Welcome to the eighteenth part of my BiOrbAir Review – Growing Miniature Orchids in the BiOrbAir! In this update I am thrilled to share with you the delightful flowers of Macroclinium manabinum, Ceratostylis philippinensis, and Masdevallia rechingeriana! I’ll also be updating you on the growth and development of the newest additions to this Miniature Orchid Trial.
As well as these mini celebrations, in this update I will be sharing the sad news of the death of one of my miniature orchids, and I’ll also tell you about the pests that these orchids have encountered recently!
Firstly, here’s a recap:
The BiOrbAir is a specialised, automated terrarium, which was designed by Barry Reynolds from BiOrb. I first planted this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium in August 2015, so at the time of writing – in March 2018, this BiOrbAir terrarium is two and a half years old.
I have only ever used this BiOrbAir Terrarium to trial miniature orchids. For this particular Miniature Orchid Trial I have chosen a variety of different, epiphytic miniature orchid species, choosing plants that originate from different countries and climates, to identify the best plants to grow inside the BiOrbAir Terrarium.
If you would like to start at the very beginning, and read the first part of this Miniature Orchid Trial and BiOrbAir review, please click here.
BiOrbAir Review and Miniature Orchid Trial
On the 12th November 2017, I conducted a large scale rearrangement of the orchids that were growing inside many of my terrariums, including this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium. I removed many of the miniature orchids that were growing inside this terrarium, as many of these orchids had been successfully trialled, and I have already proven whether or not they were a good candidate to grow inside the BiOrbAir terrarium. This rearrange allowed me to introduce new miniature orchids to this Miniature Orchid Trial, which is always an exciting prospect!
My motive in re-arranging my orchids was to allow me to trial more plants inside the BiOrbAir, to enable me to better group orchid species, so that wherever possible, different orchid species from the same genus were growing inside the same terrarium. I also moved plants into other terrariums according to their performance in the terrarium that they had been residing in, and the different growing conditions I had available.
On the 12th November 2017, as well as rearranging my plants, many of my terrariums were also moved to new positions. This Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium was moved to a brighter position, this terrarium will now receive some indirect, low level, natural daylight in addition to the light provided by the BiOrbAir’s LED lights.
With room to trial more miniature orchids inside this BiOrbAir terrarium, I am now trialling the following plants….
Miniature Orchid Terrarium Planting List:
I currently have the following orchids growing inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium:
- Aerangis mystacidii
- Ceratocentron fesselii
- Ceratochilus biglandulosus
- Ceratostylis philippinensis
- Constantia cipoensis
- Diplocaulobium abbreviatum
- Diplocaulobium chrysotropis
- Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’
- Macroclinium manabinum
- Masdevallia rechingeriana
- Mediocalcar decoratum
- Psygmorchis pusilla
- Trichoglottis pusilla
Diplocaulobium abbreviatum is the only miniature orchid that was included in my original planting of this terrarium in August 2015. Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ was introduced to this terrarium in January 2016, Masdevallia rechingeriana was added in April 2016, and Mediocalcar decoratum was added in May 2016. The other miniature orchids that you see listed above were all introduced to this Miniature Orchid trial BiOrbAir Terrarium on the 12th November 2017.
This is a Miniature Orchid Trial – a Trial to discover which miniature orchids will grow and flower successfully inside the BiOrbAir Terrarium. Over time I have changed and added to the planting inside this BiOrbAir terrarium – the planting list of miniature orchids above relates to the current orchids that are growing inside this terrarium.
You can see the full planting list for this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium here. This link will take you to the full list of all of the miniature orchids that have ever been trialled inside this terrarium. This planting list will provide you with information about plants that were trialled in the past, more details about each of the plants that are being trialled at present, as well as information about any plants that I trial in the future!
You’ll find further details about each of the orchid species that have been trialled, with links to every article I have written for pumpkinbeth.com about each particular orchid species. You’ll also find the full details of where I have purchased all of my miniature orchids, the moss, and the cork I have used inside this terrarium via this link to the Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium Planting List.
