Welcome to the sixth part of my BiOrbAir Review – Growing Miniature Orchids in the BiOrbAir. The BiOrbAir is a specialised, automated terrarium, designed by Barry Reynolds from Reef One. I first planted this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium in August 2015, so at the time of writing – in October 2016, this BiOrbAir terrarium is over a year old. Some, though not all, of the miniature orchids that are currently residing in this terrarium were featured in the original planting of this terrarium in August 2015.
If you would like to start at the very beginning, and read the first part of this trial and BiOrbAir review, please click here.
Miniature orchids from different countries and climates
For this trial and BiOrbAir review – Growing Miniature Orchids in the BiOrbAir, I have chosen a variety of different miniature orchids, originating from different climates and countries, to trial growing inside my BiOrbAir terrarium. Throughout the trial I will identify varieties of miniature orchids that will thrive in the constant conditions provided by the BiOrbAir terrarium. I hope this trial will help you if you’re interested in growing miniature orchids, or creating your own indoor terrarium garden.
You can see the full planting list of all the plants that I have trialled growing inside the Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, featured in this review here. Where you’ll also find the details of all of the nurseries and companies I used to purchase the miniature orchids, moss, and cork for this terrarium.
I used the peat-free, coir compost that was included with my BiOrbAir as the growing media for this terrarium. I followed the straight-forward instructions to pre-soak the compost before adding it to the terrarium, when I planted this terrarium over a year ago. I didn’t add any other growing media or fertiliser, I used only the coir compost provided with the BiOrbAir. I haven’t used any fertilisers on either the moss or the coir compost inside this terrarium.
The moss inside this terrarium has been watered only with rainwater. This moss was part of my original planting of this terrarium. Over a year has passed since I planted this terrarium, and the moss is still looking in optimum condition – it’s a beautiful verdant green, and provides the perfect backdrop for the miniature orchids. So far, in the time since planting, I haven’t replaced any of the moss from this terrarium or any of the compost, nor have I added any additional compost to this terrarium.
Any fertilisers I use, and any care or maintenance I undertake, of both the plants, and the BiOrbAir terrarium itself, I will detail here in my BiOrbAir review. I hope this review will help you if you’re looking to start up your own terrarium, or if you require advice on maintaining your terrarium, or if you’re interested in growing miniature orchids.
To feed my miniature orchids, I use Orchid Focus Grow and Orchid Focus Bloom. I purchased both of these fertilisers from the shop at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. I feed my orchids sparingly, following the instructions on the pack. These miniature epiphytic orchids wouldn’t naturally receive an abundance of nutrients in their natural environment. Over feeding can be detrimental to your plants, causing further problems. These are the only fertilisers I have ever used inside this terrarium.
Miniature Orchid Terrarium Planting List:
Following the addition of some new orchids and a re-organisation of this terrarium on the 16th October 2016, I now have the following orchids growing inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium:
- Aerangis hyaloides
- Aerangis macrocentra
- Amesiella philippinensis
- Angraecum equitans
- Bulbophyllum falcatum ‘Minor’
- Diplocaulobium abbreviatum
- Dryadella simula
- Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’
- Masdevallia decumana
- Masdevallia rechingeriana
- Mediocalcar decoratum
- Phalaenopsis parishii
- Schoenorchis fragrans
Three of these miniature orchids – Angraecum equitans, Diplocaulobium abbreviatum, and Masdevallia decumana, were included in my original planting of this terrarium in August 2015.
Over time I have added to the planting inside this BiOrbAir terrarium – the Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ specimen was added in January 2016. On the 9th April 2016, I added Bulbophyllum falcatum ‘Minor’, Dryadella simula, and Masdevallia rechingeriana. Then in May 2016, I added Phalaenopsis parishii – which had been previously been growing in another of my terrariums. On the 26th May 2016, I added Mediocalcar decoratum to this terrarium. Then on the 16th October 2016, I added Aerangis hyaloides, Aerangis macrocentra, Amesiella philippinensis, and Schoenorchis fragrans.
You can see the full planting list for this terrarium here, where you’ll find the full details of where I have purchased all of my miniature orchids, the moss, and the cork I have used inside this terrarium.
Previous Miniature Orchid Terrarium planting schemes:
Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium update:
I have now updated the planting in my Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium – you can see the results in the photograph above. I had for a little while wanted to increase the height of the cork within this terrarium. I felt that the terrarium previously lacked interest due to the lack of height, so I have now increased the height of the cork and the planting inside this terrarium, to increase both the height and the dimensions of the planting. I have added four new miniature orchids to this terrarium.
