A long-term review of the BiOrbAir (part two)
The BiOrbAir is a specialised terrarium, which was designed by Barry Reynolds. I planted up my BiOrbAir terrarium on 25th September 2014. As this was the first time I had planted a BiOrbAir terrarium; I chose a variety of different plants and ferns to see how they would grow inside the controlled environment of this terrarium.
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 updated my review every month, until April 2015. The second part of my review – this one, then continues right here in this review, where you can read updates from May 2015 until October 2015. I hope that by breaking my review into six month sections it will be easier for readers to digest and use, whether you’re considering purchasing a BiOrbAir, or are choosing suitable plants to create your own indoor garden – I hope that this review and plant trial will both help and interest you.
BiOrbAir terrarium plant care
Since September 2014, when I planted my BiOrbAir, I haven’t added any plant feed or fertiliser to the terrarium. I used the peat-free coir compost that came with my BiOrbAir for planting, I didn’t add any additional compost, fertiliser or growing media to the mix – I just used the BiOrbAir coir compost as it was, nothing extra was added. I have used rainwater to fill my BiOrbAir’s base water reservoir – this rainwater, together with the capillary matting keeps the coir compost moist. Naturally, I have only used the specially designed Humidimist to fill up reservoir for the ultrasonic misting unit. I have replaced the BiOrbAir terrarium carbon filter as required, following the BiOrbAir recommendations. I have documented any problems I have experienced, and any indoor gardening that I have carried out in my previous review; I will continue to update this review in the same manner.
You can see the full planting list for my BiOrbAir featured in this review here, where you’ll also find the details of all the nurseries and garden centres I used to purchase the plants for this terrarium.
You can read my review of the special features of the BiOrbAir here.
My long-term review BiOrbAir terrarium
First, a little recap, here’s a photograph I took of my BiOrbAir after planting on 25th September 2014:
Here’s a photograph of my BiOrbAir taken at the end of my last review in April 2015:
12th May 2015
Now we’re up to date, here’s the latest photographs of my BiOrbAir, this first picture was taken on the 8th May 2015.
I’ve been really busy lately, sadly I haven’t seen my BiOrbAir as much as I would have liked to over the past few months. Every time I have seen this terrarium, it has brought joy to me, as well as relief, as I haven’t been able to tend to my plants as I would have hoped to, but thanks to the base water reservoir, LED lights, automatic misting unit and carbon air filter, my plants have been absolutely fine in my absence, safe within the controlled environment of this terrarium.
In April 2015, we didn’t have any rainfall for a prolonged period – I don’t think it rained once the whole month long! As I was reluctant to water my plants with anything other than rainwater and didn’t have any rainwater available, the base water reservoir in my BiOrbAir was rather low for at least three weeks, and very low indeed for a further week. Thankfully after a month without any rain, we have recently had a change in the weather, and I have been able to collect sufficient rainwater to top up the base reservoir in my BiOrbAir, so my plants inside this terrarium will now have all the water they require.
Watering can be difficult, especially with terrarium gardening, it can be difficult to gauge how much water you’ve added to your terrarium, to know how much water to add, and when to water. It’s easy for both new and experienced gardeners to add too much, or too little water to their terrarium or bottle garden; both insufficient watering and overwatering can have disastrous effects on your plants.
The BiOrbAir makes watering easy – the external water level indicator, a discrete feature at the base of the terrarium, allows you to see at a glance how much water is in the base reservoir. If the base reservoir is showing as low, you just add water a little at a time, pouring it carefully inside the BiOrbAir, towards the outside edge of the globe; where it will run down into the base reservoir below. The water from the base reservoir is then taken up by the capillary matting, which in turn moistens the compost above, and provides an effective, automatic watering system for the terrarium plants. I think it would be only possible to overwater orchids or other epiphytic plants that were mounted on cork bark and are misted separately by hand, but even then the BiOrbAir’s fan would help to mitigate this risk, as the water would evaporate more rapidly inside a BiOrbAir than inside in a traditional bottle garden or glass terrarium. From my experience with the BiOrbAir, I think that if you follow the straightforward instructions, I don’t think that you could overwater the plants that are planted into the compost inside the BiOrbAir terrarium, unless of course, you have chosen unsuitable terrarium plants. If you’re looking for a list of ideal plants for your terrarium, vivarium, or bottle garden, you might like to see my planting list.
