Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

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Oxalis
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Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Oxalis » 03 Jan 2018, 12:20

Hi all and hope your holidays were positively wonderful!! :D

My indoor Campanula is not faring well so I plan to plant it back outside in the spring. In its place, I hope to add more tortoise-safe plants for little Steve's enclosure. So far, I'm thinking Coleus and Viola should do better with less light indoors. Do you experts have any other suggestions? Many thanks and a happy, happy new year!
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Nina
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Nina » 03 Jan 2018, 13:46

Hi and many Happy New Year wishes to you and Steve too!
I think Coleus and Viola should grow well in less light. I've always had good luck with spider plans and ornamental grasses (they do especially well as they cope with the drier conditions). I often have a spider plant in a pot just outside the table, with the long stem with the plantlet on the end of it hanging into the table so that they can reach up and nibble it. Here are a few photos: one showing Dolly stretching up to nibble a spider plant plantlet, another showing a spider plant and an ornamental grass (Carex 'Frosted Curls'), and another showing the same plants and also a spider plant that is hanging into the table from the pot outside.
Nina[attachment=0]m_DSC00892.jpg[/attachment][attachment=1]m_DSC00886.jpg[/attachment][attachment=2]IMG_1160 (Copy).JPG[/attachment]
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lin
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by lin » 03 Jan 2018, 15:51

Happy New year to you and Steve from me too.

Can I add that Campanula does well left outside and if you look at the photos in our entry you can see one that is covered in melting snow.
http://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/plan ... nt=832&c=5
Lin

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Nina
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Nina » 03 Jan 2018, 17:17

Campanulas are great plants, and I agree that they are very hardy, but I'm not sure if they can survive a Michigan winter. I looked at the temps from last week and it got down to -12F (-26C) in parts of Michigan on the 27th, and I think it can often go down to -20F or lower. Mekie will know whether it could survive outdoors, and I'd be interested to know because if it can then Campanula (especially the low growing one) is a great plant to have. It stays green all winter in the UK.

Nina

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lin
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by lin » 03 Jan 2018, 18:46

I would have said the same Nina but I have just seen that the Campanula grow in USDA zone 4 which is -20F to -30F and lower. Quite a hardy little plant.

Lin


[quote=Nina post_id=1375 time=1514999840 user_id=52]
Campanulas are great plants, and I agree that they are very hardy, but I'm not sure if they can survive a Michigan winter. I looked at the temps from last week and it got down to -12F (-26C) in parts of Michigan on the 27th, and I think it can often go down to -20F or lower. Mekie will know whether it could survive outdoors, and I'd be interested to know because if it can then Campanula (especially the low growing one) is a great plant to have. It stays green all winter in the UK.

Nina
[/quote]

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Nina
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Nina » 03 Jan 2018, 20:30

Ooh, that's good then -- thanks for looking that up, Lin! I think you have another candidate for your table, Mekie and you can get fresh supplies from plants growing in your garden.


Nina

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Oxalis
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Oxalis » 04 Jan 2018, 23:30

Nice enclosure photos!! I'm a bit jealous! ;) What kind of substrate do you have in there? We do have a spider plant hanging over the wall. It seems to be doing well, even trying to establish new roots in the substrate, but Stevie doesn't seem very interested in nibbling on it. I could break it up a little and transplant some into his enclosure too. :-) I will seek out some Carex too; that's not a bad idea! Thanks!
I <3 Stevie, my Russian tortoise!

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Nina
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Nina » 05 Jan 2018, 09:33

The problem with plants that they can eat is that they eat them in two seconds and then they are gone. Mine do nibble on the Spider plants, and sometimes they eat them in two minutes and other times they leave them for several weeks. I find they do grow well in the soil.
My substrate is a mixture of about 60% sterilised topsoil (that you buy in bags from garden centres), 30% or 40% childrens playsand (also bought in bags -- builders sand is not as good as it can have bits of glass in it) and sometimes 10% compressed coconut fibre (it comes in blocks and you soak it in water and it swells up). Most people just do 50/50 topsoil and playsand, but mine seem to like a slightly higher content of topsoil (or that might be my imagination!).
The grasses do grow well in the table. Try and get one that doesn't grow too large (and it doesn't have to be Carex -- any of the grasses would do and Fescues are good too).

Out of interest, is Campanula hardy in your area? The only problem I can see with it in the table is that tortoises love it and so it will be gone in one feeding if you plant it in the substrate. Here are my Doris and Dolly making pigs of themselves in some low growing, rambling Campanula outdoors --
http://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/plan ... k9FCDfLiM8 but you can also plant it in pots and sit the pots in the substrate in the table. That way Stevie won't be able to demolish them but the plant will grow and trail down into within his reach and he'll be able to snack on it without completely destroying it. Having said that, if he is strong enough and the pot is light enough, he could tip it over on its side (mine did that once) -- they will find a way sometimes.

