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hydrophyte 06-22-2012 05:38 PM

Rainforest Canopy | Epiphyte Laden Branch
Rainforest Canopy | Epiphyte Laden Branch

I have been meaning to start this project for a while. I have seen a few other similar ones around. I plan to do this one in a 30 X High, which isn't a lot of room. I want to take some time to find real small epiphytes that will scale well with the branch that I am making and the enclosure.

Earlier this morning I started making the branch feature. I might have selected a thick piece of manzanita for it, but decided to use GS foam. All that I did to star the shape was to place a piece of waxed paper over my bench top with a few scraps of wood underneath to make a more dimensional surface, then I just started to spray a twisted branch shape about 24" long. After it cures I will flip it over and apply more GS to the other side to get a more or less cylindrical branch form. I would shoot a picture of it now, but it's pretty ugly and not much to see.

I don't see very many very memorable pictures of this kind of thing on the Internet, which is surprising because trees loaded with epiphytes can be so visually striking. Back in the day I climbed a few tall trees down in Costa Rica and it was really amazing. If anybody might know about any real good albums on flickr or Pinterest or wherever I'd be interested to get the link as more visual reference. Here is a Wikimedia Commons image that shows a tree with some larger bromeliads and aroid climbers and stuff like that.
(Wikimedia Commons image: File:DirkvdM epiphytes.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

I'm going to do this as a Forest Floor setup with false bottom. It might also be engaging to pick out terrestrials for the planter pots. Terrestrial plants will need to be very short to fit with this idea. It would be great to find some more unusual mini terrestrial orchids, aroids and gesneriads. The bottom area might need some extra illumination because the epiphyte branch above will be well-lit but throw a lot of shade.

I don't know about livestock yet. I understand that there are some dart frog species (Ranitomeya spp.??) that are almost entirely arboreal. I might just make this a plant display. Some sort of insect might also work. There might or might not be connection between the branch and the bottom planted area with some fake vine features.

Bree 06-22-2012 07:26 PM

Wow, that is going to look amazing!

hydrophyte 06-22-2012 08:21 PM


Originally Posted by Bree (Post 1912958)
Wow, that is going to look amazing!

Maybe it will if I can do it right :flick:.

hydrophyte 06-24-2012 12:43 AM

Here is the Great Stuff branch feature all expanded and cured. Now I need to start carving away at it.

hydrophyte 06-24-2012 05:03 AM

I just remembered this older picture that shows scale in that 30 X High tank pretty well. I took it apart some time after getting this shot. This new setup will just have the single artificial branch in it, but the pictures shows pretty well how much space there is in there. I want to use mainly very small epiphytes and also use very short terrestrials underneath. I want to do some research and try to incorporate some more unusual terrestrials that I haven't tried before.

hydrophyte 06-27-2012 04:48 PM

I carved away at the branch feature to get the general shape. Now I am going to coat it with the Drylok. I'm also going to have to stiffen it with some kind of reinforcement; I might use some of this thick anodized aluminum bonsai wire that I have. The Great Stuff foam is really flimsy and the branch shape just bends with any weight at all.

The expanded GS foam has a lot of air pockets in it and I bet that epiphytes would like the surface a lot. I'd like to get a can of the black GS for ponds and try some of it unfinished for growing orchids and ferns.

pweifan 06-27-2012 05:21 PM

Subscribed. This looks promising. I hope you can get it look as beautiful as the first picture. Good luck!

hydrophyte 06-28-2012 12:15 AM


Originally Posted by pweifan (Post 1919489)
Subscribed. This looks promising. I hope you can get it look as beautiful as the first picture. Good luck!

Thanks! I'll keep working on it.

Wy Renegade 06-28-2012 02:05 AM

Very cool, I was just looking at one of those trees yesterday in the plant growth building here on campus. I think that would be a really cool idea for the terrarium. I didn't try planting any of my orchids directly on the GS pond foam, so I can't comment on that, not sure if it would tend to hold moisture too well or not. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with on this one.

hydrophyte 06-28-2012 10:07 PM

I hope to have some more pictures pretty soon.

The foam looks like it would hold some moisture and I think that orchids would like it as a substrate, but like I said I finished this piece with Drylok. I'd like to get some of the black Great Stuff for ponds and try that with orchids.

Assassynation 06-29-2012 12:25 AM

Looks promising, keep up the good work!

hydrophyte 06-29-2012 04:31 PM


Originally Posted by Assassynation (Post 1921542)
Looks promising, keep up the good work!


Hey how is your riparium doing? Do you still have it set up?

hydrophyte 07-02-2012 12:49 AM

Here's the foam branch with Drylok and a steel eye bolt. There is another eye bolt on the other side too.

I left the foam surface rough and with the Drylok it made a more or less convincing bark-like finish. After getting this shot I covered the log with sphagnum moss. I'll post a picture of that in a bit.
1-VII-12-epiphyte-branch-I-m by hidrofit, on Flickr

hydrophyte 07-02-2012 08:31 AM

I got this thing planted up tonight. Here is a quick shot showing the branch with sphagnum moss. I used the sheet sphagnum, which is a lot easier to attach than regular long-fibre, held in place with monofilament fishing line wrapped around and around. I mounted the plants with cotton sewing thread. I'll get a picture the whole planted feature tomorrow.

hydrophyte 07-02-2012 09:02 PM

Here it is planted up. I could have selected better plants for this; these are just some random epiphytes that I had around. I mainly just want to use this planting to observe how the plants grow and also as growout. Now I need to set it up in the enclosure.

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