Orchid Keikis: Dos and Don’ts for Healthy Keiki Growth
If you have discovered a keiki on your orchid, congratulations! Caring for orchid keikis requires attention to a few key elements. The location of the keiki growth depends on the type of orchid you have. Dendrobium keikis can be found along the length of the cane or at its tip, while Phalaenopsis keikis emerges from a node on the spike. It’s fascinating to note that these young plants are genetically identical to their parents but can still produce their own flowers. To ensure the successful development of your orchid keiki, it is crucial to provide proper care and nurturing.
Orchid keikis, or baby orchids, are small plantlets that grow on the stems or nodes of mature orchid plants. These keikis can be propagated to create new orchid plants. To ensure the healthy growth of keikis, here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind:
Provide Adequate Light: Orchids generally require bright, indirect light. Place the keiki in a location where it receives sufficient light, but avoid direct sunlight, as it can burn the delicate foliage. A lightly shaded area with filtered light is usually ideal.
Maintain Proper humidity. Orchids thrive in a humid environment. To promote healthy growth, maintain humidity levels between 50% and 70%. You can increase humidity by using a humidifier, placing a tray filled with water near the plants, or grouping orchids together.
Water Regularly: Orchids should be watered consistently but not excessively. It’s important to keep the potting medium slightly moist, allowing it to dry out partially between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so make sure the keiki’s pot has adequate drainage.
Use a well-Draining Potting medium. Orchids prefer a loose and well-draining potting mix. A commonly used mix is a combination of orchid bark, sphagnum moss, and perlite. This allows for proper airflow around the roots and prevents waterlogged conditions.
Provide Proper Ventilation: Good air circulation is essential for orchid health. Ensure there is adequate ventilation around the keikis, as stagnant air can lead to fungal or bacterial problems. Gentle airflow from a fan or open windows can help maintain healthy conditions.
Overfertilize: Avoid overfertilizing the keikis. Orchids generally have low nutrient requirements, and excessive fertilisation can cause salt buildup and damage the roots. Use a balanced orchid fertiliser at a quarter to half strength and apply it according to the instructions on the package
Repot Too Soon: While keikis eventually need to be repotted, it’s important not to rush the process. Allow the keiki to establish a few healthy roots before repotting it into a larger container. Premature repotting can stress the plant and hinder its growth.
Neglect Proper Drainage: Orchids are susceptible to root rot if they sit in waterlogged conditions. Always ensure that the keiki’s pot has adequate drainage holes, and use a well-draining potting medium to prevent water from accumulating around the roots.
Exposure to Extreme Temperatures: Orchids have specific temperature requirements based on their species. Avoid exposing the keiki to extreme temperature fluctuations, as it can negatively impact its growth. Orchids generally prefer temperatures between 60°F and 80°F (15°C and 27°C).
Disturb the Keiki unnecessarily: Once the keiki has developed roots and starts growing, avoid unnecessary disturbances. Orchids are sensitive plants, and excessive handling can cause stress and hinder their growth. Handle them gently when necessary, such as during repotting.
Growing orchid keikis can be a rewarding and exciting experience for orchid enthusiasts. Keikis are the baby orchid plants that develop on the flower spike or along the stem of the mother plant. To ensure the healthy growth of keikis,
Provide proper lighting: Place keikis in a location with bright, indirect light to encourage healthy growth.
Maintain appropriate temperature and humidity: Orchids generally thrive in temperatures between 60°F and 80°F (15°C and 27°C), with humidity levels around 50–70%.
Use a well-draining orchid potting mix. Repot keikis in a mix specifically designed for orchids to ensure proper drainage.
Water regularly: Orchids prefer moist conditions, so water the keikis regularly, allowing the potting mix to dry slightly between waterings.
Fertilise regularly: Feed the keikis with a balanced orchid fertiliser according to the manufacturer’s instructions to provide essential nutrients.
Keep airflow adequate: Provide good air circulation around the keikis to prevent fungal diseases and promote healthy growth.
Repot when necessary: If the keiki outgrows its current pot or shows signs of overcrowding, repot it into a slightly larger container.
Label and document: Keep track of the different keikis by labelling them and documenting their growth progress, including the date they appeared.
