The third vivarium

Oh you guys already know about this one. I have mentioned it before and I finished building it this summer, but here comes the photo evidence finally. The third vivarium in my very small growing space, but I make it work. It is nowhere near as large or as technically complex as the cool vivarium, but it does the job. It is an intermediate vivarium dedicated to vandacesous orchids, primarily Neofinetia but a few Vanda, Ascocenda and Ascocentrum will share the space as long as there is room. It is a slim and tall case, just large enough to fit some fun orchids, but small enough to fit in the space I had left over. It measures 80 cm wide, 140 cm tall by 40 cm deep.

I like the form factor, I can hang these amazing plants and the roots have ample room to grow down. I only wish it was a little deeper, then larger Vandas could hang like coats in a wardrobe and I could fit more. But in the long run this will only house the much more compact Neofinetia anyway, so that is OK. I have a little over 20 unique cultivars and a few Neo hybrids at the moment, but I want many, many more. But half of the fun is the collecting part, so I am in no hurry.

The technical…

To light the vivarium I have gotten my fourth Nebula, this time I got a Nebula II, a slightly better build than the hobby version and comes with a built in reflector. Well worth the extra money I would say. The fixture holds two 55W compact fluorescents (Osram Dulux L 55W/954) and together they produce 6000 lumen at 5400K with a CRI value of 93% per fixture. Pretty close to optimal. I keep the light on the same timer as the rest of the room, 12 hours on per day year round with a timer.

I have two 120 mm 1850 rpm Scythe Gentle Typhoon fans in charge of moving the air in there (0.083 A, 28 dBA, 98 m³/h), same as I run in the cool vivarium. Hey, when you find something that works… They run on the same power supply as the two fans in the smaller intermediate/warm vivarium and I keep them on always, 24/7.

I water this one by hand using a pressure sprayer, that little piece of equipment really is invaluable. I water every day in the summer, every other day the cooler part of the year. There is no drain in this case, so I have three plant trays in the bottom collecting excess water, the water eventually evaporate and help keep humidity up, I rarely have to empty them.

The two intermediate vivariums also share a small humidifier but I only really need to run it when I go away for more than a few days in order to keep the humidity up when I cannot water regularly. Otherwise the humidity hold steady above 75% on its own.

Temperature is ruled pretty much by the temperature in the room, which is intermediate at about Average: 15-18 C at night and 20-22 C in the day depending on the season. The light fixture heat the internal space a little bit more during the day, but it rarely goes over two degrees warmer than the ambient room temperature.

I have mounted an aluminum rod across the middle top to hang plants from, and for the upper one third of the back wall I have hung plastic mesh to hang smaller mounts from. I will probably install more mesh as I phase out the large Vandas over time. The whole thing is very low tech but works beautifully!

Orchid roomVandaceous vivariumVandaceous vivariumVandaceous vivariumIntermediate vivariumIntermediate vivariumIntermediate vivariumAscocenda Princess Mikasa 'Tayanee White'Ascocenda Princess Mikasa 'Tayanee White'Ascocenda Princess Mikasa 'Tayanee White'



By | 2017-10-13T11:25:40+02:00 November 6th, 2012|Categories: My orchids, Projects|Tags: , , , , , , |10 Comments

About the Author:

Karma is a digital nomad graphic artist and writer, orchid nerd and long-distance hiker from Gothenburg, Sweden. Former editor-in-chief for the Swedish Orchid Society magazine, published internationally and held lectures on orchid culture.


  1. glynn November 20, 2012 at 18:58 - Reply

    I really like the design of your new viv, and am hoping to build something similar. I know you are in Sweden not the UK,but can you give me more details on the metal frame. I only seem to be able to find cheap looking aluminium,that would be screwed together, not the nice cornered materials you use.

    • Karma November 21, 2012 at 09:22 - Reply

      Hi Glynn! Thank you. I am glad to hear you like my build. Perhaps I was not clear in my post, I usually buy my vivarium cases used online. There are plenty to be found that used to house reptiles… this one used to hold lizards, the larger cool vivarium boas. Much cheaper than to build new, these cases have originally been built to specification by a glazier. I know that Dartfrog in the UK sell aluminium frames for building vivarias. However I have not bought these profiles myself and do not know how nice they are, but perhaps it is an option? Good luck!

  2. Jacob December 15, 2012 at 10:09 - Reply

    Wow, it’s great!! It’s wonderful to see how much you love and care for your plants. Your Vanda closet reminds of when I used to keep vandas in my warm viv. Now half of them are in my friend’s greenhouse in Montana! One of them just bloomed for the first time and won awards 🙂

  3. Karma December 17, 2012 at 09:56 - Reply

    Thanks Jacob! 🙂 Your friend has taken well care of your plants, that Vanda tessellata is terrific!!

  4. Frane January 13, 2013 at 21:33 - Reply

    Ooahh ….. after the best blog that I follow …. now is the perfection which fell trifles. Please fix the irregularities related to the display text and image sequences. The change in the title of the picture frame moves the whole page …… I can not read anything, please fix it. !

    • Karma January 17, 2013 at 18:03 - Reply

      Thank you Frane! 🙂 The text and image sequences problems are now fixed. Thank you for your patience.

  5. Anu Prasanna April 10, 2014 at 01:14 - Reply

    Found your blog by chance and am amazed you are able to grow and bloom orchids as far North as Sweden. Your enthusiasm is infectious. I grow many Cattleyas and Cymbiduims in sunny California, often just hanging in trees and some in a small greenhouse. Just wanted to take a moment and let you know that your bogs are very informative. Kudos to you. Am keen to see images of your greenhouse.

    • Karma July 3, 2014 at 16:57 - Reply

      Thank you Anu! 🙂 I have not been active on the blog this year due to some personal issues, but I hope this will change soon. Take care!

  6. Bjorn Zeiler Hougaard January 30, 2018 at 18:05 - Reply

    Hey Karma,
    when I first got into orchids, my orchid dealer made me buy his beautiful Vanda orchid. I tried to take care of it (I am in the UK) by watering it regularly and keeping a humidifier, but it just didn’t do the trick 🙁

    Ever since I have been fantasizing about building a vivarium that would keep it (I love vandas!), but I was worried it wasn’t possible as I couldn’t find much info online.

    But then I found this post! Absolutely perfect and invaluable information Thank you so much for this, I will use it as my reference.

    Do you think there is any reason why I wouldn’t be able to automate the humidification? I am rarely home and I would like to make a little robot or something (I’m an electrical engineer) that could do the watering. You write that you prefer to hand spray and not use the humidifier – is there a reason for this?


    • Karma February 2, 2018 at 02:03 - Reply

      Hey Bjorn! I am very happy to hear you found my blog helpful! Vandas are lovely orchids, I can see why you fell in love. Of course you can automate the humidification, go for it! Sounds like a really fun project. I just like watering some stuff by hand sometimes, good therapy! 🙂 Good luck!

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