Hello fellow orchid people!
This blog accompanies the following video:
Nowadays, for many, space is at a premium. So is time, for that matter. An Orchidarium is a type of wardian case that is a great way to save on both space and time if your interests lie within small orchids. These are convenient and compact grow cases that allow for a controlled environment in which to grow your orchids.
The first wardian case was created by Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward (1791-1868), who discovered that fern spores and grasses could grow in a sealed container. There has been much progress in the design since!
Many orchid hobbyists may remember the original Orchidariums which came in 4 different sizes. The original units were built by Rick and Robert Jacobs, the local founders of the Orchidarium company here in Minnesota. Now, Rick has decided to start up the company once more, and he’s starting small, with one compact unit. He designed the unit using the humidity trays we offer as the base, and then customized everything to work around it!
Photo of the Orchidarium Premium Case Unit for miniatures.
Growing in a case means you’ll have high humidity, which is great for orchids, especially miniatures or orchids mounted on slabs as they have exposed root systems that need higher humidity. There is an ultra sonic fogger with a programmable timer for humidity control. Along with high humidity, you’ll have air flow from a small fan that is mounted to blow air upwards, pulling from the bottom to create air movement but not to dry plants out too quickly if it were to be blowing downwards directly onto the plants. An LED top-mounted light provides all you need for artificial light supplementation. A hygrometer will display your maximum and minimum temperature and humidity over a 24-hour period to give you an idea of what plants will do best for your environment. There is also a front magnetically attached poly panel for easy removal and access to all the plants.
Some growers have used these units to grow the plants in individual pots and slabs, while others have created natural landscapes of orchids, ferns and miscellaneous tropical plants. Either way, it is a visually pleasing unit to display and makes for a great conversation piece. Usually, the temperature will be a few degrees warmer than the environment you place the unit in, as light in an enclosed area will increase the temperature.
There are two units to choose from for the official Orchidariums: A basic package and a premium package. See the product page for details on the difference. It should be noted that this is a customized unit, made in the USA, which of course is reflected in the price. It is a unit for someone who needs no more than the space this provides, and who wants to save time and energy spent researching components to put together a terrarium like this. These units do have an assembly process and an instructional video link is provided with orders.
D.I.Y. orchidarium made from a wine cooler!
If you are resourceful, you can create your own orchidarium, and of a much larger size, for a similar price! Many people are purchasing Exo-Terra units and sourcing out all the components to transform them into an orchidarium customized for their needs. There are several creative approaches out there to D.I.Y. units, and one example is in the photos above and below from George Guenthner, our former Orchids Limited employee, who built his latest unit out of a wine fridge! You can visit his Instagram for more great plant photos and videos.
Here is a message from George about his new unit:
I'm growing orchids naturally found in high elevation cloud forests in a 29-bottle wine cooler. These plants need high humidity and cool temperatures to thrive, making them unsuitable for a windowsill or standard light stand. Modifying a wine cooler for orchids can be done pretty easily with a little know-how and the essential equipment - all I've added is a temperature controller, a light source, and a couple of fans for air circulation. This kind of setup is a great example of how a little ingenuity can open up all sorts of new possibilities to the home orchid grower.
Either way you go, orchidariums are really fantastic for growing a wide variety of orchids, and provide lots of visual entertainment for the botanical addict!