Welcome to the twentieth part of my BiOrbAir Review – Growing Miniature Orchids in the BiOrbAir! 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 August 2018, this BiOrbAir terrarium is three years old! I love this BiOrbAir terrarium, it was the best gift I have received, bought for me by my family and friends, a kindness that I will remember always.
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. You can see all of my BiOrbAir Trials here, or visit my terrarium section, here.
BiOrbAir Review and Miniature Orchid Trial
As this terrarium is now three years old, I thought it would be fun to look back at this terrarium over the past three years to the present day. There is only plant still growing inside this Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium that was included in the original planting of this terrarium in August 2015, which is Diplocaulobium abbreviatum. This Diplocaulobium abbreviatum orchid has not flowered during the three years that this plant has been growing inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, but the plant has increased in size during this time.
The oldest plant growing inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium
Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium planting over the past three years
The moss inside this terrarium has been watered only with rainwater, or deionised water, when I have been without rainwater. The pillow moss that you see growing at the base of this terrarium, is the same moss was part of my original planting of this terrarium. Three years have passed since I first planted this terrarium, as you can see, the moss is looking a little more ragged now, this pillow moss is not quite the same beautiful verdant green colour that it once was – it’s a little duller in colour now, but this moss still provides a good backdrop for the miniature orchids growing inside this terrarium. So far, in the three years since I planted this Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium, I haven’t replaced any of the pillow moss from this terrarium, or any of the compost, nor have I added any additional compost to this terrarium. The only new moss that I have added from time to time is the flat moss that I often use to mount new orchids onto. If you’re interested in mounting orchids onto cork bark, here’s some helpful tips on how best to do this. I have listed the nurseries where I purchased my moss, cork, and all of the plants and materials I have used inside this terrarium over the past three years in the planting list for this Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium.
Miniature Orchid Terrarium Insects
Yikes! These are millipedes. Yes, that’s right, I have unintentionally, but nonetheless successfully started my own millipede farm inside this terrarium! These pictures were taken rather hastily before this tangle of fast moving legs were gently scooped up into a cup and removed from this terrarium.
You might not want to look too closely, but these millipedes’ dried out droppings can be seen in some of my photographs for this update! Yuck! You just have to laugh, I guess!
I am not quite sure how this number of millipedes came to call my Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium home, but this is not the only terrarium I have millipedes inside, I have seen some inside my other terrariums as well over the past week or two. I am sure you know this already, but just to avoid any doubt, I’d never choose to keep any millipedes inside this Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium, or indeed inside any of my terrariums! I have seen one or two of these creatures inside my terrariums over the years, but I have never seen more than one at a time – I’ve never seen as many millipedes at once, as you see in these pictures, up until recently. Without doubt I have seen the most millipedes that I have seen in my life, inside my terrariums this month. Thankfully I do still have terrariums that don’t (as far as I know) contain any millipedes, but millipedes and centipedes often favour a damp, humid environment, hence their establishment here.
I have just added this additional photograph belatedly to this trial update, as I have this evening used a slice of cucumber as a bait to successfully to draw the millipedes together in a way where they can be collected up gently and removed from this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium.
Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir planting
I am not at all happy with the look and style of the current planting that you can see inside my Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir. I’ve not been happy with the appearance of this terrarium for some time now. My last re-arrangement of this terrarium took place on the 12th November 2017, when I conducted a large scale rearrangement of the orchids that were growing inside many of my terrariums, including this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium. At this time, I removed almost all of the miniature orchids that were growing inside this terrarium, I only moved out plants that had clearly shown themselves to be either good, bad, or OK options as plants to grow inside the BiOrbAir terrarium. After moving these plants out, I introduced some new miniature orchids to this Miniature Orchid Trial. I had so much to do all at once at the time of this multi terrarium and plant rearrangement, that as a great look did not materialise instantaneously while I was planting this terrarium, I decided it was best to leave the planting as you see it now, and come back to it another day when I was less rushed by the complexities of multi terrarium plantings. when I would hopefully have more freedom to be creative, without having to worry about whether I’d be finished before dawn! I’ve still yet to make any changes following on from this rearrangement, I just haven’t had the amount of time needed to guarantee that I’ll have time to take everything apart, improve the look and get the finish I want. I also do not have any extra cork or moss to use at the moment.
I am hoping that I can make time to create a more successful arrangement of this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium in the near future. The reason I have struggled with making the planting look good for this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium is that inside this terrarium I have a number of orchids that are mounted onto rather ugly, awkward cork tiles, which, (for me anyway) are not as attractive as naturally formed piece of cork bark. My orchids that are mounted onto these cork tiles have become one with their piece of cork tile before I purchased them. Their roots have well and truly embedded themselves within their respective tiles. Trying to remove a plant from a cork tile when the plant’s roots are so ingrained within the tile could be incredibly detrimental to an orchid, as the plant’s roots have incorporated themselves into their respective cork tiles. Whenever I have the choice, I opt to purchase a potted orchid plant, so that I can mount the plant myself, if I wish to.
