Welcome to the tenth part of my White Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial. In this update it is a real pleasure to share with you the flowers of Amesiella minor before they fade, the sparkling blooms of Hymenorchis javanica as they twinkle, and the magnificent flowering of Amesiella philippinensis, as these glamorous flowers finally finish developing and open at last!
However despite all this sparkle, it’s not quite as glitzy or glamorous inside this terrarium as you might think – at least one type of spider mite is currently affecting the plants inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium. My Holcoglossum flavescens has dropped three quarters of its leaves over the past few months, while Holcoglossum weixiense aborted its flowers in December. But firstly, before I show you the individual plants in detail, here is some background information about how and why this terrarium was created.
Reasons for this White Orchid Trial
I decided to plant up this White Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium in April 2017, after receiving many requests from readers asking about white flowered, miniature, epiphytic orchids to grow in terrariums. I didn’t have a spare terrarium available to plant at the time, so I decided to empty, and then re-plant my long-term review BiOrbAir terrarium with a variety of species of white-flowering orchids, to showcase how beautiful a single colour planting scheme for terrariums, vivariums, orchidariums, or bottle gardens, can be.
I have a few BiOrbAir Terrariums, I love them! The BiOrbAir is a specialised, automated, terrarium, which was designed by Barry Reynolds, and is available from BiOrb. If you would like to see this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium from the very beginning after it was first planted, please click here. While you can read about the latest features of the updated 2017 model of the BiOrbAir terrarium here.
White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium Planting List:
- Aerangis hyaloides
- Aerangis mystacidii
- Amesiella minor
- Amesiella monticola
- Amesiella philippinensis
- Brachypeza semiteretifolia
- Ceratochilus biglandulosus
- Ceratostylis pristina
- Constantia cipoensis
- Holcoglossum flavescens
- Holcoglossum weixiense
- Humata repens
- Hymenorchis javanica
- Masdevallia tovarensis
- Neofinetia falcata
- Podangis dactyloceras
Since I set up this terrarium in April 2017, I have made a number of changes. I have introduced new plants to this terrarium: on the 28th May 2017, I added a young Aerangis mystacidii specimen, which had been previously growing inside a flask, and at the same time I added an attractive fern, Humata repens, which was previously growing inside another of my terrariums, to this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Then on the 12th November 2017, I rearranged this White Orchid Trial Terrarium, this re-arrangement was part of a large reorganisation of many of my terrariums. On the 12th November 2017, I removed some of the orchids that were growing inside this White Orchid Trial Terrarium, relocating these plants to other terrariums. At this time, (still on the 12th November 2017) I introduced some new miniature orchids to this terrarium. The planting list that you can see above is the current list (which is correct as of February 2018) of all of the miniature orchids that are currently residing inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium.
You can see the full planting list for this terrarium here. This full planting list provides more details about each of the orchids that are currently growing inside this terrarium, as well as details of any other orchids that have previously been trialled inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium. If I make any changes in the future, the details of all future plants that will be trialled inside this terrarium will also be added to this planting list. This planting list provides the details of all of the nurseries and suppliers where I purchased all of my orchids, the mosses, and cork used inside this terrarium.
If you’re wondering how I mounted my orchids onto the cork wood, you’ll find more information on how to mount epiphytic orchids onto cork bark here.
White flowered miniature epiphytic orchids
All of the orchids that are growing inside this terrarium produce white coloured flowers. All of these orchids are epiphytes, they grow on branches, or twigs produced by trees and shrubs. Epiphytic plants don’t take any nutrients from their host plant, they simply gain a better location in which to grow, thanks to the position they occupy within the branches or twigs, where they can receive more light, better air circulation and more moisture, but with the ability to regularly have the moisture around the plant evaporate and so the plant’s overall growing conditions and environment are greatly improved thanks to the host plant raising them up.
Some of the orchids growing inside this White Orchid Trial Terrarium are also lithophytes. These plants have the ability to also grow on rocks. Some orchids are exclusively epiphytes, and others exclusively lithophytes, but many are able to grow on both rocks and branches or twigs. I have all of the orchids that are growing inside this terrarium mounted onto cork bark.
