Welcome to the fifth part of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial – growing epiphytic orchids, which are endemic to Madagascar, inside the BiOrbAir terrarium.
My reason for planting this very special terrarium with orchids that are endemic to Madagascar, was to highlight and raise awareness of the fragility of Madagascar. I wanted showcase the beauty of some of Madagascar’s plants, with the hope that by sharing these images I would encourage more love, protection, and support for Madagascar. Many of the orchids that are found growing in Madagascar are not found anywhere else on Earth, so it really is a special and unique place. Sadly some orchids, and other plant species have been lost before they were found, identified and catalogued.
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. You can see Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre’s latest tweets on Twitter, by clicking 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 Planting List
- Aerangis citrata
- Aerangis fastuosa
- Aerangis macrocentra
- Aerangis modesta
- Aerangis punctata
- Aerangis sp.
- 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.
For information on how to mount epiphytic orchids onto cork bark, please click here.
Miniature epiphytic orchids from Madagascar
Aerangis citrata is such a floriferous orchid! I included this special orchid in my original planting of this terrarium at the start of April 2017, which at the time of writing, was just six months ago. When I introduced this Aerangis citrata specimen to this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium for the first time, the plant didn’t have even the beginnings of a flower spike at that time. Over the following six months, this orchid went on to produce a flower spike which has now flowered, faded, and has been removed. While this orchid was in flower, the plant began to produce its second flower spike, which you can see in the photographs above and below. Hooray for Aerangis citrata! I am looking forward to seeing this orchid’s flowers again!
This Aerangis citrata specimen still features a few marked and damaged leaves, this damage was present when I purchased the plant. Over the six months that I have been caring for this orchid, two lovely new leaves have begun growing, both in a desirable shade of optimum healthy leaf green. I am looking forward to the day when this little orchid only features complete, healthy leaves, that are free of any marks and blemishes. This day is still quite way off, but I am looking forward to it all the same!
This Aerangis fastuosa specimen is one of my favourite plants.
I must say, I believe that this plant with its curled leaves, looks as if it has endured drier growing conditions than it would have wished for. This was not intentional. I have now given this orchid a thorough misting. I will ensure that I check this plant regularly over the coming weeks.
These young Aerangis macrocentra plants are growing away nicely, it’s lovely to see their new leaves and roots developing. The leaves that these two plants have produced during the six months that they have been in my care, are free of any blemishes and markings. I hope that these young plants will continue to grow and thrive inside this terrarium.
This Aerangis modesta specimen is one of the larger orchids that reside inside this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium. The plant is perhaps rather too big, but I am absolutely thrilled to have acquired it!
It has been wonderful to watch this Aerangis modesta specimen produce healthy new growth, glossy green leaves and new roots over the past few months. I hope that this orchid will continue to flourish.
How wonderful it is to watch and marvel at every stage of the development of this Aerangis punctata specimen’s flower, from the very first sign of a flower bud, right up until the flower itself eventually opens! This miniature orchid’s flowering stem first appeared at the beginning of August 2017. This Aerangis punctata bloom took around fifty-one days of development, counting from the first sign of a flowering stem, to the flower opening.
It’s such a joy to be able to share the beauty of this miniature orchid’s bloom with you!
One of this Aerangis punctata specimen’s leaves has become embedded into one of the plant’s growing roots, they have fused into one another and become one!
This miniature orchid’s roots, as you can see in the photograph above, have a rather knobbly, rough surface texture. The root’s covering is called velamen. The velamen of Aerangis punctata‘s roots is quite distinctive, it is somewhat like a chunky, hand knitted protector covering the roots. The velamen protects the orchid’s root and helps the root to function and take in water and nutrients.
Look at the long nectary that Aerangis punctata produces! How beautiful it is to watch this nectary as it grows, curls, and then unfurls. The flower bud and nectary of Aerangis punctata are incredibly beautiful at every stage of their development. Aerangis punctata is pollinated by a species of moth that has a long proboscis, which enables the insect to access this orchid’s nectar.
Aerangis punctata can be found growing in the centre of Madagascar, where over autumn, through winter, to early spring, the humidity drops by about 10% and rain isn’t quite as frequent. This Aerangis punctata specimen is growing inside my Madagascar BiOrbAIr Terrarium, where conditions are fairly constant.
This Aerangis specimen, which I expect to be Aerangis fuscata, (this Aerangis specimen arrived through the post in July 2014, in response to my order for Aerangis fastuosa, from a nursery which didn’t list Aerangis fuscata either at the time when I placed my order or since) is growing steadily, producing new leaves and roots.
I think this orchid is such an attractive plant. I like the shape of this miniature orchid’s leaves, their dark green colour and handsome reddish brown edging.
This Aeranthes arachnites specimen’s first flower opened on the 27th June 2017. Since then the plant has almost always featured at least one open flower, sometimes two, and has always sported at least two flower buds at earlier stages of development, all ready and waiting in the wings.
This Aeranthes arachnites plant has produced two flowering racemes, both of which are currently flowering.
The open flower that you see in the photographs below is rather old, it has been present on the plant for a few weeks now. I have found that some of the Aeranthes arachnites flowers have lasted like this for several weeks, while others have faded rather rapidly, perhaps lasting just a week at most, sometimes less.
