Propagating Orchids

Although many other home and garden plants can be easily divided or even grown from seeds, orchid seeds are extremely small. Although single pod can contain over three million seeds, the seeds have practically no food reserve, and young plants are very susceptible to disease. To improve results, seeds are germinated and grown in flasks under sterile conditions in special nutrient solutions until they are at least 1/2 inch tall. The orchids that result from the seeds in a single pod can vary tremendously.

When propagating orchids from tiny seeds, special care must be taken. Young plants are kept in sterile vials.
Propagating orchids from their tiny seeds is a tremendous undertaking.
The young plants must be kept in sterile vials.

Because of the challenges orchid seeds present, for most orchid growers, propagation is limited to division of their existing plants. For quantity production, orchids can be grown by determined and talented individuals (often professionals) from seed or multiplied vegetatively from the culture of meristem tissue. Orchids can flower three to eight years after sowing.

In meristem culture, cells are taken from the growing points of the plant and placed in a suitable growing medium and environment until new plants are produced. Orchids produced from meristem culture are identical to the parent plant.

Many hybridizers use the laboratory services offered by large commercial growers to germinate their seed or propagate their favorite plant by meristem culture. Because the species or variety of orchid dictates the time for and the method of propagation, it is best to learn from a friend or from a local orchid society before trying this at home.

Now that you've learned all about growing and caring for orchids, explore the next page to start deciding what types of orchids you'd like to have in your orchid collection.

Check these resources to find more ideas and information on placing plants around your house:

  • Gardening: Whether it's vegetables, flowers, or foliage you're considering, the facts you'll need are here. Learn all the basics of successful gardening.
  • House Plants: Wondering what might look nice in your kitchen window? Find out which plants are happiest inside the house.