How to Grow orchids from cuttings? 4 methods that work
Growing orchids from cuttings is an exciting and rewarding endeavour for any orchid enthusiast. With the right techniques, you can propagate these elegant plants and expand your collection in no time. There are four proven methods that can help you successfully grow orchids from cuttings. Back bulb division allows you to separate mature bulbs and create new plants. Keiki production takes advantage of miniature plantlets that develop along the flower spike or aerial roots.
Stem cuttings provide an opportunity to start new orchids from healthy stem sections. And for the more advanced growers, meristem or tissue culture offers a precise laboratory-based approach to propagating orchids. Each method has its own unique benefits and requirements, allowing you to explore various ways to multiply and enjoy these stunning blooms. So, roll up your sleeves, grab your tools, and let’s delve into the fascinating world of orchid propagation through cuttings!
Back Bulb Division:
Here are some orchid varieties commonly propagated through back bulb division:
Back bulb division is a method of propagating orchids by separating the older bulbs, known as back bulbs or pseudobulbs, into individual sections. These back bulbs are typically mature but are no longer producing flowers. Here’s how you can perform back-bulb division:
Prepare the orchid: Choose an orchid plant that has developed multiple back bulbs. Ensure that the plant is healthy and free from any diseases or pests. It’s best to perform back bulb division during the plant’s active growth phase.
Sterilise your tools: Before you begin, sterilise your cutting tools (e.g., a sharp knife or gardening shears) by wiping them with rubbing alcohol or using a flame to prevent the spread of diseases.
Remove the back bulbs: Gently remove the orchid from its pot, being careful not to damage the roots. Examine the plant and identify the bulbs that are healthy and have at least one viable bud. The bulbs should be firm, plump, and free from rot or disease.
Separate the bulbs: Using the sterilised cutting tool, carefully divide the back bulbs into individual sections. Each section should contain at least one healthy bud and a portion of the rhizome (horizontal stem). Ensure that each section has enough roots to sustain itself.
Treat the cuts: After dividing the back bulbs, apply a fungicidal or antibacterial powder or paste to the cut surfaces. This helps prevent infections or rot.
Pot the divisions: Prepare clean pots or containers with a suitable orchid growing medium, such as a mixture of bark, sphagnum moss, and perlite. Place each division into its own pot, burying the roots and leaving the bud(s) exposed. Gently press the medium around the plant to provide stability.
Provide appropriate care: After potting the divisions, place them in a warm and humid environment with indirect light. Maintain adequate moisture in the growing medium without allowing it to become waterlogged. Mist the plants regularly and provide good air circulation to prevent fungal issues.
Monitor and nurture: Keep a close eye on the divisions for any signs of stress, disease, or pests. Adjust the growing conditions as needed, ensuring appropriate light, temperature, and humidity levels. Gradually transition the plants to standard orchid care routines as they establish themselves.
Remember that not all orchid species can be propagated through back bulb division, so it’s essential to research the specific requirements for the type of orchid you are working with. Additionally, not all back bulb divisions will be successful, so it’s recommended to perform multiple divisions to increase your chances of obtaining viable new plants.
Here are some orchid varieties that commonly produce keikis:
Keiki production is a method of propagating orchids by utilising the growth of small plantlets, called keikis, that develop along the flower spikes or aerial roots of certain orchid species. Here’s how you can propagate orchids through keiki production:
Identify the keiki: Keikis are miniature versions of the parent plant and can develop along the flower spike or aerial roots. They appear as small plantlets with their own set of leaves and roots.
Determine readiness: Wait until the keiki has developed its own set of roots and is approximately one-third the size of the parent plant before attempting to separate it. This ensures that the keiki is strong enough to survive on its own.
Prepare the tools: Sterilise a sharp knife or gardening shears with rubbing alcohol or by using a flame. This helps prevent the spread of diseases and infections.
Separate the keiki: Gently detach the keiki from the parent plant. If the keiki is attached to the flower spike, make a clean cut just below the keiki, ensuring that it has a sufficient length of its own roots. If the keiki has aerial roots, carefully cut it away from the parent plant, taking care not to damage its roots.
Treat the cut: Apply a fungicidal or antibacterial powder or paste to the cut area of the keiki. This helps protect against infections and promote healing.
Prepare the growing medium: Fill a clean pot or container with a suitable orchid-growing medium. A mixture of bark, sphagnum moss, and perlite is commonly used.Make sure the material is damp but not soggy.
Plant the keiki: Place the keiki into the pot, burying its roots into the growing medium. Leave the leaves and top of the keiki exposed above the medium. Gently press the medium around the keiki to provide stability.
Provide appropriate care: After planting the keiki, place it in a warm and humid environment with indirect light. Maintain a consistent level of moisture in the growing medium, but be cautious not to overwater. Mist the keiki regularly to provide humidity and promote root development.
Monitor and nurture: Keep a close eye on the keiki for signs of stress, such as wilting or discoloration. Adjust the growing conditions as necessary, ensuring appropriate light, temperature, and humidity levels. As the keiki establishes itself, gradually transition it to standard orchid care routines.
It’s important to note that not all orchid species produce keikis, so this method is applicable only to those orchids that are known to develop keikis naturally. Additionally, keiki production may not always be successful, as the keiki needs to have a well-developed root system to thrive independently. Patience and proper care are key factors in successfully propagating orchids through keiki production.
