Holy Smokes, cut phal spike in water = keiki

bob123howJune 13, 2007

I didn't believe it when I read it, but someone on another post mentioned cutting a spent phal spike, placing it in water, and having it make keikis. I had nothing to lose, so I gave it a shot, and it looks like it may have worked! The top node, under the bottom most flower scar has swollen and there is a nub poking out from under the triangle of "plant skin". I'm assuming this is a keiki, and it wouldn't try to branch out, having been detached from the plant for about a month.

About how long until it will a pottable plant?

I change the water when it gets gunky and add a drop of SuperThrive. It's sitting in the middle of my room with no light... is this ok?

Thanks, Bob

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xmpraedicta(3b Saskatoon)

wow grats! wait and see what happens...don't phals usually keiki in low light as opposed to blooming?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 11:58PM
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Hey, good luck on that! I had one sitting in my windowsill in Florida for almost 3 years. I had gotten one of my very first Orchids(Phal). When the flowers fell off I just cut the spike, not knowing any better. Now I don't touch until they die. Anyhow, it grew two branches like it was gonna flower but they never got any longer than about 4 1/2" and the little "bulb-wanna-be's" never openend. Eventually it started to dry up. I didn't know about Superthrive then and that's what mine did in just plain water. That would be awsome if you really got a kei kei. I do know that it will live for a long time. Happy growing : )
Keep us posted!


    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 4:02AM
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Bob I have two spikes doing that right now. I put them in water about Sept. last year. The largest has leaves about 1.5inches in length and two roots about an inch long. The other has smaller leaves and no significant roots.

I think yours will need more light as this is where it will be getting energy for growth,

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 4:36AM
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"It's sitting in the middle of my room with no light... is this ok?

Its NEVER "ok". Why would you do that? Would a mother starve an infant? Plants derive energy from light. Fundamental to all living things on earth. Why are there boat loads of questions on the board pertaining to the quest for light?

If its truely a kei kei you have years to go before it will be a bloomable Phal. You would benefit by buying the Ortho book or any book on growing orchids

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 12:19PM
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It is now under a 40w CFL. Should I put it outside with the other phals? I can't imagine a naked spike doing a whole lot of photosynthesising. Furthermore, lots of plants do things with no light. Hubert the sundew was not performing up to par so I chopped his head off down to the top of the pot. Within a week 3 babies had come up from stored energy in the roots. Now they need light, but when I chopped, it had to make 3 babies and push them through 1/2" + of shpagnum moss, without.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 12:57PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Congratulations, Bob, what an exciting thing to happen, however long it takes to bloom. And BTW, phals, especially those with vigour, can grow from a 2" seedling to about 10-12" leaf span in about 10 months. So it's not always "years".

Don't put it outside, the heat will probably fry the poor little thing, and certainly it will be impossible to keep it moist as it develops roots.

Peter Lin of Big Leaf orchids, among others, says this about keikeis:

An "undifferentiated" nub on a spike will produce keikeis with low to no light. In high light, it will produce a flower branch.

So I'm with you and calvin-- keep it in low light til you see a keikei, *then* give it more light to help it grow.

Once the keikei has a couple of small roots, I would cut off part of the stem and lay the stem flat in sphag in a very shallow thing-- something like a saucer or a small strainer. It would stay there til the roots are long enough for a small pot. That's just my instinct, I don't actually know anything about keikeis.

If it was still attached to a plant, I wouldn't do that. But since the spike is already detached, I can't see much harm in it.

Good luck and please let us know how this keikei develops!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 2:18PM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

I think I waited about 5 months before I potted my cut spike keikei. :-)


    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 9:46PM
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Once a plant forms leaves, it needs light. Your sundew had roots and formed leaves. This has no roots and needs to grow leaves. Then, hopefully, it will have the energy to grow roots. You need roots! Give it light.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 11:43PM
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xmpraedicta(3b Saskatoon)

Let us know what happens! It seems there is alot of conflicting info...too bad you dont have 2 spikes doing this cause then you could design a little experiment.

