First impressions and setup....why I'm digging the biOrbAIR.
Then the actual biOrbAIR showed up on my front porch. Even the huuuuge box was beautifully presented. It comes with the terrarium and base, lighting and misting module, coir compost, planting tray, carbon filter cartridge, bottle of humidiMist, and transformer. Plants and pets are on you to furnish. It's time to implement those massive creativity skills of yours because terrariums are always custom-designed. Living art that is personal; your instincts will direct you into making a memorable showpiece for your home.
The instruction manual is fairly simply worded. There is also a step-by-step picture guide for all you visual learners. But the easiest setup method is just to watch a YouTube video! You'll be up and running in no time. At first, I wrestled with the question: Is setup going to be challenging? No. Absolutely not. Nothing could be easier!
More bang for your buck with all this stellar technology!
Tom and I got a little confused right away by the air circulation fan. It was so quiet we doubted it was working. So we "asked a question" under the support section of the OASE website. A representative got back to us within the hour assuring us all was well. They explained why and how the fan worked alleviating all concerns. So customer service is quick and effective. Our plants were safe after all.
After all, I miss my outdoor plants in winter! Although I grow tons of indoor plants, the only tropical ones that survive our harsh winters are my hibiscus bushes grown in pots. And they barely eek through the cold. The biOrbAIR unties my hands allowing me to grow exotic plants that would just die in this cold and dry climate.
Why the biOrbAIR is the most amazing terrarium on planet earth!
- The setup was easier than expected. We had this micro-climate up and running in about 20 minutes.
- The biOrbAIR is chock-full of the most astounding technology including LED lighting, air circulation and automatic mist. These features have allowed me to grow indoor tropical plants during the coldest winter here in 20 years! It has no equal.
- The LED lighting at the top of the sphere is on an automatic 24 hour cycle simulating sunrise, daylight, sunset and night time. So no natural light is needed.
- It gets dark early in winter. This exotic globe lights up the room on a dark and dreary evening. I find myself staring at it hours on end. (If you think I'm kidding.....)
- And that magnificent mist. Swoon. Be still my heart. It's like the corner of my living room has become a tropical forest canopy. The silent misting creates such peaceful ambiance to our space.
- The biOrbAIR is the perfect environment for a poison dart frog which likes humidity between 70-100%. The intelligent system automatically mists when the humidity drops below 75%.
- I had read the reviews on Amazon saying the biOrbAIR circulation fan was super loud. With the updated version the fan is almost silent. As in....I thought the circulation fan was broken it was so quiet. But if you put your head to the lid and listen carefully, you can hear the motor gently humming.
- The fan is constantly running which is needed to prevent stagnation and discourage condensation and mold. It recycles the air through a replaceable carbon filter. (Change every 3 months).
- When you lift the lid to the unit, the LED lighting automatically turns on. Perfect when you want bright light to remove a dead leaf, feed the frog or trim your unruly plants!
- You still have to water the plants. But there's an overflow pipe on the bottom of the product that tells you exactly when to add the water. Phew.
- 16 gallons is the spot-on size for a terrarium. Big enough to be the illuminated focal point in any room, but not so big that it wouldn't be perfect for apartment dwellers too.
- Speaking of looks....it's chic, sleek and modern appeal comes in two colors, white and grey. Meet your new glamorous globe centerpiece.
- The biOrbAIR is made out of acrylic which is 10 times stronger than glass. It's also 50% lighter and 93% clearer for viewing pleasure!
Twelve terrarium tips...
- Plant choice is paramount. Smaller plants reign supreme in terrariums. You don't want your mini-ecosystem to turn into a jungle that has to be constantly trimmed back. So instead of a full-sized orchid, opt for a miniature variety instead. Also consider using plants with varying shapes, colors and textures. Terrariums are typically located in shady locations, so it would be beneficial to use a few golden hued plants to make the scene "pop" over dark-leaved ones.
- Speaking of plants....make sure you choose plants that will thrive in either your open or closed terrarium. (The biOrbAIR is closed and has a circulation fan that handles the moisture and mold). If yours is an open terrarium with no fan select plants that like to be moist. Always consider how much light there is. Low or medium light plants generally work best. Sun-worshiping plants that prefer arid conditions (cacti, succulents, alpines, geraniums, most herbs) won't like a terrarium.