My motive in re-arranging my orchids in November 2017, was to allow me to trial more plants inside the BiOrbAir, to enable me to group orchid species together, so that wherever possible, 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 moved to a brighter position, where the plants will now receive a very low level of indirect natural daylight, as well as the light provided by the BiOrbAir’s LED lights.
I am currently trialling the following plants inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium….
Miniature Orchid Terrarium Planting List:
I currently have the following orchids growing inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium:
- Aerangis mystacidii
- Ceratostylis philippinensis
- Constantia cipoensis
- Diplocaulobium abbreviatum
- Diplocaulobium chrysotropis
- Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’
- Macroclinium manabinum
- Masdevallia rechingeriana
- Mediocalcar decoratum
- 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 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. Here you’ll find the full list of all of the miniature orchids that have been trialled inside this terrarium, plants that were trialled in the past, the plants that are being trialled at present, as well as future plants! Here 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.
For more information on how to mount epiphytic orchids onto cork bark, please click here.
Let’s have a closer look at these plants and find out how these miniature orchids are growing in inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium:
I purchased a flask of tiny Aerangis mystacidii seedlings from the Writhlington Orchid Project back in March 2017. For a while, it was as if I had Aerangis mystacidii plants everywhere, I was almost juggling this species, trying to spread my plants out throughout my various terrariums! At this time, back in March 2017, there were two seedlings that stood out as being the weakest of this group of young Aerangis mystacidii plants. I placed the weakest seedling of the group inside this Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium, this plant has always displayed yellowing leaf tips – which is not a look a favour! But I was interested to see how this plant fared inside the BiOrbAir Terrarium, and I was keen to ensure that I gave every one of these young Aerangis mystacidii seedlings the best chance of survival.
I must say that this little plant is stronger than I thought. When I wrote my last update for this Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium, I was certain that this Aerangis mystacidii plant would have died by now, I thought it might have got too wet after I over watered this terrarium and may have been rotting from the crown, when it’s usually the end of the road for any orchid, but this plant has surprised me – it’s still alive! Barely alive, I admit, but here it is surviving through to this update! This fragment of a plant is producing two lovely, new green leaves, which is precisely what this plant needs to have the best chance of survival, how wonderful! Will it be here for my next update? I think it will. Just in writing those words, I have probably killed this plant (and I am so sorry about that – I couldn’t help myself, I am filled with hope). Whatever happens, I’ll let you know how this plant lives or dies in my next update!
PS. If you were looking out for small signs that any millipedes had visited this orchid, here they are! Horrible I know!
Goodness, what a sorry state this Ceratochilus biglandulosus plant is in. I hate to see a plant looking this way, I have not had any success with growing this orchid species inside the BiOrbAir terrarium, so I will not try again, whatever happens. I have now moved this fragment of Ceratochilus biglandulosus into my Orchidarium, where I will see if I can revive this dear little plant. I am hoping for a miracle, I will be doing all I can to restore what remains of this Ceratochilus biglandulosus plant into better health and condition.
I am sorry to say that I think that this Ceratostylis philippinensis specimen is looking in a slightly worse condition than it was when I wrote to you with my last update for this terrarium. A large section of this plant has now died away. You can see in my photographs, that the area of this plant that has died back is noticeably from the central and lower regions of this Ceratostylis philippinensis plant. The damage is most likely to be more severe in these areas, as they will be wetter for longer, as the top part of the plant is growing nearer to the BiOrbAir’s constantly operating fan, so would dry out more quickly than the lower regions. (If you’re interested, you can read more about the features of the BiOrbAir here).
It’s not all doom and gloom – although this plant has a large area of die back, which saddens me greatly, this plant has produced a large number of new leaves over the past four months or so. So, the majority of this Ceratostylis philippinensis specimen’s leaves are in fact almost brand new.
I am currently still deliberating on what to do – whether or not to move this orchid into another terrarium, or to give the plant longer to recover in this Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium. This Ceratostylis philippinensis specimen is easier to grow inside a terrarium with a fan, and not all of my terrariums have this luxury, so it restricts the number of potential homes this orchid has. I do of course want to find this miniature orchid the best and most comfortable home.
This Ceratostylis philippinensis specimen will stay where it is for now. I will find a way to raise this plant to a higher position within this terrarium, then I will look at the plant again and I decide whether or not to move it to another terrarium. I am in two minds about moving this plant at the moment.
