REPRODUCING THE ORCHID PLANT
The orchid plant grows slowly and hence reproducing the plant takes time. The process, though, is worth the wait. Reproducing the plant from seeds can take up to 5 to 7 years. The other methods like division are faster. Let us see the different ways in which we can regrow new plants
DIVISION OF THE ORCHID
This is the fastest way to propagate the orchid. The plant could be divided when it has grown too big or the rhizomes are forming a tangled mess as they grow over each other. It could be simply because you wish to trade your orchid with a friend for a different variety. Whatever the reason, the new plant is bound to give you pleasure. This method works with sympodial-type orchids only, for example, Cattleya.
You can divide the plant into 3 or 4 psuedobulbs. The front bunch of the plant with the lead psuedobulbs is called the ‘division’ while the group of psuedobulbs that do not have active leads are called the back bulbs. The back bulbs have one or more dormant eye that can be made to grow into a new plant.
The rhizome is cut after the plant has flowered, before repotting it. A V shaped notch is cut, a little more than half way and the plant is then left undisturbed till such time that the dormant eyes present on the back bulbs start to break. The plant is then broken and repotted. Care should be taken to just spray the plant and not water it until the root growth is observed.
Avoid dividing the plant while it is still small and does not show enough growths.
When your orchid plant has grown tall and has roots that extend from the stem, they can be used to create a new plant. Cut the top several inches of the stem that have roots and pot it.
Orchids that have long stems or canes are cut into pieces using sharp pruners or knives. The cut section should have 2 nodes. The cut portion is laid horizontally in a shallow container filled with damp sand or sphagnum moss. The piece of stem is half buried in it. When placed in a warm place that receives diffused sunlight, the cut piece will sprout a new plant in about 6 months.
Some older stems of the orchid plant become lifeless and lose their leaves once the plant has bloomed. If left with the mother plant these stems will probably never grow. Cut them from the mother plant and place them in a plastic bag filled with a 2 inch layer of sphagnum moss. The bottom of the back bulbs should be buried one-fourth in it. The bag has to be sealed and left in a corner that is warm and receives diffused sunlight. The back bulbs start to grow in about 2 months. When they grow leaves, they should be placed in a shallow container in a group and left to grow for several months. They should then be repotted.
GROWING ORCHIDS FROM SEEDS
This is a complicated process. The seeds are very tiny and do not have a source of food as they are naked. They have to develop with the help of a special fungus and a nutrient solution. It is advisable to leave this procedure to experts in this field and not try it at home.