For more information on how to mount epiphytic orchids onto cork bark, please click here, for full instructions and information.
If you’re worried about whether you have any pests lurking inside your terrarium, as well as examining your plants closely in good light, I’d also advise you to take a series of photographs. One suggestion I would make is to take a series of photographs of the same area of your plant. If you see a blotch or a dot move between photographs, you know that the blotch or dot is alive! But, hold your horses! Not every insect is a pest – just because something moves, it doesn’t mean that the creature will eat your plant, and either way it doesn’t mean you need to harm it!
As plants don’t tend to move very quickly, many insects that feed on plants tend to be slower moving creatures, for example, think of scale insects, mealybugs, slugs, snails, caterpillars, aphids, etc! Whereas predatory creatures that eat insects or other moving creatures, for example ladybirds, usually have to be faster moving in order to catch their prey. You can view my video (this video has no sound – there are captions along the bottom of the film instead) of Phytoseiulus persimilis, a predator of spider mites here:
As well as looking for differences on the same leaf from one photo to the next. When you take a photograph, you can then zoom in on your picture, to examine your leaves or any area of your plant more closely, to enable you to see far more clearly. I find this technique really helps me to spot pests on my plants, so I wanted to share it with you, in case it helps you too.
In January 2018, I noticed some spider mite damage to one of the orchids that was growing inside my White Orchid Trial Terrarium, so I sprayed the plants inside my White Orchid Trial Terrarium with SB Plant Invigorator – an organic pesticide and mildewcide.
At the same time, I also sprayed all of the plants that were growing inside this Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium, my Madagascar Terrarium, my Orchidarium, my Rainforest Terrarium, and the plants growing inside all of my other terrariums, with SB Plant Invigorator. I wanted to be sure that I was controlling any pests inside this terrarium and I was protecting my plants from an outbreak of pests. I will continue using SB Plant Invigorator, alongside my regular houseplant care routine, but I must say that I have no intention of ever using this treatment outside, as I don’t want to kill any insects that are outside.
On the 24th February 2018, I spotted the first aphid I have seen on any of my terrarium plants for many years. The aphid was feeding on a Masdevallia rechingeriana flower bud, inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium. Within a second of seeing the first aphid, I had spotted the second aphid close by on the same bud. Both of these aphids were promptly removed. On the 3rd March 2018, I spotted a third aphid, this time on a Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ flower bud. Again the aphid was promptly removed, and this plant, and the other plants that are growing inside this terrarium were thoroughly examined. No other aphids were discovered, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t more hiding!
The SB Plant Invigorator that was introduced to my orchid care routine in January 2018, is also a control for aphids, so with regular, thorough spraying, and regular and close monitoring, I hope to have this aphid problem under control. I will keep you updated. You can see photographs and find out more information about aphids further on in this update.
Miniature Orchid Trial
Let’s have a closer look at these plants and find out how each of these miniature orchids have settled in and growing inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium:
This Aerangis mystacidii specimen looks a little sorry for itself. This plant certainly doesn’t look quite as happy as the other Aerangis mystacidii plants of the same age that are growing inside my other terrariums, but that’s OK. This plant is growing: it’s producing new roots and new leaves. Eventually the older leaves will be shed and I am sure that this will greatly improve this plant’s appearance.
There were a couple of weeds growing around this Aerangis mystacidii specimen, which I have now removed.
This rather apologetic looking Ceratocentron fesselii specimen was an unexpected gift from a kind friend. This miniature orchid is critically endangered. In my last update there were two growths on this cork mount. I am incredibly sorry to say that only one of these two growths remain. I wish this miniature orchid all the best. If I am looking on the positive side, I can point out the new growth emerging – a new leaf is forming. The more negative view is that the other growth has died and at least one of this miniature orchid’s roots is in terrible shape. I am doing everything I can to help this plant, I have moved this Ceratocentron fesselii specimen into another of my terrariums. I really and absolutely could not feel any worse about this plant’s current poor condition. Good luck little plant.
