Building an Orchidarium

How to Build an Orchidarium

I love indoor creating bottle gardens, terrariums, vivariums, orchidariums, and other indoor gardens.  In this article I’ll show you how one of my orchidariums was created.  I hope this feature will help you, if you’re considering creating an orchidarium, vivarium, terrarium, or another lovely indoor garden of your own.

The Glass Case

It’s entirely possible to build your own glass case, but it’s a complicated and labour-intensive process, which I decided to avoid on this occasion.

There are a large selection of new and second hand, pre-built vivariums available for sale, many of which have been designed and marketed for keeping dart frogs, geckos, and chameleons.  Happily, most of these terrariums are also suitable for growing plants inside.

On this occasion, to create this Orchidarium, I opted for an ExoTerra Natural Terrarium Medium/X-Tall enclosure, which you can see pictured below.

A photo of the Exo Terra terrarium
The ExoTerra Natural Terrarium Medium/X-Tall. The terrarium measures 60cm x 45cm x 90cm (W x D x H) and comes with a wire mesh lid, opening doors, air vents and cable guides. There is also a natural looking polystyrene backdrop which I have removed in this photo.

This ExoTerra Natural Medium/X-Tall Terrarium is 90cm (35.5 inches) tall, 60cm (23.5 inches) wide, and 45cm (17.5 inches) deep, which is the perfect size for the location where it will be placed.  This ExoTerra Terrarium was supplied by the Northampton Reptile Centre.  The people at the Northampton Reptile Centre were friendly and helpful – my first terrarium arrived with a crack across its rear glass panel, happily the Northampton Reptile Centre sent me out a replacement terrarium, which arrived the following day.

This ExoTerra Natural Medium/X-Tall Terrarium, features lockable glass doors, a ventilation panel at the front, a sealed water-tight area for a reservoir – at the base of the terrarium, as well as cable guides for any electronic equipment, a removable wire mesh lid for ventilation – at the top, and slightly raised feet (useful if you want to place a heat mat under the case – I won’t be using a heat mat).   This terrarium also comes with a polystyrene, rock-effect backdrop, which I decided not to use on this occasion.

Creating a False Bottom

It’s important that this Orchidarium offers a humid environment, with excellent growing conditions for the orchids that I wish to cultivate.  I plan to line the bottom of this Orchidarium with cushion moss.  I decided to use what is known as the ‘false bottom’ technique – where a raised platform is used to support the main landscape of the terrarium, with a reservoir of water underneath.

The simplest way to create this false bottom is to use plastic grids, which are known as ‘egg crate’.  Egg crate can easily be cut to size with a sturdy pair of scissors.  Egg crate is available from aquarium suppliers, although I found mine on eBay.  Each egg crate panel has lugs and slots, which allow them to be combined to construct a larger area.  By adding upright panels around the sides, I constructed a ‘basket’ shape made of egg crate, which will hold the compost at the base of my Orchidarium.  To build the basket, I used zip-ties, which are strong, quick, and simple to use.

The egg-crate basket, with pipe feet to raise it up and create a reservoir.

The egg-crate basket is raised up off the base of the tank using short lengths of plastic plumbing pipe, also attached to the egg-crate with zip-ties.

Detail of egg-crate used in terrarium construction
Egg-crate basket detail showing zip-tied construction of the basket and pipe feet

Please note that it’s important to drill a few holes around the base of the pipes, so that any water within the reservoir can move freely in and out of the pipes – this is to prevent the plastic pipes filling up with stagnant water, which might encourage a build up of unwanted conditions at the base of the Orchidarium.

Drilled pipes used to raise the egg-crate basket
Egg-crate basket detail showing drilled holes in the pipe feet to ensure water can circulate and does not get stagnant.

Once complete, the basket is ready to position in the tank.

The completed egg-crate basket.
The egg-crate basket in position. You can see the space below it which will stay as a water reservoir.

The next step is to ensure the compost and moss will remain moist.  I lined the basket with a piece of landscape fabric, then I laid capillary matting over the top.  I ensured that the capillary matting had long over-hangs, these overhangs will drape down into the water reservoir below, taking up water, to moisten the compost above.  I used the peat free compost from BiOrb as the compost inside my Orchidarium.