In the front outer edge of the planting of my BiOrbAir I chose to plant moss, to make adding the rainwater and topping up the base reservoir easy – I didn’t want to worry about damaging any plants as I add rainwater to the terrarium. As the moss is low growing, robust and compact, it allows me extra room to navigate inside the BiOrbAir, this has worked very well indeed. As I pour the rainwater in, the water runs over the edge of the moss and tops up the base reservoir below. Other terrarium gardeners may not need to be so considerate with their planting but I am rather clumsy, so I need to take extra care and plan accordingly.
Looking at my BiOrbAir today (12th May 2015), I can see a number of dead and decaying fronds and leaves that I want to remove. Tidying up a terrarium and removing any debris isn’t as easy as you might think, it’s difficult to navigate inside the confined space of the terrarium. You can often snap or damage a leaf or frond accidentally as you work, peering into the terrarium from a jaunty angle whilst determinedly, and at times desperately, trying to grab at whatever you’re trying to remove. Mr Tickle would have a huge advantage in terrarium gardening! Thankfully, I have a long-handled gardening tool set from BiOrbAir, the long-handled tweezers and scissors are just the right size and length to tend my BiOrbAir, I use them for my other terrariums and bottle gardens as well. In just a few minutes I can remove any decaying leaves and debris with relative ease.
My Asparagus setaceus had quite a few dead fronds, I have now removed the worst offenders, but there are still some dead fronds present inside the terrarium, after my indoor gardening session.
The plants that have suffered a little in the BiOrbAir are the Selaginella martensii ‘Jori’ and the Adiantum raddianum ‘Fritz-Luthi’, both of which were extensively attacked by the woodlice residing in this terrarium. I accidentally introduced the woodlice into the BiOrbAir when I initially planted up the terrarium; I included a piece of natural wood to use as a feature inside the terrarium, the woodlice, were I believe, inside the piece of wood. The Adiantum has now recovered so well, sending up so many new shoots, that no outward signs of the damage caused by the woodlice are visible on the plant currently.
Sadly my poor Selaginella hasn’t recovered from its attack, it has deteriorated further, and now looks to be in a slightly worse condition than last month. It’s all too evident that the woodlice are still actively damaging the Selaginella, I have observed them many times chewing the stems of this lovely plant and the effects of this are clearly visible.
Other than the Selaginella, the Adiantum and and Asparagus setaceus, my other plants look to be in good shape.
I wasn’t sure how well the orchid, my Coelogyne cristata, would grow when I initially chose to plant it in my BiOrbAir – this being my first BiOrbAir I was unsure of the conditions inside this terrarium, I wasn’t sure if this Coelogyne would survive for as long as a month. This orchid will actually grow to a much larger size than this terrarium, and so will eventually need to be removed and planted elsewhere, but this will of course take time. I chose to plant the Coelogyne cristata as I was interested to see how well it would grow in the controlled environment created by the BiOrbAir. I was keen to see how the Coelogyne cristata would grow and how long it would live for, happily seven months later, this orchid is currently still alive!
I don’t expect to keep every plant in this terrarium growing here permanently – as the plants outgrow the space I will move them on, and replant this terrarium with a different plant, making this review and trial more interesting and allowing me to evaluate a greater number of terrarium plants and see how they grow inside the BiOrbAir.
To counteract my choice of plants, like the Tillandsia, Selaginella and the orchid, mentioned above, that I had more than a degree of uncertainty as to their long term survival in the BiOrbAir, I chose to plant a spider plant or Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’, which I was almost certain would grow well! Thankfully the spider plant is growing well. The specimen has grown in size, as you would expect, since planting in September, but hasn’t so far dwarfed any of the other plants or become a nuisance in any way.
My Fittonia has grown really well, it has spread out and increased in size, and has shown no signs of any problems whatsoever. This is a super plant for terrariums, its colourful variegation lifts the ambiance of the terrarium, adding a subtle glow to the appearance of the planting.