Mike - no need to be abrasive! I haven't really seen any books on orchid cultivation that specifically address this particular phenomenon. Lots of plants are stimulated to undergo phenotypic changes upon light deprivation, and perhaps keiki formation is one of them? Who knows...and the reason there are 'boat loads' of questions is likely because different plants require different levels of light and sometimes people may be unsure what exactly "bright indirect light" means....the other day I even saw a book write: "place plants in bright shade"....er...wtf? what does that even mean?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 12:53AM
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Hey! this is really interesting, this is the first time I read something about it, Congrats! and Can you explain to me very slowly the way you did it, so I can try with my phals that are ending flowering. thanks

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 7:13PM
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was the dead spike cut when it was still green or was it brown. also was this the primary bloom or was it the result of cutting the rebloom after cutting above the node? Also how much.. the whole thing or just the branch? I would love to know how to do this

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 8:39PM
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I prepared a big jug of about 1/2 gallon of distilled water. I added 2 drops of SuperThrive. I had read elsewhere that florists cut spikes under water to prevent an air bubble from forming at the base of the stem so the spike can still take up water. I set the whole pot in the jug of water and cut, underwater, at the base of the spike as close to the plant as I could get it. There was one flower left on the spike that lasted for about a week. This was the first bloom on the spike, not a rebloom, and the spike was fresh. I'd imagine it's been at least 4 weeks, but not more than 6. I change the water about every 1-2 weeks or so.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 11:38PM
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Thanks, I read your information, but please tell me if you
put all the plant in the water, what will happen with the crown, I know that the phal's crown can't get any water, so
did you dry the crwon ? how ? your phal's crown is ok ?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 2:07PM
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The crown was not submerged in water. When water does get there, I get a q-tip and absorb it out, or tilt the plant and blow hard into the crown.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 2:49PM
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OK, another phal done blooming, and I did the same process as above, but this spike is where the mother plant was under lights. The mother is now outside. The spike with the nub is back to where it was in the middle of my room. My southern wall is 3/4 window, so the ambient light in the middle of my room is about 500 footcandles for the duration of the day. Under lights its closer to 1000 footcandles for 16 hours per day.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 2:38PM
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Another interesting development... The original spike is outside with the other phals, still in a jug of water, getting natural sunlight. It has 4 leaves, but no signs of roots yet.

The other spike, that was under lights, put out a nub, and I kicked up the light by moving it under an 85 watt CFL with Encyclia Cochleata. To my dismay, rather than throwing a keiki, the spike browned from the tip the to the nub and it has started to branch. There is one small bud and a growth tip, the entire thing is about 2 inches long.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 10:55AM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Thanks for the update, Bob. Some vendor's culture sites say absence of light is necessary to form keiki's on a spike. With light, flowers will form.

Jane's advice of light once the keiki is there is good. But til then, your middle of the room plan is better than under lights.

Update us again when you know more, please.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 12:40PM
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olyagrove(z9 Tampa, FL)

I once cut a phal spike with a few remaining flowers, put it in a glass with water, and over time, a baby keiki developed. Took forever(months).

To encourage roots, I wrapped sphag moss around the keiki. Two roots developed. Last night, I finally removed the keiki from the spike, spike all dried up by now, and planted the baby in its own little pot. It has a third leaf emerging :)

I will try to find the photos of the keiki on the spike, in water..

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 1:46PM
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highjack(z6 KY)

To help keep the sphag around the base of the keikei, I put cheesecloth around the sphag and used bread ties to keep it on. I sprayed water on the little bag and popped roots almost instantly.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 6:32PM
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Wow Bob, I assume you started to put the spike in water when you started this thread - that's in June - and now your keiki already has 4 leaves!? Mine stays with the mother for months and the third leaf is just starting - well, it's got 6 healthy roots though...