The basket lined with landscape fabric and capillary matting, which drapes down into the reservoir.

The capillary matting isn’t a beautiful feature, so I added a screen of black landscape fabric around the sides of the base of the Orchidarium, to improve the aesthetics.  The dark colour of this landscape fabric will also help to reduce the amount of light entering the Orchidarium’s water reservoir – this will help to prevent the build-up of algae at the base of the Orchidarium.

At this point, I also inserted a small plastic tube, through the landscape fabric, down into the reservoir – this is to ensure that I will have the option to easily drain the reservoir, and replace the old water, with fresh rainwater when necessary, without having to dismantle the entire base of the Orchidarium to do so.

The drainage pipe for replacing the reservoir water. You can also see the ventilation holes at the base of the doors of the Exo Terra terrarium.
Detail showing the drainage pipe which can be used to drain the water in the reservoir, if it needs replacing.

When I set up my Rainforest Terrarium, I used a different technique to create the base, if you’re interested here’s a link to the article I wrote about setting up my Rainforest Terrarium.

Constructing the Landscape

With the basics of the Orchidarium now in place, the next stage is to landscape it.  It’s possible to create all kinds of original, complex, and attractive landscapes within a terrarium – some people use rocks or branches which have been siliconed to the back and sides of the terrarium.  Another option is to use expanding foam, which can be sculpted to your own design, and then covered with coir compost and moss to create an attractive backdrop for the orchids.  I decided not to add any permanent fixtures at this stage, which allows me the opportunity to change things, should I wish to do so.  I have a lot of orchids and terrarium plants to house in a small space; I need to ensure that I have versatile enclosures that can be changed, if needed.

I purchased some large, sculptural pieces of cork bark from Porters Foliage in New Covent Garden Market, which I cut to size to fit inside this Orchidarium.  I used an extra piece of egg crate to support the cork bark, and prevent the cork from damaging the capillary matting or the landscape fabric, below.

Detail of the base of the cork bark sculpture on egg-crate.
Positioning the cork bark within the terrarium.

I positioned large pieces of flat cork bark at the back of this Orchidarium, to provide a backdrop to the cork and plants in front.  This cork will provide additional locations to mount orchids inside this Orchidarium.  I then filled the egg crate basket at the base of the Orchidarium with coir compost.  I positioned cushion moss on top – to create the base of the landscape for this Orchidarium.

The Orchidarium with the cork and moss in place. The first orchids, a selection of restrepias, have been mounted.

Orchidarium Lighting

I chose LED lights, which produce a good colour temperature for plants, with light that is around 6500K, which is very similar to natural daylight.  LED lights use very little power, and produce almost no heat, as they operate.

I opted to use the Advanced LED Lighting System by Jungle Hobbies.  These lights have a built-in timer, and are programmable with 5 light stages, (dawn, sunrise, daylight, dusk, and sunset) this gives a good range of light levels and colour temperatures, throughout the day.

The Jungle Hobbies Advanced LED Lighting System.
The Jungle Hobbies Advanced LED Lighting System – showing the clock at one end of the light.
The Jungle Hobbies Advanced LED Lighting system can be controlled and programmed by a handy remote control.
The Jungle Hobbies Advanced LED Lighting System. This picture was taken with the lights in ‘sunset’ mode – the main white LEDs are dimmed, and supplemented with a range of coloured LEDs to give a warm evening glow.

I used a different set of lights when I set up my Rainforest Terrarium, I’ve been so pleased with the lights I used for my Rainforest terrarium.  Here’s a link to the article I wrote about setting up my Rainforest Terrarium.

Maintaining Humidity levels and providing Ventilation inside an Orchidarium

The Exo Terra terrariums come with a wire mesh lid, this provides an opening for airflow circulation and air exchange within the terrarium.  It’s important to have good air circulation and to allow for air exchange, within the terrarium, but having such a large, open entrance and air exchange area has drawbacks, resulting in the humidity levels dropping at a fast rate, which is not good for the moss and the orchids I plan to grow inside – most of which would prefer to be at 60-70% RH (relative humidity).

