Viviarum friendly orchids

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This topic has been discussed alot on a few boards I know of, but I thought I'd put it here for more suggestions as this is a specifically orchid forum.

Anyone have any experience with or ideas of what orchids might be suitable for viviarum use? Requirements(at least for me) would be.

temp tolerant(probably 65-85degrees)

Tolerant of high humidity and low air circulation(yes, a small fan would help, but it'd be better not to grow a plant that absolutely depends on it to survive)

decent size(things over 2 feet or straight flower spikes higher than this wouldn't work, but orchids that you have to look at in a magnifying glass aren't that appealing to me currently)

Showy(but that is all depending on who you talk to)

Easy and relatively inexpensive(this would be my first shot at orchids myself).

Also for no real reason other than authenticity like them to be from Central or Northern SA best.

Some possibilities so far(just to give people an idea)
Pleurothallis, Masdevallia, Paphliopedelium(someone got one to bloom in their viv but it is Old World so prolly not what I'm after), Encyclia, Cypripedium, Paphiniam Miltonia...

Since this is a slipper orchid forum I'd particularly like to know if any Phrags fit the bill. From what I've read most are too large, and a few are quite hard to grow(at least they like cool temps).

I've done lots of background reading but would appreciate further advice.
Seems like Pleuros/Masdies may fit the bill. However, I do imagine that most of them DO like a bit of air circulation. Cypripedium just won't happen, I don't think. Air circulation really is an important component of orchid vivariums (save Polyrrhiza lindenii).
By Cypripedium Cynbidium(sp.) is what I was thinking of. Our temperate slippers would never do well in a viv I'd imagine.

While its true they do like it, I'd rather stick to orchids who are not going to depend on it being provided or else die or fail to thrive(so basically, the fan would be something to benefit them, not to keep them from dying of lack of air circulation).

Thanks for the reply. Keep them coming :)
Personally, I don't have a vivarium, so I have no first hand experience. However, a poster at the Orchid Source Forum named Mitcholito has some awesome vivariums:;f=2;t=000201;p=8#000288;f=29;t=005862

There is a thread with updated photos of his "nanovivs," but I can't find them.

Edit: in many of his posts about vivariums (;f=1;t=003542#000004;f=1;t=003542#000004;f=1;t=003559#000028), he mentions fans. I don't mean to keep harping on it, but it is crucial.

And some more shots of one of his vivs:;f=1;t=003119#000000
Wow...some of those are pretty incredible vivs! I'd be thrilled if mine turns out half as good looking. Actually, if I get a few other plants and an orchid to grow and thrive in it that will be good enough for me. The size specifications are due to working with a 46 gallon bowfront so while its good sized not enough to keep some orchid's spikes from hitting the top...should they bloom for me.

I've had more than a few mention the importance of having a fan, at least regarding orchids(and I think it is a pretty common practice) but still any orchids that are dependent on lots of air circulation would make me nervous trying them in a viv. I will be sure to see about including one though.
With high humidity and low air circulation, I wouldn't be too expectant of many orchids to do well. All the ones I've had have ended in rotted plants, especially slippers and pleuros.

The only ones I could honestly recommend are jewel orchids like Ludisia discolor and some of the Anoectochilus. Avoid some Macodes, as they will rot quickly as well.

Sorry I don't have better news.

High feature engine
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I start a fair number of paph and phrag seedlings in a vivarium type arangement, but it also has a couple of small fans in it too.

High humidity is great, but don't give up on circulation.
"Jewel" orchids will do well without any air circulation and high humididty. I have a plant of Macodes petola that languished and nearly died until I enclosed it in a "mini-terrarium"- the bottom half of a 2 liter clear soda bottle. Since then it has flourished, and the leaves are spectacularly beautiful...too bad I can't really see it until I take off the container.....Take care, Eric
How much air circulation would be necessary to maintain most orchids? I'm guessing some need it much more than others but I'd imagine with a fan or two most "rainforest" orchids would make it.

Any species suggestions from the epiphytes? I hear, from the Masdies, that M. floribunda is the easiest and I think someone got one to bloom in a viviarium.
It's not that the orchids "need" the air movement, but that without it molds, mildew, bacterias, and fungi easily get a foothold on the plants and quickly kill them. This will be seen as things like crownrot in slippers, and in masdies, leaf drop. The masdie will look fine, you barely shake it and all the leaves drop from the rhizome where the rot went unnoticed.

A small fan or two should easily help control this, as all you need is enough to adequately keep the air moving and the plants in constant motion.

Any warm growing masdie would do fine, and floribunda seems particularly hardy. It can be hard to maintain cool temps in a viv, otherwise most masdies would do well.

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The jewel orchids, of course. And I was just corrected on Macodes petola, I have always seen that spelled petiola, so if you have one from me, change your tag! :viking: I think petiola sounds nicer, maybe we should 'revise' it.

Anyway, I've only been growing in vivs for about 9 months or so... So I'm not an expert. But, I keep getting more frogs so I keep building more vivs, and orchids are what I have to put in them, so that is what I try.