I’ve seen new fronds unfurling on my Polystichum tsussimense fern, it’s growing well inside the BiOrbAir.
My Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’ (PBR) has become very shaded by the successful new growth of the Adiantum; the Asplenium isn’t as verdant a green as it was a couple of months ago. This Asplenium is planted at the edge of my BiOrbAir, this isn’t the best position – it has the competition from the thriving Adiantum to contend with, as well as the shade cast from the walls – my BiOrbAir is close to two walls, both at the side and behind the terrarium – it’s in a slight recess.
The LED lights, positioned at the top of the BiOrbAir, provide even light distribution, so that you don’t need to turn or move this terrarium, unlike more traditional types of terrariums, which need to be regularly rotated for even plant growth. Despite the effectiveness of the BiOrbAir’s LED lighting, due to the plant’s position in the terrarium, and the vigorous growth of the Adiantum which is overshadowing it, this Asplenium isn’t receiving sufficient light, and is suffering as a result. I will keep an eye on my Asplenium and report back on its growth and appearance next month.
I included some Tillandsia usneoides, or Spanish moss, on a whim when I planted my BiOrbAir, I never expected for the Spanish moss to remain or survive for so long in this terrarium. I haven’t taken the Spanish moss out of the BiOrbAir to soak it in rainwater since planting, so the only moisture it will have received is from the BiOrbAir’s automatic misting unit. The Spanish moss is certainly not thriving, and may well be dead!
The Tillandsia isn’t a prominent plant in my BiOrbAir, it’s barely noticeable now, as the other plants have grown up around the wood that I draped it over. The Tillandsia looks ok and it remains, for the moment, inside my BiOrbAir. I planted a traditional terrarium at the same time as I planted my BiOrbAir, I also included some Spanish moss inside the traditional terrarium, it didn’t survive long! I think it was a month or two at most, then I removed the Spanish moss, as it was clearly dead!
I love the moss in my BiOrbAir! In November 2014, I replaced a couple of pieces of the moss at the front of my terrarium, as they were very brown and discoloured and were detracting from the beauty of my BiOrbAir. Since then I haven’t replaced any moss and have been totally enchanted by its beauty in my BiOrbAir, it’s wonderful being able to admire the detail of the moss so clearly thanks to the lighting inside this terrarium.
I unintentionally introduced a family of woodlice into my BiOrbAir, when I included a piece of natural wood as a feature at planting time. This same piece of wood is still inside the terrarium, although it’s a little more difficult to see now, as the plants have grown up around it. The woodlice happily set up home, and started breeding inside the safe environment of my BiOrbAir. The woodlice have been eating and damaging a number of my plants, but in particular the Selaginella martensii ‘Jori’ and the Adiantum raddianum ‘Fritz-Luthi’ – which are notably their favourites.
The damage the woodlice have caused to my Adiantum isn’t visible currently, the fern seems to have recovered and has sent up lots of new growth. Previously the damage has been very noticeable on the Adiantum and left it looking a little scrappy! I am thrilled to see the recovery which has been made. Sadly the Selaginella martensii ‘Jori’ is clearly suffering, there are many damaged stems thanks to the woodlice’s love of destroying this beautiful plant. The lack of rainwater in the water reservoir will have also had a negative impact on this lovely plant, sorry Selaginella!
Woodlice catching has become a sport in my house, and a hotly contested sport at that. I was determined to return the woodlice safely outdoors, but not being the quickest mover or best woodlice catcher, I haven’t always been the person trying to catch and save the woodlice, so sadly there have been some woodlice casualties.
However, many woodlice remain in my BiOrbAir, living a quieter and more stealth existence, away from the pillows of moss at the front of terrarium – prime hunting ground, where they are easily spotted, and more easily reached with my long-handled tools. The moss at the front of the BiOrbAir has been speared countless times, as enthusiastic woodlice hunters jab at any woodlice that dares to venture out. It’s a monumentous task, but I am still actively trying to safely capture each of the woodlice inside my BiOrbAir, and return them outdoors for a full and happy life in complete freedom.
