Welcome to the tenth part of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial – growing epiphytic orchids, which are endemic to Madagascar, inside the BiOrbAir terrarium. In this update, I am delighted to share with you the extraordinary blooms of Aeranthes arachnites! I’ll also be showing you an update on the progression of my Aerangis citrata specimen’s flower spike production, alongside updates on the growth and development of all of the orchids that are growing inside this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Reasons for this trial of Madagascan orchids
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.
Kew Conservation in Madagascar
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.
I am a huge fan of the people that work at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. The team representing this amazing organisation, work to discover more about plants and fungi wherever they originate, all across our planet: to safeguard and protect species, safeguard important areas for plants, and inform people with the knowledge they have learnt about plants and fungi. We are so fortunate to have Kew. The work undertaken at Kew benefits the entire planet. 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 hyaloides
- Aerangis macrocentra
- Aerangis punctata
- Aerangis sp. (most likely to be Aerangis fuscata)
- Aeranthes arachnites
- Angraecum dollii
- Angraecum equitans
- Angraecum ochraceum
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
This Aerangis citrata specimen has endured a year of suffering from varying degrees of dehydration, from mild to moderate, and at times borderline extreme, but this particular specimen, from this resilient orchid species has not let a lack of moisture stop this plant from flowering! This Aerangis citrata specimen is currently in the process of producing a new flower spike, which will deliver this plant’s third flowering since I first introduced this orchid to this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium. It’s amazing to think that this plant is on the way to its third flowering, especially considering that this plant was not either in flower or bud when I introduced this specimen to the Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium in April 2017, which as I write was 14 months ago now.
I am overjoyed to see that this Aerangis citrata specimen is in the process of producing a number of new strong and healthy roots! This orchid specimen’s roots hang down around the plant, so apart from the small area occupied by this orchid’s mount – the wood directly behind and above this plant, which now features some developing moss, this orchid’s roots have no covering of moss and no backing of wood to slow down the evaporation process and allow the plant a longer period to take up moisture. The majority of this Aerangis citrata specimen’s roots are old, many of these older roots look to be rather dried out and desiccated, so it is quite a relief to see the plant’s production of these strong, healthy, new roots – you may be able to spot three of this plant’s newer roots in the photograph below.
I am so fond of this Aerangis citrata specimen, this is a superb miniature orchid species. I am so happy to see my Aerangis citrata specimen in good health, I am so looking forward to sharing this miniature orchid’s flowering with you in my next update!
If you look at the photographs of this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium’s Aerangis hyaloides specimen above and below, you may just be able to spot this plant’s newest root. This really is a very new root, it’s just a teeny, tiny green nub at the moment, protruding from the lower part of the centre of this miniature orchid, but I am always absolutely thrilled to see the development of a new root, it’s almost as exciting as discovering a flower spike!
One of my Aerangis hyaloides plants – the Aerangis hyaloides specimen that is growing inside another of my terrariums – in my White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium began producing five flowering spikes in May 2018! My Aerangis hyaloides orchid specimens usually flower around Christmas time – from December to January, so that particular orchid specimen will be flowering much earlier than usual – although it’s worth mentioning that I do have one or two Aerangis hyaloides plants that have flowered twice in a year on occasion.
The Aerangis hyaloides specimen from my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium, the plant that you see pictured above and below, is not in bud and nor would I expect this plant to be. This is very early for this particular orchid species to be thinking about flowering, but more than that – this plant was very dehydrate during December 2017, and this plant has only just regained its composure, so this specimen is not likely to be an early flowering plant this season.
It is unusual that the other Aerangis hyaloides specimen in my other terrarium is in bud. My White Orchid Trial, Aerangis hyaloides specimen’s early flowering may have been triggered by a bought of recent heavy watering, following the purchase of a new hand held mister. This larger water sprayer deposited a far heavier dose of water over this Aerangis hyaloides orchid and the other plants inside this terrarium, bestowing a far greater amount of water than this plant has ever received in my care, on several occasions.
This Madagascar Trial Aerangis hyaloides specimen – the plant you see pictured in this update – was extremely dehydrated over the winter – from December 2017 until February 2018. This Aerangis hyaloides specimen is now looking hydrated and in much better health, for which I am grateful indeed. This reversal in the plant’s fortunes is just simply down to this miniature orchid being misted more regularly. Which is an excellent demonstration and reminder, that if you have a severely dehydrated orchid, please don’t give up on your plant! If you mist your plant more regularly, you can reverse your plant’s fortunes. I know that this is often easier said than done, hence my own plants’ frequent misfortunes in being under or over watered, as work, life, interruptions, distractions, and an ever growing ‘to do’ list mean that we each cannot achieve everything we hope to each day.
I advocate misting plants in the early morning. Use a hand held mister or water sprayer and mist a moderate spray of rainwater or deionised water over your plant’s roots. Generally, I recommend avoiding spraying water directly into the crown or centre of the orchid, if you can, as if the water doesn’t dry from the plant’s centre before the end of the day it can cause rot and decay. Allow the water to gently run down over your plant’s roots. It’s important to provide sufficient nutrients for your plants: I feed my plants once a week, for three consecutive weeks, then on the fourth week my plants receive only rainwater or deionised water, this is often referred to as a ‘flush’, as the plain water prevents a build up of fertiliser around your plants. If you’re interested, you can read more about the general care I give to my orchids here.
