Cultivating Orchids & Crafting Terrariums

 Best Orchid Mister: Both for An Orchidarium and Potted Orchids

Tropical orchids live in a climate with higher humidity than we can provide in our homes. Usually, the relative humidity that most orchids will thrive in is above 40%, but some can reach up into the 80 and 90% humidity range. If your home environment is not that dry and you don’t see the need to purchase a humidifier, then using a mister to raise the humidity is a great second option.

The best misters for orchids dispense smaller water droplets that evaporate quickly. Good misters have a relaxed activation mechanism that doesn’t require much force to use. For orchid terrariums (orchidarium), the best misters are called foggers and will distribute the mist evenly across the top of the terrarium.

Logically, large orchid collections will require more misting. You don’t want to purchase something that gives you a muscle workout at the end of twenty minutes.

In this article, I picked out a few of the orchid misters that I use and relate the pros and cons of each. Yet I couldn’t stop there, since I also build terrariums. Orchid misters for terrariums are quite different, so I included them in the second part of this article.

Vivarium Setup
Image Credit: 40 gallon living vivarium 004" by @TripDawg is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 
I have thought about using an orchid mister designed for terrariums and rebuilding the fogging output to hang across the top of my orchid shelf/stand, but that is still a project to think about. Maybe in the future…

So, let’s dive in and see what the best misters for orchids are and why I chose them.

 1. The Best Mister for Orchids will be Easy to Handle

The whole idea behind misting orchids is to raise the relative humidity around the orchid so the stomata in the leaves will open, providing gas exchange. If you don’t need a humidifier (in this article I explain what is necessary for choosing a good humidifier) then misting in the mornings could be all that your orchid needs.

Yet when it comes to choosing misters, we usually forget that orchid care is addictive. I might have two orchids today, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll have 2 orchids forever. (I don’t only have 2 orchids, by the way… It was just an example.) Orchid care is like any other addiction, and while you are happily misting one or two orchids now, that won’t always be the case.

If you have to squeeze the mister handle by applying significant force to the handle, then imagine how your hand will feel after 20 or 30 minutes of this. For every plant stand, it takes me about 10 minutes of morning misting to keep my orchids happy. Imagine 2, 3, or 10 shelves. Before you deny that will ever happen, uhm…. It will. 😊 Give yourself time. Orchids grow on you.

Knowing that you’ll be using the orchid mister quite often, it’s best to choose one that you don’t have to manually pump for every water output. When I was searching for suggestions of misters, I came across quite a few that were delightful and so sweet, but just the thought of everyday misting with these would be a hassle.

Believe it or not, this option by Haws which holds only 10 ounces  (Affiliate Link) came up quite a lot. It’s adorable, but not practical.

If I had one orchid only, I’d buy it. Classy, chic, and stunningly vintage, this model is appearing everywhere in mister suggestions of orchids. I keep wondering if the people who write these articles actually have orchids or use the products they suggest.
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My suggestion for a smaller collection is this one by Exo Terra that holds 2 quarts of water.  (Affiliate link).

It’s extremely ugly and something to hide in the garage or basement, but it’s practical—and I’m all about practical.

You can give it one pump and the prolonged use of the mister will not need another mechanical activation for a longer period of time.

2. The Best Mister for Orchids will disperse Tiny Droplets

The second item that is necessary for misting orchids is that the water droplets not come out huge, massive drops that will take hours to evaporate. The smaller the droplets that disperse from the mister output the better it will be for your orchid.

This entire point is due to sitting water on top of orchid leaves will eventually damage the plant tissue, exposing the cells to bacteria and unwanted microorganisms. The water droplets that sit on top of the orchid leaf will prevent the outer layer from interacting with the outside environment and those outer layers of cells will die. The dead plant tissue is an open door for other organisms that are lurking around.