Support the keiki: If the keiki is growing on a flower spike, provide gentle support using a stake or clip to prevent it from bending or breaking.
Provide partial shade: While orchids love light, direct sunlight can scorch the keikis.During the warmest times of the day, provide some partial shade.
Don’t overwater: Avoid overwatering the keikis, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot and other problems.
Don’t let the keikis dry out completely. While orchids prefer slightly dry conditions between waterings, allowing the keikis to completely dry out can hinder their growth.
Don’t expose the keikis to extreme temperatures. Avoid placing the keikis in locations with extreme temperatures or draughts, as they can be detrimental to their growth.
Don’t use regular potting soil: Orchids require a well-draining mix, so avoid using regular potting soil, which retains too much moisture.
Don’t neglect pest control. Keep an eye out for pests such as aphids, mealybugs, or scale insects.Take the necessary steps to get rid of them if you find them.
Don’t repot too often: While keikis may eventually need to be repotted, avoid repotting them too frequently, as it can disrupt their growth and cause stress.
Don’t use excessive fertilisers. Over-fertilising can burn the roots and harm the keikis. Follow the recommended dosage and frequency for orchid fertilisers.
Don’t expose keikis to direct airflow. While air circulation is beneficial, avoid placing the keikis directly in the path of strong draughts or fans, which can dry them out.
Don’t neglect regular cleaning. Keep the keikis and their surrounding area clean from debris, fallen leaves, and dead flowers to prevent the buildup of pathogens.
Don’t rush separation from the mother plant. Wait until the keiki has developed a few healthy roots before separating it from the mother plant to increase its chances of survival.
What is an Orchid Keiki, and how does it differ from a regular orchid plant?
An Orchid Keiki refers to a baby orchid plant that grows as a clone of its parent plant. It is essentially a vegetative offshoot that develops from a node on the orchid’s stem. The term “keiki” is derived from Hawaiian, meaning “baby” or “child.” The main difference between a keiki and a regular orchid plant is that keikis have not yet matured to the size and blooming stage of an adult orchid.
What are the dos for promoting healthy keiki growth in orchids?
Provide ample humidity: Orchid keikis thrive in a humid environment. You can achieve this by placing the orchid near a humidifier or misting the leaves regularly.
Maintain appropriate lighting: Orchids generally require bright, indirect light. Ensure that the keiki receives sufficient light but avoid direct sunlight, as it can burn the delicate leaves.
Adequate watering: Orchid keikis have smaller root systems compared to mature orchids, so they require less water. Water them sparingly, allowing the growing medium to dry out slightly between waterings.
Use a suitable growing medium: Choose a well-draining orchid mix or sphagnum moss to pot the keiki. This helps prevent root rot and promotes healthy growth.
What are the don’ts for healthy keiki growth in orchids?
Avoid overwatering: Orchids, including keikis, are susceptible to root rot if they sit in soggy growing medium for extended periods. Do not let the keiki’s roots remain in standing water.
Do not repot too soon: While keikis eventually need to be repotted as they grow, it’s best to allow them to develop a few roots and a small growth before attempting to repot. Premature repotting can harm the keiki.
Don’t expose to extreme temperatures: Orchid keikis prefer temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C). Avoid exposing them to extreme cold or hot conditions, as it can stress or damage the plant.
Avoid disturbing the keiki unnecessarily: Once a keiki has started to grow, it’s best to leave it undisturbed as much as possible. Excessive handling or disturbance can disrupt its growth and development
Can I detach an orchid keiki from the parent plant, and if so, how?
Yes, you can detach an orchid keiki from the parent plant once it has developed a few roots and leaves of its own. To detach a keiki
Prepare a clean, sharp cutting tool (e.g., a sterile blade or scissors).
Locate the base of the keiki where it connects to the parent plant.
Gently cut or separate the keiki from the parent plant, ensuring you have a portion of the keiki’s roots intact.
Once detached, plant the keiki in a small pot with an appropriate growing medium, such as orchid mix or sphagnum moss.
Provide the keiki with the same care and environment as outlined in the dos and don’ts to encourage its healthy growth.
Remember to monitor the keiki closely after detaching and adjust care accordingly to support its establishment as an independent orchid plant.