This terrarium has been a very productive place over the past few months, a number of the orchids growing inside this White Orchid Trial Terrarium have been in flower. It has been marvellous to watch the growth and development of these orchids, with so many flowers to celebrate and share with you here in my updates! I hope that you will enjoy seeing the new growth, new roots, and the new flowers, produced by these marvellous miniature orchids over the past month as much as I have!
I was so happy to be able to find room inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium for this dear little Aerangis hyaloides specimen. I was even more excited to make room for this plant just in time for me to be able to share with you this wonderful little orchid’s delightfully sparkling flowers, which I was consequently able to show you in my previous update for this terrarium!
The flowers of Aerangis hyaloides are a distant, but happy memory now, as this plant’s flowers had faded by the 10th January 2018. I am always utterly charmed by Aerangis hyaloides‘s flowers, that’s for sure, but I certainly admire this miniature orchid’s leaves every time I so much as glance in this plant’s direction. In this update, I am so very happy to share with you the first sign that this Aerangis hyaloides specimen’s is in the earliest stages of producing a glorious new leaf! Hooray!
I purchased this Aerangis mystacidii specimen as one seedling within a flask of young seedlings that I bought from the Writhlington Orchid Project, a fantastic organisation, which was started over twenty-five years ago by Simon Pugh-Jones, a fabulous teacher at the Writhlington School. I think the work that Simon Pugh-Jones, and the students at the Writhlington School, have undertaken is incredible, I am a huge fan of theirs! If you’re interested in the Writhlington Orchid Project, you can read more about this Project here.
This young Aerangis mystacidii orchid specimen is growing well. This plant is perfectly adapted to growing in the conditions that this White Orchid Trial Terrarium creates and provides.
19th January 2018
I am such a fan of the genus Amesiella! So it has been such a joy to have this Amesiella minor specimen flowering inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium! Ameisella minor flowers have a sumptuous, rather glamorous quality, which is quite magnificent for such a small orchid!
The Amesiella minor flower that you see pictured both above and below, began opening on the 17th December 2017. I am writing to you now, some five weeks later, as this inflorescence is now losing some of its vigour.
I have examined this Amesiella minor plant on many occasions over the past five weeks, while this plant was in flower. I was unable to detect any perfume from Amesiella minor‘s flowers at any time of either the day or evening.
Amesiella minor flowering
Spider mites on orchids
I noticed when I looked at this photograph (above) of Amesiella minor, which I took earlier this month (on the 11th January 2018) the discolouration of this orchid’s leaves, which look to be leaf damage caused by spider mites. Spider mites are a serious pest of orchids, indeed they are a serious pest of many other plants too.
Spider mite feeding and the resulting damage to plants
Spider mites feed on plants by using their specially adapted mouthparts to pierce through the host plant’s leaves, damaging the plant cells inside as they do so. Spider mites cause further damage to the plant cells, as they feed on the chloroplasts and the chlorophyll inside the leaf, when they suck the juice from the plant’s leaves. Chlorophyll is the green pigment, which is present within the chloroplasts, inside the plant’s leaves. Chlorophyll plays an important role in photosynthesis, which takes place inside the chloroplasts within the plant’s leaves. So with a diminished supply of chlorophyll, damaged plant cells, and missing chloroplasts, spider mite affected plants are soon limited to varying degrees in their ability to conduct the process of photosynthesis as fully as they require for healthy growth, consequently spider mites dramatically affect the health of the plants that they afflicted.
Over time, the leaf damage caused by spider mites, which may initially appear as yellow or silvery coloured patches on the orchid’s leaves, may turn brown, although the leaf may of course fall before any further change in colouration occurs. If you look at this photograph below of my Amesiella minor plant, you can see that a few of the dead plant cells have now turned brown. You may also be able to see the webbing under the plant’s leaf, which is just visible in the photograph below. This webbing can serve to give the spider mites some protection from both predators and pesticides.
Types of spider mite that affect orchids
Spider mites are very tiny. Due to their minuscule size, spider mites are not easy to spot, so often by the time a gardener, or orchid grower realises that they have spider mites they may well have a large infestation. Even if you do identify your spider mite problem quickly, spider mites are voracious feeders, which increase rapidly. So a small number of spider mites can increase to become a large infestation in almost record timing!
