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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I am about to set up a terrarium for epiphytic Bromeliads. Today I placed an order for close to 30 different species/varieties of Tillandsia. I am sure I will be expanding upon this initial group in time. I might even expand to some other bromeliads in the future.

I have no desire to set this system up with a natural layout, though I do have an interest in a fully scaped terrarium at some point in the future. I will be setting up this system as a grow out tank. I would still like to create a nice layout for viewing. I really like how Wastewater's systems are set up and will be aiming for something similar. Also a huge thanks needs to go out to Wastewater for sharing one of his supplier's info with me!

So here is my current plan!

55 gallon aquarium- This is a spare tank I was given that was previously used as a breeder for feeder mice. The tank needs to be resealed before it could hold water, which is why I think it'll work just fine for this system. I don't plan on doing any watering inside the tank.

I will initially use cfl bulbs in cheap shop light fixtures as my lighting for this tank. I am going this route mainly because I've already got these lights and I am starting this project on an extremely sparse budget. I will be looking at upgrading to some higher quality lighting systems as I learn more and find a little spare cash in the budget.

I've got all my computer savvy friends looking through their spare parts to see if anyone's got an extra CPU fan(or two) that I can use to provide the necessary ventilation needed for these plants.

I don't plan on heating this system, other than the bit of heat provided by the lighting. I won't be getting a hygrometer to start with but I don't think that's crucial at this point.

I will probably wait until the plants are in to shape wire and decide where to attach it to the glass/place in holders of some sort. I'm sure things will look a little crude at the beginning but that always seems to improve with a little time. I'm about to transfer to a different university as a Plant Sciences major, I'm sure I'll clean things up before too long. Hahaha... I spend a lot of time playing with different plants around my house.

If I've missed anything that I'll need please feel free to let me know! I've been doing a lot of reading about bromeliads(and aroids! <-- adding some more of those around the house too!) recently & I'm sure there still an enormous amount to learn! I will definitely be posting pictures as soon as there is anything of interest to share!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Here is the list of plants. Most are smaller, single plants. Yes, it's reverse alphabetical order, I didn't do that on purpose... Haha.

Tillandsia velutina
Tillandsia "Peru Inca Gold"
Tillandsia tenuifolia-Bronze Tip
Tillandsia stricta "Soft-Leaf Form"
Tillandsia stricta
Tillandsia straminea-Bush Form
Tillandsia schiedeana v. "major"
Tillandsia recurvifolia
Tillandsia propagulifera
Tillandsia neglecta
Tillandsia kolbii
Tillandsia ionantha "Peanut"
Tillandsia ionantha "Peach"-Purple Flowered Form
Tillandsia ionantha-Mexican Form
Tillandsia ionantha-Fuego
Tillandsia ionantha "Albino"
Tillandsia harrisii
Tillandsia fuchsii v. gracilis
Tillandsia X floridiana
Tillandsia chaetophylla
Tillandsia caulescens
Tillandsia caliginosa
Tillandsia butzii
Tillandsia bergeri
Tillandsia baileyi
Tillandsia aeranthos x bergeri
Tillandsia araujei Hybrid
Tillandsia aeranthos "Mini Purple"

I will be going through these plants to figure out where I want them located in the tank... The plan is to already have a good knowledge about which plants should get more light, which should be in the shade of others, etc. Hopefully by the time I get the plants I'll have a good idea where they are going in the tank.
 

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A very nice & diverse selection! Sounds like you have a 'sound' plan that is starting to transform into a fun project. Kind of like the "planted tank thing" - the Tilly bug can definitely hook you. Do not hesitate to experiment with what works best for you and your plants (confidence and experience will be gained by doing so). The Tillandsia hobby doesn't have to be expensive or 'high budget' by any means, especially when using items you already have on hand.

Something you might want to consider (especially down the road if your collection expands and your plants start reproducing) ~ it helps to label, and/or to take pictures, of your plants. The reasoning for this is because offsets and seedlings can take on a different appearance from the parent plant, possibly taking on a different form (e.g., thin vs. thick leaves, color, etc.). This is especially true wit T. ionantha. Oftentimes, Tillandsia species that look similar to each other, can only be identified by its flower. Because almost all T. ionantha flowers look the same, id's by flowering (with this species) can become very 'gnarly' in a hurry. Looking forward to seeing the progression and updates from your project!
 

