White Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial (part twelve)

Welcome to the twelfth part of my White Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial.  This update focuses on the enormity of the disastrous effects and the simply catastrophic results of my overwatering earlier this year.  You can see which orchids have survived, which plants are still battling and which plants have lost their battle.  Sadly, there is no chance of any orchid flowers in this update, just orchid winners and losers.  It feels sad to write about plants that I have unintentionally killed, but I hope that by showing you my mistakes that it will help you to avoid making the same errors.

My White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, as pictured on the 28th August 2018.

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 (which I got in September 2014, so this terrarium itself is exactly four years old, as I write to you today, during early September 2018) 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.

BiOrbAir Terrarium

I have a few BiOrbAir Terrariums, I love this terrarium!  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.  If you’re interested to find out more about this terrarium, you can read about the latest features of the updated 2017 model of the BiOrbAir terrarium here.

My White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, as pictured on the 28th August 2018.

White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium Planting List:

The following orchids are currently growing inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium:

    • Aerangis hyaloides
    • Amesiella philippinensis
    • Brachypeza semiteretifolia
    • Ceratostylis pristina
    • Constantia cipoensis
    • Holcoglossum flavescens
    • Hymenorchis javanica
    • Neofinetia falcata
    • Podangis dactyloceras 

Since I set up this terrarium in April 2017, I have made a number of changes.  You can see the full planting list for this terrarium here.  This comprehensive planting list provides more details about each of the orchids that are currently growing inside this terrarium, alongside the details of any other orchids that have previously been trialled inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium.  If I make any changes to this White Orchid Trial Terrarium in the future, the details of all future plants that are 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 cork, you’ll find more information on how to mount epiphytic orchids onto cork bark here.

My White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, as pictured on the 28th August 2018.

Growing conditions inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium

An update on the impact of the overwatering of the orchids growing inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium

In my last update for this White Orchid Trial Terrarium I shared with you the initial results of my overwatering of the orchids inside this terrarium.  I made a grave mistake in overwatering my plants, after purchasing a larger, more powerful hand sprayer, which was used to water the orchids growing inside my terrariums.  I purchased this hand held sprayer to try to save time – as with a larger capacity I can mist all of my orchids without needing to stop and refill the bottle.  This water mister sprays a far greater dose of water, in a fraction of the time, making it impossible for me to administer the dose of water I wished to deposit.  When I use this particular mister, the plants are either dry, when I don’t mist the plants, or utterly soaked when I do, there’s no in between – there’s no Goldilocks setting!   I should have used this more powerful mister selectively, to mist my Restrepias, Masdevallias, and other orchids, plants grown in cloud forests which enjoy being really wet, but instead, on a mission to cram far too many tasks into a day, I persisted in trying to use this speedier mister.  At each attempt I tried harder to spray a smaller quantity of water, but I was no more successful on any of my attempts and the plants suffered for each one.  Needless to say, I am still feeling pretty awful about the whole thing.  I’ve been taking lots of deep breaths as I share my grave errors with you in detail, reliving the horror of my mistakes in the hope that it will spare you from this horrible experience.

Anyway, so how are the plants faring now?  Well they’re not great to be honest, in fact they’re far from great, I have killed my lovely: Amesiella monticola, Amesiella minor, and Holcoglossum weixiense plants, while my Brachypeza semiteretifolia and Constantia cipoensis are still alive but barely so, it would not surprise me if these plants died.  Indeed, although I am trying to save these plants, I expect that I will lose them.

I am not certain – I couldn’t take it for granted that these plants will be OK, but I am hoping that my Neofinetia falcataHymenorchis javanica, Amesiella philippinensis, and my Podangis dactyloceras plants are OK.  While on a more positive note, (and thank goodness, as we desperately need one of those!) I am hoping that Ceratostylis pristina and Holcoglossum flavescens have now recovered from this ordeal and will continue to grow and develop healthily.  Thankfully, my Aerangis hyaloides specimen seems none the worse for the experience, this plant is currently in bud, which lifts my spirits, as I feel so bad about this terrarium disaster!  

Over watering is a common mistake for terrarium gardeners, It’s also a common mistake for greenhouse gardeners and outdoor gardeners too.  As with anything in life, I am trying to learn from this mistake.  I hope more than anything, that by showing you the results of my own catastrophic mistakes, I will help to prevent other gardeners from having a similarly bad experience.