There are many types of spider mites: red spider mites and two spotted spider mites (both the same creature, which are known by their scientific name of Tetranychus urticae), flat mites or false spider mites (both the same creature, which are known by their scientific name of Brevipalpus californicus), orchid mites (also known by their scientific name of Tenuipalpus orchidarum) and Phalaenopsis mites (Tenuipalpus pacificus – which also feeds on other orchids and some ferns). There are a great many other mites as well, including predatory mites. Due to their minuscule size it’s not at all easy to identify spider mites, as it’s so hard to see them, and it’s difficult to photograph these tiny creatures.
Spotting spider mites on orchids
I found that it was far easier for me to spot the spider mite damage in a photograph of a leaf as I just glanced over the photo. I was not looking for, or thinking about pests, or pest damage at the time. It was easier for me to notice the spider mite damage as captured in photographs than it was to spot the same pest in natural daylight, with the affected plant right in front of me. As soon as I glanced across at this photograph, I spotted the spider mite damage right away. I then looked back over some of my photographs of the orchids that are growing inside this terrarium, and found in some of my extreme close up photographs of the white flowers, I could see a few tiny specks when I zoomed in. These specks could have been anything of course, but I could see that some of these specks were alive, as the specks moved, when I flicked from one photograph to another!
Naturally not everything that is alive is bad news, my first reaction is not to kill the creatures I find. However, spider mites are a serious orchid pest, so on this occasion, I have reached for SB Plant Invigorator. SB Plant Invigorator is an organic product which is widely used in horticulture, by both professional and amateur gardeners, to control spider mites, aphids, whitefly, scale, mealy bug, and psyllid insects. SB Plant Invigorator has now been sprayed over all of the plants that are growing inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, and as a precaution, over all of my other orchids, including the plants inside my Madagascar Terrarium, my Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium, my Rainforest Terrarium, my Orchidarium, and my other terrariums. I hope that the SB Plant Invigorator will help to control the spider mite and will give the plants a boost, as well as some added protection from any other pests.
There are countless different species of mites, not all of which damage plants. For example, there are various species of Oribatid mites, which are found in almost every plant habitat, including in the soil, among mosses, and among leaf litter. Oribatid mites feed on decaying plant matter, algae, mould, soil microflora, bacteria, and plant materials.
Spider mites can be found on any part of a plant, but they are often fond of inhabiting the underside of a leaf, where they enjoy an additional level of protection. I will write more about spider mites and will link the spider mite article to this update, so that you can discover more about this resilient and widespread pest of orchids and many other plants.
White flowered miniature epiphytic orchids continued
Amesiella philippinensis flowering
Amesiella philippinensis is flowering! It has been quite simply wonderful to watch this Amesiella philippinensis specimen’s flower buds as they developed, and absolutely magical to watch this miniature orchid’s heavenly flowers as they opened! It has been such an exciting time inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium of late!
This Amesiella philippinensis specimen first started producing this inflorescence at the end of September 2017. The first flower opened on the 22nd January 2018, four months later.
Amesiella philippinensis flower petals are opaque, they are the purest of all whites, with a shimmering crystalline quality. Amesiella philippinensis flowers have the same appearance as newly fallen snow, which glistens in the sunlight, and twinkles as the sun sets and rises.
I am very happy to have been able to include two Brachypeza semiteretifolia specimens inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium. The Brachypeza semiteretifolia specimen that you see pictured above, flowered in September 2017, while the Brachypeza semiteretifolia specimen that’s pictured below, bloomed on new year’s eve! Quite a magical time for a flower to open! I just absolutely adore this little orchid’s flowers, their fragrance is surprisingly powerful and delicious. If you’d like to see the Brachypeza semiteretifolia specimen below, in flower earlier this month, you can skip backwards to my previous update for this terrarium. If you wish, you can skip even further back in time, to see the lower Brachypeza semiteretifolia specimen in flower in my September 2017 update for this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium.
I don’t have any Brachypeza semiteretifolia flowers to share with you in this update, but I am thrilled to have these two plants, which have both, so far grown very happily inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium.
This same Ceratochilus biglandulosus specimen was first introduced to this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium in April 2017. The plant did not receive sufficient moisture to meet its requirements, and so this Ceratochilus biglandulosus specimen dropped a good proportion of its leaves as it declined, before I swiftly moved this specimen into my Orchidarium, which delivers an automated misting to all of the plants at a set time daily.
