The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium

I am so very lucky to have a beautiful, new BiOrbAir terrarium!

I decided to plant up this very special terrarium with orchids that are endemic to Madagascar, to highlight and raise awareness of the fragility of this very special place on Earth, and showcase the beauty of Madagascar’s plants.  Many of the orchids that are found growing in Madagascar are not found anywhere else on Earth.

To learn more about Madagascar and the vital work in conservation and research that is being undertaken by the Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre (KMCC), a non-profit, non governmental organisation (NGO), please click here.  To read the Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre (KMCC) blog, please click here.  If you’d like to donate and contribute to Kew’s vital plant science and conservation work, please click here.

The BiOrbAir terrarium that I have used to plant up these rare orchids, was designed by Barry Reynolds and is available from BiOrb.  The orchid plants that are featured inside this terrarium were grown in cultivation and not taken from the wild.

The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium as pictured on the 10th April 2017.

Terrarium compost – peat free coir compost

I used the peat-free, coir compost, which was included in the package with my BiOrbAir terrarium, as the growing media for this terrarium.  I followed the straight-forward instructions to pre-soak the compost before adding it to my terrarium.  This was the only compost I used when planting this terrarium, I didn’t add any other growing media or fertiliser, I used only the coir compost provided with the BiOrbAir.

If you would like to try the same peat free coir compost in your terrarium, vivarium, bottle garden, orchidarium, or indoor garden, this compost is available to purchase separately from BiOrb.

This BiOrbAir peat-free coir compost block comes as part of the package when you purchase a BiOrbAir terrarium, you can also purchase additional coir compost blocks on the BiOrbAir website.
Here’s the BiOrbAir peat-free coir compost being soaked in water prior to planting.
The BiOrbAir peat-free coir compost after soaking in a bucket of water.
The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium as pictured on the 10th April 2017.

Terrarium position

Although it’s not an overly bright room, the Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium resides in the brightest room I have.  The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium is not near a window, but the plants growing inside this terrarium will receive some natural daylight in the mornings.  The BiOrbAir terrarium has LED lights, so the orchids growing inside the Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium will receive sufficient light, as the light that BiOrbAir’s LED lights produce is the same colour temperature as daylight.

The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium as pictured on the 10th April 2017.

Epiphytic miniature orchids from Madagascar

All of the orchids that I have chosen for this Madagascan Miniature Orchid Trial are epiphytic.  Rather than growing in the soil, epiphytic plants grow naturally on other plants, often trees, although epiphytic plants do grow on shrubs or other host plants too.  These host plants provide support, and offer a better position or environment for the epiphytic orchid plant to grow in.

Epiphytic plants are not the same as parasitic plants like mistletoe, they don’t take any sustenance from their host plant – epiphytic orchids don’t usually cause any harm to the host plant they are growing on.  Epiphytic plants simply use another plant as a support to raise them up, this enables the epiphytic plant to gain a better position, where it can receive more light, water, and better air circulation.

Epiphytic plants receive all their water and nutrients from the air, the rain, and any accumulated debris that has collected in the branches of their host tree.

The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium as pictured on the 10th April 2017.

The method I use to mount my epiphytic orchids onto cork bark

At the end of March 2016, during a visit to the The Botanic Gardens at Kew, I spoke to the orchid experts in the tropical nurseries, where I discovered that Kew use strips of material cut from stockings to secure all of their epiphytic orchids.  From this moment onwards, I have adopted the same method, and I now secure all of my orchids using strips of material cut from stockings, so consequently this is how all of the Madagascan, miniature, epiphytic orchids in my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium have been mounted.

The stocking material does age and colour over time – making the material blend into the background somewhat.  The mosses inside my other, older terrariums have also managed to grow over the stocking material, which has softened and disguised their appearance a little.  If you’d like to find out more about how I have mounted my epiphytic orchids, please click here for more information and to see a step-by-step account of how I mount my epiphytic orchids.

The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium as pictured on the 10th April 2017.

The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Planting List

  • Aerangis citrata
  • Aerangis fastuosa
  • Aerangis macrocentra
  • Aerangis modesta
  • Aerangis punctata
  • Aeranthes arachnites
  • Angraecum didieri 

You can see the full planting list for this terrarium here, where you’ll find more details about each of these orchids, together with the details of all of the nurseries and suppliers where I purchased my orchids, mosses, and cork for this terrarium.

