Terrarium refresh, step 1

It's time again for my annual (or biannual?) terrarium refresh, where I do some pruning, digging, planting. I have to warn you, the images in today's post won't be so pretty.

That's because the terrarium is quite overgrown. A few light-loving plants have hogged the "temporary" lights (that are taking a long time to replace) resulting in a tangled, ugly mess.


Before I get started though, how about a little history in images? The previous photo is of the terrarium today before any work was done. Here it is when first planted in January 2011:

And here it is again last year after its refresh (February 2014):

So, let's take a closer look at the problem areas today (besides general overcrowding). First, the cactus in the left corner has outgrown its home:

Those top two segments don't get any light at all! (refer back to first photo for light placement)

The other plant that has outgrown this place...

...is the Kalanchoe Tomentosa which was only added... a couple of years ago (longer than I thought!)

It's hogging the light and shading the plants below. The Echeveria too is again casting much shade:

The little guys under it are wondering what happened to the light!

So the first steps of this year's refresh are no-brainers: pruning of the light-blocking plants!

The Kalanchoe had two large pieces:

Both of them will be cut up and replanted under my grow lights -- I'll use them on the deck next summer. It's obvious that they'll easily root -- there are so many roots already!

Looking better:

The biggest Echeveria rosettes came out too:

Which left things looking much nicer, albeit without the significant visual interest of those larger plants:

I removed the dried bloom stalks too, which helped quite a bit. Those dead echeveria leaves though are not coming off as easily as I had hoped. I'll get back to that. The little aloe is getting light again:

And it has a couple of pups! (Couldn't see them before the trimming...)

I want to look at that back right corner now though...

...with that sedum whose name I just can't remember, and this cactus...

...which I really love but is not overly happy. It's not dead, but is it getting too much light? Too little water? The side facing the light is mostly brown (although there is some green in there) while the back side -- which gets virtually no light -- is green. Does anybody know what's going on with this?

So I think I'll stop here for now. Like with pruning a tree or shrub it's better to stop before you go to far, then continue a bit later if needed.

I plan on removing the too-tall cactus:

And maybe the one in the other corner (the brown one) -- but both of those tasks do not excite me. They will be difficult I think, and I'm not sure what to put in their places.

This one need to be cut back a bit -- too crowded now:

This one too:

I love plants that spread (because they make more plants!) but there's not much room for expansion here.

Here's what it looks like now:

Since there's still work to do, part 2 is coming in the near future. Wonder if I'll get to it this weekend?

(I need to find a better lighting solution too...)


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (December 10, 2015 at 10:49 AM)  

Alan, I'd remove both cactus since their needs are different from the other plants (cactus want a lot more light).

In general, though, I'm very impressed by how your terrarium has fared over the years. These are clearly plants that make do with very little, both in terms of light and water.

Hoover Boo  – (December 10, 2015 at 8:43 PM)  

You plants are growing great, so you must be doing things right. Sorry I can't help you with the cacti, no clue.

Alan  – (December 11, 2015 at 7:41 AM)  

Gerhard: any idea why the side of the one cactus that faces the light is nearly all brown while the shaded side is mostly green? How can it be too much light?

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