In November 2017, I deemed this plant to have recovered sufficiently, and to be healthy enough to be introduced back into this terrarium on the 12th November 2017, as part of my large scale terrarium reorganisation, for another attempt at trialling this miniature orchid species inside the BiOrbAir Terrarium.
It’s great to see that this Ceratostylis pristina specimen has produced so many new leaves, as the old leaves on this plant look to be in quite poor condition. I hope to see the production of more healthy new leaves and roots to fully support this plant and allow it to flower again.
There’s something about Constantia cipoensis which is utterly charming. This miniature orchid’s pastel blueish, greyish, green coloured leaves are very pretty, this really is a very attractive little orchid.
I am thrilled that this Constantia cipoensis specimen is producing new roots, as well as new leaf growth inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium.
This Holcoglossum flavescens specimen is a fragment of its former self, having dropped at least three leaves over the past four weeks, and having discarded six leaves in the weeks prior to this. In an attempt to reverse this plant’s fate, in December 2017, (just last month) I removed as much moss as I was able to from the piece of cork that this Holcoglossum flavescens specimen is growing on, as I felt in hindsight that this moss, which I had placed on the cork myself when I mounted this plant onto this piece of cork in April 2017, was too much for this miniature orchid. I felt that this plant would have fared better had it been simply mounted onto the cork without any moss whatsoever around its roots. As it stands now, there is a thin covering of moss remaining – the moss fragments which were entwined and embedded into this Holcoglossum flavescens specimen’s roots and therefore could not be removed without risking further damage to the plant’s roots.
I hope for a reversal in this plant’s fortunes, but after such substantial leaf losses, and with spider mite showing a high presence and occupation within this White Orchid Trial Terrarium, this might be too much to ask. I am wishing this Holcoglossum flavescens specimen good luck and a successful recovery. I will keep you updated!
Sadly this Holcoglossum weixiense specimen aborted its flower buds in December 2017, you can just make out the remnants of these failed buds in my photographs, left as a sorry reminder of what might have been!
I am hoping that this Holcoglossum weixiense specimen will now produce and develop more healthy root and leaf growth, to enable the plant to be fully supported, so this plant can enjoy a successful flowering in 2018. Fingers crossed!
I don’t pay this Humata repens specimen any attention. This charming little fern is watered automatically by the BiOrbAir – thanks to the clever design of the BiOrbAir’s base reservoir and capillary matting, which provides automatic watering for the plants growing above. Despite the fact that I don’t need to tend to this fern, I notice, appreciate, and value this fern every time I look at this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAIr Terrarium, which is often!
This Humata repens specimen was introduced to this BiOrbAir Terrarium on the 28th May 2017, which was eight months ago now. This fern is now well established inside this terrarium and is growing well.
I thought it would be helpful to show the picture (above) of my White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, which shows this Hymenorchis javanica specimen in flower alongside the other miniature orchids that are growing inside this terrarium, including Amesiella philippinensis, which was also in flower at the time when this photograph was taken. Hopefully by looking at this image it will help to convey just how tiny Hymenorchis javanica is, both in terms of the size of the plant and in the size of this orchid’s flowers.
As the saying goes, ‘nice things come in small packages’. This statement is most certainly true of Hymenorchis javanica. This is such a pretty, teeny, tiny little orchid! The crystalline form of the cell structures of Hymenorchis javanica‘s petals are most apparent, even during periods of low light. At times the flowers of Hymenorchis javanica look as if they have been sculpted from ice, other times these fascinating flowers have the appearance of having been crafted from fairy dust and sheer magic, these tiny blooms glisten so prettily.
Hymenorchis javanica petals have a serrated edging, which is almost like a fringing, the Hymenorchis javanica petals look as if they have been trimmed to size with miniature pinking shears! Hymenorchis javanica flowers are altogether charming, it’s easy to be dazzled by this miniature orchid’s charm and beauty – I certainly have! My heart is captivated by the beauty of Hymenorchis javanica and its sparkling, twinkling inflorescences.
In case you were wondering, I have been unable to detect any scent from the blooms of Hymenorchis javanica at any time of day or night.
