Ecuador orchid flask baby report

Masdevallia infracta seedling (2010-07-30)It was finally time to repot the little seedlings I bought from Ecuagenera in flasks at the orchid show in Gothenburg 2008. Since deflasking them I have grown them intermediate/warm in a small mini-greenhouse and communal pots with sphagnum moss. It is recommended you grow all small seedlings, even cool growers, a bit warmer but now I thought they had grown large enough to move into the cool vivarium with the grownups.

They have been progressing slowly, oh so slowly, over the past two years… you have to be very patient to grow orchids from flasks… I needed to deflask them almost immediately after arrival since the agar had begun to mold inside, you can see it in the first flask photo below, this slowed down their progress some. It is best to let them grow inside the flask as long as possible, until they no longer fit or the nutrients in the agar is spent. But at first sign of mold you have to take them out since mold can quickly overtake the whole flask, killing the seedlings. It is not unusual that you get mold however with pressure changes in air transport allowing air to get inside the sterile flasks. This is the chance you take when you buy flasks.

The Masdevallia were of a decent (but not great) size when I got them and established nicely outside the flask. I have an almost 100% survival rate among the Masdevallia infracta. The Dracula babies however were very small, less then a centimeter tall, and  I was unsure they would even make it at all. Many of them did not, but I have 3 very strong seedlings left. In all fairness, the Dracula babies would have done a lot better with a bit higher RH than I could provide in my nursery and many of them have simply whithered away. Unfortunately most of the Masdevallia decumana babies were lost to mold when we were away on vacation about a year ago, I have one very tiny seedling left, we’ll see how it does now…

Dracula cordobae flask babies - mold! (2008-10-04)Masdevallia decumana (2008-12-13)Flask babies: Masdevallia infracta and decumana (2009-01-19)Dracula cordobae flask babies (2008-10-04)Orchid flaskbaby nurseryMasdevallia infracta seedlings (2010-07-30)Masdevallia infracta seedlings (2010-07-30)Masdevallia infracta seedlings (2010-07-30)Dracula cordobae seedlings (2010-07-30)

I mounted the Dracula babies on EpiWeb and potted all the Masdevallia in a couple of communal mesh pots in EpiWeb substrate. The easiest way to do this without damaging the roots is to simply sandwich the seedling between 2 or 3 pieces of EpiWeb nuggets, then place them side by side in the pot kind of like stacking Lego. I am looking forward to seeing them thrive now, all and all, the cool vivarium can provide much better growing conditions for these little guys. It was as fun windowsill project though and I am satisfied with the results.

About the Author:

Karma is a digital nomad graphic artist and writer, orchid nerd and long-distance hiker from Gothenburg, Sweden. Former editor-in-chief for the Swedish Orchid Society magazine, published internationally and held lectures on orchid culture.


  1. mic August 2, 2010 at 22:35 - Reply

    Great job indeed!!
    By the way, have you ever tried other mediums for deflasking beside sfagnum moss?
    I noticed that seedling on sfagnum moss tend to grow extremly slow. Now I’m trying semi-hydroponic also for deflasked seedling and gowth seems to be very very fast, I can almost notice growth on a daily basis, especially for roots.
    I was wondering if semi-hydroponic could also work for deflasking of other genera.

  2. Lisa August 3, 2010 at 00:36 - Reply

    Oh, they were such cute flask babies!
    Where did you get your mini-greenhouses? I’ve been using the good old Ziploc bag method on my seedlings, but I would like something a little….classier. 🙂

  3. Karma August 3, 2010 at 10:03 - Reply

    Thanks a lot guys! 🙂

    Mic, no I have not tried other mediums for deflasked seedlings, at least not yet. But semi-hydro sound like an interesting choice. I grow a few orchids in semi-hydro with volcanic rocks (my Phragmipedium mainly) and they are doing very well. Perhaps I will try moving a few seedlings over in this and see if there is any difference. I have a few Dendrobium seedlings that seem to be standing still!

