propagating orchids

quiltlady67July 9, 2013

An orchid was given to me. It bloomed long and grew a new plant and bloomed again. Then the old stem dropped it's leaves and turned light brown and seemed to dry up. I was considering cutting off the dried up stem, but instead I gave the plant a fairly heavy dose of plant food (Miracle Grow). It suddenly shot up two new little shoots and the dried up stem suddenly pushed out two new little orchid plants with roots and all. I believe the fertilizer was the answer. Orchids grow on trees in the tropics and have a tap root that gets it's nourishment from the tree, Since it is not on a tree now it needs good regular plant food, I am wondering what I do with the two little plants on the dead stem? Do I leave them there and keep growing at that position? Do I cut them off and plant them in new pots?

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mrunix(z8 FL)

That is normal behavior for an Orchid. Each Pseudobulb (the tuberous bulb like lower portion with leaves on top) will shoot out flowers once, then go dormant. The remaining back bulbs (those that have already flowered) will remain and actually help the orchid by retaining moisture and nutrients that can then be used by the active growing portion of the plant. Once the Pseudobulb has flowered, one or more new growths will form at the base and become the new active growths. There are several opinions on how many pseudobulbs you should have before dividing the plant, but each division should have at least 3-4 with at least one actively growing.

The most frequent cause of Orchid death is over watering. You should allow the growing medium to completely dry out between waterings. I usually let it go a few days bone dry before wattering, and then completely drench the plant. Since the roots typically are exposed to the elements, they have a special coating, called velamen, that not only protects the root but absorbs moisture so the root has more time to absorb it. When dry, the roots will look white, and when wet will become translucent and look green.

Not all orchids behave the same, so the above is kind of general.. but for your plant, I would suggest you leave the new growths alone to do their thing. After they flower, each one will shoot out another pseudobulb, which will flower, etc.. At some point, when it outgrows the container or your planting medium breaks down, divide the plant into two or more and give one to your mom :)


    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 10:28PM
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