Propagating and Potting Orchids

Orchid Potting and Care

The pots used should be small and the compost should consist of 50% polystyrene flakes as plenty of air will stimulate root formation. A mixture of Meranti or equal parts of sphagnum moss and polystyrene is very good. Parts of plants that were already growing in compost (for example, divided bulbs) should not be placed any deeper in the compost than they were before.

The cuttings of sympodial orchids should be bedded horizontally in compost. “Warm feet” and humid air will help to promote the formation of new roots and shoots. Stand the pots or bowls in a large, transparent plastic bag which should be tied tightly at the top. The moisture in the compost will be sufficient to keep them going and you will not need to water them. Placing the propagated plantlets on a heating pad is ideal. Even better still, stand the pots in a heatable propagation bed with a lid but without the plastic bag. Fill the bed with slightly moist peat beforehand.

Propagating orchids and Potting Orchids Keep the lid on the device until new shoots have formed. With both methods, if condensation develops, air the container occasionally. As soon as fresh, green shoots appear, remove the plastic bag or lid and carry on as appropriate for the relevant species.


You will now need some patience until the first flowers appear. Flowering maturity varies from one genus to another but you will, however, have to reckon with at least two to five years. In the meantime, the plant will grow leaves. It should be cared for in the same way as the parent plant.


Generative propagation and raising

Propagation of orchids from seed is difficult, time-consuming and as exciting as taking part in a lottery. Whether you have “won” or not will not become obvious until the seedlings have flowered for the first time.



The formation of seed is always preceded by pollination during which different genetic material is combined.

What plants can be crossed?

Successful pollination is possible between:

  • two different plants of the same species
  • two species of the same genus
  • hybrids of one genus with hybrids of another
  • hybrids with species.


You will need a pointed stick or tweezers and two mature orchid flowers in full bloom.

  • Using the stick or tweezers, remove the pollen from one flower. These male pollen carriers are usually situated behind a cap that has to be lifted up slightly.
  • Place the pollen grains that stick to your pollination instrument on the female parts of the other flower. In many orchids this part is slightly sticky so that the pollen grains will not fall off.
  • After pollination, attach a tag bearing the names of the parents to the stalk of the flower.
  • After a few days (often just hours later) the pollinated flower will suddenly wither.
  • The ovary will swell and, later, a capsule-shaped fruit is formed. This capsule must be allowed to ripen, which may be quick or slow depending on the species. These are a few average times: Cattleya: 10-12 months; Cymbidium 11-14 months; Odontoglossum 7-10 months; Paphiopedilum 8-10 months; Phalaenopsis 4-10 months; Vanda 15-20 months.
  • The seeds are ripe when the capsule is brown at the top or generally appears pale. Now you can cut it off.



If you want to try doing this yourself, you will need a proper seeding laboratory. Beginners usually send their harvested seed to a plant laboratory (ask a good orchid nursery) where the seed is treated under optimal conditions. If the seed is capable of germinating you will receive the seedlings back as pricked-out young plantlets in pots. You can then carry on growing the plantlets in a greenhouse or indoors in warm, humid, airy conditions.


Depending on the species or genus, from three to six years may pass from the moment of pollination until the first flowers appear. Then the moment of truth will finally arrive and at last you will be able to see the result of your own raising attempts.

Read more on successful methods of propagating orchids

09. December 2010 by admin
Categories: House Plants, Orchids, Orchids, Plants, Propagating Plants | Tags: , | Comments Off on Propagating and Potting Orchids


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