A long-term review of the BiOrbAir (part twelve)

Welcome to the twelfth installment of my long-term BiOrbAir review.  I planted up my BiOrbAir, a specialised, automated terrarium, designed by Barry Reynolds from Reef One, on 25th September 2014.  As this was the first time I had planted a BiOrbAir terrarium, I chose a variety of different terrarium plants and ferns to trial, so that I could monitor how successfully these plants, each of which have differing requirements, would grow inside the controlled environment of this terrarium.

During my BiOrbAir review, I have naturally changed the planting inside this terrarium over time, in order to trial a variety of different terrarium plants – this terrarium currently features ferns, mosses, and miniature orchids.

BiOrbAir Review

If you’d like to start from the beginning, you can read the first part of my long-term review of the BiOrbAir here.  I started writing this first instalment after planting my BiOrbAir in September 2014.

I hope that by breaking my BiOrbAir review into sections it will be easier for readers to digest and use, whether you’re considering planting up your own terrarium, orchidarium, vivarium, bottle garden, or choosing suitable terrarium plants to create your own special indoor garden.

To read about the general care and maintenance I undertake for my BiOrbAir terrariums, please click here.

Terrarium Plants

My BiOrbAir Terrarium as pictured on the 5th March 2017. Inside this terrarium, Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ and Restrepia seketii are both in flower, Restrepia sanguinea and Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ are both in bud.

BiOrbAir Terrarium Planting list

You can see the full planting list which includes of all the plants that I have trialled growing inside the BiOrbAir featured in this review here, where you’ll also find the full details of all the nurseries and garden centres I used to purchase the plants, ferns, miniature orchids, mosses, and cork for this terrarium.

Currently (March 2017) the following plants are growing inside this BiOrbAir terrarium:

  • Aerangis fastuosa*
  • Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’ (PBR)
  • Barbosella australis
  • Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’
  • Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’
  • Ornithophora radicans
  • Polystichum tsussimense
  • Restrepia antennifera
  • Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’
  • Restrepia sanguinea
  • Restrepia seketii
  • Restrepia trichoglossa
  • Stelis muscifera
  • Schoenorchis fragrans

Of the plants growing inside this terrarium, the following plants were included in my original, first planting of this terrarium, back in September 2014.  After numerous changes and re-plantings, these ferns are still growing inside the terrarium today – over two years and six months later, in March 2017:

  • Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’ (PBR)
  • Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’
  • Polystichum tsussimense

* I received a question from a reader in January 2016, who asked if my Aerangis fastuosa, might in fact be an Aerangis fuscata – a rarer miniature orchid, which is also from Madagascar.  When the Aerangis fastuosa arrived in the post, I had a question mark in my mind as to whether I had been sent the orchid that I had requested when I placed my order.  I referred to a number of library books on orchids and searched online for photographs of different Aerangis cultivars.  Currently I cannot say with any certainty which variety of Aerangis I have received – I have shown photographs of this orchid to a number of orchid experts from around the world, but so far no one has been able to identify the specimen.  The best and easiest way to identify this orchid will be if it flowers.

I will continue to refer to this orchid as Aerangis fastuosa for ease of reference – as that’s how I have always referred to this plant, but I do hope to make a definite identification, if and when, this orchid flowers.  I say ‘if’ as this miniature orchid is not in the best of health, and it is very possible that this plant will die without flowering.  Naturally I hope that this will not be the case.  I hope that this Aerangis specimen will grow on and develop, becoming much healthier very soon!

My BiOrbAir Terrarium as pictured on the 5th March 2017. Inside this terrarium, Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ and Restrepia seketii are both in flower, Restrepia sanguinea and Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ are both in bud.

Terrarium snails

The tiny snails that have been living inside this terrarium have caused a great deal of damage to nearly all of the miniature orchids and ferns that are growing inside this terrarium.

