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Customer Profiles Small Systems
Keeping carnivorous plants in a glasshouse

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Carnivorous Plants of the Tropics

Martin Stöckl mir NepenthesCarnivorous plants ( also Insectivores) are cosmopolitans, i.e. they can be found worldwide in extreme environments where they have occupied unusual ecological niches by their ability to digest insects to get nutrients.

Their varieties range from the small Drosera rotundifolia which can be found in extremely acidic and nutrient-missing soils in peat bogs to the famous pitcher-plants (Nepenthes) on the peaks of Borneo and Sumatra. Their diversity is breathtaking, each year new species are discovered and it is a fascinating idea what things still wait to be uncovered.

Whoever has read about the moss-forests of the peaks of Southeast Asia or even had the privilege to visit these locations will desire to cultivate the plants of these regions at home.

The mossy forests shelter a unique biological community. The warm and moist air of the lowlands rises up to the mountain slopes, humidity condenses to fog by means of the temperature drop, covering the trees, overgrown with mosses, lichens, ferns, orchids and other epiphytes; an experience which can be hardly described.

 

Nepenthes am NaturstandortThe various species, the unbelievable diversity of sizes, forms and colors, the complex trapping strategies and last but not least the earnest challenge to cultivate these plants may be the reason that more and more people are devoted to this group of plants.

Specialized nurseries have answered this trend and propagate large assortments of carnivorous species so that it is nowadays quite easy to purchase interesting species.

Many of these carnivorous plants are quite easy to keep, some can even be cultivated on a windowsill.

The situation however is totally different if you are trying to cultivate the specialist who dwell in the moss forests described above. The climatic parameters of these regions are difficult to reproduce. Botanical Gardens, which can climatize cultur spaces without much concern about cost may provide cooling during the summertime, heating during wintertime and keep the humidity high enough with quite some technical effort.

I, as a fascinated hobbyist, faces the same problem with much less funding.

Nepenthes im Glashaus von M. StöcklFollowing my decision to keep highland Nepenthes in the temperate part of my glasshouse the next thing was the question of climate control. The starting situation was a part of my glasshouse providing heating with a nightly temperature dip including automatic ventilation - which was sufficient for my orchids.

The main problem was that during summertime the air temperature rose up to 45° C in spite of shading and ventilation - impossible for highland Nepenthes and accompanying flora (e.g. ant plants like Myrmecodes, Ant ferns like Lecanopteris, and various orchids.

An ideal situation would be the simulation of the climate of the mossy forests of Sumatra and Borneo: nightly temperatures are 16 - 18°C, during the day not more than 25°C, indirect lights of 40.000 - 60.000 Lux, light air movement and a permanent humidity of 70 - 90 %.

The climatic parameter which I had to control rigorously in my glasshouse were the high summer temperatures and the humidity which was far too low.

The more I engaged myself with solving these problems the more I knew that a fogging system would be the only feasible solution.

As a first step I learned the difference between fogging- and sprinkler-systems. The much too large droplet size of some popular sprinkler systems which are offered at attractive prices are totally inappropriate for the envisioned purpose - I wanted fog, not rain.

Blicks ins Glashaus M. StöcklsAt the same time I learned that ultrasonic fog machines cannot achieve the needed humidity - the amount of deployed water is simply not sufficient.

The system offered by Plantfog combines all the specifications with a consistent concept which provides a perfect fogging technology with an ideal control box and a totally easy setup.

My control box, which was custom made following extensive discussions and advices, allows to configure fogging- and interval-times in such variable ways that a hygrostat can maintain the needed humidity while preventing any overwatering.

Following extensive and competent discussion and consulting with Plantfog  I received a custom made control box which matched all my needs. It allows to define fogging-and interval-times in such a way that a hygrostat can maintain a preset humidity value without any danger of overwatering. In addition the control functions allow to adapt to the varying temperatures and climatic parameters during the seasons. The hotter the surrounding temperatures get the longer I set the fogging times while shortening the intervals. As a standard setting this means that with a humidity value below 70 % the system will provide fog for 60 seconds with a following interval of 3 minutes. If the preset humidity value is reached the system will shut off. With higher temperatures I reset to 60 seconds fog with 2 minutes interval. During the wintertime fogging is reduced and the interval lengthened. A fan distributes the all over the glasshouse which is important for thorough moistening and evaporation cooling in the summertime.

The fogging system is now running the second summer without maintenance and breakdowns. Apart from the fact that the seedlings of my intermediate, highland and ulta-highland Nepenthes (for instance N. aristolochoides, burbidgeae, burkei, dubia, ephippiata, flava, fusca, glabrata, inermis, jacquelinae, jamban, lowii, macfarlanei, mikei, mira, ovata, platychila, rajah, spatulata, spectabilis, stenophylla, talangensis, tenuis, veitchii, vogelii ) have established themselves greatly the climate is also ideal for the sensitive ant-ferns (Lecanopteris), ant-plants (Myrmecodias) and some other plants and ferns from the highlands. By chance I discovered the South American orchid genus Dracula, which is now present with more than 30 species. It seems that their climate needs are very much the same as for highland Nepenthes.

Conclusion : the fogging system by Plantfog provides an affordable investments and very low energy-cost an outstanding possibility to create the ideal climate for highland- and ultrahighland Nepenthes by means of evaporation cooling in conjunction with air movement. The control functions allow easy adaption to varying temperatures.

The system is well designed and manufactured, reliable and easy to set up

 

Customer Profiles Small Systems
Keeping carnivorous plants in a glasshouse

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last modified JUL 2013
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