New miniature orchids
I purchased this Aerangis hyaloides specimen from MSB Orchideen, at the same time that I purchased Schoenorchis fragrans. My purchases took longer to arrive than I had hoped from MSB Orchideen, but the plants were well packaged. I am excited to have received these miniature orchids, I am so looking forward to growing them inside my BiOrbAir terrarium!
I didn’t want to risk injuring this miniature orchid, so I removed some of the cork bark, where I was certain that there wasn’t any orchid roots growing, then I placed the cork with the orchid onto a new piece of cork bark, and secured the miniature orchid in place using soft strips of material cut from stockings.
I am so excited to be growing this Aerangis hyaloides specimen! I just hope that this plant will grow well inside my BiOrbAir terrarium.
There are some flower spikes in the earliest stages of development present on this Aerangis hyaloides specimen. I am hopeful that the flower spikes will progress and develop into flowers. Fingers crossed!
I was so happy to see that Burnham Nurseries were selling Aerangis macrocentra on their website in September and October 2016. I purchased this miniature orchid to trial growing inside my Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium.
I have previously purchased a number of orchids from Burnham Nurseries. This orchid was healthy, and packaged very well, it arrived safely with me, and arrived in good condition.
I mounted this new Aerangis macrocentra specimen onto a fresh piece of cork bark, this miniature orchid is now growing inside my Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium. I am looking forward to seeing how well this miniature orchid grows inside the BiOrbAir. I do hope that all my new orchids will grow well inside my terrarium.
At the same time that I purchased the Aerangis macrocentra from Burnham Nurseries, I also purchased this Amesiella philippinensis specimen. I was so happy to find both of these miniature orchids for sale, I was very pleased with the plants that I received from Burnham Nurseries.
Both of the miniature orchids that I purchased from Burnham Nurseries were very well packaged, and arrived with me in good condition.
I re-mounted this Amesiella philippinensis specimen onto a new piece of bark, I added some flat moss around the miniature orchid plant, before placing the plant inside the Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium.
I purchased this Schoenorchis fragrans specimen from MSB Orchideen at the same time that I purchased Aerangis hyaloides.
I have removed the binding holding the orchid as it was too tight, and I felt the binding was unnecessary. I have left this orchid on its original piece of cork bark, where it is holding itself in place.
I removed some dead roots and plant material using sterilised tools, before adding this miniature orchid to my Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Miniature orchid plants update
This Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium is rather full of miniature orchids since I added four additional orchids to this terrarium. Here’s a look at how the other miniature orchids are faring inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium:
For a little while now I have been a little concerned for my Diplocaulobium abbreviatum, this miniature orchid has increased in size since it has been growing inside the Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, and has produced additional leaves and roots. But this miniature orchid has of late, had a tendency to have a yellow tip to one of more of its leaves. This specimen has been growing inside this BiOrbAir terrarium for over a year and is yet to bloom.
Another miniature orchid that I have been a little concerned for lately is the Dryadella simula. This specimen has so far been growing very well inside the Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium. This Dryadella simula has flowered prolifically, and indeed the plant still has some open, though fading, blooms present at the time of writing. However, a large number of the leaves of this Dryadella simula specimen feature yellowing tips and discolouration, which lead me to believe that one or more factors of the care and conditions that this miniature orchid receives are not ideal.
Happily these two miniature orchids are still alive. I hope they will improve over the coming months, whatever happens, good or bad, I will update this review and let you know.
It’s over a year now since I included the Masdevallia decumana specimen inside this terrarium. Since then this Masdevallia decumana has thrived, it has flowered successively, and has greatly increased in size. It has been a joy to grow this miniature orchid.
Very recently I noticed two of the Masdevallia decumana‘s leaves had been damaged. Unable to see any visible pest on the plant, I removed the two leaves as a cautionary measure – just in case there was a pest present on the leaves that I was unable to see. If this was the case, I hoped that by removing the two leaves I would prevent any further spread of the pest inside this terrarium. I sterilised my tools before and after use.
Unfortunately a couple of days later, I noticed some damage on the open Masdevallia decumana flower, and so I removed this bloom. Again, I sterilised my tools before and after use.
