Introduction: Happy Orchids Micro-climate Humidifier

Picture of Happy Orchids Micro-climate Humidifier

Well, there are a few things about phalaenopsis orchids...
Either you like them or you don't.
Admittedly, they are not the prettiest plants when they don't bloom.
However, I happen to be stuck with three of them (two of them share one pot).
The first one I got half-dead from a friend and it survived ,
the other two I bought as company for the first one out of pity (also half- dead).

Since they are starting to bloom despite my constant neglect, I want to do something good for them.

For those who are interested, I'd like to share some general tips on phalaenopsis care:

Substrate:
Use a good substrate which consists of coarse chunks. Don't use the sphagnum moss they sometimes are sold in. This will hold too much moisture and restrict air flow to the roots causing them to rot. The substrate I use is manufactured by Seramis and consists of bark chunks and porous terracotta pieces. It is thus far the best I could find.
Avoid substrates that contain styrofoam or spongelike plastics. These are usually bad quality.

Pots:
There is a reason for the translucent plastic pots sold especially for orchids. The roots of the phalaenopsis are green which means they contain chlorophyll. This enables the orchid to assimilate light through its roots.

Watering:
I submerge the whole pot in room temperature, soft water about once a week.
It is very important that the pot can drain completely afterwards.
Roots that stay submerged will begin to rot and make the orchids sick.
Regular showers with mildly warm water simulate the rains of their natural habitat and can induce blooming.

Fertilizer:
I use liquid orchid fertilizer with the water I dunk the pots in.

Humidity:
Orchids naturally live in very humid places.
The average air humidity in a house is usually too low for them, especially during the winter.
This is why they love being misted with water.
It is also often said that they don't like to live alone but love the company of other orchids or plants.
There is nothing esoteric about this, the proximity of other plants can
create a more humid micro-climate than a single plant could create on its own.

Since I only have the two pots with orchids shown in the picture and they are not surrounded by other plants,
I had to come up with a solution to improve their micro-climate. An experienced orchid lover gave me the advice of setting them in a bowl filled with moistened clay granulate to keep the humidity around them higher than in the rest of the room.

I just enhanced a little by adding an automated water refiller to keep the granulate moist for at least a week.
This should keep my orchids happy and prevent the blossoms from drying out.


 

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need
    • Some orchids that will be happy about a climate more like their natural habitat
    • a bowl, tablet or coaster that is big enough to hold your orchids' pots
    • a bottle that will hold enough water for the humidifier to work at least a week
    • something that will keep a bottle standing bottom-up with its opening facing down into the granulate.
      The bottle's opening must not sit flush against the bottom, or else the water can't get out and air can't get in.
      I used half of a plastic spool. I cut away some of it so it fits nicely in the corner of the coaster
    • some kind of adhesive that will hold the parts together under water.
      I used hot glue, but epoxy or silicone should also work
    • a porous granulate to fill the coaster. I used Seramis (porous clay granulate)

    Step 2: Glue It, Fill It and Install the Bottle

    Picture of Glue It, Fill It and Install the Bottle

    I glued the plastic spool to the saucer with hot glue. The water can go into the tube and out under the disk.

    The tube is also thinner than the bottle neck, allowing air to go in.

    Next, fill the saucer with some porous material. I used Seramis because I had it available and it looks rather nice.

    The important part is that it is porous and soaks with water, providing a good surface area for the water to evaporate.

    Finally, put the filled bottle onto the tube. The water will start to flow out and bubbles will rise in the bottle until the water level reaches the bottleneck and shuts off the air. If this happens, you have done everything right.

    For the next minutes, the granulate will soak up the water and cause the bottle to bubble a few more times.

    Step 3: Make Your Orchids Happy!

    Picture of Make Your Orchids Happy!

    Finally, set your orchids on the saucer. For the first week, you might want to observe the water usage and see if the bottle is big enough. I will also monitor the humidity around the orchids and in another corner of the room to see what difference the tray makes.

    Step 4: Final Thoughts...

    This system can be built to any size to accommodate as many plants as you like. However, if you have enough plants close together, their own water evaporation might be enough.

    The humidity in your room can also increase. While this might be good in the winter, keep an eye on your humidity to avoid the growth of mold

    The micro-climate can not only benefit orchids. I will put it to a test with my tillandsia ("air plant"). They depend heavily on air humidity because they lack roots to take up water.

    Thank you for reading my instructable!

    If you decide to build a similar system, please share it and your experiences with us all!
    I will be happy to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge in the comment section.

    As always, if you have corrections regarding my vocabulary or grammar,
    feel free to correct me! English is not my native language.

    If you liked my instructable, I would appreciate your vote in the Gardening & Homesteading contest.

    Comments

    darkNiGHTS0 (author)2017-08-30

    Great use of a spindle! I guess the hard part of this is finding an attractive tray that's waterproof.

    Do you any suggestion for an alternative for seramis that would be at Home Depot or similar?

    majjuss (author)darkNiGHTS02017-09-03

    I think that any plastic tray would work...

    Regarding the seramis alternative... in Germany, the hardware or garden stores sell several products that are quite similar. You could also use that expanded clay hydroculture substrate (those terracotta-coloured balls). It is available in several sizes.

    Elba-GloriaR (author)2015-05-05

    Very Cool!!! Do you know if Seramis is ok to use in a semi-enclosed terrarium for orchids?

    majjuss (author)Elba-GloriaR2015-05-06

    Hi,

    I think it should work! I have used it for quite a while now, ant it hasn't made any problems yet. Seramis is anorganic, so it provides no nutrition for mold fungi. The only thing that may happen is some algae growth, but you can change the substrate once a year or so and it'll be fine...

    Elba-GloriaR (author)majjuss2015-05-08

    GREAT. Thank you so much!

    craftclarity (author)2014-05-23

    Voted! That's nice and really simple.

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    Bio: I'm an electrical engineer and work in the e-Mobility business. I really enjoy collecting skills and learning new techniques. Although I'm not an ... More »
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