Rooting Nun's Orchid Stems

love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)May 10, 2013

This Nun's orchid (Phaius tankervilleae) was gifted to me this spring. The blooms were lovely. Now I want to try to propagate by rooting the flower stem cuttings. Is anyone else trying this? There are several propagation techniques and I'm not sure which one to try. I have two stems to play with. Which method are you using?

Here are links to some of the various methods, if you're curious:

http://www.clanorchids.com/culture/phaicult.htm

http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/lawn_and_garden/nuns_orchid.html

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/propagate-nuns-orchids-62623.html

http://thedailysouth.southernliving.com/2009/03/04/hey-sister-get/

http://www.rv-orchidworks.com/orchidtalk/orchids-other-genera-bloom/13953-phaius-tankerville-nuns-orchid.html

Photo taken when I got it:

Photo taken today :

Carol in Jacksonville

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morningloree(9b)

I have tried rooting powder and placing in spaghnum moss and soil, did not work. Now I have them laying on top of the spaghnum moss without rooting hormone, so far, it is hard to tell if this is working. They are supposed to be easy to propagate, I am curious as well to see how others successfully propagated theirs.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 7:47PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Morningloree, that sounds like you are doing everything right. Did you keep track of when you started them?

I went ahead and chopped mine up yesterday.

For the first stem, I laid the pieces in trenches in the ground. It is probably the least labor-intensive of the choices, and maybe the least likely to work, but I actually think it has the best chances under my care, as I am not always consistent as I think I will be! I had read where someone on another forum wrote: "I read that if you plant the flower stalk that it will make new plants. I tried it and I got 2 new plants. I cut it and laid it in a small trench and covered it up." It is in a protected shady area, and I'm betting on that one.

With the second stalk, I cut it into sections with two nodes per section. Rather than laying it on top of sphagnum (since I don't have any on-hand), I went ahead and buried one node of each section into fast-draining mix (perlite and vermiculite). I put all of the starter pots into a clear Sterlite box in a bright window. I am not betting on these to root, but it's the closest I'm going to get to following the actual instructions on most of those websites. You know, as I sit and type this, I am tempted to go lay these in trenches in the ground, too. Hmmmm.

Using Google Images, I did find some photos of sections being started and also some that had rooted. I found the pictures helpful so you might try that?

Please post back and let us know how yours do. I will do the same. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for both of us!

Carol

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 9:27AM
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kayjones(Mo6b)

I have tried this several times with no success. I would be interested in finding out how to do it successfully.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:40PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Kay, I was wondering where you were! I thought you had tried this before... but I didn't know it didn't work. I am so sorry. What did you do with your stems this year? Did you try? Or just toss them? Or are they still on the plants?

Well, I will post updates!

Carol

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:59PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Yay, I'm thrilled! One of my stem pieces rooted! Woo-hoo!

As I wrote above, I cut the flower stalks from the mother plant on May 10. After about a week, I moved the second stalk pieces from the Sterlite box to the ground in the same area as the first stalk pieces. I planted them all horizontally in trenches about 1-2" deep in moist, well-composted soil. The area is in deep shade in a protected bed between a live oak tree and the house. There is a lot of oak leaf mulch in the bed. Every week or so, I watered down the area, but not on any particular schedule. Today, I looked over and noticed something green sticking up. On closer inspection, I realized it was a new Nun's Orchid (Phaius tankervilliae) leaf! Yay! It is about one inch tall, coming straight up out of the ground. So far, that is the only one I have. I am hoping for more and will post back if I do get more.

One of the nice things about this location is that the plants do not need to be moved. They are protected from freeze and frost right where they are, so I do not intend to transplant them.

So it took a little over two months for them to root: May 10 - July 16.

I called one of my gardening friends here in Jacksonville - a friend who generously gave me the mother plant. She just discovered that two of hers have rooted, too. She started hers a week after me. She stuck some of her stem pieces vertically into the ground under an oak tree and two of those have small new leaves. She has others in trenches that have not rooted yet.

Anyone else have any luck? I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you.

Carol in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 7:11PM
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morningloree(9b)

Hi,
How ironic, I just got back from vacation and I checked my kitty litter box full of spaghnum moss and 2 stems rooted. I have 2 tiny little leaves rooted on 2 stems. It seems to take awhile, I would say, don't give up. The best way seems to be to lay them horizontally in the medium. Congratulations to all!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 11:02PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Morningloree, that is awesome! I'm so so excited for you! Yay!