As yet I am unsure what has caused the damage to the Masdevallia decumana. I do wonder if it could be a small snail/s that has accidentally been introduced to the terrarium. I will regularly inspect the plants within the terrarium, in the hope of preventing any further damage.
Bulbophyllum falcatum ‘Minor’
Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’
I have two Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ specimens, one you can see featured in this review, and the other specimen, you can find featured in my long-term review of the BiOrbAir, where it’s currently in full bloom. The Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ specimen featured in this review is just coming into bloom now.
A tour of the new terrarium planting scheme
23rd October 2016
Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ flowers
It’s a real joy to see the tiny star-shaped flowers produced by Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’. This miniature orchid is a truly wonderful plant to add to your orchid collection.
I have been utterly charmed by this diminutive little plant, so much so, that as well as having this specimen growing inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, I also have another plant, which is growing inside my other BiOrbAir terrarium. The specimen growing inside my other terrarium is larger, and it started flowering earlier than the specimen you see in flower in my photographs below.
27th October 2016
More Masdevallia decumana pest damage
Sadly, today I noticed that a newly opened Masdevallia decumana bloom, produced by the specimen that is growing inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, has suffered some considerable pest damage, as you’ll see in the photographs below:
I have examined the plant and I am unable to see any pests. I have now removed, and disposed of the affected Masdevallia decumana bloom.
I have also today, removed a tiny snail from this terrarium, although the snail wasn’t near this Masdevallia specimen at the time when I discovered it, so this particular snail at least may not be responsible for the damage to this flower. Having said this, I am not by any means certain that the damage to these two Masdevallia decumana blooms was caused by a snail, at this stage, snails are just suspects! I will endeavour to discover what pest has caused this damage to my miniature orchid, and to remove any snails that are residing inside this terrarium. I will relocate any snails I find to a more fitting location, outside in the garden.
Happily, as you can see in the photographs below, the other Masdevallia decumana blooms that this specimen has produced are not damaged so far:
Schoenorchis fragrans pests
I always advise others to quarantine any new plants they purchase, and examine their new orchids thoroughly, before even considering introducing any new plants to their terrariums. When this Schoenorchis fragrans specimen and the Aerangis hyaloides that I had ordered from the same nursery arrived, I didn’t have a spare terrarium available to quarantine the plants. These miniature orchid plants had taken far longer than I had hoped to arrive in the post from the nursery, and on the day they arrived I unwrapped the parcel as quickly as I was able to, misted the plants, and popped them inside this terrarium. Against all my advice I know!
This Schoenorchis fragrans was harbouring a number of pests, including tiny snails, scale insect, mealy bug, and each day that the plant was in my care, I noticed the roots looking far less healthy than the day before. Today (3rd November 2016) I made the decision to dispose of this miniature orchid.
Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ flowers
I have two Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ specimens, the other plant is a larger specimen and is also currently in bloom. You can see photographs of my larger Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ specimen flowering inside my other BiOrbAir terrarium, if you click here.
Masdevallia decumana pests
Today I noticed that one of the Masdevallia decumana blooms in this terrarium had something on the petal. Closer inspection revealed the ‘something’ to be a small snail. I quickly removed the snail from the terrarium, and relocated the tiny mollusc outside in the garden.
As you can see in the photographs below, the snail in question had been feasting on one of the Masdevallia decumana inflorescences, creating almost identical damage to what I have seen on the flowers in earlier weeks, confirming my suspicions that the pest in question was indeed a small snail.
I am glad to have confirmed the pest to have been a snail. Keeping a more vigilant eye on my plants, and ensuring that I only use strained rainwater collected from the garden inside this terrarium will enable me to prevent snails becoming too much of a problem inside this terrarium.
To continue reading the next installment of this BiOrbAir review and Miniature Orchid Trial, please click here.
Other articles that may interest you………………..
To read the full planting list for this terrarium, which includes the full details of where I have purchased the miniature orchids, cork, and moss that have been grown inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, please click here.
To start at the beginning, and read the first part of the Miniature Orchid Trial – Growing Miniature Orchids in the BiOrbAir, please click here.
To read a planting list featuring a wide variety of plants suitable for growing in terrariums and bottle gardens, please click here.
To read about the special features of the BiOrbAir, please click here.
To read about Grammatophyllum speciosum, the largest known orchid in the world, which flowered at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the summer of 2015, please click here.
To read about the BiOrbAir plant scissors and tongs set, please click here.
To read about adding decorative features to your terrarium, please click here.