My experience this past few months – being away from home for a week unexpectedly, and then being so busy that I haven’t had time to tend my BiOrbAir, has demonstrated just how efficient this terrarium is, and how well my plants have grown inside this controlled environment, with minimal care and attention from me. I have found that my BiOrbAir makes terrarium gardening so much easier, as well as more fun! I love seeing the beautiful shadows the ferns cast across my walls each evening, and I love seeing my plants so clearly, both in the daytime as well as in the evening. The features and design of the BiOrbAir have created an environment where my plants can thrive with minimal intervention required. I love this terrarium, and the beautiful, much admired, feature it has become in my my home.
14th June 2015
One of the things I have noticed over the years is that folk take a lot of solace and comfort from watering their houseplants, be they orchids or any type of indoor plants, on a set day of the week, usually a Friday, although one of my friends waters her plants religiously every Sunday. It seems to be quite another matter entirely as to whether the plants require water on that particular Friday or Sunday, as great reassurance is taken from the act of watering and completing this simple, but important task from the ‘To Do List’.
Although we often attribute human characteristics to plants, rarely do they attain these characteristics in reality. Watering your plants on a set day of the week can lead to over or under watering, both instances are very detrimental to plants, causing them to decline and suffer, resulting in the plants looking off colour at best, or in the worst cases to die. It’s far better to look at your plants and give them water and feed when they require it, it’s also more interesting too! Having said that, if you’re the sort that enjoys creating a watering regime, then the BiOrbAir would suit you very well, as every Friday, or Sunday, or indeed any day you chose to, you could check the water levels in your base reservoir and top up with rain water as required, then check the reservoir for the misting unit and top up with Humidimist, a task that could be easily completed in a matter of moments.
As the plants inside the BiOrbAir are watered by the capillary matting and its uptake of rain water from the base reservoir below, the capillary matting then transferring water to the compost above; the watering inside the BiOrbAir is controlled. It’s easy to see the level of water in the base reservoir, thanks to the handy indicator, so it couldn’t be easier to supply your plants with sufficient water and avoid the stress to your plants (and yourself!) of over or under watering. As I have mentioned previously, the watering system and design of the BiOrbAir also works very well at holiday times, if you’re someone who is frequently away from home for business trips for a week or two at a time, the BiOrbAir would suit you well. For this reason, the BiOrbAir would also be a wonderful addition to an office, being easy to maintain and bringing a relaxing calm, that only plants can, to the office space.
Selaginella martensii ‘Jori’
My Selaginella martensii ‘Jori’ has been suffering for some time now, being the favourite food plant of the woodlice, (that are unfortunately still residing in my BiOrbAir) has caused the Selaginella, significant, unrepairable damage.
Earlier this month, I received a lovely comment from a reader called Richard, suggesting that the entrapped woodlice might be eating the Selaginella as they had very little of any plant debris and decaying matter to feast on, as I have been quite tidy in how I have kept the terrarium. With Richard’s lovely comment in mind, I kept the Selaginella, by now a decaying shadow of its former self, in the BiOrbAir for as long as I could, but as the decay on the plant had really taken hold, I didn’t want to take the chance of spreading any problems inside my terrarium, I wanted to remove the Selaginella for once and for all.
Today (14th June 2015) I removed the Selaginella from the terrarium, and covered the bare patch of compost that remained with a rather tatty looking piece of sphagnum moss, collected from my garden. With the woodlice in mind, I haven’t done any other remedial tidying up, although I would have liked to! There are a number of the needle like leaves from the Asparagus setaceus which are gradually turning brown and then falling off. The Asparagus needles are so tiny and so fine, that it makes them very difficult to remove from the terrarium – they are like a powdery dust. The woodlice would be very welcome to dine out on these tiny brown needle like leaves any time they would like!
Naturally I am still collecting woodlice whenever I can and re-homing them safely outside.
As you can see in the photograph above, my Coelogyne cristata, the only orchid inside this BiOrbAir, has put on a lot of new growth, with new vigorous looking, shoots appearing. Here’s a look at some of the other plants in my BiOrbAir:
I love my Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’, it’s a beautiful fresh green colour and has thrived without any problems since I planted it in my BiOrbAir 10 months ago.
