Grow orchids yourself - information on sowing and growing

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Orchidaceae - Phalaenopsis - Orchids

Orchids are one of the most popular indoor plants and are often given away because of their variety and flower splendor. Whoever owns and wants to cross especially beautiful specimens, may be tempted to multiply this in spite of the great offer in the trade. However, hobby gardeners are faced with some difficulties and peculiarities here. The sowing and cultivation of the orchid seeds can still be crowned with success, if some hints and tips are considered.

Fertilization and semen collection

Growing orchids yourself can be a great challenge and bring about completely new creations - but difficulties start with fertilization. If a flower were to fertilize itself, the result would be a missing seed or seeds that are not germinable. The flowers are therefore protected by their structure from self-pollination. This makes manual pollination difficult. In addition, only pollen or pollinia, as they are also called in the orchid, should be used by other flowers or better yet another orchid of the same species. These do not necessarily bloom at the same time, but the pollinia should be harvested at the right time. Pollinia recovery and storage are as follows:
  • 1. Depending on the type of orchid hobby gardeners should first deal in detail with the structure of the flower. The pollinia sit under a cap, the so-called anther cap. The pollinia consist of two yellow, spherical pollen packets, which are connected by short stems.
  • 2. For successful orchid pollen extraction, flowering should be open for three to four days.
  • 3. Using a toothpick or pointed forceps, gently remove the anthers cap from the flower. It may happen that the pollinia attach to them and are removed directly with. In this case, simply remove the pollen with the toothpick or remove the cap with the tweezers.
  • 4. If an orchid can not or should not be fertilized immediately, the pollinia are placed in an airtight container and frozen until use.
Of course, this is only the first step, because the pollen must still be on the scar for seed formation. This is recognizable in every orchid blossom, that it is shaped like a channel and leads to the ovary. In some orchid species, it is also covered with a sticky liquid. In order for a seed capsule to form, fertilization must also be done by hand. The instructions show how it works:
  • 1. Again, on the third or fourth day after the opening of the flower, the scar is first found. Anyone who is not sure where they are can inquire at a specialist retailer or make their search easier with appropriate illustrations.
  • 2. The pollinia - in the case of the frozen variant of course thawed in advance - are set either separately or as a double package on the scar. Again, wooden toothpicks or pointed tip tweezers help.
  • 3. For protection, the flower thus prepared can be covered with a transparent bag. This is not really necessary.
If this step is done, patience is required. Depending on the orchid, it can take two to nine months for the actual fertilization to take place and the pollinia to grow together with the scar. A good sign is when the respective flower wilts quickly after the measure and thickened the ovary.
Tip: As an alternative to independent semen collection, they can also be purchased in specialist shops or online. In addition, there are also private orchid fans who may give or exchange seeds.


Orchidaceae - Phalaenopsis - Orchids

If fertilization has been successful, then seed capsules will appear on the orchid. These fall off after maturity on their own and can then serve the actual semen collection and sowing. After opening the capsule, different methods are available. However, there are some factors to consider in any form of cultivation:
  • Substrate, all aids and vessels must be sterilized, for example by boiling water (exception is the cultivation on substrate)
  • Disposable gloves should be worn when handling
  • Piped or rainwater may contain germs and harmful substances, so only distilled and boiled water should be used
  • The seed capsule itself should be disinfected with hydrogen peroxide before opening
The reason for this seemingly over-cautious approach is due to the peculiarities of orchid seeds. These have no nutrient reserves known from other seeds.Therefore, they can only germinate if they are either artificially supplied with nutrients or live in symbiosis with a special fungus that breaks down nutrients from the substrate for them. During this phase, however, they are very vulnerable, can be damaged or overgrown by other fungi, germs and pathogens in no time.

Sterile workbench

Seed orchids are best grown on a sterile workbench. Here, the seeds are protected from foreign pathogens and are supplied with nutrient medium - as well as in the laboratory. For private households and laymen, however, the effort is simply disproportionate and sowing in the sterile workbench is therefore not recommended.

On substrate

The most natural and easy method of cultivation is sowing directly next to the mother plant. The substrate is moistened well and the seeds are placed on top. The chances that the required fungus already exists in the substrate are good. However, the substrate must not dry or dry out. In order to achieve the appropriate humidity, it is therefore advisable to place the orchid in a room greenhouse and spray it frequently.

Cultivation on bark

For the cultivation on bark only a piece of bark is necessary. This is first poured over with boiling water and sterilized. Then the procedure is as follows:
  • 1. In order for the bark to carry the necessary fungus, it should be covered with the substrate of the mother plant for about two weeks or put directly into the top of it.
  • 2. The bark is then placed in distilled water or sprinkled with it by spraying. It may be dripping wet.
  • 3. The orchid seed is seeded for cultivation on it.
  • 4. The thus prepared piece of bark is placed in a room greenhouse or placed in a sufficiently large glass jar and covered.
  • 5. As soon as there are dry spots on the bark, it must be sprayed with water again.

Dishcloth method

The dishcloth method can be done with or without a cloth, but at the beginning it takes some effort. The instructions show how it can work:
  • 1. A clay pot and new dishcloth and sphagnum moss and tree fibers are sterilized with boiling water.
  • 2. One half of the moss and the tree fibers are filled in the pot, the other half wrapped in cloth and placed on the substrate. The surface of the fabric should point upwards with the smooth side - without wrinkles.
  • 3. The prepared container is placed in a bowl or on a saucer. The surfaces are sprayed, the shell filled with water.
  • 4. From the mother plant some fresh root tips are cut off and placed on the fabric.
  • 5. Finally, the orchids seeds are placed between the root tips and covered the vessel with a glass plate.

Orchidaceae - Phalaenopsis - Orchids

After these preparations, only water in the shell is refilled when it dries out. If the cloth is dry on the surface, it can also be sprayed.
Tip: In addition to the proposed methods, there are also special breeding sets for orchids in the trade.

Duration and aftercare

It may take a few weeks or months for seeds to develop into seeds. Only when they clearly show leaves, they may first be sprayed with heavily diluted orchid fertilizer. For this purpose, normal room temperatures should prevail during the cultivation of the orchids and that throughout. Fluctuations do not tolerate the freshly germinated shoots or only poorly. If the young plants are several centimeters high and carry several leaves, they may be slowly weaned from the consistently high humidity. Thereafter, the careful separation and the conversion can be done in normal orchid substrate. They then get the same care as the mother plant.
Growing orchids by yourself is not easy and can not be accomplished quickly, but it can be quite a worthwhile endeavor. Anyone who gets involved should, however, know that this requires a lot of care and a lot of care - at least during the preparation.


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