Hymenorchis javanica flowering
This Masdevallia tovarensis specimen was one of the very first plants that I included inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium’s planting, when I first planted this terrarium up with a white themed colour scheme, in April 2017. At this time, the Masdevallia tovarensis plant that I included was a much larger specimen, which featured many leaves, however in November 2017, I divided this Masdevallia tovarensis specimen into a few separate parts and placed a much smaller piece of the original plant back into this terrarium. This small division featured just two leaves on the 12th November 2017 when I popped it back inside this terrarium, so I am absolutely thrilled to show you this Masdevallia tovarensis specimen today, this plant has now doubled in size, to display four, very glossy and healthy leaves, just two and a half month’s later!
This Neofinetia falcata specimen has produced a lot of healthy root growth to really secure itself to the cork bark that I mounted this orchid onto back in March 2017. It’s lovely to see the new roots and the new leaves that this very attractive orchid has produced over the past nine months since it was first introduced to this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium. I have been looking forward to this beautifully fragrant orchid’s next flowering, since the plant’s last flowers faded, back in July 2017.
For some time now, I have been wanting to place some additional moss over the cork wood that this orchid is mounted on, to allow for better water retention over the cork, to enable this Neofinetia falcata specimen’s roots to more easily find additional moisture should they require it, but I did not have any additional moss available. Happily, I now have the required moss, so I will add the moss, placing it over this piece of cork later today.
The photographs I have taken and added for you above and below, show one of the marvellous roots that this Neofinetia falcata specimen has produced. You can clearly see the protective root cap, at the tip of this orchid’s root, and then above the root cap you can see the root hairs, which have caught a very tiny piece of hair or dust. I must remind you that this really is a close up photograph – I cannot see this hair or dust particle on the plant’s root myself, even though I know it’s there, and I know exactly where to look!
In their native environments, orchids obtain much of their nutrients from dust and decaying plant matter, along with other materials that are washed in with rainwater, or blown into the branches of trees that the plants are growing on. Generally speaking, the amount of nutrients that orchids receive when they’re growing in their natural environments are very low indeed. For the orchids that grow in the areas of the world that experience drier weather during the winter months, these plants will receive a lesser supply of both water and nutrients during the winter, so to survive these times, when less resources are available, (which I must say these orchids do incredibly successfully, often surviving when the plants are assumed to be entirely desiccated) the orchids that reside in these areas will move into a dormant, or semi dormant state during the colder, drier winter months. If you grow any orchids that hail from areas of the planet that experience drier winters, you may want to try to replicate the plant’s natural growing conditions and allow your plants a drier winter, as many orchids need to experience a drier and/or cooler winter period in order to trigger the plants to produce flowers.
The whitish covering that you can see over most of the orchid’s root is called velamen. Velamen usually appears as a white, or white toned, root covering, although many orchids feature greyer toned, or even blue-grey coloured velamen, for example the roots of Aerangis biloba or Angraecum didieri. When the orchid’s roots are wet, the green colouring of the chlorophyll within the cells, beneath the velamen is able to show through, and so the velamen will usually appear as green until the root dries out again. The velamen has an important role in the growth and well being of the plant, it acts as a protector of the cells beneath its protective covering, but velamen also assists the root with its ability to take in moisture and nutrients.
Every time I look at this Podangis dactyloceras specimen I admire the plant more. This small orchid species hails from Africa, where it is usually found growing near water, often close to waterfalls, or streams, or rivers, where Podangis dactyloceras enjoys hot to warm temperatures, within the rather luxurious, semi shaded areas of evergreen, humid rainforests. Podangis dactyloceras grows as both an epiphytic orchid, growing on wood, and as a lithophytic orchid, where the plants grow on stones.
Podangis dactyloceras produces the most amazing and interesting, glass like flowers. This is a slow growing miniature orchid species though, so if you’re considering purchasing this miniature orchid, if you particularly wish to see this orchid in flower and don’t want to wait too long to see your plant in bloom, do ensure that you purchase a mature plant.
Will 2018 be the year that this Podangis dactyloceras specimen flowers inside this White Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium? Time will tell, we will just have to wait and see. Podangis dactyloceras usually flowers from springtime to autumn. Happily, this miniature orchid’s attractive fan shaped leaves are a joy to admire at every time of year.
To head straight to the next trial update for this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, please click here.
Other articles that may interest you…………
To read about how I track the temperature, humidity and light levels 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.
To read about the great new features of the 2017 BiOrbAir terrarium, please click here.
For information on how to mount epiphytic orchids onto cork bark, 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, please click here.