12th July 2015
Here’s my BiOrbAir on 12th July 2015. As you can see in the photographs, my Coelogyne cristata had a leaf which had died, I removed the dead leaf with my BiOrbAir gardening toolset tweezers. You can also see that the Coelogyne cristata is growing well, and has a new leaf which is rapidly growing towards the edge of my BiOrbAir! I knew when I included this orchid in my BiOrbAir, that if the plant survived and grew in the terrarium that it would one day need to be removed, as it grows much larger than my BiOrbAir! I included the Coelogyne cristata anyway, as I was keen to see if this orchid would grow in the conditions provided by the BiOrbAir, and for ten months it has grown very well indeed, so much so that a new home will soon be required for this orchid.
I have left these dead fronds, as pictured above, as today I removed two more woodlice from my BiOrbAir. I don’t wish for the woodlice to go hungry, while I do my best to capture them and release them outside in my garden.
7th August 2015
I love terrariums so much, I love having plants and flowers inside and bringing nature indoors. I truly love my BiOrbAir, it’s such a wonderful terrarium. Every day I appreciate and enjoy having my plants growing well, and seeing my plants so clearly, thanks to this specialised terrarium.
I haven’t carried out any maintenance to the terrarium plants this month, I have simply topped up the base reservoir with rain water and the ultra sonic mister reservoir with Humidimist, the specially developed water designed for misting units.
20th August 2015
This evening I completely re-arranged the planting inside my BiOrbAir. First of all I removed all of the plants, then I reassembled the existing BiOrbAir peat free, coir compost back into a gentle mound shape inside the BiOrbAir (I didn’t add any additional compost, planting medium or fertiliser), then I pressed the piece of wood I have used as a decorative feature, into the compost, ensuring the wood was secure and firmly in place, then I set about re-planting the terrarium.
I decided not to replant my Adiantum raddianum ‘Fritz-Luthi’ – it had been looking a bit tatty for sometime and I felt it was now too large for this terrarium. I also left out my Asparagus setaceus – this was also looking a little bit tatty at the base, but really I removed it as it had grown rather large and I didn’t want my smaller plants to be dwarfed. Naturally I removed my Coelogyne cristata, a healthy orchid, that had outgrown the terrarium and I also removed the Tillandsia usneoides.
Woodlice damaging plants
I replanted my Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’ nearer to the centre of the BiOrbAir, so that it had more room to grow. I have seen woodlice eating the Nephrolepis, more so during the past few weeks, but I hadn’t realised until today how much damage the woodlice have done. This pretty fern is so intricate, it’s intricacy hides the irregular, but extensive damage the woodlice have done to the fronds by feasting on this lovely fern, often snapping or seriously damaging the fern’s fronds . I hope this Nephrolepis will survive the damage as it is a truly beautiful fern and has been a great addition to this terrarium. It’s really is super fern for a terrarium and has thrived in the constant conditions provided by the BiOrbAir.
I replanted my Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’, it’s looking rather ‘leggy’ but I have included it anyway, and replanted it at the back of the terrarium. I divided my Fittonia albivenis Argyroneura Group into three and replanted these. My Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’ hasn’t grown much in the year it has lived in the BiOrbAir, it was planted very closely to the edge of the terrarium and shaded by over hanging plants – I have replanted the Asplenium in a similarly bad position as before, though it will receive more light than it has done in many months, due to the absence of the Adiantum raddianum overhead. I divided my Polystichum tsussimense and replanted it; I enjoy this fern so much, it has thrived inside the BiOrbAir and really added to the beauty of the terrarium.
New terrarium orchids
I purchased two new miniature orchids for my BiOrbAir – an Ornithophora radicans and a Ceratostylis philippinensis. Both of these orchids were purchased online from Burnham Nurseries and delivered by courier, I received my parcel yesterday and planted the orchids, still in their pots, in my BiOrbAir this evening, I will leave them here for a few days before mounting them on cork. Both the orchids were very carefully wrapped and arrived labelled and planted in their pots, as you can see in my photographs below. I am keen to see how well these miniature orchids grow in the constant conditions provided by the BiOrbAir – many orchids need a regular period of rest, a drier period or time of drought to do well, not all orchids do well in a terrarium, some don’t grow well with artificial lighting either. I am excited to see how well these new orchids fare inside the BiOrbAir.