The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium as pictured on the 10th April 2017.

Misting and feeding miniature orchids

I will regularly mist my miniature orchids.  I don’t have set days to mist the orchids, but I will endeavour to mist the plants several times a week.

To feed my miniature orchids, I will 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 only sparingly, following the instructions on the pack.  Epiphytic miniature orchids wouldn’t receive an abundance of nutrients in their natural environment, here the only nutrients they receive arrive on the moisture in the air, rainfall, and any debris that has accumulated over time where they are growing.  Over feeding can be detrimental to your plants, causing further problems.

I decided to plant this new terrarium with miniature orchids, mounted onto cork bark, and surrounded by a bed of pillow moss.  I will continue to review this BiOrbAir terrarium and update this trial and review with information of how the miniature orchids are growing inside my BiOrbAir.  I will detail any maintenance or indoor gardening work I undertake to either my BiOrbAir terrarium, or any of the plants inside.

I hope this review will help you if you’re looking to plant up a bottle garden, terrarium, orchidarium, vivarium, or indoor garden of your own, or if you would like to learn more about growing miniature orchids.  Through this trial and review I hope to identify beautiful, miniature orchids from Madagascar that will thrive inside the BiOrbAir .

The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium as pictured on the 10th April 2017.

Miniature epiphytic orchids from Madagascar

Aerangis citrata

Aerangis citrata appreciates growing in shaded conditions, I will monitor this orchid’s progress to see whether I need to provide more shade for this orchid.

Aerangis citrata is a lovely orchid which produces lemon scented flowers.  I hope this specimen will grow well inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.

Aerangis citrata, as pictured on the 10th April 2017, inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Aerangis citrata, as pictured on the 10th April 2017, inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.

Aerangis fastuosa

Finally, here is Aerangis fastuosa!  I originally ordered an Aerangis fastuosa specimen when I first set up my Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium back in August 2015.  When my parcel of orchids arrived, the Aerangis specimen that I was sent did not resemble Aerangis fastuosa.  One of my readers suggested that I might have been sent an Aerangis fuscata, which also is endemic to Madagascar.  This unknown Aerangis specimen is yet to flower, so I can not say with any clarity which Aerangis it is.

However, I now finally can celebrate this wonderful Aerangis fastuosa specimen and its beautiful flowers, which although they are fading now, still have the most wonderful, powerful perfume which is very evident, both in the daytime and evenings.  Aerangis fastuosa‘s flowers produce a very intoxicating perfume, which has similarities with the scent of jasmine.

Aerangis fastuosa
Aerangis fastuosa, as pictured on the 10th April 2017, inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Aerangis fastuosa, as pictured on the 10th April 2017, inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.

Aerangis macrocentra

I hope this Aerangis macrocentra specimen will grow well inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.

Aerangis Macrocentra, as pictured on the 10th April 2017, inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.

Aerangis modesta

I hope this Aerangis modesta specimen will grow well inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.

Aerangis modesta, as pictured on the 10th April 2017 inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Aerangis modesta, as pictured on the 10th April 2017 inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.

Aerangis punctata

I am so happy to have a new Aerangis punctata specimen for this my new Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.  I have everything crossed that this miniature orchid will grow happily here.

Aerangis punctata, as pictured on the 10th April 2017, inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Aerangis punctata, as pictured on the 10th April 2017, inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.

Aeranthes arachnites

This Aeranthes arachnites specimen is already in the process of producing a flower spike!  This orchid grows to be a little larger than most of my other terrarium orchids, its inflorescence also takes up more room, as it is produced on a long, pendent, arching stem.  I hope there’s room inside this terrarium for this Aeranthes arachnites specimen’s blooms!

Aeranthes arachnites, as pictured inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium on the 10th April 2017.
Aeranthes arachnites flower spike, as pictured on the 10th April 2017, inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Aeranthes arachnites flower spike, as pictured on the 10th April 2017 inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Aeranthes arachnites, as pictured on the 10th April 2017, inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.

