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 plants and ferns to trial and see how they would grow inside the controlled environment of this terrarium, with the constant conditions the BiOrbAir provides. I have changed the planting over time – this terrarium now contains ferns, mosses and miniature, epiphytic orchids.
You can read the first part of my long-term review of the BiOrbAirhere. 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, then continues from May 2015 until October 2015, you can read the second instalment here. The third part of my review continues here, where you can read updates from November 2015 until April 2016. This is the fourth instalment, here I will keep you updated on how well my BiOrbAir is working and how the plants are growing during April and May 2016. I hope that by breaking my review into sections it will be easier for readers to digest and use, whether you’re considering planting up your own terrarium or choosing suitable plants to create your own indoor garden.
Naturally, I will regularly top up the base reservoir of my BiOrbAir with rain water as required; the water in the base reservoir will be absorbed by the capillary matting, which is fitted to the support tray above the base reservoir, which in turn will moisten the compost above. The absorption of water through the capillary matting will keep the coir compost moist, and as a result, the ferns will be watered automatically.
I will regularly top up the ultrasonic misting unit with Humidimist, a pure bottled water, low in electrolytes, available from Reef One and included as part of the package when you purchase a BiOrbAir. The Humidimist is the only type of water recommended for use in the ultrasonic misting unit of the BiOrbAir, and it is the only product I will use.
Since September 2014, when I planted my BiOrbAir, apart from the feed I have given to miniature orchids, which are mounted onto cork, (the orchids have also received extra misting) 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 recommendations on the BiOrbAir website. I have documented any problems I have experienced, and any indoor gardening that I have carried out in my previous reviews; I will continue to update this review in the same manner.
I 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 have been feeding my miniature orchids, I use Orchid Focus Grow and Orchid Focus Bloomto 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. These are the only fertilisers I have used inside this terrarium.
I recently visited The RHS London Orchid Show, I purchased a number of new, interesting miniature orchids at the show from Akerne Orchids, two of which I have included in this terrarium for this trial:
Currently the following plants are growing inside this BiOrbAir terrarium:
Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’ (PBR)
Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’
Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Fluffy Ruffles’
Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’
Of the plants growing inside this terrarium, the following plants were included in my original, first planting of this terrarium, back in September 2014, they are still growing inside the terrarium today – in April 2016:
Changing how I mount my epiphytic orchids onto cork bark
When I first included miniature orchids in this terrarium, I chose to mount the miniature orchids onto the cork using fishing line to secure the orchids in place. I was thinking purely aesthetically when I chose to use fishing line to secure the orchids – as it’s clear material, and so not as visible – I felt it wouldn’t detract from the beauty of the orchids. I did have real concerns that the fishing line could act as a cheese wire and slice into the roots of the orchids, but I went ahead and used it regardless – all of the orchids were mounted onto the cork bark and secured in place with the fishing line. When I added the Restrepias to this terrarium, again, I secured them in place using fishing line.
During a recent visit to the The Botanic Gardens at Kew, I was talking to the orchid experts in the tropical nurseries, where I found out that Kew use strips of material cut from stockings, to secure all their epiphytic orchids. Although I haven’t noticed any problems from using the fishing line to secure the orchids so far, I have now taken the decision to remove the fishing line securing all of my epiphytic orchids. Where necessary, re-mounting any orchids, using small strips of material cut from stockings, to secure the orchids in place.
For many years now I have used stockings as ties for trees and other garden plants with great success. I haven’t previously used stockings to secure epiphytic orchids, just purely for aesthetic reasons – the strips of stockings are very visible, and this does detract somewhat from the beauty of the orchids when viewed as a display. However, I am certain that securing the orchids using soft strips of stockings is better for the orchids, and that’s my priority. With this method, there isn’t any risk of slicing through any of the orchid roots, as there was when using the fishing line.
I removed all of the fishing line from this terrarium on the 9th April 2016, all of the orchids were then secured in place using strips of material cut from stockings. Going forward this is the method I will use to mount all of my orchids onto cork bark.
Right, first a recap, here’s a photograph I took of my BiOrbAir after planting on 25th September 2014:
Other articles and links that may interest you……….
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 read the first part of my Miniature Orchid Trial – Growing Miniature Orchids in the BiOrbAir, please click here.
To read the first part of my White Orchid Trial – Growing Miniature Orchids in the BiOrbAir, please click here.
To read the first part of my Madagascan Orchid Trial – Growing Miniature Orchids in the BiOrbAir, please click here.
To read the full planting list of miniature orchids that I have trialled growing in terrariums, please click here.
To view a longer list of plants, ferns, and miniature orchids suitable for growing in terrariums and bottle gardens, please click here.
If you’d like to read more about my long- handled terrarium gardening 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.
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 my review of Richard Mabey’s latest book, ‘The Cabaret of Plants Botany and The Imagination’, please click here.