To prevent the humidity levels dropping so quickly, I initially looked into having a glass lid made for this Orchidarium, but this was prohibitively expensive.  I then found a company, Aquarius Plastics, that were able to cut and polish a piece of 6mm clear acrylic to the right size and shape to fit the top of the orchidarium.  The design I created for the lid includes:

  • Notches in the rear corners, to allow cables/pipes to come in and out.
  • Notches in the front corners, to accommodate the curve of the door hinges.
  • A square hole, to seat the external ventilation fan.
  • A round hole, which is currently plugged, but I may use this in future – if I set up a fogging unit, to improve humidity.
The replacement lid for the ExoTerra tank – a piece of 6mm clear acrylic, cut to shape, with fitment holes for the MistKing misting system nozzles, and notches at the corners for the cable guides and front hinges. The square hole is for the external fan, and the round hole allows me to add a fogging unit in future, should I wish to.

Orchidarium fans

Ventilation inside this Orchidarium is essential.  It’s important to maintain good air movement within the Orchidarium, as well as to control the air-flow into and out of the Orchidarium, whilst maintaining the humidity levels inside this enclosure.  To achieve this, I’ve installed two fans:

  • An external fan is sited in this Orchidarium’s acrylic lid – in the ceiling of the tank.  This fan will pull air out of the top of the glass tank, and by doing so will draw fresh air in, through the ventilation holes, in the bar across the front of the Orchidarium (just below the front doors).
  • An internal fan, which is sited in the top corner of the tank.  This fan will run constantly (24 hours a day), circulating the air within this Orchidarium and ensuring consistent humidity levels, inside the enclosure.

I purchased two small, quiet, cooling fans made by AC Infinity – but any small computer fan would be suitable for this purpose.  The fans are powered via USB cables, and can be daisy-chained, if needed.  Therefore, if you were creating a larger enclosure and you required more than one external fan and two or more internal fans, only one power adapter would be required for the external fans and another for the internal fans.  These fans also have individual speed switches, with low, medium, high, and off, settings.

The internal fan will run constantly, moving the air around inside the Orchidarium and ensuring a consistent humidity level, in all areas of the tank.  Choosing how often to run the external fan to draw in new, fresh drier air, is more complex – as any new air pulled into the Orchidarium will result in the humidity dropping.  I decided to manage this by connecting this external fan to a Hygrostatic controller, which has a humidity sensor that I have placed within the Orchidarium, to automatically operate the external fan when the humidity levels have risen too high, but to ensure that if the humidity drops below, say, 75% RH, the external fan will automatically switch off – thereby preserving a humid environment inside this Orchidarium.

The interior fan used to circulate air within the terrarium. The fan is attached to the glass by small suction hooks.
The two fans in position, one cut into the acrylic lid to allow external air exchange, and the other for internal air circulation and movement.
The external circulation fan which drops into the hole in the acrylic lid, and allows air to be moved out of the tank, drawing fresh air in through the front ventilation holes just below the doors of the ExoTerra terrarium, providing good air exchange within the terrarium.

Orchidarium Misting System

For this Orchidarium’s misting system, I chose to install the MistKing Misting System (which is also produced by Jungle Hobbies).

The MistKing Ultimate Misting System is a starter pack with everything you need to set up an automatic misting system for a terrarium.

There aren’t many MistKing suppliers in the UK.  Jungle Hobbies have an EU office, and so were able to ship the lights and misting system to me within a couple of weeks.

Setting up the misting system for the first time is very straight forward – the instructions are very clear.  The plastic pipe just pushes into the fittings for the pump and misters – although while testing this for the first time, I found that a couple of the connections didn’t have a watertight connection, which left me with a puddle of water.  Simply pushing the pipes further home, to make a proper, watertight connection solved this problem.

