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Orchidarium - A Cozy 'Home' For Orchids

, Admin

Special flower display cabinets for capricious orchids create ideal conditions for growing these tropical beauties. Orchidariums first and foremost provide high humidity and careful air control, but they have other advantages as well. There is no better way to emphasize a plant's value and special beauty than by choosing the right and spectacular orchidarium. And there is no other option that allows you to introduce orchids even where there are no windows at all. Simplifying care and giving orchids everything they need, purchased or homemade orchidariums are the dream of any fan of these plants.

Orchidarium - a cozy 'home' for orchids
Orchidarium. © Mike Leone


  • What is an orchidarium?
  • Industrial orchidariums
  • Homemade orchidariums
  • Indoor orchidarium interior

What is an orchidarium?

Orchidariums are conventionally called any kind of flower showcase or closed terrarium in which orchids are grown. It is essentially just a separate "home" for orchids. It can be a huge climate-controlled room or a small decorative vase with light installed and classified as a florarium. In contrast to orchidariums in botanical gardens, home orchidariums are not only compact in size, but also of great variety.

Epiphytic orchids are grown in orchidariums. They are not necessarily placed on blocks, but this is the preferred method even for those species that can grow in substrate.

Orchidariums provide a unique opportunity to create a high humidity environment to reveal all the beauty and features of the plants. They are an ideal home for deciduous, capricious, demanding species of orchids, which normally might be in a depressed state.

Orchidariums are not only suitable for growing orchids: the latter can be combined with other capricious epiphytic exotics, including various humid-loving bromeliads. In places where water accumulates, at the bottom of orchidariums and directly in the soil, other plants may also be planted which create a nice background for orchids - such as peperomiums, ferns, other stars of humid terrariums.

Orchidariums are divided into two kinds:

  1. Bought, or ready-made models of different complexity and functionality.
  2. Custom, or self-made orchidariums.
Orchidarium - a cozy 'home' for orchids
Orchidarium is both a huge in area room with climate control, and a small florarium. © glavchudo

Industrial orchidariums

Orchidariums are chosen primarily by price and their own preferences. Chrome or plastic, glass or clear acrylic, full climate control or the simplest of systems determine the cost of the orchidarium as well as the possibilities it offers for rare orchid species.

Premium orchidariums

Premium orchidariums or professional orchidariums are models equipped with a complete climate control system that creates ideal conditions for growing orchids or those orchidariums that are created by specialized companies to order for the individual characteristics of the house and plants, mainly to create a special decoration for the interior and pride of the collection.

These are chosen when the budget and possibilities are unlimited or if you really want to go to the next level in collecting more rare and valuable orchids.

The orchidariums of the elite and professional type are characterized by a large selection of sizes, but as a rule, even in the smallest orchidariums there are several levels of plants, on which the light intensity differs. Such models are never intended for a single plant: they are a "home" for entire collections, often of heterogeneous requirements.

The climate control systems of premium orchidariums usually include functions to control lighting, ventilation, watering control, humidity, spraying, temperature, bottom heating, sensors to check and set all the indicators needed to create a strictly controlled atmosphere with corresponding indicators.

The plants for professional orchidariums are selected so that they are content with the same temperature regime. The lighting can be varied by proper choice of location, but the temperature will be similar for all orchids placed in the orchidarium. Therefore they are used for a collection of either heat-loving, cold-loving or "medium" orchids.

Any of the room orchids can be grown in the premium models - both the rarest and those quite typical for living spaces, but capricious ones. The baths, lelias and dendrobiums for example enjoy a perfect humid environment and intensive diffused light on the upper levels. The Cattleyas or Oncidiums bloom magnificently in diffuse soft light, and the masdevallias, paphiopedilums and phalaenopsis grow magnificently on the lower shelves. In such orchidariums you don't have to worry about either beautifully blooming or ornamental-leaved species.

Orchidarium - a cozy 'home' for orchids
Orchidarium is the easiest option to introduce orchids even where there are no windows at all. © Orchidcare UAB

Commonly purchased orchidariums

These are models without complex automatic control systems. They are in fact a terrarium or a flower showcase with the usual rudimentary lighting and ventilation system, usually placed on top of the model. Nowadays, apart from these two components, orchidariums and flower cabinets are increasingly equipped with thermometers and hygrometers in order to monitor humidity and temperature values and correct them accordingly by correcting the ventilation schedule.

No general automatic control system is intended, but the simplest devices simplify the task of achieving the ideal conditions for growing an orchid collection.