I am short of cork bark, moss, and other materials at the moment, if I had fresh cork and moss, capillary matting, compost, and a new carbon filter, I would have emptied this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, washed it all out and cleaned it thoroughly, allowing it to dry.  Then I would have added fresh new compost, capillary matting, a new carbon filter, new, fresh moss and cork, I would have treated the orchids with a fungicide and then continued on with good care to give the plants a better chance of survival.  As it is my plants have received SB Plant Invigorator and a quick treatment with some chamomile tea (that had cooled to room temperature before use).

My White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, as pictured on the 28th August 2018.

Tracking the growing conditions inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium

This chart shows the maximum daily ambient light in the White BiOrbAir terrarium. It’s important to note that whilst this light measurement looks low for orchids, it’s mainly due to the position of the sensor – which sits in the top of the BiOrbAir, alongside the LED lights, facing downwards. So the actual light levels hitting the plants themselves is much higher.

This chart shows the minimum and maximum daily temperature, from the 1st May 2018 to the 6th September 2018, inside my White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium.

This chart shows the daily minimum and maximum humidity levels, from the 1st May 2018 to the 6th September 2018, inside my White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium.

If you’re interested to see exactly how I track the temperature, humidity, and lighting conditions inside my Miniature Orchid Trial Terrarium, my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium, my Orchidarium, my Access Garden Products Grow House, my trials area, and inside my home, please click here for all the details.

White flowered miniature epiphytic orchids

Aerangis hyaloides

Aerangis hyaloides, as pictured on the 17th July 2018.

This Aerangis hyaloides specimen is the only plant that’s growing inside this White Orchid Trial Terrarium that came through my overwatering session seemingly none the worse for wear following the experience.  This miniature orchid is currently producing six flowering stems, which is rather magical!  This particular plant is much further ahead than my other Aerangis hyaloides plants, which are just now showing the first signs of their own flowering stems appearing.  I think my overwatering triggered this plant to flower earlier, that’s my hunch anyway.

In my last update, I showed you that this Aerangis hyaloides specimen was producing five flowering stems.  The majority of the pictures taken of this Aerangis hyaloides specimen taken from July 2018 to September 2018, which you can see below, also show the plant with five flowering stems, but the last picture, taken just last evening, shows that this plant is now producing six flowering stems!  This Aerangis hyaloides specimen last flowered in December 2017, when this plant produced two flowering stems.  If you’re interested, you can see this plant in flower here.

Over the past year, this Aerangis hyaloides specimen has changed its shape and form as the plant has matured, as you can see in this photograph below, which was taken a year ago.

Aerangis hyaloides as pictured on the 17th September 2017.

Aerangis hyaloides, as pictured on the 17th July 2018.

Aerangis hyaloides, as pictured on the 17th July 2018.

Aerangis hyaloides, as pictured on the 17th July 2018.

Aerangis hyaloides, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Aerangis hyaloides, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Aerangis hyaloides, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Aerangis hyaloides, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Aerangis hyaloides, as pictured in bud on the 5th September 2018.

Amesiella monticola

On the 10th June 2018, I noticed that one of this Amesiella monticola specimen’s leaves had fallen from the plant and was resting on the moss inside this terrarium.  Prior to this leaf falling I had not noticed that this leaf was in anyway discoloured or damaged, but seeing this fallen leaf this was conformation to me that I had irreversibly hurt this Amesiella monticola specimen as a result of my overwatering of this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium and I would now lose this plant.  It’s very normal for orchids to drop leaves, it’s natural and is often not a bad thing at all, but in the case of an overwatered plant like this Amesiella, it is not good news.  Not all overwatered orchids that drop leaves will die, so you have an overwatered plant and you’re reading this, you’re plant may well be OK, but this plant having been so overwatered did not survive.  I was so sorry to see this fallen Amesiella monticola leaf, as I was hoping that this orchid had coped with the overwatering and was in better health, I was clearly very much mistaken!

A fallen Amesiella monticola leaf, as pictured on the 10th June 2018.

By July 2018 this Amesiella monticola specimen was dead.  I feel so very sorry for overwatering these special plants.

Amesiella philippinensis

Amesiella philippinensis, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Thankfully, this Amesiella philippinensis specimen is still alive, this plant is producing a new leaf, hooray!  I am praying that this Amesiella and the other orchids that remain growing inside this terrarium will be OK.  I hope that I can improve their growing conditions to improve the health and condition of these plants.