Carol

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 9:26AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

I now have two three rooted stems! I'm so happy. Did you get any more?

Carol

This post was edited by love_the_yard on Mon, Aug 5, 13 at 16:27

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 7:44AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

I'm up to four rooted stems! After all of the rain last week, another shoot came up. Unbelievable - late August. Most of the stem was completely rotted (both ends) except for the node in the center that had a new root and a new shoot. I have now gently lifted all of the new plants and potted them up. They transplanted easily - didn't even blink. I keep watching the same area because I think I planted ten or more sections at the start.

Carol

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 10:35PM
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morningloree(9b)

Something stepped on mine, I think it was a deer, I should have put them in pots. I am glad yours are doing well. I guess the lesson is be patient and pot them up!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 6:05PM
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amberroses(10a)

My nun's caps root themselves. I had to move a big clump and they broke apart with tiny roots already growing on them. I just planted them directly in the soil.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 8:03PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Hi Amber,

Cool! (but I'm not sure I follow). Would you please tell me more? Where are the tiny roots? On the old flower stems? If so, were the stems touching the ground? I have heard that is their function in the wild. Or are you referring to the pseudo bulbs? Or some other part of the plant?

Thanks!
Carol

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 11:00AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
Anybody growing the tank x flava hybrids?? Regular tanks are easy but these limp along . Is there a culture difference?? Thanks gary

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 5:16AM
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amberroses(10a)

There are little baby offsets at the base of the plant and the bigger leaves have their own separate roots as well. My plants were pretty large when I divided them this way.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 12:06PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Amber, don't you just love propagation you don't have to actually perform? Yay, new plants! Congratulations!

Gary, I am not familiar with that orchid. In my search, all the results came back to posts by you, LOL! Best I can tell, it is Phiaus Joan Hart. Is that what you think, too? The flowers are beautiful!

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: Google Images - Orchid Phiaus Joan Hart

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 10:30PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
Tag says P. flava x P. tankersvillea . Flowers are yellow with red lip rather than purple 'off white of regular tanks.
Bought it at a sale about 5 years ago. has never reflowered though it hasn't died either lol
need to change something ?? Thanks gary

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 3:50AM
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katkin_gw

Gary, I have that one too, I think I got it at GardenFest in Vero last year. It is blooming now again for me. I have it in dappled shade and it gets plenty of water. I have bought others in the past but they have since died off, but those were in full sun. We also had those two very cold winters.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 7:12AM
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morningloree(9b)

I think the deer might have spared one during the great stampede of 2013, does this look familiar?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 9:45PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Yes, yes, yes, Dawn! That is one!

Carol

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 10:21PM
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morningloree(9b)

Yay!! I thought I lost them all. I would say in conclusion, to lay the stems horizontally in your medium, mine was spaghnum moss, be very patient, and perhaps keep them in pots until they are larger. I put mine in the ground after I had some sprouts of a few weeks and some were stepped on by deer. It is not a fast process!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 1:26PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

How many stems on your Nun's Orchids this year? Mine had two last year - - this year it has three!

All of last year's rooted stems have turned into nice little plants. They are too small to bloom, but thriving nicely.

This year, I know what to do with the stems. My friend had great success with planting them vertically - one node below the soil, one node above. I like that method better than mine (planted horizontally in trenches) because I couldn't keep an eye on mine or see how they were doing. After three months or so, I wasn't even sure exactly where they were! So I am going to try and root them vertically this year. Last year, my friend got four new plants and I think I got three.

Yay! ;)

Carol in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 9:25PM
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kayjones(Mo6b)

All of mine froze - will be looking to trade for some starts in March, if anyone has extras to trade.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 8:24AM
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morningloree(9b)

I have some getting ready to bloom now. I forgot where I put some of the stems as well. I will try the vertical method, too.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 9:36PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Kay, I will be glad to trade with you in March.

Morningloree, just to clarify, I am going to start mine in the ground, not in pots. Maybe you plan to do the same. I am going to put them in a bed that is against the house where there is no foot-traffic - same place as I put them in trenches last year - except this year it will be vertical. My friend, who had the good success, started hers vertically in the ground under an oak tree in a protected bed.