This Ceratochilus biglandulosus plant has surprised me with how well it has grown inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir. I confess that I had more than half expected to have had to move this miniature orchid into another terrarium where it would be misted daily, but so far – so good! This Ceratostylis biglandulosus plant has produced a number of new leaves and seems to be growing well.
It was lovely to see this Ceratostylis philippinensis specimen in flower inside my Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium during December 2017. I do not find Ceratostylis philippinensis to be a particularly long flowered plant: the flowers you see in the following photographs had all faded within seven days after opening.
Ceratostylis philippinensis flowering
Here are some photographs I have taken of Ceratostylis philippinensis in flower during December 2017.
Constantia cipoensis is a beautiful miniature orchid, this orchid species is such an attractive, dear little plant. I must say that this plant looks exactly the same as it did in my last update! I don’t think that this Constantia cipoensis has produced any new leaves or new growth for some months now. However this orchid is alive, and that’s a good thing!
Constantia cipoensis is an epiphytic orchid species, which is endemic to the Serra do Cipó National Park, where this orchid can be found growing on Vellozia bushes, in this particular mountainous area of Southern Brazil. The area where this orchid grows is sometimes at risk from human disturbance and activity. Constantia cipoensis, is an orchid that is found in only one area of the planet, in addition to its limited distribution, Constantia cipoensis is an orchid species which seems to have a great dependancy on another plant – the Vellozia – for its own success, so this is another very rare orchid. This epiphytic orchid species dislikes disturbance and does not transplant or divide well, so Constantia cipoensis is not as easy to propagate as we might hope. I have found that Constantia cipoensis favours intermediate to cool growing conditions, and bright light.
I took the picture you can see above the day before yesterday. I thought you may be interested to see a reminder of this Diplocaulobium abbreviatum specimen’s size appearance as it was when I first introduced this miniature orchid to this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, back in August 2015. This is the picture you can see below!
I am so glad to see the new growth that this Diplocaulobium abbreviatum specimen has produced! This miniature orchid is a slow growing plant. I have often wondered if this plant would have grown more rapidly had the plant received more light. My home is very dark, there is very little natural light. However, as I suspected that this orchid would prefer to receive a greater quantity of light, this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium was moved to my brightest room in November 2017, following my terrarium rearrange. This Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium now receives a low level of indirect natural sunlight, in addition to the light the plants receive from the BiOrbAir’s LED lights.
This Diplocaulobium chrysotropis specimen really doesn’t appear to be in good shape – the plant looks incredibly shabby! This plant has not changed greatly in its appearance over the past few months since I first introduced this Diplocaulobium specimen to this terrarium. I am just hoping that this plant will establish itself and will grow well in this conditions provided inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium. A friend of mine recently commented on how much better this plant is looking now, and how much this miniature orchid has improved over the past few months, but it’s hard to see a great change, as the plant is in such poor condition.
I am pleased to see that this Diplocaulobium chrysotropis specimen is producing what I think is a the beginnings of a flower!
Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’
Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ is such a charming, beautiful and easy going little plant. Not many plants are as forgiving in their nature as Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’! This plant has coped with being completely dried out on a few occasions, and this miniature orchid also copes well when I accidentally spill a large quantity of water onto it, or water this specimen more than I intended.
I’d absolutely recommend Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’! This is a fantastic little plant, which is almost always in flower! Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ is a perfect choice of plant for the BiOrbAir terrarium. If you want to grow Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’, I have found that this dear little orchid is happiest in the light levels created by the BiObAir’s LED lighting. For a little while I grew a Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ specimen inside my Orchidarium, but the plant did not flourish under the brighter, more intense lighting inside my Orchidarium. I have found that Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ is very forgiving, but it does favour being a little too wet, over a little too dry. I would suggest that if you aim to mist your Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ plant between three and six times a week, your plant will thank you, and will reward you with these enchanting magical flowers.
