Orchids stay beautiful and green year round. Making orchid terrariums in glass jars is a lovely way to display these plants in an easy to move and care for way.
Glass Jars or Terrarium Jars large enough to fit the orchids
Optional but helpful: Plastic dropcloth to work on top of
Gather your plant, jar, rocks, and sphagnum moss. Begin building this terrarium in a similar way to building the succulent terrariums. Rinse the small rocks in water to remove dust and debris.
Place a layer or rocks in the bottom of the glass jars.
Add sphagnum moss to each jar. Leave the center low as the plant will be nestled in there. Sphagnum moss is pretty fluffy, try to get quite a bit in there so there is a solid layer for the plant to grow into.
The orchids came in very tiny pots.
Inside the decorative pot was a little plastic pot that actually held the plant. The green things in the pot are the plant’s roots. While transplanting, be very careful to not nick the root with scissors or bend/break the roots.
The plant did not come out of the pot by squeezing and gently pulling. I very carefully slid scissors into the pot to cut away the plastic.
Cut carefully! The plastic can be tough to cut and you don’t want to slip and hit one of the roots.
Finally the plant is free from the plastic pot.
Gently break up the sphagnum with your hands. You don’t need to break it up completely, just enough that the roots can relax and spread in their new home.
Place the plant in the center of the new jar. If the plant has roots that it sent above the pot, carefully set them in the jar on top of the sphagnum.
Give the plant a good watering. Let the sphagnum soak up the water and check back to see if it needs more water.
Using a funnel to direct the water helps keep the leaves dry.
The larger orchid is going into the larger jar.
It also came in a plastic pot inside a decorative pot. This type of orchid has light green roots.
This plant also did not want to come loose by squeezing the pot. Be very careful to not bump the roots with the scissors while cutting away the plastic.
Use your hands to break up and loosen the sphagnum moss around the roots.
Place the plant in the center of the jar. I ended up adding a bunch of sphagnum to the jar so the leaves of the orchid could sit above the edge of the jar. Give the orchid a good watering after transplanting. Check the sphagnum after it has had time to absorb the water to see if you need to water more.
– Orchids are found all over the world and grow in a huge range of climates. However, most orchids you’ll find in stores are from a more tropical origin. Phalaenopsis orchids are shown here, and they are common in garden centers and can even be found places like supermarkets. Paphiopedilums, Dendrobiums, Cymbidiums are also commonly available. If you get hooked on orchids there are a LOT more varieties than that, including some amazingly beautiful flower types and some of the best fragrances I’ve ever been exposed to.
– In general, they love humidity and bright, indirect light. A bathroom or room adjacent to one is an excellent choice. A potting mix that drains well but also retains some moisture (like the sphagnum moss shown here) is a good base. We’ve been keeping the rocks of these terrariums filled with water which seems to be working well. Many serious orchid growers keep their pots over trays of water to keep the humidity level high without worrying about the roots being soggy.
– Orchid fertilizers are available (usually conveniently displayed next to the orchids at the store) but I use them very conservatively, especially in an enclosed system like this.
– Don’t expose orchids to freezing temperatures, as most of them can’t survive it.
– Many orchids will bloom about once a year, some more frequently. Others wait for years between sending up a spike of flowers. When they do bloom, the flowers often stay beautiful for weeks. It’s a safe guess that a plant at a store (especially if it’s reasonably priced) is fairly willing to bloom, because otherwise it wouldn’t be economical to raise them for sale!
– If you live outside of the normal habitat range for orchids (generally speaking, somewhere that freezes) you probably won’t have a lot of problems with bugs. Remove any bugs you do see immediately, and, if necessary, use some pesticide at the lowest possible strength.
– Orchid leaves can be sunburned if they are in direct sun. This starts out as dark spots on the leaves, and those parts eventually turn dry and golden (and look like fall leaves.)
– It isn’t terribly common, but orchids can get viruses. If you see problems with an orchid that can’t be explained easily as a bug or sunburn problem, research orchid virus images online to see if they match up.
– Most types are relatively forgiving, with leaves, stems, and roots that hold a lot of water. A neglected orchid will hang on for a long time before it dies. Don’t be quick to give up on one that seems unwell, give it the best care you can, it may recover.
-Carly | Antibromide