Epiphytes in the Vivarium
Pictures and text by Ken Uy

 Cork bark slab

Ends of wires (front view)

Back of cork slab

Slab with attached plant 

     Growing plants on panels attached to the walls of a vivarium is probably the best method if space is limited. The vertical walls of the tank are not wasted, and the center part remains relatively open so that the tank doesn't look overcrowded. Tree fern root and coconut fiber panels are the easiest to use, since all that would be needed is to glue them to the walls, then pin the plantsí root balls onto them using plastic covered wire bent into a U. 

     Cork bark slabs are a bit more difficult to plant on due to their tougher texture. It might be easier to attach all the plants before installing the slab in the vivarium. The plants can be attached using wires or nylon cable ties, which are threaded through holes drilled through the cork slabs and looped around to the back. Green plastic covered wire is especially unobtrusive, but any wire or ties used can be cut away once the plants have grown enough roots to attach themselves to the bark. 

     In the series of pictures on the left, a potential planting site is chosen on a slab of cork bark. The depression in the bark will make a good pocket for the root ball of the plant (a bromeliad) that will be attached to it. Four holes are drilled, two on either side of the planting site. Wire is looped through the holes, with the ends emerging from the same side of the bark so that they can be twisted together. The plant's roots are wrapped with live green moss, then the root ball is positioned in the planting site. The ends of the wire are twisted together firmly to hold the plant in place, and the ends may be clipped off if they look too conspicuous. 

     After all the plants are arranged, the panel can be hung on the wall of the terrarium, perhaps by a hook glued to the wall. Moisten the panels regularly, and the plants will quickly root themselves into the material. 

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 Copyright © 1999 by Kenneth K. Uy. All rights reserved.