Amesiella philippinensis, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Amesiella philippinensis, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Amesiella philippinensis, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Brachypeza semiteretifolia

Brachypeza semiteretifolia, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

I have two Brachypeza semiteretifolia specimens growing inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium.  Both of these plants have seriously declined following on from my overwatering of this terrarium, but thankfully as I write to you today, both plants are still alive, barely so, but they’re are still on the register for this White Orchid Trial.

The weaker of these two Brachypeza plants is the plant you see pictured above.  Back in January 2018, this plant held seven leaves, fast forward to the present day, nine months later and this same Brachypeza semiteretifolia specimen now holds just has three leaves, as this plant has dropped four leaves after I over watered it, eek!  This Brachypeza plant has yet to produce a new leaf or a new root since it has been in decline, so I have everything crossed that this plant will regain its composure and this Brachypeza semiteretifolia specimen will produce some strong, healthy root growth soon.  I am not sure that this plant has any roots at all to sustain any future growth, as I suspect that all of this plant’s roots have rotted away.  I am far from confident of this plant’s survival, it seems almost a certainty that it will die, but I will give this plant every care I can and continue to hope for the best.

The second Brachypeza semiteretifolia specimen that’s growing inside this terrarium is the stronger of the two plants.  This plant currently holds seven leaves, two of which are new and have been produced since the plant’s fortune changed for the worse when I overwatered it earlier this year.  It’s just wonderful to see this plant’s new strong and healthy root, this is the plant which I am most confident will survive of the two Brachypezas plants inside this terrarium.  Back in January 2018, which was nine months ago as I write to you today, this same Brachypeza semiteretifolia specimen held twelve leaves.  So as you can see, I have caused some serious damage to both of these plants, which makes me feel pretty awful and very apologetic.  I am grateful that both plants have survived so far, I hope they will recover to produce strong and healthy growth.

Brachypeza semiteretifolia, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Brachypeza semiteretifolia, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Ceratostylis pristina

Ceratostylis pristina, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

This Ceratostylis pristina specimen lost three quarters of its leaves back in the early part of the year, again as a result of my overwatering.  This miniature orchid was the first of the orchids inside this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium to show signs of recovering and this Ceratostylis pristina plant, as you see it today is now back to the size that it was prior to my overwatering, which is quite miraculous and rather wonderful!

If you’re thinking of growing Ceratostylis pristina yourself, here are some tips: I find that these orchids really need good air circulation, I’d always position Ceratostylis pristina a distance away from other plants, so your plant is not over crowded and most importantly I’d place this orchid high up within a terrarium, close to a fan.  If you don’t have a fan inside your terrarium, or you’re looking for plants for a small bottle garden, I would avoid this plant altogether and I’d recommend you choose another plant instead, perhaps a Masdevallia, Dryadella, Macroclinium, Lepanthopsis, Haraella, or a Mediocalar.  There are lots of other orchids you could grow successfully, here’s a link with lots of suggestions.

Constantia cipoensis

Constantia cipoensis, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Goodness me, I feel so dreadfully sorry about my overwatering of these special plants.  In my last update, I wrote hopefully of this Constantia cipoensis specimen’s future flowering, fast forward a couple of months and I am just hoping that this plant survives!  To be honest, I don’t think this Constantia cipoensis specimen is going to recover, but I want it to so badly.  I think it needs a miracle!  Here’s this Constantia cipoensis specimen as it was above, while the photograph below shows the same plant after all of the rotten parts were removed.  What a disaster!

Constantia cipoensis, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Constantia cipoensis, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Constantia cipoensis, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Holcoglossum flavescens

Holcoglossum flavescens, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

On a happier note, I am absolutely thrilled that this Holcoglossum flavescens specimen is growing so well!  I initially mounted this orchid onto a piece of cork, with moss placed carefully around the plant’s roots in March 2017.  After a few months had passed, this Holcoglossum flavescens specimen began to seriously decline, and by the end of last year, this plant had just three leaves remaining!  Eek!  Those were scary times, I then remounted this orchid.  I carefully removed all of the moss that was around this plant’s roots, apart from a small amount that was really ingrained within the plant, as I knew that I could not remove this moss without damaging the plant.  Thankfully the moss removal did the trick and this plant had begun to recover almost immediately.

As you can see in my photographs, this Holcoglossum flavescens specimen is looking now at its very best, this plant has produced lots of new leaves – you might be able to spot the first signs of more very tiny new leaves being produced in my pictures.

