This is how i care for my orchids babies. I am by no means an expert, but so far my orchid babies are all doing really good.
Dealing with tiny orchid seedlings out of flask
How I do it
- Gently coax out of the plants out of their bottles, jars or tubes.
- Carefully remove the agar, any debris and dead or damaged plant material since it easily rots.
- Rinse the plants in lukewarm water. If you want, put them in a weak anti-fungus solution for about 20 min. There are various arguments here… some say it is good others are against it. You can decide what you want to do, but damage to the leaves or roots from the freight can lead to rot, so I choose to treat. I put my Sphagnum moss an even weaker solution of the anti-fungus solution.
- Place the plants on newsprint for a fe minutes to dry off (I let them remain just as long as it took to prepare my mini-greenhouses).
- Place the moist medium, I chose about 5 cm of Sphagnum moss cut into small pieces, in a basic plastic tupperware or old (sterilized) deli tubs.
- Put in the plants, quite close to one another as it helps them cope. Then, gently and cover the roots with your choice of medium.
- Put a layer of washed and sterilized leca in the bottom tray (I bake mine in the oven) and fill with water almost to the top of the leca layer. I like to put in about 2-3 cm leca so I can have a lot of water in the tray so it does not evaporate too quickly.
- Then place the tub on top of the leca layer into a mini-greenhouse or similar. Mini-greenhouses are good since they come with a lid that has adjustable vents already (I washed out of my greenhouse with a weak bleach solution and then I washed thoroughly with water before I planted.)
- Spray the whole plant tub with water, or water with a very, very (!) weak fertilizer. Some say that you should wait a week or two before fertilizing. The roots are sensitive and a strong solution can burn the new roots. Spray easy, but often as soon as the top surface starts to dry out, babies should never get completely dried out!
- sible. The bed of leca with water helps, and spraying the walls with water helps too. Keep the leaves moist to prevent the babies from drying out.
- Place in low light, (70% light) (almost Phalaenopsis light) to begin with (I just shade my mini-greenhouses with a white polyester ‘sail’ for a few weeks).
- After a few days, you can lift the lid and water. Add a super-weak fertilizer to the water if you want.
- After a week or two, you can begin to open and ventilate a bit to begin hardening the plants. Start with one hour per day and extend slowly so you can remove the lid completely after a month. Although I prefer to add a small computer fan to one of the two vents blowing in rather than removing the lid since I can control the RH in the greenhouse better that way (I aim for RH 60-70% inside at all times.).
- The temperature varies depending on what you grow, but generally 20-24C work for the most part, even for the cooler growers. I use a heat mat, the same you use for reptiles under my greenhouses to keep the temp up in the winter. The leca and water barrier actually makes for a perfect insulator and the temp hold steady at about 20 (n) -24 (d) degrees.
- If you see mold starting to grow you are watering too much. Let it dry out more between watering and treat with anti-fungus solution if needed (I use ‘Fungital’, it is very mild and ingredients are similar to dish soap…). Things can go south fast if it starts to go bad so keep an eye on the little ones.
- After about 3-4 weeks, you should begin to see signs of growth (albeit slowly), either new roots or leaves.
- After 18-26 weeks, when the plants have hardened enough they can be planted out in their own pots, and again put in a shady spot for a couple of weeks before they can be treated as adult plants of the same species.
- Now you just have to wait. Within 1-4 years your bottle babies will be of flowering size.
More on how other people do this
More great links about deflasking orchids
How to flask orchids (grow from seed)
A few success stories
Paphiopedilum bellatulum (it turned out to be a bellatulum cross of some kind, but it is still nice) – Seedling Equatorial Plant Co, deflasked in August 2008. First bloom 3 years and 7 months later (2011-04-22).
Dendrobium cyanocentrum f. blue – Seedling Equatorial Plant Co, deflasked in August 2008. First bloom 1 year and 6 months later (2010-03-20).
Promenaea rollinsonii – Seedling Equatorial Plant Co, deflasked in August 2008. First bloom 1 year and 9 months later (2010-05-30).