How can I prevent overwatering

Butterbean

New Member
What would be some ways I could prevent my mist system from over watering my Ficus (not sure what kind). Have have had 2 plants die on me and I’m guessing it was from overwatering. I would really like a way that looks good and natural not just putting a plastic cover over the dirt.
 

Brodybreaux25

Chameleon Enthusiast
What would be some ways I could prevent my mist system from over watering my Ficus (not sure what kind). Have have had 2 plants die on me and I’m guessing it was from overwatering. I would really like a way that looks good and natural not just putting a plastic cover over the dirt.
Hibiscus can tolerate a ridiculous amount of water, sure it wasn’t lighting?
 

Connorology

Established Member
I have a false bottom in my vivarium for drainage, and the wastewater empties into a bucket. SerpaDesign's channel on YouTube has a few tutorials on false bottoms for planted terrarius. If you're using a screen cage with a tray, no substrate, and potted plants, you could put clay balls (I think they're called leca) at the bottom of your pots so that the roots are never really submerged, and then just siphon out any standing water as necessary if you don't want to make a whole drain.

If you're not getting enough light, I'd recommend picking up a couple par 38 LED floodlights from Lowes or Home Depot. Inexpensive (~$20 total), screw into a normal fixture, and can penetrate pretty far into the enclosure without losing too many foot candles.
 

AnamCara

Chameleon Enthusiast
You're not going to get the ficus to grow without at least one linear T5HO. If its over watering move the nozzles so they dont hit it as much, get a larger pot and put clay balls in the bottom inch or so
 

AnamCara

Chameleon Enthusiast
You're not going to get the ficus to grow without at least one linear T5HO. If its over watering move the nozzles so they dont hit it as much, get a larger pot and put clay balls in the bottom inch or so
I have one small ficus that stays
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pretty moist.
 

Connorology

Established Member
In my experience growing a ton of plants (I think I'm up to ~75 species or so) under various artificial lights in and outside of terrariums, it depends on potting mix and habituation. Ficus should be able to take a fair amount of water. I have one growing with my poison dart frogs, and while there is drainage, it stays pretty wet. I also have the same kind of ficus as a houseplant, and it never gets nearly as wet.

That said, a plant that is used to low humidity and drier conditions that gets stuck in wet conditions can just rot because it's not used to it. Similarly, if it's in a potting mix without much aeration, it can probably still drown. I recently drowned a schefflera in a new setup, which was surprising because the established schefflera in with my chameleons have rooted through the false bottom directly into the water and are fine. But this was a plant that wasn't used to substrate as wet as the setup was, and it just didn't take.

I'd recommend trying again, but this time maybe put a drainage layer in the bottom of your pot and up the light a little bit. All of this combined (dome fixture, LED light, bag of leca) should cost ~ $30 plus the cost of a new ficus. You could also try a Schefflera instead - I think they're a bit less finicky than Ficus, and they're a bit sturdier too for the chameleons to climb on. Also, consider a light meter. I purchased a light meter to read foot candles for around $15 on Amazon. It was a good tool in terms of teaching me how quickly light dissipates in a tall vivarium and what kind of fixtures I would need to actually get acceptable penetrance.
 

absolutbill

Chameleon Enthusiast
I seem to remember that if you had a ficus outside then brought it in it would lose it's leaves, then re-grow them and start over. I'm not sure if that's applicable here but thought I'd mention it. I've only used ficus trees out on my lanai and never brought them in, so I don't have first-hand knowledge, just a pebble of info rattling around my noggin.
 

The Wild One

Chameleon Enthusiast
Yeah it wasn’t light I don’t think. I had a like a fig tree and it slowly started wilting and I didn’t really know why. This is the plant I have now
Science Lesson!

Wilting means lack of water, the water in the vacuole makes up most of the plant cell. Due to the water pressure not being high enough for the cell wall to keep the plant upright, the plant will start to wilt.
 

Kaizen

Chameleon Enthusiast
Yeah it wasn’t light I don’t think. I had a like a fig tree and it slowly started wilting and I didn’t really know why. This is the plant I have now
Ficus benjamina: to keep it from drowning, don’t use any soil in its pot, use coarse coco coir mixed 50/50 with some form of 1/8” grit—eg small lava rock, haedite, pea gravel etc. Also keep in mind that benjaminas are notorious for dropping all their leaves when stressed.
 
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