If you want to expand your collection of orchids on their own, you can easily do it yourself, for example, by growing children (seedlings). For this you only need detailed instructions, which the plant expert offers you free of charge.
Propagate orchids by cuttings: how to grow offspring successfully
To propagate your orchids, there are several methods to choose from. One with the highest success rate is the cultivation of a childel. This vegetative propagation method has, among other things, the advantage that the young plants take on all the characteristics of the mother plant in the same form. The only important thing here is that you proceed correctly. How you succeed in propagation by filament and what you need to pay attention to, is explained in detail here.
A childel is a small new plant that develops where flowers should grow. As a rule, this place is located on the so-called bulbs. In the case of Phalaenopsis, it is the flower stalk. They are comparable to a new shoot, but they are called seedlings (filaments) and not cuttings in terms of propagation. The procedure for propagation differs significantly in some respects, so propagation by kindling is not the same as propagation by cuttings. Kindels are also called “keiki” as well as “offshoots” and will later not differ from the mother plant in color, shape and size.
There are different types of kindles. They are divided into stem and peduncle kindles. From the names it can already be seen that in one type the childels grow on the stem and in the other type on the stalk. Both types are usually possible only in a few specimens, such as Phalaenopsis orchids. In most other orchid plants, children develop only on the flower stems. On the stem, they usually form below the first orchid leaves. Both types are suitable for propagation, although this is more difficult with stem children.
Kindles do not always grow and do not grow on every orchid variety, so you should take your chance of propagation by keikis as soon as a specimen shows up. Some varieties/species, as well as orchid genera, are more prone to growing kindles than others. For example, the Epidendrum, Dendrobium or the Calanthe are ideal. Especially the Phalaenopsis pulchra or Phalaenopsis bastianii tend to grow offspring more often, while other varieties/species/genera can sometimes take up to three years until a cutting grows.
The health condition of the orchid plants is the most important factor. If they are weakened and/or do not receive optimal care, keikis can take a lifetime to develop even in the most child-loving plants or do not form vigorously enough to be suitable for propagation.
Kindels develop mainly only during the growth phase after and weeks before the beginning of the dormant period in the non-flowering period. The best propagation time is spring.
Kindels should not be separated from the mother plant until they themselves already have two to three well-developed leaves and reasonably strong roots. The only exception to this is if the childels have developed on flower stalks and these are in danger of wilting. Although there is still a supply from the mother plant as long as the stem is green, with increasing wilting, the supply also decreases, which is why the offshoots should be separated in time, even if they are not yet developed strongly enough. The chances of successful propagation are quite good if you do it professionally, as described here.
If offshoots are to be separated from pedicels, they are removed with pedicels. To do this, cut the peduncle just below the scion so that there is approximately one to two centimeters of peduncle remaining.
Stem shoots are usually less suitable for propagation. In most cases, they grow directly connected to the stem, so you would have to make a cut there to separate them. This exposes the orchid to a particular risk, as cuttings on the stem provide optimal conditions for fungal infection.
If you still want to use a stem cuttings for propagation, you should limit yourself only to those that are very deep and loose. In most cases, they can then simply move them back and forth a bit with their fingers so that they detach from the parent plant on their own. In many cases, it is recommended to plant the orchid out of the culture pot for this purpose. Roots that are tangled together should be carefully pulled apart by hand.
TIP: If the child is not easy to separate completely, but a part is already detached from the mother plant, break off the process instead of using force and violence to remove the child. This will grow back and with a little luck, a new flowering branch will develop from it.
Especially with orchid plants, it is important to use a thoroughly cleaned cutting tool when cutting off stem children. The delicate plant is very susceptible to bacteria and viruses, which are not infrequently transmitted via dirty knives and shears. Disinfection is highly advisable before use. There are several options to choose from for this purpose.