Carol in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 12:27PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

My Nun's orchids did their thing this year quite nicely. This photo was taken near the end when the blooming was just about done. Last year, I had two stalks. This year, I had four stalks altogether among two pots. (I divided the plant last year.)

Last week, I cut the stalks and started rooting them. I also cut off the old foliage as many experts recommend. Below, you can see the cut portion between the new shoots.

Below is the second pot. Last year's rooted youngsters (from stem cuttings) are in the background...oh, and also a terrible-looking Ground Orchid (Spathoglottis plicata) that I just can't get to "go" for me. I moved it once again and it has lots of new shoots... so maybe this is the year? I've never had blooms on it. Never. :( Anyway, back to the Nun's orchid - happier thoughts. :)

Carol in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:20AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Here are the three rooted cuttings from last year. (I had four but lost one after transplant from the ground to a pot.)

Morningloree, how are yours doing this year? Did you start any stems this year?

Does anyone know how long it takes to go from rooted stem to blooming size? Will these bloom in Spring 2015? 2016? 2020, LOL?!

Carol

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 12:16PM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

Thanks for sharing your knowledge on these. I have a small start similar in size to yours. I too am wondering how long it will take to grow to blooming size. Neat to know that the foliage can be cut back after bloom. I'd wondered about that, as I've seen mature clumps with some really ragged leaves.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 4:01PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Hi Sun Worshiper,

There is so little available on the internet about stem propagation that I feel a little like we are pioneers. That is why I have been documenting it here as we go along. I really think mine will put up a single stalk next spring but I may be too optimistic.

Yes, I read one site that said you will actually lose your bulbs if you don't cut off the old growth. I don't know if I believe that, but cutting off the old growth, which has always been replaced by two new growths, one on either side, is working for me.

Did you have a bloom stalk this past spring? Did you start any stem cuttings? I have about 18 stem cuttings around the yard and I really like the way I planted them this year with one end above ground. Much easier to watch and monitor than when I planted them in trenches last year. I'll go out and shoot a few pictures.

Carol

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 6:12PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Below is a link to the site that says that old growth must be removed. Here's an excerpt:

Plants grown in the ground rather than in pots should have the old growth removed in the same manner. Failure to remove them will stress the plant and it will slowly deteriorate over a couple of years. Since it takes a couple of years to die, it is not easy to understand why it dies and how it could be prevented.

I don't know if it is true or not. It scared me badly enough to cut it off!

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: Phiaus - A terrestrial Orchid

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 6:29PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Here are my stem cuttings. I know this is going to be photo-overkill, but I'm posting a lot of pictures in hope that it may help someone.

Here is one of my locations. I'll start from way back so you can get the whole picture. You want to place your stems where they won't have people deer walk on them. The small sticks on either end are just to mark the area so I can find them:

The roof line runs so that the majority of rain run-off is on the other side. The is no heavy run-off on this side of the house:

Below are close-ups of the cuttings. Some of them are the stems pictured above; others are stems around the yard in convenient places for me to take a photo. The nodes on some are swelling fast! I swear they are budding already. I did not use rooting hormone on any of them. The soil is very moist from all the rain we had last week. Look at the swollen bud eye on this one:

It looks like this one is already sending up a tiny bud/leaf on the left side? I will have to keep an eye on this guy!

Can't count my chickens yet but this is a lot more fun than last year when I couldn't see what was going on. Would love to see photos of others' Nun's orchids and stems. Also, if you know a better way, I am open to any advice!

Carol

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 8:05PM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

Thanks a lot for the link on removing foliage. Mine is in a pot until it sizes up a bit, but then I will be growing it in ground. Incidentally, when is the best time of year to transfer from pot to ground? I'd guess spring?

Love all the pictures of the propagation method! Thanks for sharing. Will certainly try it when mine is big enough to bloom.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 10:44AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Sun, I keep all of mine in pots so I can bring them inside during freezes. I have never transferred one to the ground. Maybe someone else will chime in.

In general, mid-spring is the best time for planting anything new because it is the beginning of the growing season and gives it the longest possible time to adjust before winter.

Good luck!
Carol

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 10:59AM
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