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TERRA BASE - Things to expect prior to starting one

If you're thinking about starting up a terra base project, there are a few things to expect. Before we start, let me first introduce the Terra Base to those who are unfamiliar with it.

The Terra Base is a product of DOOA, a brand created by the ADA team back in 2017. It is essentially a unglazed clay vase used to attach moss, ferns, orchids or any epiphytes to the external surface while filling the internal part of the vase with water. The porous material allows the water to seep through the vase giving the plants ample hydration. It is commonly paired with DOOA's Neo Glass Air tank and a closed lid to control and maintain the humidity in order to further encourage your plants to thrive.

Here are some noteable things to expect prior to starting your terra base: (Note: All these suggestions were taken from personal experience)

  • It is suggested to use moss thread to attach your plants. I use fishing line and it works just as good.

  • Water will seep through your terra base leaving it sitting in about a quarter to half inch of water, DAILY, when you first start your terra base project. The idea is that once your plants mature, they will drink up that excess water and you will no longer have this problem. However, when you start, be prepared to drain your tank every 1-3 days.

  • your plants may melt or even die in certain spots at the start - this is normal. It will take time for your plants to get accustomed to it's new environment. Some plants may need to get worse before they come back again and thrive. Be patient with it.

  • Misting your terra base everyday will help your plants adapt to their new environment. It is suggested to mist once a day. I have my terra base tank in a high traffic area and whenever I pass by - I give it a good misting. Sometimes 2-3 times a day to start. You can mix insect repellent into your misting routine to help keep your plants free of pests. There are also misting systems that come with a timer available for purchase to make this step automated for you.

  • Keep your terra base tank covered with a lid to control and maintain humidity for your plants. If you notice a film of mold forming on the tips of your moss, your terra base is not getting enough air circulation. Open your lid slightly to let a bit of air into your tank and wash/trim the mold off your moss. This will prevent the mold from re-forming.

  • If you decide to use a light - make sure the brightness and the height of the light are adjusted so your plants get enough light to thrive but not so much that the top of your terra base plants start to burn. I would also highly suggest using a timer for your light. Sometimes we may forget to turn on or off our lights when our day gets busy. The timer will eliminate this problem.

    • I am currently using the Chihiros CII RGB with my DOOA Neo Glass Air tank and it fits perfectly

  • Where you place your plants on the terra base matters! As the water decreases, the top of the terra base becomes dry while the lower part stays wet. Place plants that experience dry and moist conditions repeatedly in the upper part and plants that are more susceptible to wet environments in the mid section to lower part of the terra base

  • Do a 'water change' on your terra base 1-2 times a week to prevent the water in your terra base from becoming stale.

  • Keep an eye on your terra base daily especially during start up to understand what your plants need.

  • Trim your moss regularly once it becomes established and starts to grow out. If the moss grows too thick, light will not be able to reach the moss tucked in deeper to the terra base which could potentially stunt the growth of your moss leaving your recent trimming, your last. Personally I love the look of freshly trimmed moss. It looks fuzzy and cute.

  • Not everyone's environment will be the same. While there will constantly be tips and suggestion articles on the terra base going up, in the end, attention and patience is your friend. I may live in an environment where it is not very humid and my temperatures run colder, i will have to adjust my balance on my terra base to suit my environment and you may need to do the same. Finding that balance between your lighting, your humidity and your misting schedule is key.

If you've made it this far, then you'll understand why I chose to write about this particular topic. Having a terra base is not simply just planting and refilling the top of the water when it goes down. It requires much more involvement and attention during the start up in order to make the back end of your journey a success. I find myself continously on a learning journey with this terra base and I am looking forward to seeing what else we can do with it. Should you have any questions in regards to this article about the terra base, feel free to contact me via instagram @steph.scapes

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1 Comment

Michele Vindum
Michele Vindum
Jan 23, 2023

This post about the Terra Base was written a little over a year ago. I am wondering about how you feel about the unit now? I also know that while you have moss established, at the time of the blog you appear to have added only one epiphyte. Is it possible you could post an update perhaps with a photo of this planting now? Maybe easy to keep moss on it but, how readily will it handle miniature ferns and other epiphytes?

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