dormancy stage. Best to use rainwater or distilled water or reverse osmosis water, not tap water due to the chemicals in it.

Some other carnivores which I grow indoors are my Nepenthes and Pinguiculas. I use rainwater if we have it or distilled water and I let them stand in a few inches of water. It will really vary depending on your location, maybe you won't need to put it in standing water like I do here. But so far the two Nepenthes I have is happier in some standing water. This is in consideration of our low humidity levels here. They grow by our west facing window but come summer time gets shaded by our city trees in the afternoon. With my Nepenthes, sometimes I allow it to be outside briefly to catch something if it can..or I feed it an errant live spider that happens to wander indoors.

Pinguiculas can grow by a north facing window, and during their carnivore stage, fungus gnats find them hard to resist. These carnivorous plants are still doing photosynthesis on their leaves, so it can make its food, but needs the insects for its nutrient needs. No fertilizers for the carnivores. Some may disagree but that is the usual/traditional way of growing them. My Pings also makes nice blooms, and they look like little violets. The soil media used for them is a mix of peat with no fertilizer, some long fibered moss, or you can also add pumice or some orchid bark to help in drainage.

Water from water softeners not good for plants due to sodium in it.

If you intend to grow desert type succulents like some cacti, these plants would enjoy being outdoors in Spring to late Fall, and they can take full sun happily, in a very well draining media and using containers with drainage holes. There are succulents that prefer part sun-part shade, and will burn if it is in intense sun. The thing with succulents, they will tend to etiolate, or go leggy as it tries to seek more light. Maybe you can use your big rubber container as a catch all for excess water, but keep your succulents in individual containers buried in some rock set-up in your rubber container where the roots will still be above the water accumulating below, so that way the roots are not soaking in water. You must still have a drainage hole somewhere in your rubber container to fully drain and flush out that excess water. Succulents do not like to sit in water, their roots will rot easily.

If you feel like mounting plants, Tillandsias are easy to care for, you can attach to anything, does not need to sit in water, but you will have to give it good air circulation and occasional water spritzing or water dunking if it is just too hot.

I grow some indoors plants in water gel beads, like Golden Pothos, and Dracaena Sanderiana. I use water get beads, allows roots to breathe, and at least I do not have to keep changing the stinky water. I just watch it if the beads are shrinking, so I just add some more water so it will enlarge again. I also grow Chloropyhytum comosum or spider plant in semi-hydro, that is a container with no holes at the bottom, but has two holes a few inches from the bottom; so it acts as a spill holes when I water from the top. I use clay rocks with it, so it still wicks water from the reservoir of water below and allows the roots to breathe.

Hope that helps you decide, what direction of planting you really intend to pursue. But pretty much with any plant, you got to provide them good drainage or air circulation at the root zone, proper lighting, correct type of water and frequency of watering, and the proper media to plant them in. Good luck!

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Houseplants forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Today's site banner is by dirtdorphins and is called "Dianthus 'Nyewood Cream'"