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Training vines

Discussion in 'Live Plants' started by schmiggle, Jul 31, 2017.

  1. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

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    I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with this, mostly because I was thinking of trying to train some Nepenthes while they grow in a terrarium. Terrarium growers of nepenthes always run into the following problem, with the exception of a handful of non-vining species: as soon as a Nepenthes begins to grow as a vine, its growth rate explodes (my guess would be to take advantage of gaps in the wild as they appear) and it usually outgrows anything it's given. However, I also know that grapevines will cover entire trees if left to their own devices, but are pruned down to a manageable size by growers (3' tall and wide or so for compact prunings) and do well in those conditions. That's the thing with vines: they don't care how big they are very much as long as they can get light and a certain minimum size. So, does anyone have experience training vines to grow compactly? I was sort of thinking of getting a few plants to grow at angles on some sticks, or maybe along a kind of zig-zag or trellis, but I'm not sure what the minimum space is to get that sort of thing to work. I also know my uncle has a vine extending along a hanging diagonal string, but that vine is also eight feet long and unbranched, so it may not be the best model to go off of :p
     
  2. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    My dad was a professional gardener. Vines were the bane of his life. They required more maintenance than all the rest of the 5 acres of formal gardens he took care of. I recall on dozens of occasions him hack a vine down to a few tiny sticks and stubs. Always looked like hell but always regrew. Wisteria, Bougainvillea, English ivy, grape ivy, Virginia Creeper, Solandra and some others.
     
  3. spotropaicsav

    spotropaicsav Arachnobaron Active Member

    @schmiggle
    Training of bonsai comes to mind and trunks of "money plant" as I have seen, but I cannot advise, perhaps different. Trial and error I guess . Btw have you heard of botany photo of the day? It's a daily photography and plant species info email, I enjoy it, perhaps something you would find valuable.
     
  4. mconnachan

    mconnachan Arachnoprince Active Member

    @schmiggle have you tried pathos - devils ivy, they're a great plant for enclosures, they require little to no light - they cover a large area, as long as your spider isn't a burrowing species these would be a great alternative, just a thought, I've got some cuttings at the moment, I'm waiting on them bushing out a bit before placing them in my P. metallica enclosure - I hope you find what you're looking for - good luck.
     
  5. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    This is very good to know. If I understand right, keeping vines where you want them can be painful and tedious, but they recover quickly? I'm definitely not likely to be able to have a really full sized nepenthes (other than a few non-climbing species) in the foreseeable future, so this is good to know. It seems to me that if there were only a few, trimming back the vines wouldn't be that hard. Also not so surprising--vines are always known for taking an area over quickly :p

    This sounds fun an interesting, and I will look into it.

    In the terrarium I'm imagining, the best a spider could hope for would be to not get eaten :p I'm trying to create a habitat for a few tropical pitcher plant species, though I may just go for the non-climbing ones (I know of three so far) if I can get a big enough space for them and/or only get ones I can grow outside of an enclosure (which, based on what I've read, is far more species than is often imagined). Such a habitat will also likely have orchids, ideally all the plants will like tropical highland conditions...but an animal is not really the goal. Maybe if I can get all the plants happy I'll really succumb to my fancy and get a giant waxy monkey tree frog, Phyllomedusa bicolor, which also happens to like things cool and fairly humid. I can picture it now: a six foot terrarium, nepenthes climbing up the sides and maybe crossing the middle, some Paphiopedilum on the bottom and mounted highland orchids moving in a light gradient from low to high...a beautiful pair of frogs in the middle...sigh. I can dream :p but in the meantime, I'm setting it up entirely for plants.
     
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  6. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    They are sunlight chasers that have a natural propensity to come screaming back from a severe cutting in very short order. I think playing with the available light would be the way to keep them under control.
    It can be really weird. You cut it way back to the several year old dried, gnarled heavy stems and in a couple of weeks the stems are covered in new buds in places you never imagined it would regrow.
     
  7. mconnachan

    mconnachan Arachnoprince Active Member

    Bromeliads are nice - pitcher plants are available at lots of larger stores Wallmart - Asda here in the UK - I've seen them but never even thought of getting one, until I saw a cool video from @basin79, feeding his carnivorous plants. The names of the plants elude me, but if you contact basin I'm sure he'll be able to help - just a thought pal.
     