This is why it is so important to keep the fan on during the day and during the night. In their natural habitat, orchids get rained upon quite a lot. They have constant water access, but also have strong and hot wind currents that dry up any excess water that has been on the leaves, stem, or roots.

In our home environments, this does not happen.

We water our orchids then nothing happens. There are no wind currents nor slight breezes or even hot weather to evaporate those water droplets quicker. The water then sits on the orchid leaf until hours later it evaporates. The risk that happens with misting orchids are twofold:

2A) Risk of Leaf Problems, Crown Rot, and Mold

Not only does the leaf present problems, where black spots will start to freckle your orchid leaf, the crown and roots may also be hindered from water that doesn’t evaporate quickly enough.

If you mist the orchid directly into the crown, the water has more difficult access to air. Therefore, it takes longer for the water to evaporate. The risk of crown rot is extremely high, and I have never been able to bring back an orchid that had suffered crown rot. It eats away at the main life source of the orchid.

I can bring back rots, and repair leaf damage, but there isn’t much that can be done in terms of crown rot. Stem rot is a little easier, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. Most of my orchids die from stem rot, and misting plays a huge part in that.

When you mist, you need to aim at the underside of the leaf, making sure that the water doesn’t accumulate. You should also be misting the orchid aerial roots and the immediate environment around the orchid. Since the top of the orchid leaf is somewhat hydro repellent, it doesn’t make sense to mist the upper side of the leaf. This only leads to the problems mentioned above.

For the other plants in your terrarium and not just orchids, the mister will work to keep them hydrated. If you want a suggestion of filler plants for your terrarium, in this post, I chose the 13 most common plants that are used.

You'll need to choose the plants according to their habitat and environment, but all of the ones on that list go well with orchids and could use a good misting system.

3B) Fast Evaporation Process

When you are misting an orchid, you need to always focus on the size of the drops. Misting is not watering, but if you are misting the roots, you can add a bonus point. My point in saying this is that the smaller the water droplets, the faster the surface tension of water will be broken in between the hydrogen atoms, and the bond will break. This will accelerate the evaporation process. The more hydrogens, (the bigger the droplet) the longer these bonds will take to break.

If you have a normal mister, like a grocery store one that is all-purpose, and it disperses water droplets in tiny particles, then you are home free. Yet most misters from dollar stores have a huge output, making the size of the massive droplets that fall on to the leave gigantic.

Stay away from these kinds of misters.

Some misters have a controller that you can manually manage the size of the spray that is dispersed. This is better since you have all the control.
If you are looking for a small, hand-held orchid mister that will disperse small, spray-like droplets instead of larger drops, but if a little different than your average Joe, than this one by ACG-INC (Affiliate Link)  is a good place to start.

Again, this is for a smaller orchid collection that can be misted in less than 10 minutes.

The advantage is that it’s electric. How awesome is that? If you have a larger orchid collection, the paragraph below might be more indicated.

3. The Best Mister for Orchids Has Large Water Capacity

There comes a point when the cute, delicate, hand-held misters just don’t do the trick. You have so many orchids that it would take forever to get the job done. Here is where we scale up to get a lawn mister, usually used for fertilizing backyards or applying grass treatment.
In all the options above, the volume of water that each one holds is minimal.

If your collection is larger, then don’t hold back on getting a mister that is suitable for one or two orchids.
In this suggestion by Chapin International Store, (Affiliate Link)  the storage unit holds up to 1 Gallon.

You will have to be careful about spraying just the environment around you orchid and not point the nozzle to the stem or crown. Since the water droplets that come out of these larger models aren’t as fine as the smaller models, crown rot could be a serious issue.

4. The Best Mister (Fogger) for Orchidariums or Terrariums

The orchid misters are relative to the size of the terrarium that you have. Here are a few points to ponder:

      -For smaller terrariums, you don’t need a mister that will just pour out humidity constantly.

     -If there is no way for the air to leave the terrarium (as in a closed terrarium) then the humidity will be higher and you’ll need a smaller mist output.

