The Orchid Forum, for the UK and Europe (previously known as The UK Orchid Forum) • View topic - Just set up my mini terrarium - advice welcome
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 11:58 am 
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My mini (30cmx30cmx45cm) terrarium arrived this morning. Which was perfect timing, as the mini orchids I had on order arrived an hour or so later.

It is glass on all sides, except for the top, which is mesh. The front has glass doors, which is handy, but I guess not as enclosed a system.

I was surprised to find it came with a rock effect back ground made from polystyrene. This is quite handy as for now I have just pushed the wire on the orchid mounts into it. However, I suspect it will become a mouldy mess and will need replacing with cork bark. Anyone know for sure?

All I've got in there for now are the two newly arrived orchids - Masdevallia minuta and Pleurothallis picta. Any experiences of growing these appreciated. Also, opinions on how they look now. Should I remove the slightly dodgy looking leaf on the M. minuta? Are they likely to be happy in such a terrarium? Or do I need to re-plan asap?

The other plants are Tillandsia usneoides, T. Bulbosa and T. Tenuifola. Sadly, the two Neoregelia 'Fireball' plants arrived in a sorry state. I'll try to save them, (I've got them in a storm vase atm), but I think travelling in this heat has finished them off. So, as you can see, the theme is the South American rain / cloud forest. (I'm half Guyanese :) ).

Photos to follow - I need to resize them.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:18 pm 
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We have two similar terrariums, we replaced the mesh top with a piece of clear polycarbonate. It helps keep the humidity a lot higher, but still not so high as to cause condensation. We also put some led lights on top as they were located somewhere a bit to dark. On the floor we put clay balls to provide drainage but also keep the humdity high.

Most things seem to be doing well, we have three vanilla species and some small rainforest type orchids, nepenthes ampularia, acriopsis indica and all doing much better than out in the greenhouse. Warmer and very humid definately seems to help for some types.



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:50 pm 
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Thanks for the tips. I particularly like the idea of clay balls on the bottom - day one and I'm already fed up with the moss.

I'm also considering lights. Only once I had set it up did it occur to me that without them I may well end up having to stare at the back of the thing as the orchids will need to face the window! :blush: Although, I guess I could remove the back drop, hang everything from a branches and have light come in from all round. Wouldn't look great though.

I bought humidity and temperature probes earlier. Even set back from the window and without lights the temp was over what I think might be their ideal upper limit (24c). So, I'm a bit concerned about providing 'bright light' for the Pleurothallis picta, (the Masdevallia minuta needs partial shade - I hope to be able to achieve this with other plants shading it), without making the temperature soar. :?

Edit: How far back from a south facing window can I go and still provide 'bright light'?

So sorry for being a needy newbie. :oops:


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:32 pm 
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No problem at all, for lighting we ended up (after a lot of trial and error) using warm white, e27 PAR 38 LEDs, if i can find the link on ebay i'll post it. LEDs give out less heat than other light types. The ones we used are quite bright and all the light goes down rather than out, we used three on each terrarium (largest and tallest size exoterra terrarium). The orchids we have seem ok, the lights might be a bit too bright for a fern we have in there. As you say you can move shade loving ones to the darker corners if it seems too bright for them.



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:41 pm 
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Thank you so much. I will have a search on ebay :)


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 10:32 pm 
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These are the ones we bought from this supplier, I think they are based in Hong Kong, delivery was fast and out of 7 or 8 lights one was faulty but the rest have been working perfectly for several months. (some stuff from china is total rubbish but these seem decent quality). We got 2X18W lights (ie 36W per light), but these might be a bit strong for a smaller terrarium...

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/5-6-9-12-18-2 ... Flo6EdaZqA



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 11:12 pm 
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Brilliant, thanks :) I had real issues with keeping the temperature down today, so moved it onto my quarter stair where it is adjacent to an east facing partly stained glass window. This worked a treat at bringing the temp down, but I will almost certainly need lights now. (Although it will have to move again - no socket).

I also removed the sphagnum moss from the base this afternoon and replaced it with around 3in of clay pebbles. I then added water until the bottom half of the pebble layer was submerged. Does that sound about right? Is it likely to need changing / cleaning out very regularly? I've no experience of hydroponics - not sure how fresh the bottom will stay.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 11:27 pm 
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Yes i dont think the level matters too much provided no pots are sitting in the water (although i have a few orchids which seem to like that), and the humidity doesnt get so much it condenses on the plants/glass.

We haven't cleaned our current ones out yet but it will eventually get moss/ferns and other stuff growing in it. I guess its a matter of taste what you can put up with.

Now you got me thinking i might try and find some small carpeting type plant that will grow in and around the clay pebbles. Maybe something like Utricularia graminifolia. It might help to keep it clean looking.

Actually i've had some quite interesting ferns grow up in previous terrariums, spores must have come in off imported plants... One is a potential monster fern and is currently potted up and hanging up in our conservatory!


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 11:19 am 
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Good to know it shouldn't need frequent cleaning out. Interesting idea about the creeping plant. I might consider doing something similar. I do hope I get some ferns too - how fascinating :)

Disappointed to find the drop in temperature last night was only 1 degree. I think I shall ask in the genus forum as according to everything I've read the orchids need a significant drop. Wondering if I need a green house to achieve that. :confusion-questionmarks:


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2016 7:31 pm 
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Been fiddling round with it again today. Added another piece of bogwood to give myself more mounting space. Two replacement Neoregelia 'Fireball' plants ought to be on the way. I intend to mount those at the foot of the largest 'branch'. Temperature and humidity reading all good today.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2016 2:19 pm 
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The replacement bromelaids are here. A little bigger than I expected, but nice and healthy this time.

Hoping to find another mini Guyanese cloud forest orchid to go on the branch at the back, but that is pretty much it plant wise. It has been a great project for the kids, and also a great excuse for me to buy more orchids. We might do another - larger this time and rain forest rather than cloud forest. I know they are angling for dart frogs :rolleyes:

As for me - I've decided I want a green house to grow more orchids :)


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