I will mist my miniature orchids when I think they would benefit from some additional moisture, I don’t have a set pattern or set day to mist the orchids, I’ll just see how they get on. I will feed my miniature orchids, I use Orchid Focus Grow and Orchid Focus Bloom to feed my orchids, I purchased both of these fertilisers from the shop at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. I feed my orchids only sparingly, following the instructions on the pack; these miniature orchids wouldn’t naturally receive an abundance of nutrients in their natural environment. Over feeding can be detrimental to your plants, causing further problems.
This re-arrangement of the BiOrbAir’s planting took an hour this evening. I must be honest I did hope it would look a bit better than it does, I hope that once the plants have settled and adjusted to their new positions the appearance of the planting will improve somewhat. The look of this terrarium will change in the not too distant future, as the orchids are mounted onto cork I may well be tempted to have another re-arrange to accommodate the cork into the terrarium to its best effect. I am hopeful that my new Ornithophora radicans will flower shortly, as it looks to have some flower spikes as you can see in the photograph below. Exciting stuff!
Ornithophora radicans, a miniature orchid whose flowers are white and brown. I purchased this orchid from Burnham Nurseries.
I would like to now replace much of the moss I have inside my BiOrbAir, most of the moss you see here has been inside the BiOrbAir for 11 months. I don’t have any good pieces of moss in my garden to include, and so I am now looking to purchase some moss from an ethical supplier. It’s important to never take moss or other plants from the wild.
I recently asked the members of one of my Orchid Groups for suggestions of miniature orchids that would do well inside the BiOrbAir, so far the suggested orchids are: Macodes orchids, also known as jewel orchids, miniature Masdevallias, Dendrobiums and Paphiopedilum helenae. If you have any suggestions, do let me know.
I also purchased a Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ from Burnham Nurseries, this pretty miniature orchid has very pretty, tiny star shaped, purple flowers. I had initially planned to plant this orchid in another of my terrariums, but then changed my mind after planting the other two orchids from Burnham Nurseries, and so I included ‘Stalky’ in my BiOrbAir, again this miniature orchid is planted temporarily in its pot, while it recovers from its journey, and will be mounted on cork in the near future.
I had also thought of moving one of the parts of my divided Polystichum tsussimense fern (the Polystichum was removed from this BiOrbAir during my re-arrange, then divided) into another terrarium, but then I changed my mind and included it back inside this BiOrbAir, where it was initially planted and growing. I have now ordered some moss for this terrarium, I will replace the moss you see in these photographs once it arrives.
29th August 2015
New terrarium moss
I have replanted my BiOrbAir again, it’s so much fun to plant up this wonderful terrarium! Firstly, I removed all of the old moss from the BiOrbAir and planted it back in my garden, all the moss in my garden was looking ragged and tatty, so I didn’t want to use it in my BiOrbAir, so I ordered some new moss online from Triangle Nursery. I have been looking for ethical moss growers in the UK for a while, I sent out some emails and enquiries to find out more about UK moss growers with little success.
Then I found Triangle Nursery – although Triangle Nursery don’t grow their moss in the UK – their moss is grown in Holland, none of their pillow moss is taken from the wild, it’s all grown on their nurseries. Following their guarantee that the moss wasn’t removed from its natural environment, I went ahead and purchased a punnet of pillow moss online from Triangle Nursery. My new pillow moss is a beautiful verdant green, the moss really adds to the planting inside this BiOrbAir, enhancing the beauty of this terrarium.
Cork for terrariums
I removed the decorative piece of wood I had used inside the BiOrbAir, the piece of wood that I used to inadvertently introduce woodlice into this terrarium, and popped the wood, and hopefully most of the woodlice (ideally all of them) into the garden. I wanted to mount my orchids onto cork and so this cork will be the replacement decorative feature in the BiOrbAir. Learning from my previous mistake, I carried out all kinds of sterilising techniques to the cork before introducing it to my BiOrbAir – this cork has been boiled, baked in the oven and microwaved – hopefully the cork was free from insects beforehand – now it certainly is!