I have two Aerangis macrocentra specimens growing inside this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium, these orchids have both grown steadily since I introduced the plants to my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium in April 2017. I am so happy to see that a number of new roots have been produced by these Aerangis macrocentra plants recently. The root that you can see in the photograph below is powering down the length of cork that these orchids are mounted onto, while another Aerangis macrocentra root is growing over in a low arch shape, as you can see in the photograph above.
I would guess that these Aerangis macrocentra specimens have been a little drier than they would have wished for, but the plants are in good health and are actively growing.
These Aerangis macrocentra specimens, are young plants, they were very small seedlings when I purchased them both together in March 2017.
This Aerangis punctata specimen is producing its fifth leaf! Yippeee! It’s such a pleasure to have this miniature orchid growing inside this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium.
The sea blue-green-grey of this Aerangis punctata‘s leaves is very attractive. The colour of Aerangis punctata‘s leaves changes as each leaf grows and develops: younger leaves have a very different colouring to the older leaves. The colour of Aerangis punctata‘s leaves also changes in different lights, so at times the plant’s leaf appears more grey, while in another light the same leaves can appear more blue, or more green in colour. Currently this Aerangis punctata‘s leaves are looking very glossy, this is an indicator that this orchid has sufficient moisture and is hydrated, if this plant was dehydrated the plant’s leaves would be much duller in their appearance.
A hummock of moss has grown around this Aerangis punctata specimen, the moss is not in any way adversely affecting this plant, so I have no plans to remove any of this moss from around this orchid.
I am so happy to see this little Aerangis species looking healthy and strong. This Aerangis species was sold to me as Aerangis fastuosa, but this miniature orchid is much more likely to be Aerangis fuscata. Although, as this plant was a young seedling when I purchased it in 2015, this specimen has yet to flower, so I cannot confirm this identification with 100% certainty until the plant flowers.
The moss surrounding this Aerangis specimen is also flourishing! This is quite a rampant growing moss, which grows so rapidly, I have had to remove some of the moss covering this Aerangis every four weeks or so, sometimes more frequently, as I don’t want the moss to cover the plant’s leaves and any new growth that this miniature orchid produces. I am very happy that the moss is growing around this plant, I just want to prevent the moss from submerging this Aerangis under its verdant green carpet. To illustrate this, in the photograph directly below, you can see this Aerangis specimen before I removed any of the moss that was growing around the plant, while the photograph directly below that one, shows the same plant a moment later, following the removal of the moss.
Mosses hold onto moisture. I have found that mosses can both help and hinder orchids – it all depends on which orchid and moss species you have, and how you’re growing your plant. Mosses can sometimes provide shelter to snails and tiny slugs, who love to feast on the young, new growth that the orchids produce. For a time I had a snail problem inside a number of my terrariums, many of my plants, including this Aerangis species, were damaged by snails, thankfully after a period of vigilance, the snails seem to be under control now – it’s quite some time since I saw a snail or found any damage on any of my orchids.
I am so happy that this Aerangis specimen is now such a leafy plant, boasting nine leaves, it’s so wonderful to see!
This is not the first time that I have chosen a plant that could very reasonably be considered as far too large a plant for the terrarium I have selected for it. Back in March 2017, when I was planting up this Madagascar Terrarium, I was filled with a great sense of excitement, as I pictured this Aeranthes arachnites specimen, complete with its extraordinary inflorescences, growing inside this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium! I knew then that I had to have this orchid for this terrarium, as I felt in my heart that this plant’s striking and unusual flowers would turn heads, and raise awareness of the difficulties faced by the plants of Madagascar, and the fragility of many of the plants growing across of our planet.
Yes, this Aeranthes arachnites specimen is rather too large for this BiOrbAir terrarium, but I am still delighted with this orchid! Aeranthes arachnites is a resilient, and quite a robust orchid species; this orchid is incredibly floriferous, it seems to almost always have at least one flower open, with such interesting and exciting looking flower buds, just behind each flower, ready and waiting in reserve.
As you can see in these photographs, the moss is growing up around this Angraecum dollii specimen, encompassing the plant, although as this moss has grown up rather sparsely it is unable to restrict too much light or cause too many problems for the plant. Having said this, it’s quite possible that before my next update I will be removing some of the moss you see pictured here, but for the moment I will leave it where it is.
This Angraecum dollii specimen has not changed significantly from my last update, I hope that this miniature orchid has everything it needs, as this is another of my favourite plants.
This Angraecum equitans specimen has been slowly and steadily producing new leaves for sometime now, which is always an inspiring thing to observe. I am always utterly charmed by the sight of a new leaf! Angraecum equitans is a delightful miniature orchid, this is another of my favourite plants, it’s such an honour for me to watch this little orchid as it grows.
I am so happy to report that this Angraecum ochraceum specimen is growing more strongly, the plant is producing new leaves and new root. This plant has a renewed vigour and an improved strength since my last update, which is a joy to witness!
To head straight to the next update for this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium, 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.
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 special plant’s flowering at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, please click here.