Stem cuttings can be taken from various
orchid varieties, including:
Stem cuttings can be used to propagate certain types of orchids that produce long, fleshy stems. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to propagate orchids through stem cuttings:
Select a healthy stem. Choose a mature orchid plant that has a long, healthy stem. Look for a stem section that is free from diseases, pests, or any signs of damage. The stem should have at least two nodes, which are the areas where the leaves attach to the stem.
Prepare your tools: Sterilise a sharp knife or pruning shears using rubbing alcohol or a flame. This ensures that your tools are clean and reduces the risk of introducing infections into the cutting process.
Make the cut: With the sterilised tool, make a clean cut just below a node on the selected stem section. The cut should be about 4-6 inches (10–15 cm) long. Remove any leaves from the lower portion of the cutting, leaving only a few leaves at the top.
Apply rooting hormone (optional): You can optionally dip the cut end of the stem cutting into a rooting hormone powder or gel. This can help stimulate root growth and increase the chances of successful propagation. Follow the instructions provided with the rooting hormone product.
Prepare the rooting medium: Fill a clean pot or container with a well-draining orchid growing medium. A common mixture includes bark, sphagnum moss, and perlite. Moisten the medium, ensuring it is damp but not overly wet.
Plant the stem cutting: Make a small hole in the rooting medium using a pencil or your finger. Insert the cut end of the stem into the hole, ensuring that at least one node is buried in the medium. To ensure stability, gently press the medium in the vicinity of the incision.
Provide appropriate conditions. Place the potted stem cutting in a warm and humid environment with bright but indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can be too intense and may damage the cutting. Maintain a consistent level of moisture in the growing medium, allowing it to dry slightly between waterings.
Encourage root growth: Mist the cutting and the surrounding environment regularly to maintain humidity. You can also cover the cuttings and pot with a clear plastic bag or use a humidity dome to create a mini greenhouse effect. This aids in moisture retention and encourages root development.
Monitor and care for the cutting: Keep a close eye on the stem cutting for any signs of stress, such as wilting or rotting. Adjust the growing conditions as needed, ensuring appropriate light, temperature, and humidity levels. It may take several weeks to months for roots to develop, so be patient and provide consistent care.
Transition to regular orchid care: Once the stem cutting has established roots and shows signs of new growth, you can gradually transition it to standard orchid care routines. This includes repotting it into a suitable orchid potting mix and providing regular orchid care, such as appropriate watering, fertilising, and light conditions.
It’s important to note that not all orchid species can be propagated successfully through stem cuttings. This method is generally more suitable for sympodial orchids that produce long, fleshy stems. It’s recommended to research the specific requirements for the orchid species you are working with or consult with experienced orchid growers for guidance.
Meristem or tissue culture:
Meristem or tissue culture propagation is a technique that can be applied to a wide range of orchid varieties. Some orchid varieties commonly propagated through meristem or tissue culture include:
Meristem or tissue culture is an advanced method of propagating orchids s/the use of laboratory techniques to grow new plants from small pieces of plant tissue, such as the growing tip or meristem. Here’s an overview of the tissue culture process for propagating orchids:
Collection of plant material: A small piece of plant tissue, typically the meristem or growing tip, is collected from a healthy and disease-free orchid plant. The tissue is carefully excised using sterile tools to avoid contamination.
Surface sterilisation: The collected plant material is then subjected to a surface sterilisation process to eliminate any microorganisms present on its surface. This is typically done by rinsing the tissue in a series of sterilizing solutions, such as bleach or alcohol, followed by a rinse in sterile water.
Establishment of explants: The sterilised plant tissue, known as explants, is placed onto a sterile nutrient medium containing a combination of essential minerals, vitamins, and growth regulators. The medium provides the necessary nutrients for the tissue to grow and develop.
Initiation of callus formation: The explants are initially placed in a specific culture medium that promotes the formation of a callus, which is an undifferentiated mass of cells. The callus serves as the starting point for the growth and development of new plantlets.
Subculture and multiplication: as the callus develops, it is periodically transferred to fresh nutrient media to encourage further growth and multiplication of cells. This process involves carefully transferring the callus to new containers with sterile tools.
Shoot induction: At a certain stage, the callus is manipulated to induce the formation of shoots or meristems. This is typically achieved by adjusting the composition of the nutrient medium or by applying specific growth regulators.
Rooting: Once shoots or meristems have formed, they are transferred to a rooting medium that stimulates the development of roots. The rooting medium typically contains nutrients and hormones that encourage root growth.
Acclimatisation and transfer to soil: Once the new plantlets have developed roots, they are gradually acclimatised to normal greenhouse or growing conditions. This involves carefully exposing them to ambient humidity and light levels over a period of time. Finally, the plantlets can be transferred to soil or other suitable growing media.
Meristem or tissue culture is a highly controlled and precise method of propagation that allows for large-scale production of orchids with consistent traits. It is commonly used by commercial orchid growers to produce a large number of plants in a relatively short period of time. However, tissue culture requires specialised equipment, sterile laboratory conditions, and expertise in plant tissue culture techniques, making it more suitable for professional growers or research institutions.