Cork is such an amazing and interesting, fascinating natural material, obtained from the bark of Quercus suber, (commonly known as the Cork Oak) cork has many uses. The cork industry is regarded as sustainable, as the Quercus suber trees are not required to be cut down to harvest the bark, and harvesting the bark does not harm the tree – the Quercus suber trees continue to grow after their bark is harvested, and their bark grows back. The trees go on provide future harvests at regular intervals every 9 years or so.
Then I removed the other plants from the BiOrbAir. I was rather tempted to keep my Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ in a pot, I did consider this for a day or so, but then decided instead to mount this orchid, together with my Ornithophora radicans and Ceratostylis philippinensis onto my new cork. The cork I ordered came in different sized pieces, so I selected three pieces of cork that I could fit together to create the appearance of a more rounded, decorative branch.
The miniature orchids were then mounted onto the cork. The cork, together with the orchids were positioned carefully inside my BiOrbAir. I then re-planted my other terrarium plants that were previously growing in the BiOrbAir back inside the terrarium, and then I added my new moss to the terrarium. I am very happy with the effect, I hope that the plants will be happy too!
19th September 2015
Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’
Here’s my BiOrbAir, as pictured on the 15th September 2015, as you can see my Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’ – my spider plant, is very leggy and straggly looking. This plant has been very leggy for a while, but the effect is now magnified after my rearrangement of the plants in this terrarium, as the Chlorophytum isn’t now growing up through other plants as it was previously. The Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’ also has a few leaves that are dying back which I need to remove, these have died back since I moved the plant in my replant of the terrarium.
Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’
My Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’ also looks much worse for wear since my terrarium re-plant last month! Having two terrarium re-plants in such a short space of time, and consequently lifting and moving this lovely fern twice, won’t have helped it at all!
I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on these two plants, and will replace them if necessary. I’d happily include a new Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’ in this terrarium, so far I’ve not been able to find a replacement plant, which is a real shame. I planted this fern a year ago inside my BiOrbAir, it has thrived, looking absolutely fantastic throughout the year, up until last month when it suffered from being moved twice in quick succession, when the damage caused by the woodlice eating it became more apparent.
I am sure that my Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’ will benefit greatly from being moved into a lighter position within the terrarium, indeed it is already in the process of sending up two new fronds.
I hope that by moving everything out of my BiOrbAir terrarium last month to replant it, (using the same, though not all, of the plants that were previously growing, and using the same compost), including removing the piece of wood I included for decoration, which is now in my garden, that I will have moved all of the woodlice outside, where I hope they are now all living happily ever after.
Admittedly, there is still a high chance that some woodlice are present in this terrarium – the young woodlice are small, paler and not always easy to spot at the best of times, I wouldn’t be surprised, if despite my best efforts, woodlice are still present in this terrarium. So I will continue to keep a look out for woodlice, I’ll carefully remove them if I spot any. I do hope the woodlice are all living happily outside, that would be lovely!
I am really enjoying the miniature orchids I planted in this terrarium. I am in love with Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ which you can see pictured above. This is such a charming little orchid.
I am also very excited about my Ornithophora radicans, which had started to produce its tiny flower buds before I purchased it. Since I planted this miniature orchid inside my BiOrbAir the flower buds have developed further, but have yet to open.
I have misted the roots of the three miniature orchids in this terrarium, naturally the orchids and my other terrarium plants receive regular misting from the BiOrbAir’s automatic misting unit, but I have regularly given the roots of my miniature orchids an additional misting with a hand held mister. I have only ever misted these three orchids, and haven’t ever misted any of my other plants – there’s no need to, the other plants in this terrarium do not require any additional water or humidity.
Although I haven’t applied any feed or fertiliser to the growing media in this terrarium, I have applied a specialist orchid feed directly to my three miniature orchid plants, which are mounted on cork bark.
It’s now a year since I first planted my BiOrbAir, I have loved this terrarium from the first day I planted it, the design and features of this terrarium are well thought out and effective. I am so lucky that thanks to a very special present from my family and friends, I now have two of these specialised terrariums. Over the year that I have had this BiOrbAir, naturally my plants have grown, and the planting inside my terrarium has changed. Of the current planting in my BiOrbAir, the following plants have been growing in this terrarium since I first planted it a year ago:
- Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’ (PBR)
- Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’
- Fittonia albivenis Argyroneura Group
- Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’
- Polystichum tsussimense
Here’s a few photographs taken over the year that I have had this BiOrbAir:
27th September 2015
Ornithophora radicans flowering
Exciting news, my Ornithophora radicans is now in flower, with two flowers open!