It’s a bit of a joke to have Aeranthes arachnites growing inside this terrarium! I just couldn’t resist the chance to show off this orchid’s handsome and intriguing, green coloured flowers; I hoped that this fascinating inflorescence would interest readers, and by piquing interest, help to raise awareness of the importance of Madagascar.
It may seem greedy to have so much hope, but I have a strong faith in others. I hope that in raising the profile and introducing my readers to a few of Madagascar’s fascinating orchids, then this will increase the power of the love, sensitivity, awareness, and ultimately of course, action, to protect Madagascar, and the other precious remaining habitats on earth, where orchids and plants of every type are threatened by human activities. Whether the habitats and plants are at risk due to logging, deforestation, palm oil plantations, over collection of orchids and other plants, human habitation, or some other such travesty, I want to save them all.
So, back at the beginning of April 2017, I introduced this Aeranthes arachnites specimen, a plant that is rather large in comparison to this, which is what many people would consider to be a large sized terrarium, hoping that I could drape this orchid’s lengthy racemes around, and gently over, the other plants that would also be growing inside this terrarium without too many problems. I am fortunate that Aeranthes arachnites‘ racemes or flower spikes are pliable and flexible. They are sufficiently malleable to be accommodating to my demands, so thankfully this Aeranthes arachnites’ flowers aren’t pressed up against the outside of this terrarium’s globe, like a young child with its nose squashed and face pressed into the window. This flexibility allows this orchid to coexist so happily alongside the other orchids growing inside this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium, despite the considerable size of the plant.
If you consider growing Aeranthes arachnites, or indeed any orchids yourself, do please ensure that you purchase your plants from a reputable grower, so as to avoid any risk of purchasing plants that have been illegally or wrongly taken from the wild.
There are a couple of other points to remember: the lengthy racemes that Aeranthes arachnites produces can continue producing flowers for a number of years, so even if your plant hasn’t produced a flower for some time, please don’t be tempted to tidy up your plant and cut the flowering stems off – they are unlikely to be spent! If your Aeranthes arachnites‘ raceme features any green whatsoever, then it’s highly likely that your plant’s raceme will produce more flowers in future. Even if no signs of any green colouring are present on the flowering stem, it’s still worth keeping the raceme intact until it withers, just in case.
Orchids are very clever, they don’t want to flower to their own detriment and are very smart in the way they use their energy and available resources.
Aeranthes arachnites is a sequential bloomer. The plants may produce two or more flowers at the same time, but the racemes that this orchid produces deliver their flowers in a loose sequence; essentially one flower after another, or in some degree of sequence. By flowering in this sequential manner, the plant is maximising its chances of pollination, its chance to set seed and propagate itself. As if the orchid produced all of its flowers at once – say for example the orchid was capable of producing a maximum of twenty flowers, and each flower lasted for about a week. Then if all of the plant’s maximum twenty flowers were produced at once, the plant would no doubt attract any pollinators in the local vicinity during its one special flowering week, but the plant could not guarantee that any of its flowers would be pollinated. A short flowering period presents many risks. What if the weather changed for the worse during the orchid’s flowering week? Or what if there were a lack of pollinators during that one particular flowering week, or what if the blooms of other flowering plants in the locality were more attractive, or noticeable to pollinators during this brief flowering period?
By producing its flowers in succession, the orchid is maximising its chances of successful pollination. There are other benefits enjoyed by sequential blooming plants: the plant can potentially sustain an individual flower for longer than it could sustain and retain all of its twenty possible flowers for, which further extends the orchid’s flowering period. But if the orchid produces twenty flowers in succession, then it’s likely to be in flower for fifteen to twenty weeks, possibly more. This gives the plant a far greater time period to find a successful pollinator and achieve the conditions necessary for optimum pollination.
I have found that Aeranthes arachnites appreciates constant conditions: high humidity, fairly low light levels, temperatures from 16C to 25C, and watering at regular intervals.
In the photograph below, you can see the back of this Aeranthes arachnites inflorescence, and see where the new flower bud is just starting to form, behind the flower, ready to take over when this bloom fades and falls away from the plant.
Angraecum didieri is a handsome orchid. This specimen has grown considerably over the six months since it was first introduced to this Madagascan terrarium, producing new leaves and roots.
Angraecum didieri is endemic to Madagascar, this epiphytic orchid can be found growing in central and eastern Madagascar, where it grows on trees in humid rainforests.
To head straight to the next update of this Madagascan Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial and Review, please click here.
Other articles that may interest you…………
To read about how my Orchidarium was created, please click here.
To read the first part of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial, 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 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.
For information on how to mount epiphytic orchids onto cork bark, please click here.
To read about the great new features of the 2017 BiOrbAir terrarium, please click here.
To read a Planting List of a wide range and variety of beautiful plants which are suitable for growing in terrariums, vivariums, bottle gardens, and indoor gardens, please click here.
To see a Planting List of beautiful, miniature orchids, suitable for growing in terrariums, vivariums, bottle gardens, and indoor gardens, please click here.
To read about the Writhlington Orchid Project, please click here.
To read about the largest orchid species in the world, the Queen of Orchids, and this plant’s flowering at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in September 2015, please click here.