The MistKing pump. The unit on the left is the DripZip which maintains pressure and allows the system to run with circular flow, giving immediate water pressure at the misters when the pump activates. To keep things neat and tidy, I’ve put the pump and power adapters into a box with notches cut out for the cables and pipes. Another option is to put them inside the cabinet, or stand, on which the terrarium is placed.

The misting system comes with a timer which can be programmed to automatically mist the tank at various times throughout the day.  It’s also possible to control the misting system with an alternative hygrostatic controller to maintain a particular humidity range, if you want.

The MistKing seconds timer, showing the current time, and the next misting programme. The misting system can be activated manually by holding the ‘up’ button for five seconds.

The misting system doesn’t come with a water reservoir, so I have used a black bucket with a lid (which will keep the dust and light out).  Fitting the bulkhead to the bucket is very straightforward.

A simple bucket with a lid, drilled to fit the bulkhead, makes a great reservoir for the misting system.
Detail showing the bulkhead fitted into the bucket through a small hole. This allows the pump to be gravity-fed, ensuring the pump primes itself quickly each time it runs.
The three MistKing misting system nozzles fit through the custom-drilled holes in the acrylic terrarium lid, and can be directed to form a fine mist cloud across the entire tank.
Each MistKing misting nozzle produces a fine mist of 50 micron droplets.

Here is the Orchidarium filled with orchids, mosses, and ferns.  It’s not entirely finished yet, I have some tweaks I wish to make, but thought I’d show you what this Orchidarium looks like now.

The orchidarium, fully planted with miniature orchids and some ferns.

Phalaenopsis lowii.
Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’, pictured inside my Orchidarium.

Orchidarium Planting List

You can see the Planting List for this Orchidarium, which includes details of where I have purchased all of the plants, ferns, moss, cork, for this terrarium, you’ll also find information about each of the plants inside this Orchidarium here.  On the 11th November 2017 I rearranged many of my terrariums, including this Orchidarium, the Orchidarium Planting List reflects this update, as well as displaying any plants that have previously been grown inside this Orchidarium, any plants that I add in future will also be added to this list.

You can read about the Aerangis luteoalba var. rhodosticta specimen that’s growing inside this Orchidarium and see its flowers, by clicking here.

You can read about the Gastrochilus retrocallus specimens that are growing inside this Orchidarium, and see their flowers, by clicking here.

You can read about the Phalaenopsis honghenensis specimen that’s growing inside this Orchidarium, you can see the plant in flower and find out more about its fragrance, by clicking here.

You can see the Restrepia citrina specimen that is growing inside this Orchidarium and find out more about the plant and see its flowers, by clicking here.

The planting list for this Orchidarium is currently as follows:

  • Aerangis luetoalba var. rhodostica
  • Aerangis mystacidii
  • Athyrium species
  • Bulbophyllum ambrosia
  • Bulbophyllum sessile
  • Ceratochilus biglandulosus
  • Dinema polybulbon
  • Doryopteris cordata
  • Gastrochilus retrocallus
  • Humata repens
  • Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’
  • Leptotes bicolor
  • Oncidium hians
  • Ornithophora radicans
  • Pellaea rotundifolia
  • Phalaenopsis appendiculata
  • Phalaenopsis honghenensis
  • Phalaenopsis lobbii f. flavilabia
  • Phalaenopsis lowii
  • Phalaenopsis malipoensis
  • Phalaenopsis parishii alba
  • Phalaenopsis stobartiana
  • Phalaenopsis thailandica
  • Phalaenopsis wilsonii
  • Platystele examen-culicum
  • Pyrrosia serpens
  • Restrepia antennifera
  • Restrepia citrina
  • Restrepia purpurea ‘Rayas Vino Tinto’
  • Restrepia sanguinea
  • Restrepia seketii
  • Restrepia trichoglossa
  • Schoenorchis fragrans
  • Schoenorchis tixieri
  • Stelis muscifera
This Orchidarium is planted with ferns, mosses, and orchids.

To see all of the articles I’ve written about this Orchidarium, please click here.

To see how my Tall Orchidarium was set up, please click here.

To see how my Rainforest Terrarium was set up, please click here.