This plant began declining after the orchids inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium were over watered, after I purchased a larger and more powerful, hand held water sprayer in 2018.
I am so fond of Constantia cipoensis, there’s something almost indescribable about the silvery, green hue of the pseudobulbs that this orchid produces that brings me so much joy! Indeed, I am full of joy and surprise that this Constantia cipoensis specimen has so far survived this summer’s heat wave. Many cool to intermediate orchids – orchids that like to grow in the cooler or middle temperature range, these plants prefer minimum nighttime temperature of about 13C (55F) but a daytime temperature of about 25C (77F) as a maximum, have not been relishing the extended heatwave the UK has endured this year during the late spring and summer time of 2018. I am a little concerned that this Constantia cipoensis specimen’s roots, which looked so fresh, healthy and full of life in my last update, have turned brown, but I am hoping that this is just because these are older roots now, which on many orchids can look less healthy and alive as they age. I am not convinced, but I have my fingers crossed for the health of this lovely orchid.
This Brazilian orchid species is one of the few, almost aqua coloured plants that I know. The object that I can most accurately compare this orchid to, colour wise, is a retro, 70s aqua coloured bathroom suite! If you google ’70s aqua bathroom’ and see an aqua green bathroom suite, this is the colour of this orchid! I hope that this pretty plant can continue to survive, and indeed thrive, although for now I’d be perfectly content with having this plant survive through to my next update. I can work on helping this plant to thrive at a later date, but I need it to survive first.
I must quickly quash any potential excitement and simply say that there is a root sticking up in the picture I have taken of this Diplocaulobium abbreviatum specimen that you can see below, it’s not a flower spike, but it’s growing in that kind of shape, so you may think at first glance that there’s a flower spike here – sadly there isn’t.
When, or should I say if, this Diplocaulobium abbreviatum specimen flowers, this miniature orchid will produce its flowers just above the plant, or pendent to the lower parts of the plant. I have seen a few areas of new growth on this plant, but I am trying not to hope too fervently that the plant will bloom in the near future.
I am however so very happy to have found a location where this plant is happier, it’s a great relief! My home is very dark, so I am so very reliant on features like the BiOrbAir Terrarium’s LED lights to keep my plants growing well. If you were growing this same orchid in your BiOrAir terrarium, in a slightly brighter room that received a greater degree of natural daylight than mine (which would not be difficult), or if you were growing this plant in another terrarium which had brighter lights, it’s very likely that your Diplocaulobium abbreviatum plants would grow much better than mine. Brighter lights are not always the answer – it depends on the plant – there are many plants that I have grown successfully inside my BiOrbAir terrariums over the years that I could not grow inside a terrarium with brighter lights.
The Diplocaulobium abbreviatum specimen that you can see pictured here was included in the original planting of this terrarium, back in August 2015, which at the time of writing was three years ago. This Diplocaulobium abbreviatum specimen has grown in size over these three years. Although the plant had seemingly paused its growth for some of that time, after I moved this terrarium to a slightly darker location, when the terrarium went from receiving some very low level, indirect natural day light, to receiving no natural day light at all.
This plant and the others that have been grown inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium have always relied entirely on the BiOrbAir terrarium’s LED lights, my home is so dark that I would not be able to grow any one of these plants without the assistance of the BiOrbAir’s LED lights. Now though, housed in a location where this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium receives a very low level of indirect, filtered, diffused natural day light, in addition to the BiOrbAir terrarium’s LED lights, this Diplocaulobium abbreviatum specimen is actively growing.
This Diplocaulobium chrysotropis specimen was in a poor condition when I bought it. It is still a scrappy looking plant, but its condition is not dismal, this plant is now producing new leaves and new growth, which is wonderful to see! I had been eagerly hoping that each little sign of new growth was going to be a flower, so I was a little disappointed the first time I realised that this specimen wasn’t producing a bud after all, but on reflection I am just keen to grow this Diplocaulobium chrysotropis plant into a strong and healthy specimen, when it will hopefully be able to support a better display of flowers.
When I conducted my rearrangement of my terrariums in November 2017, I moved this Diplocaulobium chrysotropis specimen into this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, so that I could grow Diplocaulobium abbreviatum alongside Diplocaulobium chrysotropis, as I was keen to group these plants from the same orchid genus together. Currently this Diplocaulobium has far fewer leaves than Diplocaulobium abbreviatum, but the other Diplocaulobium has been growing in my care for over three years now. I hope that I can grow this plant into a stronger, more healthier specimen andI also hope that I can get both plants to flower before the next three years have passed!
Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’
I am afraid that I am quite hopelessly in love with Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’. I simply adore this little chap with its rather charming, tufted growth habit and its elliptical leaves which are produced with such an attractive form and shape. The oldest Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ leaves are held in such a manner that they might be an ideal cover for any passing flower fairies that might be sheltering from the rain.