I spotted this tiny black aphid on this Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ flower on the 3rd March 2018. I removed this aphid as soon as I saw it! I have recently introduced SB Plant Invigorator into my regular plant care routine, alongside my regular fertilisers. SB Plant Invigorator is an effective control of many pests, including aphids. It is important if you’re spraying your plants with SB Plant Invigorator to spray the whole of your plant – don’t forget the undersides of the leaves, and remember to spray your plant from every angle. It’s also important to spray all of your plants, including any hard to reach plants. It is necessary for you to remove the plants from your terrarium, to allow you to fully examine and spray your plants. If you’re interested, you can read more about my regular terrarium plant care here.
This was the third aphid I have found recently inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium. I have not found aphids inside my terrariums for a great many years, so this is a real cause for concern.
There are thousands of aphid species! Aphids come in a variety of colours, from green, black, brown, beige, peach or orange coloured, grey and probably every colour in between! Aphids are a pest of plants as they use their sharp, piercing mouthparts to damage the stems, leaves, leaf and flower buds, flowers, and other plant parts, to feed on the plant’s sap. Naturally as the aphids are taking sustenance and nutrients from a plant, they weaken the plant, which can cause stunted growth and distortion. As aphids move from one plant to another, piercing one plant’s tissue after another, each time they feed, as well as damaging the plant by taking its energy, the aphid is also a virus vector. If an aphid feeds on an orchid that is suffering from a virus, and then feeds on another orchid, which was healthy before its aphid encounter, it is possible that the aphid will have transmitted the virus to the healthy orchid, as it fed on the plant’s sap.
Whether I see one, or one thousand aphids outside, I never, ever spray, squish (yuck – no way!), or remove aphids outdoors. Birds, ladybirds, ladybird larvae, lacewings, hoverfly larvae, parasitic wasps, and other creatures all predate aphids, they all need to source aphids in large quantities in order to survive.
I am now using SB Plant Invigorator inside on my all of terrarium plants, to control and prevent any pest outbreaks, but this is purely because the plants are indoors. I don’t feel totally easy about spraying the plants I must confess, but I have a responsibility to the rare orchids in my care. I follow the instructions on all sprays I use to the letter. It is important to use products as they have been formulated, designed, and created for use, to ensure their effectiveness.
Macroclinium manabinum flowering
I think that Macroclinium manabinum flowers really look at their most magnificent for one or two days at a maximum, when the flowers have fully opened as the inflorescences display their most iridescent and magical qualities at this time. I appreciate the flowers before their peak, but I so admire the beauty of Macroclinium manabinum during these very special two days. I am so happy to share this floral joy with you!
Sadly the Macroclinium manabinum flower bud that you see pictured above, was aborted, just a week or so after I took this photograph, but I am sure it won’t be long until this miniature orchid is flowering again!
As they were still green, I left the old flowering stems from last year on this Masdevallia rechingeriana plant. These are the flowering stems that were first produced in February 2017. These flowering stems flowered for the first time in spring 2017, and then they continued to flower intermittently throughout the year of 2017, so I was very happy to see that these old flowering stems were producing new flower buds in January 2018! This Masdevallia rechingeriana specimen is also producing new flowering stems, these are in a much earlier stage of production, so it is these older flowering stems that have flowered first.
As you’ll see in the photographs I have taken, this Masdevallia rechingeriana specimen has a number of yellowing leaves. This plant has received fertiliser regularly, as have the other plants in this terrarium. I have not knowingly over or under watered this specimen for a while! The yellowing could just be caused by the age of the leaves. For the moment, I have left the leaves on the plant, although I am sorely tempted to remove them! I have mentioned SB Plant Invigorator a lot during this update, but this growth stimulant also helps leaves to look at their best, with improved shine and colour, so perhaps this specimen’s appearance will improve in time.