To see all of my articles about setting up orchidariums, terrariums, and bottle gardens, please click here.

If you’re thinking of planting an orchidarium, terrarium, or bottle garden, don’t miss my Terrarium, Orchidarium, Vivarium, and Bottle Garden Planting List – here’s a link.

To head straight to my first Orchidarium update and discover how the plants inside this Orchidarium grew and developed, and how the products I used performed, from April 2017 to December 2017, please click here.

To head straight to my second Orchidarium update, where you can discover how the plants inside this Orchidarium grew and developed, and how the products I used performed, from December 2017 to April 2018, please click here.

To head over to my third Orchidarium update, where you’ll see an update from April 2018 to August 2018, please click here.

I’ve divided the fourth part of my Orchidarium update into three distinct segments – each one covers the same period – from September 2018 to August 2019.  This article depicts how the Phalaenopsis orchids inside my Orchidarium grew during this eleven month period.  This article shows how the other orchids and terrarium plants grew and developed during the same time frame.  While this article describes how the lights, misting system, and all the other equipment inside this Orchidarium worked during the same eleven month period.

My Other Terrariums and Orchidariums

To read about how I set up my Tall Orchidarium, please click here.

To read about how I set up my Rainforest Terrarium, to see the features that this terrarium offers, and learn about the thinking behind my design, please click here.

To see an update on how the equipment inside my Rainforest Terrarium performed over the first eleven months after this terrarium was set up, please click here.

To see an update on how the Aerangis, Amesiella, and Angraecum orchids grew and developed over the first eleven months after their introduction to this terrarium, please click here.

For tips on using cork and looking out for invasive species, please click here.

You’ll find lots of articles about how to set up a terrarium, orchidarium, vivarium, or bottle garden, here.

Further Trials

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

Terrarium, Vivarium, and Orchidarium Trials

To see how I set up my Rainforest Terrarium, please click here.

To see how I set up my Tall Orchidarium, please click here.

For all articles about setting up terrariums, orchidariums, and bottle gardens, please click here.

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

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 third Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.

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

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

Scented Daffodil Trial Reports

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

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

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

Orchidarium Planting list

The Orchidarium Planting List displays every plant that has been grown inside this terrarium so far, even plants that are no longer growing inside this Orchidarium and have now been moved to other terrariums are shown on this list.  Any plants that I decide to grow inside this Orchidarium in future will be added to this planting list.  The Orchidarium Planting List includes information on each of the plants – you can click on a plant to see links to every article I have written about that particular plant species.  I have also listed all of the nurseries and suppliers that I used to purchase all of my plants, mosses, and cork for this Orchidarium, at the bottom of this planting list.  You can see the full planting list for this Orchidarium here.

Fertiliser

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.

Other Terrarium or Orchid Articles that may interest you………….

To read about Phalaenopsis honghenensis, please click here.

To read about Aerangis luteoalba var. rhodosticta, please click here.

To read about Restrepia citrinaplease click here.

To read about Gastrochilus retrocallusplease click here.

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

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

To read about long handled terrarium tools, please click here.

To read a planting list of a wide variety of beautiful plants suitable for growing in a terrarium, bottle garden, vivarium, or orchidarium, please click here.

To see a list of miniature orchids, suitable for growing inside terrariums, bottle gardens, vivariums, or orchidariums, please click here.

To read about the largest known orchid in the world, please click here.

Other articles you might like:

One thought on “Building an Orchidarium

  1. SteveR

    July 24, 2019 at 6:36pm

    I used this exact same enclosure, but covered most of the bottom with LECA pellets that I keep constantly wet. I don’t use fans, I open the front panels for a few minutes every day and I’ve never had any problems with mold or anything like that. I have a variety of cultures going on. 2 are still in plastic pots, 1 is in a terracotta pot filled with broken fragments of terracotta (watered through wicking from the saucer underneath), 1 has in semi-water culture for many years, and the rest are slab-mounted to various things. Until this week I had a fogger in place but its ceramic disk failed and I’m waiting for a replacement part to arrive. I mist every day so the fogger is just incidental, but it makes things look nice and seems to keep all the aerial roots healthy-looking. Previously I’d kept the plants in a 4-foot-long aquarium but that wasn’t working out very well. This case works much better. Nice to see someone else’s concept!