Some plants that I'm doing well with include some mini-catts (so far trying only ones that aren't red - red flowered catts like cooler temperatures, usually). Restrepias (brachypus and cuprea, at least) are growing like weeds. Paphinia clausula grows pretty well, and has bloomed, but I suspect the showier paphinias would be hard to display in a viv. I've got some smaller oncidiums (hybrids) and oncidium relatives that seem to do OK. Lockhardtia (or however you spell it) grows well but I have yet to see a flower. I have only tried a few paphs. Vanda M. Pearman has bloomed for me. P. wardii is growing well, but doesn't seem to have much in the way of roots. I just mounted mine in the tank, we shall see what happens. The Maudiae type paphs that I put into vivs did bloom, but the spikes were too tall. And semi-hydro, paphs, and vivs don't mix, so they eventually died out. Would probably do better without the semi-hydro.

Pleurothallis grobyi and brighamii do well so far. They are very small. Pl. racemiflora and pubescens (the latter being one of my absolute favorite pleurothallids) are substantially larger (a foot plus on racemiflora ex vitro - but smaller so far in tanks) but also do well. I'm experimenting with a few other species, like Pl. phyllocardiodes (now an Acronia) ,but it is too early to tell. Masdevallia floribunda never worked for me, but I started with some not terribly happy plants. Others make that work. I suspect there are actually a very large number of pleurothallids that would grow better (for me) in a tank than out of a tank, and since I have ready access to one of the world's best pleuro growers, I've been trying a few out.

There are a lot of bulbophyllums that work. B. lasiochilum is bullet-proof. It is a big genus, try to pick things that like hot conditions and stay small. On good authority, I've heard that Epi (Neolehmannia - sigh) porpax and Enc (Dinema - double sigh) polybulbon are great. I'm at about three weeks with mine - hard to tell.
Thanks much for the lengthy reply Littlefrog! It was not made in vain ;)

I've now got the actual tank to talk of...and here it is. Not very impressive I know, but I plan to add in more wood, play around with the background(not glued in place or anything so I can make changes easily), and maybe a few more plants...LOL


Current flora would be Syngonium rayii, Anthurium pentaphyllum, Cissus amazonica, Selaginella umbrosa, Episcia sp, Begonia thelmae, and Easter cactus(Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri or hybrid). I've tried to keep the plants Central American for now but with limited choices its pretty hard. Depending on choice of fauna I could leave it as is or change for Vietnam or South American plants. I'm guessing epiphytic cacti may be pretty similar to some orchids you could put in here so I popped them in.(they'd look nice in the end as well if I kept them). They are in a crack held in with sphagnum and cocofiber in the manzanita branch in the upper right and get water every few days. 1 of the 3 cuttings has since put out a new leaf.

The lid is glass with a 2 inch gap in the back currently. I'll probably put screening there, as things seem to stay humid enough for the plants as is.

Earlier look at the tank. Basically cocofiber over a false bottom here, plus a manzanita branch.
Good Luck w/ the Viv thing. I tried but the temps kept too warm and stewed lots of Pleuros and Masdevalias. Jewels are good, I got my first at a frog website and it's been going for years. Also Zephyrus in Canada, Hoosier, and Cal-Orchids are good sources of various jewels. Air flow is VERY important. By the way I grew some algae in the tank and it's still alive after no water for a year. YUCK!
Keep that episcia in check as it gets established. I have one in a mini terrarium that is choking out a macodes lowii. Not happy.

Hope you post pics as things get settled in. I'm still sitting on my empty aquarium - planning on a terr (not viv).
Looks pretty good to me. Interesting how you are creating layers. When I saw your picture and thought about Rob's suggestions, I wonder if the showy Paphinias would do well if mounted high on the "log" -- the flowers do hang dow a long way. But maybe if they could dangle down below the upper layer?
Thanks guys for all the suggestions!

NYEric: It does get warm here so I am a bit worried about it. I do wish I got the viv set up during the summer so I could see the maximum temperatures I'd be dealing with. When it was an aquarium the "air temp" directly under the glass could be 85 degrees. As a viv with better ventilation and lower humidity it now seems much cooler.

LOL Morewater, I'm actually waiting for these little guys to start overruning my far no plants have actually "taken off" yet. Then again I may be too used to the speed of aquatic plants. If you tear it out don't throw it away.

Slipperfan: Yeah...I was thinking of some ephiphytic orchid on a similar manzanita branch. I had one marked off that was awesome looking, similar to the one on the right but better but of course the gardener had to think it was a piece of junk and tossed it. :( Hopefully I can get another one like it.

If I were to go with say Vietnam plants I could try a Paph in a raised portion of the bottom).(don't think any Phrags are going to work in here). With the current Central/SA collection maybe an Encyclia or Paphinia. Whatever it is, it needs to be cheap enough that I am willing to experiment with my brown thumb...hehehe

Keep the thoughts coming!

Curious, get some live moss and let some plants root into that. And by the way, dont forget how warm the house can get in the Winter w/ heat and sun during the day when most people aren't home. E. :eek:
Our house stays pretty cool in the winter...we are cheap so outside things can drop to the 60's. I suspect the viv with the lights on will stay around 70 during the day dropping to around 63-65 at night, but possibly a bit colder.

What kind of moss do you suggest? I will probably stick some java moss around the water section but never thought much about terrestrial mosses.

This appears to be going in the direction of a Costa Rican tank.

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