  8. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    I can't touch available light too much because carnivorous plants can't grow in deep shade. But you're right that that may be a place to start. The budding with plants is always bizarre--I've seen some of the acacias I've been working with come back from the dead after horrible mealybug infestations, and they just grow from everywhere at once. The nice thing with repeated pruning, though, is that it means you can get multiple stems, which in turn means greater vine length overall than with just one stem. The reason that is important is because most Nepenthes produce two kinds of pitcher, one coming off the base of the plant and one coming off the vine (some produce three kinds, where one kind is low on the vine and the other is high on the vine). Since with many species the goal is to get both lower and upper pitchers in large numbers, it helps to have multiple vining stems. I assume these plants tend to come back faster once they're older? Just a guess because they would have more stored energy.
    @mconnachan basin has Sarracennia, I believe, which is what is more commonly sold at at large chain stores (though they really shouldn't--sarracennia are easy, but not if grown indoors). I'm looking at Nepenthes, which are easier to grow indoors (because the light requirements are somewhat less) but also potentially take up far more room, because unlike sarracennia, which form rosettes on the ground in open bogs (where they're often the tallest plants), most Nepenthes are climbing or scrambling vines that in the wild can grow to a length of 15m. Some are shorter, but the difference between a 4m vine and a 15m vine doesn't help me very much. I know of three species that grow only short stems, but these are certainly the exception and at least one of them also grows relatively large horizontally. Given that I am limited more in terms of horizontal space than vertical, but given also that I'm severely limited in both, I'm going to try with a plant that has a small horizontal radius that can grow tall, but that I can cut back repeatedly to train it to go more or less where I want. That is, at least, my current thought.

    Bromeliads are lovely, and I actually have an air plant which might go in whatever I come up with as well (Tillandsia xerographica, a lovely species that I was very unkind to this summer). There are also, as it happens, five other genera of pitcher plants that did not come up here, each lovely in its own right: Catopsis and Brocchinia, two bromeliad genera with carnivorous species that grow on the tops of tepuis, sandstone outcrops in the Guiana shield; Cephalotus, of which I have one, an adorable, compact little plant from southwestern Australia whose adult pitchers are not much bigger than a thumb; Darlingtonia, which sort of looks like Sarracennia but if the pitcher grew over the top so there was only a hole underneath with a leaf shaped like a snake tongue coming out the entrance (hard to describe, but gorgeous); and heliamphora, which grows next to the bromeliads on the tepuis and looks like Sarracenia, but with the lid replaced by a little fleshy ball on the end of a short stalk. Of these, I'm most interested in the last two, and heliamphora grow quite well with certain nepenthes, because the climate is similar. But one thing at a time, and heliamphora also need very bright light, so they couldn't easily be grown in a tall terrarium, especially if the Nepenthes grew to the top and started making the bottom dimmer. Most likely I'd grow them with something small, like Nepenthes argentii (which can't grow taller than a foot) and some highland orchids. But that is a project for another post, and a terrarium with a different shape.
     
  9. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    NOD NOD NOD NOD NOD. I cut the tree in the front yard down, a few inches from the dirt. A month later it was an ultra thick 3 foot tall bush. I hate Acacias. Grow like wildfire and the branches break off in a gentle breeze. Ants loves them. The flowers I guess, so walking under Acacias around here = raining ants.
     
  10. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    @The Snark these are actually ant acacias...I bet if they were growing near you they would eat your lawn. I, however, have no ants to give them, and they ought to be fertilized but aren't, so they're vulnerable to sucking insects and don't grow very fast. But yes, when fertilized, BAM! They grow a bunch of domatia, get taller and bushier, and all within a week or so. They must grow like weeds in the wild.
     
  11. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    Did you ever describe them perfectly. Nothing grew underneath the tree, when the branches touched the house it was a 24 lane insect expressway and the variety of ants raining down was a myrmecophiles wet dream. Even had jumpers braving the ants to get at the vast variety of insects.
     
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