- Of course, you can grow many traditional houseplants in the biOrbAIR. But now is your chance to try your green thumb at some exotics that require higher humidity and good circulation. Despite five humidifiers running 24/7 in our home during the winter months, it's still too dry to grow humidity loving exotic plants like miniature orchids out in the open.
- If your plants get scraggly and leggy, prune them. Plants should never touch the glass or acrylic. Always remove dead plants or spotty, browned leaves that may contaminate your other plants. When choosing a replacement plant, make sure you select one of similar size with similar light requirements as your previous plant.
- The heat of a radiator can kill your plants. So keep your terrarium far away from this killer heat source! Same deal if you have a woodburning stove. No go. This is also why a terrarium needs to be placed in indirect light. When direct sunbeams penetrate the glass or acrylic case, the insides bake, frying all your cute plants! This is why you don't leave plants in a closed car on a hot summer day.
- Think in terms of threes and odd numbers in general when planting. Triangulate your plantings.
- Take your time in choosing plant placement so you don't end up disturbing fragile root systems to move. Begin by laying out your plants on the coir to set the scene. This will help you get the best sense of efficient usage of space and also enable you to balance colors, textures, and layer heights. Remember that terrariums offer both vertical and horizontal space. Eyeball plant placement for 24 hours to ensure plants are strategically located. Make sure the terrarium looks good from all angles. This is a 360 degree view!
- Create a mound using the coir so the dirt/soil isn't perfectly flat. I mounded mine heavily to one side to create a hilly, mini-mountain effect which is quite charming! The mound also helped me stagger the plants on the "hillside" allowing smaller plants to be better seen.
- To keep your terrarium looking sharp, you'll want to clean both the outside and inside of it from time to time. Use a lint-free or microfiber cloth to prevent scratching. Never use any harsh cleaning products. On the biOrbAIR use only the HumidiMist to clean and nothing else! You do NOT want to scratch the acrylic.
- It's tempting to overwater a terrarium. The biOrbAIR has a overflow pipe to tell you when to water preventing mistakes. For other terrariums, it's smart to use a spray bottle to mist instead of just pouring water in. If you do overwater, just to absorb the extra water with a few rags and leave the top off until it has dried out a bit.
- A shiny object, ceramic piece, or a small orb can provide interest, contrast and height to your terrarium. Driftwood and bogwood are also excellent choices.
- Don't worry about fertilizing. After all, for the most part, you want your plants to stay small!
Eye-popping plants with Glasshouse Works! Rare & Exotic plants delivered right to your door.
Sarah introduced us to Ken, whose past experience working with Ohio University students creating terrariums enabled him to select spot-on plants. Not only were the plants small in stature, he picked plants with variegated leaves for a unique collection of plants in both color and texture. So the terrarium looks like a tropical canopy.
Glasshouse Works greenhouses is a mail order nursery that specializes in rare and exotic tropical plants from around the world. What impressed me most? Their selection! Astounding. You could spend all day learning about new plants on their website.
And I must add that their customer service was quite remarkable. Any business that ships plants to Buffalo, NY in the midst of the coldest winter we've had since 1996 is brave. They even used a heat pack! The plants arrived in AMAZING condition. In fact, I was able to transplant them almost immediately in their new terrarium home.
If you've never ordered plants online, I highly suggest you take the plunge with Glasshouse Works. You will not be disappointed in the caliber or selection of plants!
Plants in our terrarium...
- Two Tillandsia (air plants) on the bogwood ornament spire
- Haemaria discolor dawsoniana (Jewel Orchid)
- Pilea dark mystery
- Peperomia purple griseo-argentea
- Cryptanthus marion oppenheimer (Earth star plant)
- Selaginella martensii albolineata (club moss)
- Begonia Ken's kandy
The biOrbAIR from OASE reminds me of the Epcot globe at Walt Disney World. You know....the illuminated golf ball? Both are magic. Pure magic. Not to mention that I can't get the song "It's A Small World After All" out of my head. Because with a terrarium, you are essentially shrinking a garden for easy enjoyment!
One 16 gallon, acrylic biOrbAIR terrarium by OASE (ARV $380)
Winner gets to choose their color either white or grey!
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