Keikis, what to do now ?

cocoabeachloraxMarch 22, 2011

Hello, and thank you for taking the time to read this.

I have a dendrobium, I know nothing more specific about the plant. It died, but before completely giving up she sprouted 2 beautiful little keikis. I've left everything as is making sure to spray the keiki roots when I water my other orchids (once a week). I'm not sure what to do at this point. There is about 6 inches of the original (dead) dendrobium "stalk" below the babies. Their roots are growing into the air and down the dead stalk. My hunch would be to cut off the dead stalk below the keiki and then repot it so that those roots can come into contact with fresh nutrient filled potting mix. However, I really have nothing more than a hunch to work with. So, if this were your plant what would you do, if anything at all ? I'll go take a picture.

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    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 1:57PM
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highjack(z6 KY)

Are you sure it is dead? Many types of Dendrobiums lose their leaves and appear dead but will grow another growth from the bottom of the dead looking cane.

The only thing I would do is pot it in a much smaller container IF you get a new growth at the bottom.

If you are convinced it is dead, soak the keikis and the top of the cane in water. The roots should turn green. Use something like a butter knife to ease the roots off the cane. Then gently twist the keikis back and forth to remove them - pot them up.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 3:32PM
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Thank you Brooke. I'm feeling a bit intimidated at the thought of removing them. I'm not concerned with the asthetic of the (possibly) dead cane. Is there any reason not to leave well enough alone and leave it as is or will leaving it as it is deprive the roots of nutrients ?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 4:22PM
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I should add, no I'm not sure it's dead either. I'm not sure about a lot as I'm new to orchids in general. Thank you so much for the advice. If it's not dead should I still repot smaller ? Any suggestions on dendrobium potting medium ? right now it's primarily bark with some charcoal and other assorted "goodies" that came with the orchid bark mix.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 4:28PM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

As Brooke says, many dens are deciduous and lose their leaves. The canes look bare but in actuality are still vital. You can leave the keikis on and let the mother take care of them until they get many more or longer roots, but leaving them on permanently will result in a very lopsided, top heavy plant. Don't worry, they're good, strong keikis from the look of them.

If that's an old flower spike at the tip, you can cut it off.

The den actually looks healthy. I also agree with Brooke that it's grossly overpotted and should be moved down to a very small pot as dens grow better with tight shoes. Also, all that medium stays too wet because they're aren't enough roots to utilize the moisture. And be sure to use a fertilizer low in nitrogen as dens don't like too much of it.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 4:39PM
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Thank you so much, 126, so much good information to go from. I didn't know about the tight fit issue. I'll repot soon. There is healthy green to the stalk above the Keiki so I'll hold out hope that maybe the mother is still vital. I'm thinking that the mulch medium isn't staying soggy at all as they hang outside and we're less than 1000 feet from the Atlantic, there is always a nice breeze. I wait about 7 days in between watering until the dead heat of summer, then about every 5 days, and when I water everything is fairly dry. Does that sound like a good schedule or should I change that ?

Can you quantify the nitrogen that I should be looking out for ? Or maybe just recommend a readily available fertilizer ? I also have Cattleya, would one single fertilizer suit both plants needs ?

Thank you so much.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 5:03PM
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ifraser25(z11 Brazil)

The problem is when plants do this they look just stupid. They also don't flower well. It's often quite difficult to twist keikis off without damage so I cut mine with a piece of the original stem attached, especially if it's an old cane. Irrespective of whether it's dead or not you will get 2 good new plants. You won't have killed the original plant either as if it's still good: it will sprout again from the base, so you have 3!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 10:37PM
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Agree with all the above. That plant is still alive and you should get new growths from the base. I agree, cut off the babies and pot in tiny pots.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 12:05AM
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I think my anxious disposition could handle cutting them while still attached to the original cane and transplanting to tiny pots. Would you say they are large enough now, or wait for a little extra growth first ? Would you split the cane down the middle and plant them separately or cut below the roots and leave them together ?

As odd as it may sound, I'm not nearly as concerned with a good looking plant as I am with preserving life. I'm one of those people that just hates to mess with living plants and wind up killing them. I can handle ugly much better than dead. ;)

Thank you so much for all the great advice.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 10:46AM
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