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      July 25, 2019 at 1:32am

      Hello Steve, it’s lovely to hear about your enclosure. I am glad to hear that your plants are happy and growing well inside your terrarium. I use LECA inside my Rainforest Terrarium, they work really well.

      I hope you’re having a great week!
      Best wishes, Beth

  2. Mark Swartz

    August 18, 2019 at 7:08pm

    Hi Beth

    I have found myself in an interesting position where I suddenly need an orchidarium. Fortunately, your efforts here will likely save the day. I am going to replicate what you did as best I can and we’ll see what happens. If I have questions, do you mind if I come back and ask?.

    Thanks for your time.

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      August 19, 2019 at 10:50pm

      Hello Mark

      I hope that my articles will help you. Before you purchase any equipment, please read my article where I show my Rainforest Terrarium set up. Please note that I had a few problems with the Jungle Hobbies lights that I purchased for my Orchidarium. I have since replaced these lights (a costly mistake) with the same lights that I used for my Rainforest Terrarium. Here’s a link:
      https://www.pumpkinbeth.com/2018/09/setting-up-rainforest-terrarium/

      If you have any questions, do please ask. If I can help you, I will.

      Best wishes
      Beth

      • Mark Swartz

        August 20, 2019 at 7:54pm

        Thank you for the response and info on the LEDs. I will make the changes.

        Question: Is the exhaust fan a different model than the tank fan or is it the same 80mm fan but in a plastic housing?

      • Steve

        November 24, 2022 at 4:13pm

        Hi Beth, I am setting up a same size terrarium as this for mini orchids and looking at Skylight brand lights also. What spec / number of lights are you using for this one now? I was wondering if I could get away with a single ‘Opti H’ or if I need a bit more power like a couple of ‘Pro RV’s. Many thanks

        • Author

          Pumpkin Beth

          November 25, 2022 at 5:40pm

          Hi Steve, I don’t think you need any more than the one Opti-H, because the terrarium isn’t that tall, and they’re quite powerful. I mainly got the Pro RV because it’s more of a spotlight and directs light down to the bottom of my Tall Terrarium.

          All that said, I would highly recommend the Jungle Dawn LED bars, which I’ve been trialling on my newest terrarium. They’re much cheaper (a short one that would fit the orchidarium comes in at about £42) and they’re very good, bright lights. They’ve even got a black Friday sale on (I just went to look at their website).

          I hope this helps you.

          Best wishes
          Beth

  3. Joe

    September 25, 2019 at 7:04pm

    Is it possible to buy orchid vivarium’s in a kit form? I mean larger sizes for say 10, 20 orchids.

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      September 25, 2019 at 7:35pm

      Hello Joe

      You can buy vivarium kits for keeping frogs, iguanas, snakes, etc, that you could adapt for plants. Or you could create a bottle garden for your orchids, or use a complete kit – like my Miniature Orchid trial Terrarium.

      I hope this helps you.

      Best wishes
      Beth

  4. Sara

    November 27, 2019 at 8:14pm

    Great looking plants! That is a beautiful set up. I have a quick question- what sort of live moss do you use on your mounts? I’m trying to find one that won’t cover up some of the smaller minis or choke out their roots. I am just starting to put together my little terrarium (Exo Terra small-tall). This is a totally new way of growing orchids for me, most of my 250+ are outside under a pergola or on the balcony for 9 months out of the year. Some stay out doors year round. Growing in a terrarium under lights is a bit intimidating for me but it certainly is a fun project!

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      November 28, 2019 at 6:18am

      Hello Sara

      It’s great to hear from you and to hear about how you grow your plants.

