Welcome to the sixth 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.
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 Planting List
- Aerangis citrata
- Aerangis fastuosa
- Aerangis fuscata
- 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.
For information on how to mount epiphytic orchids onto cork bark, please click here.
Miniature epiphytic orchids from Madagascar
Here is a closer look at the Madagascan orchids that are growing inside this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium:
I am looking so forward to seeing the next flowering of this Aerangis citrata specimen! I am so very happy that I was able to include this particular miniature orchid inside this Madagascar BiOrbAir terrarium, as this specialised terrarium has proven to be the perfect environment to grow this orchid, and has allowed this Aerangis citrata specimen to flourish.
I introduced this Aerangis citrata specimen to this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium at the beginning of April 2017. At the time of its introduction, this orchid didn’t show even the earliest sign that it was about to produce a flower spike. Over the seven months that have followed, this Aerangis citrata specimen has flowered, these flowers have now faded, and the plant is now producing its second flower spike!
It may not surprise you to see the somewhat shocking state that I have left this Aerangis fastuosa specimen in! At the beginning of October 2017, every time I gave a cursory glance towards the direction of this particular Aerangis fastuosa specimen I was stopped in my tracks and horrified. Each day the horror I had experienced when I had last glanced over at the plant, seemed like nothing in comparison to what I felt the following day as I cast my eyes over this sorry and rather tragic looking specimen.
I kept meaning to take a photograph, as each day, for a number of consecutive days, this previously lovely Aerangis fastuosa specimen dropped one more of its twisted leaves. I finally got my camera out as the plant dropped down to three leaves, so that I could record the plant’s continuing decline.
This Aerangis fastuosa specimen has been receiving far less water than it would have liked for a while now. The twisted leaves that adorned the plant for quite sometime before the orchid dropped them, were a clear indicator to me that this plant was severely dehydrated. I think it would be helpful to show you what this plant looked like a few months ago, hence the photograph below:
Had this Aerangis fastuosa specimen been adequately hydrated when the photograph you see above was taken, I would have expected the plant’s leaves to have appeared in a flatter, more regular looking form. The contorted, twisted look that the plant displays in the photographs you see here, was a stark warning sign of the plant’s dire predicament, that showed on the plant long before its first leaf was shed.
I am a member of the Orchid Society of Great Britain. At one of the Orchid Society’s recent meetings, Orchid Expert Dr. Henry Oakeley was kind enough to pass on some sage advice to me, via a friend who had attended the meeting. Dr. Henry Oakeley advised me to pop my dehydrated Aerangis fastuosa specimen into a bucket of water that was filled right up to the top, so the water covered the plant and its leaves, and leave the orchid there for 24 hours to re-hydrate.
I have previously soaked dehydrated plants in water for a period of a few hours, even overnight, and for 24 hours, but I have never placed an orchid in a bucket of water that covers its leaves for 24 hours, so I greatly appreciated Henry passing on his wisdom to me – thank you Henry! Of course there is still a good chance that this tormented orchid might not make it, but if the plant does die, I fear that this would have been the case whatever I had done – other than not allowing the plant to become so dehydrated in the first place of course!
Many plants, including orchids, will drop leaves naturally as they grow, mature, and produce newer leaves, this is a natural growth cycle and nothing to be alarmed about at all. Orchids are clever plants, they will drop their leaves if they are under stress and do not have the required amount of moisture, it’s a way of preserving the plant and protecting it. As the plant drops each leaf it becomes smaller and so consequently needs less water and nutrients to sustain it.
I have my fingers crossed that this Aerangis fastuosa specimen will make it, but for now we will just have to wait and see. Thankfully, this plant is in the process of producing a new leaf. I just hope that this new developing leaf will grow on and mature. I hope that this orchid will not shed this lovely new leaf, until it has produced a great many other leaves to sustain the plant! Time will tell of course!
Had this plant been a younger specimen it may have exhibited a greater resilience. This previously fully sized flowering plant is now a shadow of its former self and for this I am truly sorry.
Thankfully these two Aerangis macrocentra specimens are growing beautifully inside this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium. The outside of both of these two Aerangis macrocentra specimens’ leaves are now developing an attractive red outline, which is very pleasing. I am so happy to see these plants growing so marvellously.
This Aerangis modesta specimen is rather too big for this terrarium! Despite the size issue I am so grateful to have this small orchid as part of my collection.
This Aerangis punctata specimen’s flowers have now faded, but I am still over the moon that this plant has flowered inside my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium, especially so soon after this specimen’s introduction to this special terrarium! In the photographs below, you can see this Aerangis punctata specimen’s blooms before and as they fade.
Aerangis punctata flowering
This Aerangis fuscata (the plant was purchased as Aerangis fastuosa, but is most likely to be Aerangis fuscata) was also perhaps a little too dry earlier this summer, since then the plant has probably been kept somewhat wetter than it would have liked, so as a consequence this specimen is not looking as promising as I had hoped. I have my fingers crossed that the plant will improve its vigour; although looking at the plant in the photograph here, I expect that this orchid will drop at least two leaves in the near future.
This Aeranthes arachnites specimen has been far more floriferous than I had anticipated, it has been a joy to see this orchid flowering over the past few months. This Aeranthes arachnites specimen opened its first flower on the 26th June 2017. Since this initial flower bloomed, a great number of flowers have followed, each just as enjoyable as the last. A real treat!
Sadly this Angraecum didieri specimen is another plant that has endured a rather difficult few months. I think this plant has not found it easy to grow in initially such dry conditions and then following the drought, in such close quarters to my, at one time, rather saturated Aerangis fastuosa specimen. Sadly this wonderful plant has also dropped a number of leaves. I do hope that the conditions inside this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium over the coming months will be far kinder to this plant and to all of these precious Madagascan orchids. I will endeavour to do more to provide the optimum growing conditions for these special plants.
To head straight to the next trial update, and see how these orchids from Madagascar are growing, please click here.
Other articles that may interest you…………
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.
To read about how my Orchidarium was created, 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 Queen of Orchids, and this plant’s flowering at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in September 2015, please click here.