Masdevallia rechingeriana flowering
Masdevallia rechingeriana flowers are not fragrant, but they are very elegant. This is another floriferous orchid, here are the Masdevallia rechingeriana flowers as the develop and bloom.
Aphids, Orchids and Terrariums
This photograph that you see above, was taken the first time I spotted an aphid inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium. It may look as if there is just one aphid in the photograph, but there is at least two. Aphids multiply rapidly, especially in a protected environment such as a terrarium, where there are none of this insect’s predators to control the aphids numbers. Aphids have many predators including ladybirds. I think that it’s unfair to introduce ladybirds into such a small environment as a terrarium, especially in conditions such as this where I only have a few aphids. Ladybirds need large infestations of aphids in order to be able to feed and to mate – they will not lay eggs in an area where there is insufficient food for their young, who also eat aphids. Ladybirds eat more than 50 aphids a day.
After this photograph was taken, the aphids you see pictured were removed. All of the plants were inspected, thankfully no other aphids were discovered. Although I am sure there are other aphids now inside this terrarium, as they reproduce so quickly, giving birth to live young, which reach maturity within seven days and then start giving birth themselves.
I have recently started using SB Plant Invigorator as part of my regular, continual plant care routine, so all of these terrarium plants have already been sprayed with SB Plant Invigorator, which controls aphids. I will not take it for granted that the SB Plant Invigorator will control any pests, I shall be monitoring all of my plants regularly and thoroughly, removing any aphids as soon as I spot them.
This Mediocalcar decoratum specimen is outwardly growing from the edges. If you’re ever dividing a terrarium plant such as this Mediocalcar to create new plants, discard the growth from the centre and keep the newer, more vigorous outer growth.
One section of this Mediocalcar decoratum plant has produced some really quite long roots, this is typical for this miniature orchid. Mediocalcar decoratum form low growing, creeping, spreading mats, which often appear as quite a beautiful tangle, especially while the plants are flowering, but they can sometimes look somewhat tatty, especially if the plants have a few decaying leaves still attached to them.
I have found that Mediocalcar decoratum favour slightly cooler growing conditions than some of my miniature orchids, I would guess that they are happiest when grown between 10C (50F) to 30C (86F). This Mediocalcar decoratum specimen has been growing inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium since May 2016; this plant has yet to flower. Mediocalcar decoratum is from New Guinea.
This Psygmorchis pusilla specimen looked such an absolute darling in this photograph I took back in November 2017, which was just a few months ago. Sadly the plant is no more! I am not sure what went wrong, I understand that this species has a reputation for being somewhat short lived. I guess that perhaps a change in environment, as this plant was a new introduction to this terrarium, may have unsettled the plant and so quickened the end of the plant’s life. Either way I am sorry, as I was looking forward to watching this plant grow and flower.
This Trichoglottis pusilla specimen doesn’t really look very different from the photographs I took for my previous update for this Miniature Orchid Trial. I guess that’s a good thing as the plant is still alive at least! I can only hope that this plant is adjusting to this terrarium. I hate to see a plant die, I love to see plants thrive so I can give them to someone else to enjoy!
I hope that all of the orchids that are growing inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium will flourish inside my BiOrbAir terrarium, but whether these orchids flower, die, or anything in between I will let you know in my next update! To head straight to the next update for this Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium, please click here.
Other articles that may interest you…………………..
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 about the great new features of the updated 2017 BiOrbAir terrarium, please click here.
To read about the general maintenance of the BiOrbAir terrarium, and the general care I give to my terrarium plants, please click here.
For information on how to mount epiphytic orchids onto cork bark, please click here.
To read about using decorative features inside your terrarium or bottle garden, please click here.
To see a planting list for terrariums and bottle gardens featuring a variety of beautiful, terrarium plants, please click here.
To see a planting list of miniature orchids to grow in terrariums, please click here.
To read about the Writhlington Orchid Project, please click here.
To read about the 2017 Orchid Extravaganza at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, please click here.
To read about using long handled terrarium tools, please click here.