Nina

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Oxalis
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Oxalis » 08 Jan 2018, 17:05

Hi Nina :) Right now, our indoor tort table has only the coconut coir so adding a layer of dirt underneath might not be a bad idea.

We do have some Campanula native to the area: https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=CAMPA One of the more popular species is the Campanulastrum americanum (apparently renamed from Campanula americana): https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=CAAM18 Amazingly, Steve has not been super interested in Campanula, even when I brought it to his indoor enclosure. Some of the leaves hang over the sides of the pot, but he hasn't gnawed them off. Since the plant hasn't been doing well inside, I've decided to put it back outside in the spring. Stevie's first loves are probably dandelion and evening primrose, unfortunately these don't make the best houseplants. :lol:
I <3 Stevie, my Russian tortoise!

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Nina
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Nina » 08 Jan 2018, 19:59

What a pretty little flower. The centre of the flower is quite different from many of the Campanula that we grow here. I think this looks like one of the upright campanula. I have some of those - particularly a really beautiful one called Campanula takesimana 'Elizabeth', which has beautiful long bell flowers that are pale pink but spotted with darker pink inside the flower.
[attachment=1]Campanula_'Elizabeth' (2) (Copy).JPG[/attachment]
I think the most common one in gardens here is Campanula carpatica, which is very low growing and a vigorous spreader. It's the one that Doris and Dolly are eating in this photo:
[attachment=0]IMG_8935 (Copy).JPG[/attachment]

My two absolutely love Evening Primrose, and I think it is their favourite. Luckily it re-seeds itself really easily here, so there is always plenty of it.

Nina
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Oxalis
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Oxalis » 13 Jan 2018, 22:11

I love the Campanula takesimana; it's very pretty! Yes, the primrose reseeds very well here too! :D Doris and Dolly look very happy with their Campanula.

Steve finally woke up from hibernation. He just got a red and green lettuce treat! :lol:
I <3 Stevie, my Russian tortoise!

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Nina
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Nina » 13 Jan 2018, 22:46

Welcome back Steve! Doris and Dolly still have about six weeks to go, so it will be quite a while until I see their happy little faces again :(

Nina

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Oxalis
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Oxalis » 14 Jan 2018, 20:05

I'm sure they're loving the nap time! :D What kind of cooler do you keep them in? I had trouble finding one here that goes lower than 46 °F (7.7 °C); it's an 8-bottle wine cooler.
I <3 Stevie, my Russian tortoise!

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Nina
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Nina » 14 Jan 2018, 22:24

I have them in an ordinary fridge, rather than a wine or beer cooler type thing. It's a standard under-the-counter fridge (they call it a larder fridge and it has no ice box). I'm not sure if you have them in the States, but it's the most common type of fridge in the UK. It's almost as tall as a kitchen counter and fits underneath it (like the height of a washing machine). This is the one I have: https://ao.com/product/tlaa10s-indesit- ... 86-30.aspx
I use it as my main fridge during the year, but at hibernation time the tortoises go in there and I switch my stuff to a second fridge (a fridge-freezer) that I use for me.
People do use wine/beer coolers and quite often they are successful, but they also sometimes don't hold a stable temperature.

If I remember, most people in the States have large fridges, which would be very large for one tortoise, and they also tend to have ice boxes, which you shouldn't have if you are hibernating. As it is, I have the two torts in two boxes which take up most of the space on two shelves in my fridge and in the rest of the space I put bottles of water, as once these reach the required temperature they help to stabilise temperatures and prevent rapid changes, but you still notice the temperatures rising briefly every time you open the door to give an air change.

Nina

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Oxalis
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Oxalis » 21 Jan 2018, 18:45

Thanks for the product info; that fridge looks great. We usually call them "mini-fridges" here. Sometimes kids will get them for their college dorm room. Our wine cooler stays at a stable temperature very well. It's still relatively new and is kept indoors (not the garage though). We only use it for Steve's hibernation so it's turned off the rest of the year. It doesn't freeze and we monitor the temperature and humidity with at least 2 devices. :)
I <3 Stevie, my Russian tortoise!

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Nina
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Nina » 21 Jan 2018, 21:51

It sounds like your wine cooler is perfect! It's funny about these fridges in the UK. Lots of people have big fridges now (although not often as big as a US fridge), but until a few years ago most people -- including rich people -- only had these under the counter fridges. My Aunt and Uncle from Chicago had a friend who was a wealthy Englishman -- a Duke or Lord or something (can't remember now) -- and they visited him in his 16th century stately home, that was full of valuable paintings, porcelain, Rolls Royces and other valuable cars, and other treasures, and they were absolutely amazed that amid all this wealth and grandeur the only fridge that his family had was one of those under the counter fridges that you call 'mini fridges'. I always remember that.
:D

Nina

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Oxalis
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Re: Ideas for Low-Light, Indoor, Russian Tort Plants

Post by Oxalis » 25 Jan 2018, 01:36

Wow, how things have changed, eh? :lol:
I <3 Stevie, my Russian tortoise!

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