Hold the blades or shear blades over a gas burner. A conventional Bunsen burner, such as those used for camping or in laboratories, is suitable for this purpose. Make sure that flammable and heat-sensitive equipment parts do not come into contact with the flame. Blades should be held low in the flame for two to four seconds. The lowest flame area has the highest temperatures, which reliably kill bacteria and viruses.
Before use, soak the cutting tool in 70 to 80 percent denatured alcohol. Isopropanol, which you can buy cheaply at any pharmacy, is ideal. However, do not use conventional spirits for consumption, they do not serve the purpose. Alternatively, you can also place devices in high-proof alcohol. However, this has the disadvantage of causing unpleasant odors to rise. After the immersion bath, thoroughly rinse devices with clean water.
To establish an equal supply for Kindel, as they are accustomed to and need from their mother plant, they should be planted quickly in soil.
- Use special growing soil for orchids and fill it loosely into a transparent plastic culture pot.
- press a small hollow into the soil with your finger – about two to four centimeters, depending on the size of the seedling.
- fill the hollow around the seedling with soil and press it down lightly
- place wooden sticks for stabilization
- water lightly
- pull transparent foil over the pot to create a moisture space
- every three days open the foil for airing, lightly water or spray the childel
- as soon as new leaves have formed, remove the foil and care for the orchid as a young plant.
- after about three to four weeks, repot in normal orchid substrate
- Location: Bright without direct sunlight
- recommended temperature: between 23 degrees Celsius and 25 degrees Celsius
- Root development
- If you have rescued a cutting without roots on a withered stem that does not yet appear vigorous enough, you must achieve root growth before planting it in growing medium.
The following procedure will do the trick:
- fill translucent glass with water
- put keiki in the water
- place in a bright location, where there is no direct sunlight
- ambient temperature about 25 degrees Celsius
- change the water every two days
- use only lime-free water at room temperature
- Do not move the seedling under any circumstances
- first roots should be visible after about five days
- when the roots are stronger and the first leaf appears, proceed as described under “Planting”.
The location plays an essential role in the flourishing of young plants grown from seedlings.
It should meet the following conditions:
- bright, but not full sun
- temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius
- high humidity – in case of low humidity, spray the plant regularly
- avoid drafts
- move the plant only if absolutely necessary
In the case of young plants, it is advisable not yet to provide moisture through special planters designed for orchids, although the planters are suitable for sufficient light for the aerial roots.
The water requirement should be satisfied individually in the first year of life, because this can change quickly depending on the growth rate, so that suddenly more or more often must be watered. Optimally check the water requirement by the weight and flexibility of the culture pot. Heavy pot hot: water still available – light pot means: water is needed. If the side walls of the pot can be slightly compressed in the middle, the soil still has moisture. If the side walls are rigid, the soil would already be hard and moisture is missing.
For watering, it is advisable to proceed as follows to provide the young plant with the water it needs.
- regularly immerse the pot in a water bath
- use water free of lime – for example, stale or from a rain barrel
- leave in the immersion bath for a few minutes
- let excess water drain off well
- Place pot on a saucer to catch residual water and avoid waterlogging
- Place the pot on a dry surface or in a planter.
As soon as new leaves have formed, the nutrient requirements of orchids increase. If the new young plant has been repotted from the growing medium into normal orchid substrate, sufficient nutrients and minerals will be available for the first four weeks or so. Only from about the fifth week, when new leaves have formed again, you can start fertilizing. To do this, use only highly diluted orchid fertilizer every two to three weeks during the first year of life. From the second year of life, the plant can be fertilized like an adult.
If you grow your new orchidaceae from a child, the first flowering will in most cases take between two and three years. Do not use flowering fertilizers to encourage flowering, because apart from a possible oversupply from the fertilizer, you will not achieve earlier flowering. On the contrary, because orchids are very sensitive to too much and unnecessary fertilizer. So keep a little patience, because the first flower will surely come, if you have followed the propagation instructions and provided optimal rearing care.
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I have worked as a horticulture specialist lead gardener, garden landscaper, and of course i am a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
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