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I had to Google what a Bromeliad was. They are beautiful! I'd like to see a tank journal if you end up making one.. I love reading through those, it gives me lots of ideas and inspiration, as I am so new to plants and don't know what all is out there. Good luck and have fun! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
A very nice & diverse selection! Sounds like you have a 'sound' plan that is starting to transform into a fun project. Kind of like the "planted tank thing" - the Tilly bug can definitely hook you. Do not hesitate to experiment with what works best for you and your plants (confidence and experience will be gained by doing so). The Tillandsia hobby doesn't have to be expensive or 'high budget' by any means, especially when using items you already have on hand.

Something you might want to consider (especially down the road if your collection expands and your plants start reproducing) ~ it helps to label, and/or to take pictures, of your plants. The reasoning for this is because offsets and seedlings can take on a different appearance from the parent plant, possibly taking on a different form (e.g., thin vs. thick leaves, color, etc.). This is especially true wit T. ionantha. Oftentimes, Tillandsia species that look similar to each other, can only be identified by its flower. Because almost all T. ionantha flowers look the same, id's by flowering (with this species) can become very 'gnarly' in a hurry. Looking forward to seeing the progression and updates from your project!

Thanks! I'm definitely excited about adding a new group of plants into my ever growing hobby. I got the shipping confirmation today, the plants should be here Friday/Saturday. I'm sure, like most things, keeping Tillandsia can be as cheap or expensive as you choose to make it. I will change things up as I go(lighting is the most likely candidate) and want to try different setups.

I was actually going to ask what you thought was the best way to label plants? I plan on photographing them with their ID when they arrive. I want a way to keep track of them when they are all in the tank as well as out for watering. I'm sure with time I will learn what is what, but I don't wanna lose track of their ID's before reaching that point. haha...
 

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I was actually going to ask what you thought was the best way to label plants? I plan on photographing them with their ID when they arrive. I want a way to keep track of them when they are all in the tank as well as out for watering. I'm sure with time I will learn what is what, but I don't wanna lose track of their ID's before reaching that point. haha...
If you are not too concerned with cosmetic appearances, you could physically attach an id tag to the plant or the plant's mount (tags can be as simple or sexy as you want to make them). Tags are used frequently for Tillandsia grown outdoors, and inside greenhouses. They are attached directly to the plant, mount, or growing trays, and most are nothing more than a small plastic tag marked with a sharpie.

Another option, if you don't want to see tags hanging everywhere, is to set up some type of file (computer, or even an 'ole' manual sheet of paper and pencil). It could be a picture file with id's, or just a list of the specie's names and a number (e.g., stricta #1, aeranthos#2). If you know where your plants are being placed or mounted, you could also make a crude drawing (of their placement) and place a number on the drawing so you know what is what, and where they are located.

If using mounts, I sometimes take a sharpie and mark a number on the mount (that only my eye sees) to keep things looking good. I'm sure there are other good ideas out there. Here's a picture of one type of mount that I use (with a small number on it) to help keep track.


 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Thanks for the info and pictures. I'm sure that I will figure something out. I might go with the tags attached to the plants to start with and losing them once I learn what is what.

Yesterday I got some floral wire as well as a few of the green floral stakes. I've gone ahead and wrapped the wire onto the stakes, with a variety of heights. I left the loop of wire fairly large, which will allow me to reshape it to fit the plants over time. I was trying to figure out what to use for stands to support the stakes. Attempting to stick with using items I already own, I decided to take a three inch net pot(for hydroponics) and fill it with hydroton allowing me to stand the stakes up within the tank. I also made a few wire loops that I am going to try to glue onto the back, maybe the sides of the tank in time, if it works.

The neighborhood bulk trash pile(ain't the south grand...) happens to be across from my house. I noticed that someone had thrown some sort of desk or dresser onto it. While it was pretty busted up I found a piece that will be perfect to sit on top of cinder blocks to make a stand. Not that I really care about a stand, my emersed tanks are sitting on the floor... This will be 55 number three in this room. haha.

I will be pulling in the tank into the house and setting things up today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well after 7 days with the usps(what a surprise huh?) the plants arrived today. Some look to be in better shape than others after their little adventure. All should survive though. I'm cycling them through a bucket of water in small batches so I can keep track of what is what. Once they are all dry this evening I will be placing them in the tank. I'm gonna start them in a 20h I've got that's basically brand new. The 55 needs a good scrubbing but it's just been too damn cold to go play outside in the water!

One is actually blooming and a few others are coloring up a bit!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well here is the start. This is not the permanent setup in this tank. I will move everything over to the 55 once I can get it cleaned up.

After watering everything and letting it dry, there are definitely a few species that suffered from the extended time in the cold with usps. I hope they recover ok.