I don’t quite remember the last time that this Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ specimen flowered, I remember this plant flowering in March 2018, when I spotted a number of aphids on this particular plant, which thankfully I have not spotted again since. I treat all of the orchids inside all of my terrariums to SB Plant Invigorator, which helps to control aphids and other pests (if you’re interested you can read more about the general plant care my orchids receive here). Certainly this miniature orchid, which is usually so floriferous has not been so of late, following on from this rest and break from flower production, I am sure that when this Lepanthopsis astrophora ‘Stalky’ specimen does next flower, that this plant will produce a superb floral display!
This Macroclinium manabinum specimen has flourished inside this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, the photograph that you can see above was taken this week, whereas the photograph that see below was taken just before this plant was first grown inside this type of terrarium, as I used a BiOrbAir terrarium to quarantine this plant in September 2017 before it moved into this Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrAir Terrarium. As you can see this plant has produced a lot of new fans of leaf growth over the past year, which is wonderful to see!
This Macroclinium manabinum specimen is very floriferous, you might remember that this plant last flowered in May 2018, which as I write to you now was just over three months ago. There’s a new flower bud already in production, so it won’t be very long before this plant blooms again. I can confidently say that Macroclinium manabinum is a great choice of plant for the BiOrbAir terrarium, the plants are perfectly sized and very suited to the conditions that the BiOrbAir provides.
Masdevallia rechingeriana is another super terrarium plant that grows very well indeed inside the BiOrbAir terrarium. This Masdevallia rechingeriana specimen was first introduced to this Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium in March 2016, following its introduction this plant quickly grew into a much larger specimen plant. I have added a photograph below, which was taken of this same Masdevallia rechingeriana specimen in bloom on the 26th May 2016.
Masdevallia rechingeriana is very able to re-flower its old flowering stems. So, if you’re growing this plant, don’t be too hasty to remove your plant’s flowering stems once your first bloom fades, as these same stems will continue producing flowers all season, as well as in the year or years that follow. I think that my Masdevallia rechingeriana specimen’s flowering stems may now at three years old be fading, but I have left them in place, I will not remove these flowering stems until they become a little more brown in colour along the stem itself. This orchid species produces new flowering stems readily, so there’s no need to feel any alarm when you remove the spent flowering stems, just check that your plant’s flowering stems have changed from green to brown in colour along the stem, when you simply cut them off carefully at the base of the stem, . It’s perfectly natural to see a flowering stem with a brown tip, flowering stems with brown tips can continue flowering for two years, so the motto is don’t be too hasty!
My Masdevallia rechingeriana specimen’s flowering season starts from mid to late winter continuing on blooming intermittently until the last flowers are produced around July time. This year my plant has not been any where near as floriferous as it has in previous years, I don’t think that this orchid has enjoyed the hot temperatures that my plants have endured this spring and summer time.
If you’re interested in growing Masdevallia rechingeriana yourself, you’ll need to mist your plants regularly, they are very happy to be misted every day, as this orchid species is from cloud forests and so it requires a very humid environment with continual access to moisture. Some orchid species have adapted to going with out moisture and need to dry out a little or even considerably before they receive water again, but Masdevallias are quite the opposite, they have grown and developed in an environment with continual moisture, so this is what you need to replicate in order to grow them successfully.
In my various trials, I often grow orchids from different environments or from all over the world. I grow various orchid species together that would never be acquainted in the wild and are usually grown in opposing conditions. This is just because I am looking to learn more about a plant and to accurately find the best plants for each type of terrarium I am using. So, I grow this Madevallia rechingeriana specimen a little drier than it would prefer, as all of the orchids that are growing inside this Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium receive the same growing conditions, they are misted at the same time and receive the same amounts of water.
This Mediocalcar decoratum specimen was given to me by a friend, it was a little division, taken from my friend’s plant, here’s a picture I took the day I was given this plant:
This Mediocalcar decoratum specimen has grown well inside my Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium, but this plant has yet to flower. At one point this orchid had grown to be a much larger plant than the specimen you see here, but my plant became drier than it would have liked, so as a consequence, the central part of this plant died away, leaving what is effectively two smaller plants instead of one.
This Trichoglottis pusilla specimen has changed very little from my last update. This is a slow growing orchid species, which originates from Java, where it grows high upon trees in forested areas. This is a large sized miniature, I hope you can see this plant’s size in the pictures of my Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium that I have shared. This orchid favours a slightly drier resting period over the winter time, but it grows well under the BiOrbAir terrarium’s LED lights, this orchid appreciates this terrarium’s misting system, and my fairly constant temperature, year round inside my home.
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.