Plant Terrarium 2 years on Summit

2019-07-06 17:33:32.000 – Adam Gill, Weather Observer/IT Specialist


I have been taking care of a carnivorous plant terrarium on the summit for several years now. I have always had the hobby of growing carnivorous plants and I wanted a way to continue that while I worked on the summit. I had an old fish tank that I have had since High School and have modified it to support plants. All I had to do was get a bulb that would support the light spectrum for photosynthesis. I have also got a timer that will turn on the light for 16 hours a day to simulate a full day of sun for the plants at the distance above the plants the bulb is located. I will use the rain water or snow melt water we get from the precipitation can to water the plants.

Carnivorous plants when they first arrived
This is the tropical pitcher plant that was originally brought up, it was the first plant to go in the terrarium and this picture was taken shortly after it arrived.

Carnivorous plants provide an extra challenge on the summit due to the lack of insects in the winter time. Carnivorous plants are unique in the fact that they thrive in poor soil so giving them plant fertilizer would end up killing them. To combat this, I do use a little bit of plant food and mix it with water and put it on the carnivorous sections of the plants so that the nutrients can be absorbed through the leaves like it would after catching an insect.

Carnivorous plants today
This is the terrarium today. The pitcher plant has gotten to be several times its size and can feast on many insects during its time outside on buggy days.

The other challenge is keeping the humidity up in the winter and then trying to keep it lower in the summer. With how dry it gets inside the building in the winter, sometimes down to only 1 or 2 percent humidity, the terrarium will dry out even though it is mostly sealed up. So combat that I usually will leave a pool of water in the base of the terrarium to supply the moisture and try and keep the humidity above 40%, which promotes growth of the carnivorous leaves on tropical carnivorous plants, specifically the pitcher plant. It has worked so far and I usually only have problems when we have very cold temperatures down around -30F and the heaters cranking. The other problem is too high of humidity for too long in the summer which could promote fungus growth or root rot which could kill the plants. In order to fix that, I lower the amount of water that I give to the plants and will open all the vents for the terrarium. 

Every now and then if it is a nice day with low winds, I will put the plants outside since we get an insane amount of bugs invade the summit.


Adam Gill, Weather Observer/IT Specialist

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