Last month (February 2017), I decided to place slices of cucumber inside this terrarium, to use as a bait to attract the snails, so that I could easily remove these tiny molluscs and re-home them outside in the garden.  I successfully removed over sixty tiny snails from the slices of cucumber that I placed inside this terrarium during the first two weeks that I trialled this method of removal.  I will be continuing to use slices of cucumber to attract and remove any remaining snails that are still residing inside this terrarium.

On the 20th March 2017, one tiny snail was removed from the slices of cucumber inside this terrarium.

Terrarium snail update

Six tiny snails were removed from the slices of cucumber placed inside this terrarium, on the 13th March 2017.

BiOrbAir terrarium update

My BiOrbAir Terrarium as pictured on the 5th March 2017. Inside this terrarium, Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ and Restrepia seketii are both in flower, Restrepia sanguinea and Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ are both in bud.

Terrarium ferns

Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’

Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’ is looking rather tatty, as last month this fern was damaged by the tiny snails that have been a persistent pest inside this terrarium.  I hope to shortly have the snails under control, as the cucumber slices that I am using as bait to attract the snails are working very effectively.

Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’ and Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’, as pictured on the 5th March 2017, inside my BiOrbAir terrarium. Both of these ferns were included in the original planting of this terrarium in September 2014.

Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’

Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’ is looking rather untidy.  I have removed some of the wilder fronds in an attempt to tidy the plant up a little.

Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’ and Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’, as pictured on the 5th March 2017, inside my BiOrbAir terrarium. Both of these ferns were included in the original planting of this terrarium in September 2014.

Polystichum tsussimense

Polystichum tsussimense is growing well inside this BiOrbAir terrarium.  This is a great terrarium fern, as it does not grow too tall or too large, yet Polystichum tsussimense looks very attractive and is a great addition to this terrarium.

Polystichum tsussimense, as pictured on the 5th March 2017, inside my BiOrbAir terrarium.

Miniature Orchids

Aerangis fastuosa

It’s hard to know what to write about this Aerangis specimen, which has been in a very poor state for a long time.  I can only hope that this miniature orchid’s health improves.

Aerangis fastuosa, as pictured on the 5th March 2017.

Schoenorchis fragrans

There’s not much to report on the growth of the Schoenorchis fragrans specimen that’s growing inside this BiOrbAir terrarium.

This miniature orchid has leathery, elliptic leaves which I find very endearing, I admire this miniature orchid’s habit and manner of growth.  I do hope that this specimen will grow well inside this terrarium, I hope that this Schoenorchis fragrans specimen will produce more roots, leaves, and flower in the summer.  I would feel a lot happier if this Schoenorchis fragrans specimen produced some additional healthy roots to sustain the plant.  Fingers crossed for this miniature orchid!

Schoenorchis fragrans, as pictured on the 5th March 2017.
Schoenorchis fragrans, as pictured on the 5th March 2017.

Ornithophora radicans

Ornithophora radicans has produced roots that are now longer than its leaves!  This miniature orchid has a grassy appearance and can at times look rather straggly.  This Ornithophora radicans specimen has not flowered for over a year.

Ornithophora radicans, as pictured on the 5th March 2017, inside my BiOrbAir terrarium.

Barbosella australis

This Barbosella australis specimen has lost a number of leaves, this plant does not look as happy as I would like it to.

Barbosella australis, as pictured on the 5th March 2017, inside my BiOrbAir terrarium.

Restrepia trichoglossa

Restrepia trichoglossa specimen has produced a new leaf.

Restrepia trichoglossa, as pictured on the 5th March 2017, inside my BiOrbAir terrarium.

Restrepia seketii

Restrepia seketii in bloom, pictured on the 1st March 2017.

I am so happy to see the beautiful flowers of Restrepia seketii again!  Restrepia seketii is my favourite of the Restrepias that are growing inside this BiOrbAir terrarium.  This is such a dear little Restrepia, it produces very beautiful flowers in a charming and eye catching pink colour with a white background.

