Many orchids grow as epiphytes in their natural environment. These epiphytes colonize trees and form hanging roots in the air that they feed on. Above a certain moisture content, these air roots can absorb nutrients and moisture from the water contained in the air. This is how these orchids manage to stretch themselves towards the light high up in the rainforest, even though the rainforest is full of tall trees.

Many orchids are very fond of glass

Most plants grow best in a cultivated environment if they are cultivated under conditions that are as similar as possible to their home. All of these epiphyte orchids appreciate it when they are kept in a jar, because then they can live almost as they would in the rainforest.

This also explains what differentiates glass keeping from keeping in soil and which conditions the glass keeping must meet:

  • Orchids can be kept in glass without soil, because orchids are supposed to feed on their aerial roots in the glass
  • Because that’s what many of the orchids are used to
  • It depends, of course, on the species to which your orchid belongs botanically
  • You need to know if it is a epiphyte orchid that is forming aerial roots
  • Or that it is a epiphany orchid that also forms aerial roots
  • Because there are orchids that always grow as epiphytes with aerial roots
  • And orchids that can grow in the substrate, but also form aerial roots
  • And orchids, which always prefer to grow in substrate
  • These very different preferences can be found in one orchid genus
  • Take z. B. the Vanda (hybrids): Many of them like substrate
  • According to recent studies, the Vanda orchids are closely related to the Papilionanthe orchids
  • Or even Papilionanthe themselves, and they often grow in drier areas in their homeland and like to grow in soil
  • The classic Vanda is still an epiphyte orchid that forms vigorous aerial roots
  • So if in doubt, always research exactly how exactly an orchid species originally grew
  • The glass must provide a suitable environment for the aerial roots

This is how the orchid gets into the glass

The orchids, which always prefer to grow with the roots in the air, are traditionally cultivated hanging, namely hanging freely, with the roots in the air. To do this, the orchid is usually held in a basket made of wire mesh or string.

If you want it to be glass, the easiest way to do this is to put the basket in a glass vessel. With the advantage that the air roots in the basket can be moistened better and the moisture (supplied with the spray bottle) around the roots is better preserved. In addition, the glass vessel naturally has the advantage that dust is kept away from the basket.

The real attitude in the glass goes one better:

  • The orchids are placed in a glass with bare roots
  • One advantage is e.g. B. that the aerial roots get a lot more light than if there is still a mesh of wire or cord around them
  • Another advantage for many people is the design: beautiful and clear, only glass and plants
  • The third benefit is the high humidity that surrounds the orchid roots in the properly shaped jar
  • The correctly shaped glass is wide and bulbous at the bottom and slightly narrowed at the edge before it widens again
  • This means that moisture that has once been supplied cannot escape so quickly
  • But the roots are still exposed to a slight air circulation
  • The best orchid vessel is made of completely transparent glass, because tinting always swallows a little light
  • Of which the orchid in Germany does not get enough
  • The perfect orchid vessel also has air holes on the sides
  • Below is a drainage hole so that the orchids never stand in the wet
  • Such orchid pots can be bought
  • In many households, however, there are already vessels that let light and air into part of the roots and that have drains
  • If an orchid that is not overly rooted is to be kept in glass culture, it is usually good to have a little extra hold
  • The bring z. B. lava stones or expanded clay balls
  • Recently, hydrogel pearls have also been offered, which are said to be well tolerated by the aerial roots
  • Even in colored to bright colors, enables fun or exciting design in the living room
  • (Colored) glass nuggets are unfortunately not very suitable
  • Because it is always a matter of the substances that give hold water store water just as well as the leathery root skin
  • And it soaks up water like a sponge, even if you can’t tell right away
  • Orchids with strong roots can do without a support
  • You may even be able to use very narrow glass vases, which you fill well with the roots in the lower area

The glass for the orchids

Glasses for orchids come in many shapes and sizes and are often not sold very cheaply. If you look at several of these glass vessels, you will quickly notice that not every one of these orchid glass has side air holes, although these are repeatedly requested in the instructions.

Obviously, the orchids suitable for keeping glass are somewhat more tolerant in this regard than the botanists suspect. Orchids are successfully kept in mason jars, under which particularly pretty ones are sold inexpensively. Incidentally, without a drainage hole, the holders either dip regularly or only put 1cm of water into the glass vessel into which the root ends extend.

For fast and abundant flowering it seems to be more important that the aerial roots really get a lot of light. This gives creative people and do-it-yourselfers space for their own ideas; the latter also often have the knowledge and tools to make a few holes in a glass.

Caring for orchids in the jar

The orchids in the jar don’t need much, but careful maintenance:

  • Glass is fine, but it only makes the living room a substitute for the rainforest if there is always the right amount of moisture in the glass.
  • This is first made by spraying into the glass container
  • Whenever the orchids are also sprayed in the upper part
  • There is actually no upper limit here
  • Because in the rainforest orchids live in a humidity of 90% and above
  • The glass should be refilled with water every two weeks so that the orchids roots can really drink their fill
  • This takes a while, the orchids are ready when no more air bubbles rise from the glass
  • The excess water has to be poured off, except for the rest, which increases the humidity through evaporation
  • Alternatively, the aerial root can also be immersed, about once a week for about 30 minutes
  • If lava stones, expanded clay, etc. provide support, they may be cleaned occasionally
  • In the case of hard water, this also includes removing limescale from it by bathing it in vinegar water
  • Then rinse well with the water that you also use to water the orchids
  • With this type of culture, it is essential to ensure that the aerial roots never dry out completely

Orchid keepers with experience in glass culture report that this often works better than any other form of keeping, especially with delicate orchids. The reason is that the orchids get a maximum of light and moist air through this form of keeping – these are usually the limiting factors when it comes to keeping rainforest plants in German living rooms. Even if the orchid keeper knows how badly orchids need high humidity, he often slows himself down with other forms of culture – it is just not fun to keep spraying expensive designer furniture or carpets with wet just because an orchid is hanging over them. Spraying into a glass is more logical and leaves the environment dry, under such conditions the care task is often performed much more eagerly.

It is a really good idea to keep orchids in a glass and without a substrate, at least if these orchids also grow naturally as epiphytes on trees. So this has to be explored; from the dealer or from specialists (who can be searched for and contacted via the Internet). Otherwise, you only need the right glass container and a good water spray bottle so that the position in the glass works well, because nothing changes in the nutrient supply, etc.

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