I really hate usps! Every package I've had shipped to me since sept/oct has spent more then a week with the stupid postal service, doesn't matter if it's from CA, FL, MA or in this case KY. Ugh. I think I'm gonna start requesting fedex & pay the extra. Ok, rant over. Hahaha...

Well here is everything as it sits now!









 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Nice variety!
I like using that LECA hygroton stuff. It works well.



Tyler
Thanks! I'm looking forward to learning to make them all happy plants!

I'm only using the hydroton to hold the stakes in the net pots, none of the plants are actually sitting on it. Both the hydroton and net pots are supplies I've got for an aquaponics project that keeps getting postponed. Hopefully I'll be able to get that up and running later this year once I've moved to Arizona!
 

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May I ask what brings you to Arizona? And this is a pretty awesome collection of Tilandsias, I am jealous, any updates? You should get some type of gecko or something and put it in that tank, I'm sure there's some sort of cool little lizard or something that's compatible with them. Or were you planning on eventually doing some sort of water section on the bottom of this tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
May I ask what brings you to Arizona?
Don't do it! :icon_eek:
Well I'm originally from Northern California so it's not like I've got strong ties to SC. South Carolina was the location that my former employer had a job opening for me after Hurricane Katrina demolished our New Orleans location. My sister and bro-n-law plus my parents are all in Tucson now and have been for about a decade(closer to two for my sister & bro-n-law). I'm just wanting to be closer to my family. The rents are getting on up in age and my dad's not in the best of health, although you couldn't tell by looking at him or the fact he walks 15-20 miles a day. hahaha...
I'm at the point in my college career(#2-first one didn't last long 10 years ago) where I'm ready to transfer to a four year school. U of A has a pretty good Plant Sciences program. So I figure I might as well kill two birds with one stone. My options here in SC are limited to Horticulture at Clemson, which is also a good program though not as comprehensive as PS. Clemson also puts me in a more isolated region of the state which makes going to visit family or vice-versa a little more difficult( more expensive to travel...) From talking to the school and explaining that I'm moving to be closer to family rather then moving specifically for the school, it looks like I'm going to be able to get in-state tuition! Good thing too, out of state is like $27,600 per year! Plus my sister has a pretty good size house(I've been offered to live with them) on the edge of town where I'll be able to build my aquaponics system, a little indoor greenhouse for my humidity loving tropical plants, and tank racks for my fish and plant(emersed, tillandsias, etc.) tanks and lots of room for my three dogs!

So while AZ might not be my ideal location to live, especially considering my love for the water: sailing, swimming, fishing, water sports, kayaking, booze cruising & my love of tropical plants... It'll do for a few years.

Whew, that was probably way more then you wanted to know... lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Tillandsia 55!

May I ask what brings you to Arizona? And this is a pretty awesome collection of Tilandsias, I am jealous, any updates? You should get some type of gecko or something and put it in that tank, I'm sure there's some sort of cool little lizard or something that's compatible with them. Or were you planning on eventually doing some sort of water section on the bottom of this tank?


Thanks! I've been surprised to already see some signs of growth. One plant which had the start of a tiny spike upon arrival has done especially well. The spike is probably two or three times the original size! I will try to get some pictures posted today.



For now this will remain a plants only grow tank.



I've been doing a good bit of research into terrariums and vivariums lately. I would eventually like to build some sort of system to house some of the humidity loving Bromeliads, along with a few other tropical species plus maybe some frogs or something. That is a future project for a different tank though. I've actually got a tank that I think would work well for that type of project. It's 25"L x 18"W x 24" H. I bought it originally to start a small SW tank but just haven't had the time or money to get started.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Tillandsia 55!

So here are a few pictures of the Tillandsia stricta "Soft-Leaf"! The spike(?) should get a little larger, a brighter pink and have little purple flowers!







A few other pictures!







 

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Nice plants! I like that one with the flower spike developing.

You might want to reconsider planting in the hydroton. Nothing will kill an air plant quicker than extra moisture around the base. I like those wire supports that wastewater made.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Nice plants! I like that one with the flower spike developing.

You might want to reconsider planting in the hydroton. Nothing will kill an air plant quicker than extra moisture around the base. I like those wire supports that wastewater made.

Thanks Devin! I'm enjoying them so far. A couple more plants are starting to color up.

As far as the hydroton goes I'm only using it in the mesh pots as support for my wire stands. Here are a couple shots of one such support. This is being used for a single plant, the wire on some is set up for two smaller plants. All of this is adjustable as species grow.













 

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I did not see that you have the wire supports tuck in the hydroton. That looks real good like that. The hydroton will help to maintain humidity in there.
 
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