I've never heard of this and wish I had known it earlier, cuz due to ignorance, I had some phal that died after flowering and if I could get some descendants this way...

Great info, thanks! Btw, a picture would be awesome :)


    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 10:59PM
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Bob's situation is a rarity. He was lucky!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 9:38PM
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sw, actually, the original post was when the nub started to form. I put the spike in water over spring break. (late march) We're going on almost 6 months now. I remember this, because my roommate was out of town and for that week, I set up lights all over the apartment and was repotting and taking cuttings etc. He came home a day early without notice and I thought he was going to have an aneurysm.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 12:21PM
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Hi! ^ ^
I think it could be of use to someone if I type out my experience. Perhaps a collection of experiences will lead to some form of conclusion of the hypothesis about lighting etc.

It began when one of my two orchids had a nasty little pussy cat tip over it's pot. The orchid's spike severed completely off. Since my orchids both bloom at the same time I cut the spike off the other orchid. Of both the spikes, the yellow had 2 blooms (1 bud spike was 6 inches long). The purple had 8 buds (one bloom spike was 10 inches long) which is the one the cat had tipped over. I will also note that I put the purple stem immediately into water since I had heard the plant crash. I have had both spikes into a clear glass vase (about 1-1.5 cup of water) in a pitch black game room except light from the teli and monitors. To be more specific the vase is in the shadow of the "light". The temp is always around 78 degrees fahrenheit.
I enjoyed the blooms for a couple of weeks and the large bloomed ones finally started to look fatigued so I pinched those off (about 4-5). The rest dropped off by themselves. I totally forgot about these stems/spikes. Here is where it gets interesting, about 2-3 month later I was dusting and cleaning up the "mess" at the sink when I noticed the yellow spike was still green at the end, the purple was brown so I cut it under water to a healthy green looking point. I had decided regardless of the various postings on the intraweb saying that a spike couldn't grow roots I would still let these two try.

It now has been 5 months, the yellow has a small root growing at the end, the purple is still green. They are in the pitch black room, I change the water sporadically from every 4 days to 3 weeks with tepid from faucet. Basically when I remember the poor babies but more so at the beginning than now (which changes now I see a little root). I will also mention I was using the cities icky chlorinated fluoride injected tap water, I will now change to bottled water and watch the results.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 10:24AM
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Bob, this is exceedingly interesting. Because of your post I have started my own experiment with the stem of an orchid that someone threw out (i.e. I privately run an orchid/plant hospital in my office at work -- ha, ha). Anyway, I bought those vitamins that you mentioned and have had the stem in a small vase on my desk. The little nubs (of which there were 2) have since swelled. I would say they are on my desk now for about one month. I did move it near the window for more light, but now have read further about not doing that and have brought it back to my desk. So, if I'm remembering all everyone has written, I hope to see some results in about 6 mos, right? I'm very excited about this and hope I have success with it. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: streamofconchiness

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 7:24PM
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I know this page is pretty old, but maybe someone will still reply-

do you submerge all or most of the detached spike or do you just stick one end of it in like an inch of water?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 11:57PM
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I did this once years ago. I believe when I did it I submerged up to the first unbloomed node, having removed the tissue that covers the node.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 12:07PM
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I had that happen this summer. It was an accident where the spike was broken off by my cat. The plant was a Phal Equestris which does have a tendency to keki anyway. But it was flowering at the time the spike broke.

I stuck the spike with the flowers in water and after about a month noticed a bud was becoming a keki. It finally formed roots and I repotted.

I've tried this before and my impression is that this works if the Phal is in flowering mode. If the spike is finished flowering or winding down, it won't work. If the spike is actively growing, you have a chance.
Broken spike with flowers

A few months later. Sorry only photo I had. I took it of the frog who buried himself in my plant. If you look to the right, you can see the keki which has roots. I just put it there until the roots grew and then repotted by itself.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 2:19PM
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