      To answer your question, I use what is often termed as ‘flat moss’ or ‘carpet moss’ – species of Sphagnum moss – to mount my orchids. I’ve ordered moss from a nursery, but I’ve also used some moss from my garden and I’ve taken moss that was growing inside my terrariums to mount new plants. Although it’s important to say that not all of my orchids are mounted with moss – some orchid species are happier with no moss at all, other orchids prefer just a small amount of moss, while some orchid species are happy growing within a hummock of moss.

      I grow some orchids inside terrariums without any additional lighting – just make sure that you match your plants to the lighting you can provide, so if you have a more shaded environment – choose shade loving plants.

      PS. Don’t forget to check out my Rainforest Terrarium; you can see all of my articles about setting up a terrarium, here.

  5. Jon Murphy

    April 28, 2020 at 5:19am

    Heyo, Jon here from California. I’m designing my own orchidarium and wondering how you AC Infinity fans are holding up. I was thinking of buying waterproof fans, but it looks like they’re going to be much louder. Do yours every get wet / misted on?

    Best,
    Jon

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      April 28, 2020 at 10:36am

      Hello Jon

      I’ve installed AC Infinity fans inside my Orchidarium and my Rainforest Terrarium. Both sets of fans are working well, although they are rusted they’re still functioning well and are much quieter than some of the other fans I’ve tried. My fans get misted daily.

      Wishing you good luck with your new terrarium.

      I hope this message finds you safe and well.

      Best wishes
      Beth

  6. Malcolm Storey

    April 28, 2020 at 12:37pm

    If it helps I used cheapo fans off the internet. They also get misted daily. The screws that retain the grill are a bit rusty, but otherwise all 4 are still working after 1 year. Low voltage electricitiy is a lot less affected by water than mains power. A friend used to wash his computer keyboard under the tap – it worked fine after 24hrs dry out!

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      April 28, 2020 at 1:21pm

      Hello Malcolm – That’s hilarious! I hope this message finds you safe and well. Best wishes, Beth

  7. Brian Niederer

    July 28, 2020 at 5:44pm

    My fiancee LOVES orchids so for her birthday I bought all the stuff from this setup but with a bigger 48 X 18 X 36 custom terrarium with red oak stand and canopy made by GlassCages.com and I bought the lights you used in your rainforest terrarium. Other thanthat, it is this same setup. My question is: do you start the orchids from seed or do you use starts? If you use starts, where do you get them? Also, do you use recommend using a fogger? Seems like it would look pretty cool but I don’t want to end up with fungus gnats all over my house from overwatering.

    By the way, THANK YOU for putting all this information together!!!!!!!!

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      July 28, 2020 at 7:41pm

      Hello Brian

      How lovely that you’ve created a beautiful terrarium for your fiancee; what a great present! I purchased my orchids as young plants or as flasks of seedlings, as this is the most cost effective way to purchase orchid plants. Have you seen my Terrarium Planting List? Here’s a link. It includes links to the nurseries and suppliers where I’ve purchased my plants, as well as lots of information on the plants themselves.

      I have Mist King misting units in my Orchdarium and Rainforest Terrarium – so far I’ve not had any problems. Here’s some info on getting rid of fungus gnats.

      I hope this helps you. Thank you for saying thank you. I’m happy to help.

      Best wishes
      Beth

  8. Malcolm Storey

    July 29, 2020 at 10:00am

    Easiest way to control fungus gnats is to put a small pot of Drosera capensis in the bottom. It needs no attention beyond NEVER letting it dry ot.

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      July 29, 2020 at 3:14pm

      Yes, that’s a great idea Malcolm – they’re lovely plants. I have used carnivorous plants in a few of my terrariums with varying success.

  9. Deborah Gonroski,

    August 2, 2020 at 5:42pm

    Hi Beth, I am looking to build a small cool temperature orchidarium , using a 18x18x20 inch size housing by Zilla ( much like exro terra) for on a corner table display, would your design work for me, I am looking to put my orchids in there pots and mounts in it ,basic set up, small space, love your ideas, thanks Deb

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      August 2, 2020 at 5:53pm

      Hello Deb, I’m pretty sure it would work – you could always hand mist your plants, if you didn’t want to add the misters in. Please note that I do not recommend the Jungle Hobbies lights that I bought when I first set up my Orchidarium a few years ago. I’ve now taken the Jungle Hobbies lights out and added some Skylight LED lights, which are working well. Don’t forget to check out my Rainforest Terrarium, for some more ideas with less plastic. Wishing you every success with your Orchidarium!