Restrepia seketii in bloom, pictured on the 1st March 2017.
Restrepia seketii in bloom, pictured on the 1st March 2017.
A closer look at Restrepia seketii in bloom, pictured on the 1st March 2017.
Restrepia seketii in bloom, pictured on the 3rd March 2017.
A closer look at Restrepia seketii in bloom, pictured on the 3rd March 2017.
Restrepia seketii in bloom. Pictured on the 3rd March 2017, with a British five-pence piece to show the size of the bloom.
Restrepia seketii in bloom, pictured on the 3rd March 2017.
Restrepia seketii in bud, as pictured on the 12th March 2017, inside my BiOrbAir terrarium.

Restrepia antennifera keikis

This Restrepia antennifera specimen is now such a chaotic looking, tatty plant!  The lowest keiki that as it has grown has fallen over onto the moss, is now sending out roots into the moss.

This Restrepia antennifera plant has produced a number of keikis, the majority of which have been eaten, or damaged by snails. The plant is now looking rather chaotic and sorry for itself, pictured here on the 5th March 2017.

Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’

It’s wonderful to see the flowers of Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ again. Sadly one of the Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ blooms has been severely damaged by the remaining snails that are still residing inside this terrarium.  Happily, the other Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ blooms have as yet been spared by the snails!

A Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ flower that has been damaged by snails. Pictured on the 12th March 2017.
A Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ flower that has been damaged by snails. Pictured on the 12th March 2017.
A Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ flower bud, as pictured on the 12th March 2017.
Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ as pictured in bloom, inside my BiOrbAir terrarium on the 12th March 2017.

Restrepia sanguinea

This Restrepia sanguinea specimen has produced a number of new flower buds and blooms of late, which have been most enjoyable to observe.  Each leaf, having produced a great many blooms, now features a great many papery tassels – these are the remnants of this Restrepia sanguinea specimen’s previous blooms.

Restrepia sanguinea producing a new flower bud. Pictured on the 3rd March 2017.
Restrepia sanguinea producing another new flower bud. Pictured on the 3rd March 2017.
Restrepia sanguinea, in flower inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, pictured on the 12th March 2017.
Restrepia sanguinea, in flower inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, pictured on the 12th March 2017.
A Restrepia sanguinea opening inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, pictured on the 12th March 2017.
A Restrepia sanguinea opening inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, pictured on the 12th March 2017.
A Restrepia sanguinea bud developing inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, pictured on the 12th March 2017.
Restrepia sanguinea blooming inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, pictured on the 12th March 2017.
Restrepia sanguinea, in flower inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, pictured on the 12th March 2017.

Restrepia sanguinea keiki

This Restrepia sanguinea specimen has produced a keiki.  This is the second keiki that this plant has produced since it has been in my care.  This second keiki has been developing since October 2016, the keiki is currently still attached to its mother plant.  This Restrepia sanguinea keiki is currently producing its second flower.

This Restrepia sanguinea keiki is producing its second flower. This baby Restrepia sanguinea is still attached to its mother plant. Pictured on the 3rd March 2017.
A closer look at the Restrepia sanguinea keiki’s roots forming. Pictured on the 3rd March 2017.

Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’

This is the largest of the two Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ specimens I have growing in two of my BiOrbAir terrariums.  Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ is a very floriferous miniature orchid, and one I am very fond of indeed.

Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ produces rather diminutive flowers, which are a great deal smaller than you might expect, if you’re unfamiliar with this miniature orchid.  Consequently the tiny blooms are not easy to photograph.  In two of my photographs below, I have included a British five-pence piece next to the flowers of Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ to more clearly demonstrate the size of these rather dainty blooms.

Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’, as pictured on the 3rd March 2017, inside my BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’, as pictured on the 3rd March 2017, inside my BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ in bloom. Pictured on the 3rd March 2017, with a British five-pence piece to demonstrate the dainty blooms.
Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’, as pictured on the 3rd March 2017, inside my BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’, as pictured on the 3rd March 2017, inside my BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’, as pictured on the 3rd March 2017, inside my BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’, as pictured on the 3rd March 2017, inside my BiOrbAir Terrarium.