     -If outside air can have full access to the terrarium (as in an open terrarium) then you’ll need a stronger mister, independent of size.

Most terrariums that I have started with when it comes to orchid care have double doors on the front and are made for small reptiles. The animal part really never struck my interest, but the terrariums did.

For these kinds of terrariums, which are neither open nor closed (by my standards) are halfway in between both. They will allow for outside air when the doors are open, but how long they stay open will depend on you. If you have orchids that prefer to dry out more in between watering, then you’ll have to keep the doors open longer.

For most terrariums of this type, you will need what is called an ultrasonic humidifying fogger, usually sold for reptiles. (Not frogger, just fogger.) There is a little technical difference between a mister and a fogger, and this is important to know for orchid care.

The mister, as in the misters above, will spew out larger water droplets, around 200 microns in size. The fogger can produce smaller droplets up to 10 microns.

The difference is that the bigger the droplet, the faster it will fall to the bottom of your terrarium. If you don’t have a false bottom in place, then your media will become sour quickly. (If you want to know how to make a false bottom, follow this guide I wrote.)

The smaller droplets can stay in the environment, suspended for longer periods before they fall to the terrarium floor. This is the ideal setup, since you want to raise humidity and not necessarily water your orchids. That happens eventually, but it’s not our priority here. So if in doubt between a fogger and a mister, chose the fogger.

There are two types of foggers: one that expels fog from an outside reservoir, like a humidifier, and the other that sits in water inside your terrarium (as in a pond or waterfall) and transforms water to mist. I’ll only evaluate the first since the pond or waterfall type fogger is for more detailed setups.

For a small terrarium with double doors, like a small Exo Terra terrarium of 8 x8x12 (Affiliate Link)  or even a slightly larger one of 12 x 12x 18 (Affiliate Link)  you can keep the fogger on at night, allowing the roots and leaves to dry out during the day.

This is also a good way to keep the temperatures down at night if you have orchids that require that nightly drop in temperature.
If you want a fully mounted terrarium with lighting and ventilation included, this one by Exo terra (Affiliate Link)  sells with all the bells and whistles, but unfortunately with no mister or fogger.

You’ll have to purchase that separately.
Quick note: If you plan to use something like a closed aquarium tank with an entrance for the fogger hose, then you’ll also need some sort of internal fan. Fans that bring outside air in will lower the humidity. Fans that recirculate in the inside air will maintain humidity high.

With this method of using a fogger, you’ll need to decrease you’re watering schedule, too. The fogger will provide not only the relative humidity but also some of the necessary water for root hydration. Since it is in a semi-closed environment, the humidity will remain in the terrarium for longer periods of time.

A good thing to note is that the best orchidarium (orchidaria is the plural of orchidarium*) will have closed tops. When water droplets evaporate, they travel upward. If the opening of the terrarium is shaped like a fishbowl, then the humidity will be lost through the top. If your terrarium has open sides instead of a top, the humidity will linger longer than a set-up that has open doors to the front.

*I just had to add an explanation here that is totally tangential: My site is not called orchidaria with an A because the overall idea is to add other plants in the terrarium along with orchids, not just a pure orchid terrarium. The goal was to make both an orchid and a plant terrarium, so I chose an E instead (for the E in terrarium). Little did I know, Orchideria is also the Italian term for orchidaria.  😊

Ok, back to the topic… In evaluating what is the best mister/fogger for your orchdarium, you’ll need to evaluate the size of your enclosure, the opening (top or lateral), how dry or humid your orchids prefer, and how much humidity is provided by the fogger. Ideally, if you can get one that has an automatic turn-on and turn-off mechanism, you’ll be happier.