In the simplest models the temperature is lowered by ventilation or by placing them in a room with low values, the air humidity is controlled by ventilation, by opening the doors or "roof", by placing trays and sponges impregnated with water or oasis. Simple models of orchidariums usually contain plants that are similar to each other, not only in terms of temperature requirements, but also in terms of light. They can't accommodate a disparate collection, because there aren't multiple levels of plant placement in them. You can, for example, place oncidiums and cattleyas together, but not oncidiums with wandas and phalaenopsis.
Orchidarium - a cozy 'home' for orchids
In "multilevel" models of orchidariums you can grow any of the room orchids - both the rarest ones, and quite typical for living rooms, but capricious ones. © fieldofscience

Orchidariums made with your own hands

Home orchidariums are always the most economical options, but not in every case they are also the most modest. They are made from available materials by those who love to make and experiment. Self-made orchidariums are better for florists who have dealt with aquariums or terrariums (or at least florariums with lighting) before, have at least minimal experience in organization of additional lighting and stable humid environment for growing capricious plants.

It's better for beginners to experiment with florariums first, and then to try themselves with much more valuable orchids grown in special 'room houses'.

Home orchidariums are variants of homemade flower showcases and florariums. They can be big enough for a collection or made for a single orchid.

Orchidariums are usually made on the basis of an aquarium, choosing the size, shape, model, style according to your taste and to your interior. For orchidariums suit both frame and glued aquariums with one removable side wall and a glass thickness of 6 to 8 mm.

If the aquarium model is open, the removable wall is replaced by a "cover" of plastic, acrylic, plexiglass (high resistance to wear and transparency are important). Large glass vases with original shapes can also be used to create an orchidarium, especially if only a few miniature orchids are planned to be placed in it.

Planning is the key success factor in creating home orchidariums. Disappointments and loss of plants can be avoided by thinking out in advance not only the additional elements that will be used in the creation of the orchidarium, but also the entire functional component.

The type and intensity of lighting, how sensors or systems are attached, the routing of communications, holes or gaps for ventilation, a grid or framework for attaching plants - all of this must be "calculated" in advance. Having carefully drawn a plan and studied the peculiarities of plant life support systems, you should not forget about moisture protection, safety measures when working with electrical devices and wiring, additional decoration.

Home orchidariums have several indispensable elements:

  • Lighting system special phyto-lamps, lamps for additional lighting of plants or, as a last resort, lamps of daylight (usually standard bulbs of 36 W) that create the whole spectrum of light for the plants. Additional supplementary light is required for any orchidarium that is not situated in a southern window.
  • Ventilation system - Holes that let the plants breathe and provide a steady stream of fresh air or specially installed fans that provide constant air renewal (both special ventilation systems for plants and ordinary computer fans are used).
  • Communications - Holes and channels for electric wires and other functional elements.
  • Protective elements and fasteners - special "thresholds", supports, covers which hold the decor and plants in place and which make the composition inside the orchidarium stable and keep the orchidarium itself isolated.
  • Decorative or interior elements - additional decor and accessories which allow to turn the orchidarium into a work of floral art.

The system of automatic watering or auto-spraying in homemade orchidariums is installed rarely, but it simplifies the care as much as possible and is the most expensive element.

The care of plants in a bush orchidarium requires much more effort. Plants on blocks are watered and sprayed daily, in winter - every 2-3 days, but in pots - with a frequency of about once every 2 weeks. Orchids are planted according to standard methods, using well adapted and quarantined plants.

All recommendations on the peculiarities of growing specific plants are observed in the care of the plants. The humidity should remain at a level that is comfortable for the plant, without too much stagnant air or dampness, but also without too much dryness.

Regular airing should be carried out according to the availability of ventilation holes.

Orchidarium - a cozy 'home' for orchids
All the elements of the Orchidarium are treated every year against mould, bacteria and dirt with solutions of special fungicides. © Klairvoyant Orchids

The interior of the orchidarium

The interior filling of the orchidarium is usually called the interior. These are such special objects, that in their decoration, as a rule, they do not skimp on details and create highly decorative, imitating natural conditions compositions, looking like a jungle or corners of wildlife in a showcase. Imitation rainforest is a classic. For an orchidarium you can fantasize and experiment with style limitlessly.

If orchidariums imitate the jungle, it usually introduces snags, branches, bark fragments and other imitation common for epiphytic orchids "blocks" from among specially treated and designed for growing epiphytic plants - from artificial imitations to those requiring regular replacement of natural models.

An imitation of soil or leaf litter is placed at the bottom of any orchidarium - a base of expanded clay or stone chips covered with a layer of sphagnum, which not only plays the role of a decorative background, but also creates an optimal environment for water accumulation and maintaining humidity. The plants are placed on stands or snags so that they do not touch the bottom.

Other options for arrangement of orchidariums can provide even the absence of additional decoration using special containers or cachepots. Plants can both be planted on blocks and placed in the substrate - it all depends on what effect you want to produce and what style you have chosen.

Orchidariums can be strict, with plants placed in a certain order on a "clean" background, creating the illusion of continuous landscaping, similar to the usual collection of plants or imitating fragments of landscapes. In addition to additional plants, accessories and décor can be used to create atmosphere.