In my photographs, you can also see that the moss around this Holcoglossum flavescens specimen’s roots has also grown back very successfully, I do not want this moss to again inhibit this plant’s growth, so after I took these pictures, I removed almost all of this moss, there was just a very small amount of moss remaining – the parts that were ingrained within this plant.  Some plants grow more successfully with moss around their roots, while moss noticeably impedes the growth of other orchids.  I try to show clear pictures of my orchids, so you can see exactly how they are being grown, I hope this will help you to grow your plants successfully and to avoid the many mistakes that I’ve made!

Holcoglossum flavescens, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Hymenorchis javanica

Hymenorchis javanica, as pictured on the 17th July 2018.

Remarkably, this Hymenorchis javanica plant is also still with us.  This is a slow growing orchid, that favours cool temperatures.  Hymenorchis javanica likes to grow without any moss around the plant’s roots, so that the plant’s roots have the ability to dry out quickly after watering.  This plant likes regular growing conditions, being misted every couple of days, but drying out quickly.  The temperatures this year have been quite incredible, the heat has been intense to say the least, so with the heat and too much water earlier this year, so far this Hymenorchis javanica specimen has proved to be more resilient than I thought!  I hope this Hymenorchis javanica specimen will survive through to my next update, and beyond – fingers crossed!

Hymenorchis javanica, as pictured on the 17th July 2018.

Hymenorchis javanica, as pictured on the 17th July 2018.

Hymenorchis javanica, as pictured on the 17th July 2018.

Hymenorchis javanica, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Hymenorchis javanica, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

As you can see, this Hymenorchis javanica specimen has produced two flowering stems.  This plant last flowered in January 2018, which as I write to you today, was nine months ago.  With the heat and the negative conditions created following on from my overwatering earlier this year, I did not expect this plant to bloom successfully, so it’s not a surprise to see this plant’s brown flower buds.  It’s very unlikely that this plant will produce a flower, I expect that these blooms have all aborted.

This Hymenorchis javanica specimen last bloomed in January 2018, if you’d like to see this plant in flower, from the moment the first flowers opened until the flowers began to fade, please click here.

Hymenorchis javanica, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Hymenorchis javanica, as pictured in very poor condition on the 5th September 2018.

In these two photographs, you can see an oribatid mite walking around on this Hymenorchis javanica plant – it’s the small, round black dot you can see on the flower buds in the picture above and on the underside of the leaf, in the photograph below.  Oribatid mites feed on living and decaying plant matter.  You might also be able to see some webbing around this plant.  I have some barklice (Psocoptera) living inside two of my other terrariums, most noticeably inside my Orchidarium.  It looks as if I also have some barklice inside this terrarium.  I am looking to find out more about barklice, I did not plan to keep any creatures inside this terrarium, but plants equal life.

Hymenorchis javanica, as pictured in very poor condition on the 5th September 2018.

Hymenorchis javanica, as pictured in very poor condition on the 5th September 2018.

Neofinetia falcata

Neofinetia falcata, as pictured on the 3rd July 2018.

This Neofinetia falcata specimen looks to be OK – I hope it’s OK, as I love this little orchid.  This plant last flowered in the middle of June 2017, which is over a year ago as I write to you today.  I totally understand why this poor orchid didn’t flower this year, I just hope that this plant will survive and recover to hopefully flower next year.  Neofinetia falcata is a beautiful plant, it looks so attractive, even when it’s not in flower.

Neofinetia falcata, as pictured on the 3rd July 2018.

This Neofinetia falcata specimen has lost a couple of its older leaves, but thankfully this plant has also produced some new, healthy leaves, which is marvellous!

Neofinetia falcata, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Neofinetia falcata, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Neofinetia falcata, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Neofinetia falcata, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Neofinetia falcata, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Podangis dactyloceras 

Podangis dactyloceras, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

I am thrilled that this Podangis dactyloceras specimen is still with me!  This plant was looking decidedly off colour back in June 2018, which was only three months ago as I write to you today, but this plant is now looking a little bit better.  I am so happy to see that this orchid is in the earliest stages of producing a new leaf!  I am hoping that I have not harmed this orchid with my over watering in any lasting way.  I hope that I can bring you better news in my next update for this White Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium, will these plants live or die?  I’ll let you know in my next update!

Podangis dactyloceras, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Podangis dactyloceras, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Podangis dactyloceras, as pictured on the 25th August 2018.

Other articles that may interest you…………

For a planting list of mini-miniature orchids to grow inside terrariums, vivariums, and bottle gardens, 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.

Other articles you might like:

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