Stelis muscifera

Stelis muscifera has now finished flowering.

Stelis muscifera, as pictured inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, on the 5th March 2017.
Stelis muscifera, as pictured inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, on the 5th March 2017.
My BiOrbAir Terrarium as pictured on the 5th March 2017. Inside this terrarium, Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ and Restrepia seketii are both in flower, Restrepia sanguinea and Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ are both in bud.
My BiOrbAir Terrarium as pictured on the 12th March 2017. Inside this terrarium, Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’, Restrepia purpurea Rayas Vino Tinto’, and Restrepia sanguinea are in flower, and Restrepia seketii is in bud.

16th March 2017

Restrepia sanguinea flowering

Currently this Restrepia sanguinea specimen has three beautiful open flowers.

Restrepia sanguinea blooming inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, pictured on the 16th March 2017.

Restrepia seketii flowering

Restrepia seketii continues to delight me with its beautiful pink blooms.

Restrepia seketii in bloom, pictured on the 16th March 2017.
Restrepia seketii in bloom, pictured on the 16th March 2017.
Restrepia seketii in bloom, pictured on the 18th March 2017.
Restrepia seketii in bloom, pictured on the 18th March 2017.
Restrepia seketii in bloom, pictured on the 18th March 2017.
Restrepia seketii in bloom, pictured on the 20th March 2017.

Restrepia sanguinea flowering

Restrepia sanguinea is delighting me with its raspberry pink flowers.  Currently this Restrepia sanguinea specimen has three open flowers, and a flower bud waiting in the wings.

Restrepia sanguinea, in flower inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, pictured on the 20th March 2017.
Restrepia sanguinea, in flower inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, pictured on the 20th March 2017.
Restrepia sanguinea, in flower inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, pictured on the 20th March 2017.

Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ flowering

It’s lovely to see this Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ specimen in flower.

Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ as pictured in bloom, inside my BiOrbAir terrarium on the 20th March 2017.
Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’ as pictured in bloom, inside my BiOrbAir terrarium on the 20th March 2017.

21st March 2017

Today I noticed that the controller of the ultrasonic misting unit inside this BiOrbAir terrarium was malfunctioning – it continued to mist permanently for over 12 hours.   I tried various methods to solve this problem, including disconnecting and reconnecting the misting unit, and power-cycling the BiOrbAir but to no avail – the misting unit was still in full, constant operation.  On the 23rd March 2017, I contacted Reef One, who are sending me a replacement lid for my BiOrbAir.

30th March 2017

The replacement lid for this BiOrbAir terrarium arrived on the 30th March 2017.  I am happy to report that this terrarium is working perfectly again now.

New White Orchid Trial

At the end of March 2017, this BiOrbAir terrarium was emptied and replanted with white flowered miniature epiphytic orchids, to see the new terrarium planting scheme, please click here.  The orchids, ferns and mosses that were growing inside this BiOrbAir terrarium have now been moved to other terrariums.

Other articles that may interest you…………

To read a planting list of miniature orchids suitable for growing inside terrariums, please click here.

To read about the Orchid Extravaganza 2017 at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, please click here.

To read a longer planting list of a variety of suitable terrarium plants, please click here.

To read about the Writhlington Orchid Project, please click here.

To read about the features of the BiOrbAir terrarium, please click here.

To read about using decorative features in your terrarium or bottle garden, please click here.

To read the first part of my Miniature Orchid Trial – Growing Miniature Orchids in the BiOrbAir, please click here.

To read about the Queen of Orchids – Grammatophyllum speciosum, the largest known orchid in the world, that flowered at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the summer of 2015, please click here.

To read about the general care and maintenance I undertake for my BiOrbAir terrariums, please click here.

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