      Best wishes
      Beth

  10. Roy Thompson

    February 14, 2021 at 7:26pm

    Hi. Do you see any problem with running the fan that ventilates the space to reduce humidty the opposite way around.., forcing air in instead of sucking it out? I was just thinking that , in that way, it is blowing in drier air (filtered) and the old air goes out the bottom and the fan won’t get so wet and lasts longer. Looking at setting up a 40x35x60 orchidarium using many of your recomendations (lights and misting especially.)

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      February 15, 2021 at 12:51pm

      Hello Roy

      Yes, you can do it that way – drawing air in – instead of sucking the air out.

      Good luck with your orchidarium.

      Best wishes
      Beth

      • Malcolm Storey

        February 15, 2021 at 1:01pm

        The only difference is that it’ll create a dry draft near the fan, day in, day out. The other way the incoming dry air is diluted over a larger area.

  11. Malcolm Storey

    February 15, 2021 at 1:08pm

    I grow a few Nepenthes. Most of them like bright light and sulk in the orchidarium, but N. x hookerianum rapidly bleached when I put it near the window with the others. It seems much happier in the orchidarium. It’s a small plant (so far!). Worth a try. It’s one of the range sold for children (cartoon drawing of a fly on the label) in garden centres (remember those?)

  12. Cindi

    January 4, 2022 at 1:27pm

    How do you heat the enclosure?

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      January 4, 2022 at 3:34pm

      Hello Cindi,

      I don’t heat my Orchidarium – the plants are all grown at room temperature inside my home. If you’re interested in terrariums, I’ve created a number of new enclosures since I set up this Orchidarium – although this one is still in operation. I have created sections for different terrarium types. Here’s a link to some of my terrarium articles: https://www.pumpkinbeth.com/category/indoor/terrariums/

      Best wishes
      Beth

  13. Steve

    November 16, 2022 at 2:55pm

    I see theres a tube, but how do you drain the terrarium base?

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      November 17, 2022 at 10:36pm

      Hello Steve

      The water in the base is syphoned out of the tank using the tube in the base of the tank.

      Best wishes
      Beth

  14. Cat D

    February 22, 2023 at 1:16pm

    Hi! Thank you for all the information on building your orchidarium! I hope to use it as a blueprint to build my own. 🙂 One question, though – for smaller enclosures, (Exo Terra 12 x 12 x 18) would a fogger work as well to maintain humidity? They are significantly less expensive and the fog looks really nice.

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      July 18, 2023 at 7:20am

      Hello Cat

      I just found your comment quite by chance – I think you must have posted when I was having problems getting my broadband and internet set up after moving. Anyway, I’m sorry not to have found your question sooner, but I’m glad to find you now.

      Yes, foggers should work in smaller orchidariums as well as in larger sized enclosures. I hope your orchidarium is going well.

      Best wishes
      Beth

  15. Brian

    July 15, 2023 at 1:07am

    The water in the base or my orchidarium starts to grow algae very quickly. Is there anything I can add to the water to keep it from doing so? It smells like a fish tank in just a couple of days.

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      July 18, 2023 at 7:15am

      Hello Brian

      Thanks for your question. I always do whatever I can to prevent light or sunlight reaching the water in my terrariums and orchidariums. If you have a false bottom in your orchidarium where the water collects, you should line it in a resilient black-out material – choose something that really will block out the light, and use a double/triple layer if necessary.

      I also use black buckets with black covered lids to store the rainwater that feeds all of my orchidariuns’ misting units (and I store in cupboards or in the darkest place possible).

      Once you’ve come up with a solution, you’ll need to drain the water, clean out the orchidariun and wash the base and any equipment before adding your blackout material or light shield and then adding fresh water. Good luck.

      I hope this helps you.

      Best wishes, Beth

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