7th October 2015
It has been wonderful seeing my Ornithiophora radicans in flower, each day I look forward to seeing if any new flowers have opened to add to the display. The flowers are so tiny and not easy to photograph! The Ornithophora radicans flowers are a joy to see inside my BiOrbAir.
My other terrarium plants are doing well since I moved them, the Asplenium nidus ‘Fluffy Ruffles’ has greened up since my last update and its new fronds are growing well. It’s no surprise that this Asplenium has picked up since it was moved – it was in a dreadful position previously and received very little light due to the overhanging plants nearby.
Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’ looks very straggly and has light brown tinges to the tips of its fronds. I would really like to replace this plant with a smaller version of the same fern, but so far I haven’t been able to source one locally.
Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’ looks very leggy, but it’s still in place inside my BiOrbAir, for now!
18th October 2015
I had, had enough of my Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’, so I removed it from my BiOrbAir today. I also lifted my Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’, removed all of the damaged fronds, and then replanted the sorry looking remains back inside my BiOrbAir.
I hadn’t intended to lift this fern again, but I accidentally knocked it when I was tending to my plants and it just seemed easier as it wasn’t properly rooted, to just lift the fern out of the terrarium, remove the fronds and then replant. It may seem madness to replant such a sorry looking fern back inside my terrarium, but I truly love this fern, and I wanted to give it another chance to recover.
Initially the Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’ was one of my star plants, sadly it was a popular food-plant for the woodlice that live inside this terrarium. I haven’t seen a woodlouse since I replanted this terrarium in August 2015, I am living in hope that they have now all been moved into my garden, where they are living happily ever after.
I’ve been looking for a couple of new plants for this BiOrbAir terrarium for a while now; I didn’t have a suitable, spare plant at home, and I haven’t been able to find many terrarium plants at my local garden centres or nurseries. Any suitable terrarium plants I have found for sale have been too large.
Today I planted a Pteris ensiformis ‘Evergemiensis’, that I bought from Squire’s Garden Centre in Milford, inside my BiOrbAir. I must be honest, this is not my top choice of fern to include in this terrarium, but I was keen to remove the the dead and damaged fronds from my Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’, and I also wanted to remove my Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’, so I really needed a replacement plant.
Today I misted the three miniature orchids inside this terrarium, my Ornithophora radicans is still flowering……
Other articles, Terrarium Trials and articles that may interest you……
To continue reading this review, and move on to read the third part of my BiOrbAir review, which continues on from this instalment, please click here.
To see the full planting list for this BiOrbAir, together with the details of the nurseries and garden centres I used to purchase the plants, ferns, orchids, mosses, and cork for this terrarium, please click here.
To view a longer list of orchids, ferns, and other plants that thrive inside terrariums and bottle gardens (including details of the nurseries and suppliers), please click here.
To read the first part of my White Orchid Terrarium Trial, please click here.
To read the first part of my Miniature Orchid Trial – Growing Miniature Orchids in the BiOrbAir, please click here.
To see the first instalment of my Madagascar Terrarium Trial – please click here.
To see how my Rainforest Terrarium was created, please click here.
To see my Orchidarium being put together, please click here.
To read my planting list of miniature orchids to grow in terrariums, please click here.
To read the first part of my long-term BiOrbAir review, please click here.
If you’d like to read more about my long- handled terrarium tools, please click here.
For information on using decorative features in your terrarium or bottle garden, please click here.
To read my review of the special features and design of the BiOrbAir, please click here.
To read about my 2015 Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.
To read about growing indoor mushrooms, please click here.
If you’d like to see all of the Gold Medal winning Show Gardens, from the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, please click here.
To read about the 20 shortlisted plants, including the finalists and the winner of the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant Of The Year, please click here.
To read about my visit to The RHS London Orchid Show, please click here.