What to Look for in An Orchid Terrarium Fogger/Mister

For all the reasons mentioned above, it is so hard to suggest just one model. I don’t know what all your specifications are and what you are going for. When I design my terrariums and am searching for an appropriately sized fogger, I use the following parameters:

-Durability: Don’t invest in a cheap model that you’ll have to replace every year or so. Sometimes it pays to get one that has a good name and you know you can depend on it. After all, you’ve spent quite a bit already with your orchids. Don’t let them dry up and die while you wait for replacements in the mail.

-Easy to Mount or Assemble: Some foggers are so incredibly amazing, but when it comes down to how they work, it’s worse than a closet purchased from ikea in 10,000 parts, like this model (Affiliate Link). If the model has videos online and has an online service to help you mount the fogger, the better off you’ll be.

-A Shut-Off Valve: This is the most important of all items when choosing a good fogger. There must be a valve that shuts the fogger off when no more water is available. Some foggers will err in this point and can lead to an electrical fire or outage. Always verify that the fogger has this process. In fact, if you have a humidifier, then it’s important to look for this shut-off valve too. I had forgotten to mention that in my humidifier article.

-Humidity Controller: this extra detail really pushes the price up but is worth it. The gauge measure how much humidity is in the terrarium and when it hits the preset value, it turns off. This can really save drenches your terrarium or unexpectedly leaving it for longer dryer periods that you hadn’t counted on.

You can always buy one separate or buy a fogger that already has one enclosed. Of the 2 options, I prefer getting one that comes with the system. That way is it doesn’t work, I can exchange it.

There are other things you can look for in a good orchid fogger, like the flexibility of the hose, the length of the hose, if it has suction cups to attach to the glass, how much water it holds, and items like that. I honestly don’t think for orchid care these items weigh very much in terms of closing a deal. They aren’t the deciding point.

The one item I might mention is how big the fogger is. In orchid care, you know space is limited because we’re always buying one more orchid. It’s our therapy. So don’t get a huge fogger that takes up precious counter space.

The Fogger I Buy Most Often for my Terrariums 

And to the moment you’ve read all through this article to get to here… By the way, I appreciate it. 😊 The fogger I use is  this one by Petspioneer (Affiliate Link). I like it because it can be automated if I want, (the controls are sold separately) to turn on and off intermittently. Even without all the additional items, it is a step up and beyond what I look for in a fogger.
The Petspioneer Fogger (Affiliate Link) also holds 4 L of water, which is more than most foggers, which just hold 2.

This lasts me about 3-4 days before it shuts off automatically. And that right there is what sold me on it.

I have a hard item remembering things, and remembering to turn off the fogger is the last thing on my mind.
If you still can’t decide on a fogger or mist system, then another idea for how to choose foggers is to watch reptile videos terrarium setups. I have found those incredibly enlightening, even though I don’t like frogs or other critters that jump, crawl, creep, slither, or skulk in the darkness. Not my thing… But the educational part is good.


Please note that even though you have a fogger or mister in your terrarium, you will also need to hand-water your plants. Constant humidity doesn’t mean the plants are adequately watered. Even though you can cut back about 75% of the amount and frequency of your watering, you still need to water.

I hope this article was clear and guided you on your way to purchase an orchid mister or a fogger, whatever is best for your orchid care.

Happy Cultivating!

UPDATE: The Orchideria YouTube Channel is about start publishing videos

on December 5th, 2020!

Check here to see the YouTube page on this website or go to YouTube's platform.   :)

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ABOUT ME 
Amanda June Matthews at Orchideria
Hi, there! I'm Amanda Matthews.

I write all the tutorials on Orchideria so unfortunately, I can't blame anyone else for all the spelling mistakes.   :)

By profession, I'm a theologian, author, and seminary professor, yet I  spend my free time enjoying nature hikes, building terrariums, and cultivating orchids. I also love to mountain bike on trails, dance, and play with my dog, Max.

When I'm not working on the next chapter of my book or online course, I'm exploring a new campsite to venture out into nature. Pitching a tent for the weekend with my two children while I fire up a barbecue is the best way to live.

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