While opinions on the very best orchids to start out with vary almost as much as the varieties of orchids themselves, we've come across a few species that really stand out in ease of care, hardiness, and attractiveness. They are Brassocattleya 'Star Ruby', Sarcoglottis sceptrodes, and Vanilla planifolia. With very basic care, any keeper of naturalistic vivaria is capable of being successful with these varieties of orchids. In fact, we're such big fans of these orchid species at Josh's Frogs, we offer them together in a Vivarium Orchid Plant Bundle.
Brassocattleya 'Star Ruby' is prized for it's bright, colorful flowers. It is a smaller variety of epiphytic orchid, suitable for tropical vivaria. Brassocattleya 'Star Ruby' has light red blooms. Brassocattleya 'Star Ruby' Orchid is a hybrid of Brassavola nodosa and Cattleya Batalinii. This orchid is an epiphyte, and should be mounted on the background or hardscape. If Brassocattleya 'Star Ruby' Orchid are planted in substrate, it must be very well draining. The 'Star Ruby' Orchid requires humidity of at least 70% to thrive, and should be allowed to slightly dry out between waterings. Standing water on the leaves for long periods of time must be avoided at all costs. Like most orchids, this plant has high light needs in the vivarium - planting Brassocattleya 'Star Ruby' Orchid in the upper reaches of the vivarium will help with this, as well as allowing them to dry out. The 'Star Ruby' Orchid require some form of air circulation to do well - stagnant, damp air will quickly kill your orchid. Brassocattleya 'Star Ruby' Orchid tend to grow in clumps, which can carefully be separated to form new plants. Brassocattleya 'Star Ruby' Orchid make great accent plants in a naturalistic vivarium, and will bloom several times throughout the year in the proper conditions.
Sarcoglottis sceptrodes is a neat terrestrial orchid endemic to Costa Rica, and completely suitable for use in a tropical vivarium. Sarcoglottis sceptrodes is typically grown for it's attractive silver and green foliage. Sarcoglottis sceptrodes does bloom once or twice a year, but it's small, greenish yellow flowers are not as showy as many other species of orchids.Sarcoglottis sceptrodes is a terrestrial orchid, and should be planted in the substrate. Sarcoglottis sceptrodes will grow from 6-12", so keep this in mind when planting Sarcoglottis sceptrodes in your tropical vivarium. Sarcoglottis sceptrodes requires moderate light. If the light is too intense, this unusual jewel orchid may drop leaves. Sarcoglottis sceptrodes has moderate watering needs, and prefers damp (but not soggy!) soil. Like most other species of orchids, do not allow standing water on the leaves of this plant. Sarcoglottis sceptrodes does not require air movement or ventilation as long as standing water is not present on it's leaves. This wonderful terrestrial orchid will grow fairly broad, long leaves in a naturalistic vivarium, which provide shelter and potential egg laying spots for a variety of poison dart frogs. Sarcoglottis sceptrodes makes a great foreground plant in larger vivaria, or background plant in smaller vivaria.
Vanilla planifolia - Vanilla Orchid are epiphytes, and should be mounted on the background or hardscape. If Vanilla planifolia - Vanilla Orchid are planted in substrate, it must be very well draining. Vanilla planifolia, commonly known as the Vanilla Orchid, has low to moderate water needs. Vanilla requires humidity of at least 70% to thrive, and should be allowed to slightly dry out between waterings. Standing water on the leaves or in the substrate is a big no-no. The Vanilla Orchid has high light needs when kept inside - planting Vanilla planifolia in the upper reaches of the vivarium will help with this, as well as allowing them to dry out. This vining orchid requires some form of air circulation to do well - stagnant, damp air will quickly kill your plant. The Vanilla Orchid tends to grow in a long vine, which can carefully be cut to form new plants. It will take many, many years for the Vanilla orchid to reach blooming size, so don't count on it providing flowers for your viewing pleasure. This is the plant in which vanilla 'beans' are harvested from.