Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Question for the Hive Mind: spontaneous terrarium plant

I've added a little bit to Nina's terrarium since the first pictures of it went up. I want it to fill itself in, and I don't want to have to get in there to prune stuff back a lot, so I didn't add much, but there's a Calathea in there now (it turned out to be Stromanthe burle-marxii, not Calathea), from work, and I've added a couple Cryptanthus pups (though she didn't like one of them, and dug it up repeatedly until I put it elsewhere), because my Cryptanthuses at home continue to produce pups and I don't know what else to do with them.

Somewhat clearer if opened in a new window, though none of this round of pictures turned out especially well.

So at this point, it looks like we have one relatively large Vriesea NOID, one Podocarpus macrophyllus, a Pilea depressa, a Peperomia caperata, four Cryptanthus spp., a Saxifraga stolonifera that came with the Pilea, and the new Calathea Stromanthe. (In the course of writing this post, I also added a cutting of Nematanthus sp. and a cutting of Cyanotis kewensis, though I don't necessarily expect either of those to take. Creepily, the crickets were fascinated by the Cyanotis, and crawled all over it endlessly. They didn't seem to be eating it: I don't know what they were doing.) Lately Nina seems to favor sleeping on the Calathea Stromanthe or the Vriesea, and has abandoned the Podocarpus to the crickets. I suppose the crickets don't really have a lot of options, but it still surprises me that they want to hide in the Podocarpus during the day.

None of which is my question. My question is, another plant has popped up in there, one that I didn't plant, and I'm not sure what it is, though I have a guess. It's the one circled in pink below:

Open in a new window for a closer look.

My guess is that it's an Impatiens. I don't have any Impatiens here in the apartment, nor have there ever been, but the Calathea Stromanthe was at one time sort of close to the Impatiens at work, so that's my best theory. It doesn't look like any of our normal weeds from work, and the only plants that ever pop up spontaneously in my plants at home are Chlorophytum x 'Fire Flash,' which this is definitely not. So I'm looking for confirmation or alternate theories or something.


our friend Ben said...

I can neither confirm nor deny, but that seems like a reasonable guess. How big is that terrarium, btw?

sheila said...

Not a huge fan of run of the mill impatiens (I prefer variegated, doubles, or new guinea), but that looks like one to me.

mr_subjunctive said...




It's possible that it's a double; we've had occasional "rosebud" impatiens pop up on the floor in that area. Although there weren't any double impatiens in that area this year (the ones coming up on the floor are seeds from 2008), the Calathea in question has wandered around enough that it may well have been in the vicinity of the rosebud impatiens at some point. So there's hope of maybe seeing a double. Not a lot of hope. But hope.

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about impatiens, but if you say they were close to the calathea, that's probably it.

But this post identified for me a plant I bought without a name a couple of weeks ago, the Podocarpus macrophyllus. I am very surprised to see it is actually a conifer and that it might grow, altough apparently slowy, up to many feet bigger than what I imagined. I'm about to plant it in a terrarium. I wonder if it is really that slow so I won't have to worry for a couple of years?

Ivynettle said...

Impatiens would be my guess as well. I spend a lot of time pricking seedlings each spring, and I'm quite sure the Impatiens looked like that. And they do self-seed all over the place.
Oddly enough, I've found that the self-seeded ones, even if growing in deep shade under the greenhouse tables, look better than the ones on the tables!

(Completely unrelated: Variegated Salvia 'Victoria' doesn't seem to be so rare - I found two yesterday, and there might be more.)

our friend Ben said...

10 gallons?!! Then how come it looks so much bigger than mine?!! (Ahem. I mean, of course, then how does it happen that it appears to be so much larger and more spacious than my own 10-gallon terrarium, which looks lush and full with three puny plants?)

The Fern and Mossery said...

Beautiful terrarium.

Paul; said...

This has nothing to do with plants but rather the crickets and Nina:

It might be wisest to snip off the ovipositors (as close to the body as possible) on any mature female crickets. I do this with a pair of small bladed scissors. The ovipositor is the long, black, needle-like structure extending back from the abdomen. Why do something so 'cruel'? The reasons are twofold:

1) Don't know if it is just an 'urban legend', but I have heard and read that there is the possibility of a herp dying from a perforated intestine as a result of swallowing crickets w/ the ovipositor.

2) Females use their ovipositors to deposit their eggs deep in the soil so predators (and other crickets) do not find them. What's wrong with that? Again, 2 reasons:

2a) A cricket population explosion could be detrimental to your plants. As their numbers grow, so does the likelihood of plant damage.

2b) A cricket population explosion could pose dangers to Nina. Crickets are not strict herbivores. They will eat just about anything. That includes Nina. Herps are especially vulnerable during cool periods (at night, winter, etc). The cold makes them sluggish. Illness and molting periods can also slow them down. (Not sure if Nina -- assuming she truly is a "she" -- will lay eggs. My leopard gecko does even though she has never had a mate. The eggs are sterile/non-viable but laid every year all the same. But if Nina does become gravid, this will also slow her down.) Crickets have been known to gnaw on herps. A population explosion will make this more likely.

For that matter, don't leave crickets in Nina's tank 24/7. Try to figure out about how many she generally eats "at a sitting". If you are going to take the chance and leave the crickets in there, then include a pebble or two of dry dog food or cat food on a dry surface. Better they chew on that for their protein needs than on Nina. Again remove the ovipositors from the mature females

mr_subjunctive said...

The crickets usually don't stay in the terrarium very long: she eats a dozen in about a week. I do occasionally put a bit of fruit in there for the long-term survivors. I do kind of draw the line at buying food for the food, though: maybe if we get a dog, I'll do dog food, but until then, the crickets are lucky to get what they get.

Also there's not really a "cold" period in here, ever. The plants start to complain at about 60F, so it never goes colder than that, and I complain at about 78F, so it rarely gets hotter than that.

Paul said...

Ah but there is an ulterior motive for feeding your crickets healthy food -- Nina gets healthier food. In the wild, she would get a wide range of insects -- which in turn would have fed on a wide range of food sources. The crickets one gets at the petshop are generally not well nourished ... potato being the most common food source used. Personally, I always feed my crickets fish flake food shortly before giving them to my leopard gecko. This way when the crickets get munched, my leo winds up getting a much more nutricious meal. (It is referred to as "gut loading".)