What is an orchidarium ?
An Orchidarium is really just a terrarium, I call them “orchidariums” because I focus on growing miniature orchid species inside of them.
Because of the orchids, aquatic plants and mosses I use, the terrarius have to be a closed system.
A closed system terrarium simply means that you are growing in a container that is shut off on all sides.
Common containers for these types of terrariums are jars and aquariums, with the right equipment you can even build your own custom terrarium, which I do and I can write an article about that in the future.
I love using cloche domes because it creates an elegant 360 degree view that also makes for a great center/ display piece.
Some closed system terrariums are meant to be made and never opened again or opened infrequently.
Because orchids are slightly higher maintenance than a typical terrarium plant, such as a fern or pilea, you are required to open and mist roughly once a week. Even though the ambient humidity is kept high within the dome, watering is required.
What sets my orchidariums apart from a typical terrarium is the fan that I build into the base. Orchids not only require high humidity but they need consistent airflow.
Airflow is key to keeping orchids of all kind happy and healthy!
What plants do you typically use in an Orchidarium / terrarium?
The most obvious plant that I use in the orchidarium is, you guessed it, an orchid!
But it's more complicated than that. (see blog “more about orchids & growing them in terrariums)
The two most commonly used orchid genus I use are:
- Angraecoids (which are endemic to madagascar)
- Bulbophyllum (many species that are found in many parts of the world)
Moss is another plant that is always used in my terrariums. I use multiple temperate species of moss, most of which are alive with the exception of some sphagnum moss which is used to hold moisture and help keep humidity.
Popular moss I use:
- Sphagnum moss (both live and dead)
- Sheet moss
- Hair cap moss
- Feather Moss (probably my favorite)
- Pin cushion moss
- Reindeer moss (not really a moss but a lichen)
Aquatic plants are another favorite of mine to use in the terrariums. Aquatic plants are only recently making a large appearance in terrariums, being grown emersed. Personally I prefer to grow aquatic plants emersed, not only do they grow faster due to the higher supply of co2, but also I have found that the flowering species flower more willingly.
Aquatic plants I frequently use:
- Anubais (a few species including the nana petite and normal nana)
- Monte Carlo
- Dwarf baby tears
Terrestrial / vying / shingling plants
No terrarium would be complete without a species or two of fast growing and fun to watch vining plants.
The crawling/ creeping/vining or whatever you prefer to call them plants that I use are technically terrestrial but adapt very well to a terrarium setting with high humidity. All of the plants I have mentioned until now are very slow growing so there is no immediate satisfaction, but that is not the case with these. Many tropical vine plants will grow overnight and it is so fun to watch the terrarium really come alive thanks to them. Very often you may need to cut these plants back because they grow so wild. When you take a cutting all you do is decide where you want a trim, snip, and either place the clipping somewhere else in the terrarium, add it to a small planter with soil or toss it if you have no other desire for it.
Terrestrial plants I commonly use:
- Pilea libanensis
- Ficus pumila (better known as mini oak leaf fig and a fan favorite)
- Ceropegia (String of hearts)
If you are interested in creating your own orchidarium I have kits that include absolutely everything you need for the build as well as a full care / instruction guide.