Help Wanted:terrarium plants

Dylan Gross toonces at
Mon Jun 20 23:49:34 EST 1994

I have built a terrarium 12' wide by 8' high and 3' deep.  It is on the north 
side of my house in Southern California (Los Angeles).  It is connected to my 
house with a plate glass window that allows it to be viewed fro my living 
room.  The roof is glass but the walls cinderblock.  All natural light comes 
in from a glass roof, not the sides.  There are eight full-spectrum, 
incadesent, 150w light bulbs supplying additional light.  Because of this 
arrangement, the temperature varies greatly from the top to the bottom of the 
terrarium.  The light falls off as well.

The environment of the terrarium roughly matches what I would expect to be 
that of the southeast United States i.e. moist, warm, dark.  The terrarium is 
set up to look like a cross-section of the woods when it is viewed from within 
the house, much like a museum diorama.  There is dirt at the bottom and a 
small waterfall is also inside.  It is watered daily now and I keep 
approxamately 25 tree frogs and firebelly toads inside who seem to do quite 

My problem is simple (!):  The light falloff is so extreme that very few 
plants will grow in the lower third of this terraium (Bromilliads (sp?), 
spanish moss, and ficus grow well in the middle third).  Common house plants 
and ferns from my local nursery receive insuffiecient light.  Even baby's 
tears will not survive.  Are there plants that may available to me that will 
grow in very low light?  Living in southern California most nursery plants are 
of the variety that like very bright lighting conditions.  I am open to ferns, 
moss, plants, fungus - any suggestions will be helpful.  If necessary I will 
mail order such plants, but would need a source as well as I am not aware of 

Just a few extra notes.  I don't want to heat the terrarium bottom 
artificially and it drops to 40F at night to as much as 80F during a hot day.  
I also want to avoid ading lamps - I don't want to increase the light/heat at 
the top or the power requirements.

Any and all help is appreciated - the local nurserys/pet store people can't 
seem to give me any information.  I can send photos of the terratium if 
necessary.  Thanks again.

Dylan                         |  Toonces! The cat who
toonces at            |  could drive a car...

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