mitzi56
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Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:17 am
Location: dunnellon, fl

what am I doing wrong or is this even possible?

Hi,
I'm new to the forum, but love gardening. I'm having a very hard time with a unusual situation that maybe someone can help me with.
I happen to also love chameleons as well as gardening and I have a large cage 48"x48"x24"wide, that I use to keep my pet chameleons in. The problem is that my chameleons love live plants and its very healthy for them plus it gives the cage a natural environment, kind of like an atrium. Only with more air flow.
Right now my cage is not ready, but I bought two types of plants which are sitting in my room awaiting the cage that they will be put in. (screen enclosure on 3 sides) One is an umbrella tree and the other a simple potho. I bought these particular plants because they are safe for my new pet to come and inexpensive.
My plants are sitting next to an open window for now, that faces south, so not too much direct sunlight, but some during parts of the day (mid afternoon). One of them and I believe its the umbrella is shedding its leaves terribly and I can tell already it will not survive in a cage if its already doing this. I have only had these plants for about 2 weeks so far.
Does anyone have any idea how to help these plants survive and hopefully thrive in this situation. Or how to get them to survive in the cage setting later? (I also had this problem with a ficus before when I used to do this).
The cage will also have a misting system in it set at 5-12 misting every hour or more, depending on how well the chameleon drinks or how much water the plants are getting. I am also considering laying moss at the bottom of the cage, which I know will need more moisture as well. But I will be able to move the nozzles where I want them when it is set up, to either directly hit the plants or not.
I generally water them when the first 2 inches of the top soil feels dry and as of now, have a plastic container to catch or hold water as needed.
These plants will eventually end up with a UV and UVB bulb not too high above them when they are put in the cage. Any Ideas of what Im doing wrong and how I can get them to survive? I'm afraid it will be lack of light that may be the issue, am I correct in this? Thanks for anything to help me make this work. Oh house temp is around 78 degrees as of now, until winter comes where it will be colder if needed.
I also raise epiphyllums if anyone would like a cutting.
thanks ,
mary
newbie and needing info on indoor plant care for a reptile cage

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rainbowgardener
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Location: TN/GA 7b

Interesting ideas!

As I sort it out, there's really two separate (sets of) questions. The first is about your plants now, not in the cage, just in front of the window -- why are they suffering now and what to do about it.

The second set is about once the plants go in the cage with the misting system and everything. That seems very complex and I'm not sure I understand all of it, so I'm not going to try that.

But about the current situation, your pothos and schefflera are common houseplants that do very well in low light situations, so I really doubt it is too little light. If they are directly in front of that south window, it could be too hot and/or too much direct afternoon sun for them. They are understory rainforest plants that are used to little to no direct sun. Otherwise either underwatering or over watering could lead to the leaf drop. If overwatering, your soil will feel damp and the leaves will probably yellow. If underwatering, your soil will feel dry and leaves will be more shrivelled and drying. Don't leave your pot sitting in a saucer of water and be sure the pot has good drainage. If the soil stays damp, you might need to lift the plant with rootball out of the pot (this is not hard and won't damage the plant) and see what it is looking like at the bottom. Sometimes it looks okay on top, but when you lift it, you find mud or extra water at the bottom, if the drain holes are clogged or something.
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mitzi56
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Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:17 am
Location: dunnellon, fl

very helpful

I will look again as I have not watered them in a couple of days and you may be correct as to too much water, since i have a pan under them to hold the water. I think I will be more careful than that next time. Even though they are in a south facing window, there is a blind allowing only some light through and it has been overcast these last 3 days. But I'm feeling pretty sure now after hearing you're suggestion, that it must be too much water since the soil feels moist, not soggy, but moist still and I watered them 3-4 days ago, so they should be drying out by now.
Now since over watering may be the issue. Im concerned about putting them in the misted caging environment, where they will be wet all day and may need to get plants that can tolerate low artificial light but lots of moisture.
any suggestions?
newbie and needing info on indoor plant care for a reptile cage

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rainbowgardener
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

You are getting beyond my "expertise," but I'm thinking (guessing! :) ) the misting will be ok. What you don't want is for the roots to stay soggy, which cuts them off from oxygen and allows root rot. But a humid misty environment for the foliage is what rainforest plants like.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

mitzi56
Full Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:17 am
Location: dunnellon, fl

oh and ....

I will take that umbrella tree out of the saucer pan, and you're correct, too much water as the soil feels very moist and the saucer pan still had a little bit of water in it. I will also take it away from the window if the sun comes out!
thanks again.
newbie and needing info on indoor plant care for a reptile cage

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