    Lisa, I bought my mini-greenhouses in the garden center at the local builders store (K-Rauta). I am not sure of where you live, but it is made by Lord Nelson perhaps you can find it where you live too. I think they work quite well, definitely classier than ziploc bags… 😉

  4. mic August 3, 2010 at 13:26 - Reply

    thank you for the reply.
    I forgot to tell you that the seedling I’ve tried with semi-hydroponic are phalaenopsis. Please post any experiment you might be trying on other genra.

  5. Karma August 3, 2010 at 15:02 - Reply

    Anytime. 🙂 I have a few different genera I can enroll in the experiment. I will report back with the results.

  6. Lisa August 4, 2010 at 05:09 - Reply

    Thanks! I’m in the US (Louisiana). Now that I know who makes them, I’m hoping that I can find someone that sells them online or find something similar.
    Haha…yes…definitely classier. 😉

  7. Alina August 31, 2010 at 20:28 - Reply

    Hi, Karma.
    Thank you for your such impressive blog. I read it regulary ang get a lot of useful information. I live in St.Petersburg and started growing orchids 6 month ago but have little experience with flasks. I like to watch them growing)))

  8. Karma September 1, 2010 at 10:36 - Reply

    Thanks Alina! It is nice to hear that you enjoy my blog. 🙂 Good luck with your flasks, I too really enjoy following the development of the little ones from seedling to flower.

    PS! I removed your link since it was a blacklisted adress. If you did not know that you might want to talk to your web host or provider.

  9. Larz Kremer September 21, 2010 at 15:58 - Reply

    I’ve been purchasing orchid flasks/compots of late, they arrive in agar (sp.) When I pot them out, should I just lay the rooting medium and small seedlings on fine planting medium such as Aussie Gold, or should I separate each little plant? There are probably about 20-30 plants per plastic covered compot I’ve received. Should I keep moist and covered after repotting? Thanks so much!

  10. Karma September 21, 2010 at 16:34 - Reply

    Agar or agar-agar (you spelled it correctly) is from red algae and is basically just used to solidify the nutrient solution so the seeds don’t drown when you sow. When you deflask the seedling it is best to thoroughly wash the agar solution clean from the seedlings as it is highly susceptible to molding when exposed to air. I usually use a strainer for this and run it under tepid water. Next I place the clean seedlings in a bath with a very mild fungicide solution (about 1/4 to 1/2 of recommended dose) for 10-15 minutes while preparing the community pot. I have never used (or even seen) Aussie Gold, but it sounds fine for the purpose. I usually use sphagnum moss for mine. You want to carefully plant each seedling so the newborn and sensitive roots are covered with a loosely packed layer of media. You can put them pretty close together both to save space and to keep the humidity a little higher around the seedlings. Keep evenly moist – but not wet – after planting. Best to keep them in a small nursery vivarium or tub so the RH remain even and high and they gradually get them hardened and used to the “real world”.

    You can read more in detail exactly how I deflask my orchid seedlings here: Deflasking orchids. Good luck!!

  11. Ron Hanko September 21, 2010 at 22:02 - Reply

    Very interested to see how you treat your seedlings. I, too, use sphagnum, but am interested in the epiweb as a choice and the sh method sounds tantalizing.

  12. Karma September 22, 2010 at 10:03 - Reply

    Thanks Ron. I have not tried placing seedlings straight from flask to EpiWeb or semi-hydro. But the 1-2 year old Masdevallia and Dracula seedlings I moved to EpiWeb this summer are thriving!! Probably more due to the improved conditions in the cool viv than the growing media, but still. I will try and take some photos and write an update. I also just moved a lot of 4 Paphiopedilum sanderianum seedlings into semi-hydro with volcanic rocks last weekend – Mic I promised you an experiment, here it is. 🙂 I will photo these guys too…

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