Tips from specialists. How orchids multiply: three safe methods
Orchids are certainly among the most beloved flowers. On multiplying them you have to know that you can do it at home, alone, at no cost. As far as exotic species are concerned, the natural multiplication through seeds is very difficult to achieve in Romania, especially in the amateur breeder’s flats.
Specifically, the orchid seeds are very sensitive and hardly germinate in our soil. Beyond this sensitivity of the seeds, obtaining them can happen 4-5 years after the first flowering of the plant. If the orchids are propagated through seeds in specialized laboratories and the fertilization of the latter through the “in vitro” technique, for a common cultivator, the multiplication of these plants by seeds is almost out of the question.
Fortunately, however, there are other more accessible methods.
Multiplication by saplings
Also called keiki multiplication, it is the most effective method of multiplying orchids. These saplings or keiki are small plants that grow on the floral stem of the mother plant.
If the atmosphere is sufficiently damp, these formations will also emit roots and will become very easy to detach from the stem.
If this does not happen (that is, if they have not issued roots), then we can encourage them to do so. Thus, we will cover the point of contact between keiki and the stem in a bandage with peat for orchids, and we’ll place the pot in a tray with wet gravel.
We will ensure that the gravel is always wet so that the water vapour envelops the plant in a favourable microclimate.
Also during this period the plant will benefit from heat, light and humidity. After a few weeks of applying this treatment, the keiki should develop roots.
When the roots reach about 5 centimetres, it is a sign that we can mount the saplings from the stem of the mother plant in their own pot. The pot will be filled with flower soil specially sorted for orchids (found at florists), will have lateral holes and will be made of transparent plastic. Thus we have a new orchid.
But what do we do if the variety of orchids we have does not develop saplings? In this case we will point to another way of multiplication, namely the division of the bush.
The method is only used for mature plants (and obviously for bush varieties) that form at least five pseudo bulbs (some bulb-like formations). It is done when the plant is moved to another pot (periodically, 2-3 years). Young shoots are separated from the mother plant as gently as possible, and transplanted into separate pots.
Splitting is done with a sharp cutter. During the operation, care must be taken not to damage the roots and pseudo bulbs, we will not pull the plant hard when we remove it from the pot or make sudden movements. It is the simplest method of multiplying orchids. But here as well as the saplings multiplying method we sometimes hit an insurmountable obstacle: our orchid does not form a bush.
And again, we will have to turn our attention to another way of multiplication, namely the felling of orchids.
Propagation multiplication is the third possibility available to the amateur horticulturist and is based on the regeneration capacity specific to the vegetable kingdom. The cuttings are ready to move in their own pot when they are about 20 to 30 inches long and have formed their own air roots.
If they are smaller or have no roots, then we will not move them directly into the pot, but put them in a pot of water somewhere in the light and heat. After a few days roots begin to appear, and when they are about 5 cm, then we can move them into a pot.
Cuttings can also be obtained from stem pieces long enough to contain 2-3 knots.