Angraecum didieri

Angraecum didieri is such a cute miniature orchid, I am so glad that I was able to include this specimen inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.

Angraecum didieri, as pictured inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium on the 10th April 2017.
Angraecum didieri, as pictured inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium on the 10th April 2017.
Angraecum didieri, as pictured inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium on the 10th April 2017.

To go straight to the next update and find out how these Madagascan orchids grew and developed during May and June 2017, please click here.

To see the planting list for this, my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium, and find out more about each of the orchids that are growing inside this terrarium, as well discovering the details of the nurseries where I purchased the orchids, mosses, and cork used inside this terrarium, please click here.

Trials

You may be interested in some of the trials I have conducted.

Terrarium, Vivarium, and Orchidarium Trials

To see a planting list of mini miniature orchids ideally suited to growing inside terrariums, vivariums, and bottle gardens, please click here.

To see a planting list of orchids, ferns, and other terrarium, vivarium, and bottle garden plants, please click here.

To see how my Rainforest Terrarium was set up from start to finish and discover the thinking behind my design, please click here.

To see how my Orchidarium was created, please click here.

To read the first part of my White Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial, please click here.

To read the first part of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial, please click here.

To read the first part of my Miniature Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial, please click here.

To read about the general care I give to my orchids and terrarium plants, and the general maintenance I give to my BiOrbAir terrariums, please click here.

To read how I track the temperature, humidity, and light conditions inside my terrariums, please click here.

Compost Trial Reports

To see all of my Compost Trials, please click here.

To read advice on planting up containers, please click here.

Sweet Pea Trial Reports

To read the results of my 2017 Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.

To read the results of my 2016 Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.

To read the results of my 2015 Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.

Scented Daffodil Trial Reports

To read my 2018 Scented Daffodil Trial, please click here.

To read my 2018 Scented Daffodil Container Trial, please click here.

To read the results of my 2017 Scented Daffodil Trial, please click here.

Other articles that may interest you……….

To see how my Rainforest Terrarium was set up from start to finish and discover the thinking behind my design, please click here.

To read a planting list of miniature orchids that are suited to terrarium growing, please click here.

To read about the new features that the new 2017 BiOrbAir terrarium offers, please click here.

To find out how to mount epiphytic orchids onto cork bark or other wood mounts, please click here.

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

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

To read a planting list of suitable plants, including ferns and orchids to grow in terrariums, vivariums and bottle gardens, please click here.

To read about growing indoor mushrooms, please click here.

Other articles you might like:

One thought on “The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium

  1. Andre Dumas

    December 15, 2021 at 4:14pm

    Hello Pumpkin Beth,
    I have been reading your posts for the past 4 days and I have found them *extremely* interesting and instructive. I am now subscribed from my home in Ottawa, Canada. I intend to build a terrarium for small orchids, approximately 24 inches wide and 18 inches high. I will read your posts again and again to make sure that I’m doing this right.

    I have been growing full-size orchids (phalaenopsis, oncidiums, dendrobiums, etc.) for the past 20 months (I’m still a beginner) and have, in the past, built several small-scale bottle terrariums all without much success, probably because none were really well planned or maintained properly.

    I will cut down on large-size orchids or stop buying them altogether and start getting acquainted with miniature orchids by looking at list of specimens that you suggest. I have a full size -MistKing system that I no longer use for my orchids (they are now on shelves,no longer in a grow tent) and I will use the MistKing for this terrarium project.

    I am totally amazed at the quality of your posts, the photography is superb (I do a lot of photography myself), each and every detail that you give us are so precise, numerous and therefore immensely appreciated.

    Thanks Beth

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      December 15, 2021 at 5:04pm

      Hello Andre

      Thank you for your lovely message. I am so glad that you enjoy my articles and photographs.

      Phalaenopsis, Oncidiums, and Dendrobiums are lovely orchids. The trick to success with all plants and all types of gardening is just to match the plant that will happily grow in the conditions you can offer.

      Here’s a link that should show you all my articles about setting up a terrarium, https://www.pumpkinbeth.com/tag/setting-up-a-terrarium/.

      Canada is an amazing country. I hope this message finds you safe and well.

      Warmest wishes
      Beth

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