Growing an orchid from seeds - chimera or reality?

Growing an orchid from seeds - chimera or reality?

The blooming orchid is mystically beautiful and attractive. This plant has always been popular, despite the hefty price tag at the flower shop. Until recently, it was out of the question to propagate an orchid yourself at home, because this business seemed incredible due to the size of the seeds and their wayward nature.

What is this miracle orchid?

The history of the origin of the orchid has long been akin to mythological tales and legends. Some peoples considered the rainbow to be the foremother of this wonderful flower when it split into many pieces, while others are convinced that the orchid grew exclusively in the place where the beautiful Aphrodite lost her shoe. But no matter how they differ in opinions, both of them consider this plant a symbol of rebirth, beauty and great love.

The orchid loves to sprout right in the trees.

Care summary

If you do not take into account the myths and legends of the flower world and turn to the real world of science, you can find out that the very first orchids were discovered more than 130 million years ago, although they spread in China and Japan only 2 centuries BC.

Orchid species number in the tens of thousands

In those days, orchids were considered a group of medicinal plants, and this was also mentioned by Confucius in his writings.... In European countries, the orchid appeared not so long ago, just a couple of centuries ago, but during this time the number of its species reached 30 thousand.

For the opportunity to grow this flower culture in indoor conditions, I must say thanks to botanical scientists. True, caring for an orchid can be a lot of trouble for a beginner, but amateurs and professionals promise a gratefully flowering plant if the needs of the orchid are met in time, applying special knowledge of caring for it.

Lighting is very important for an orchid, but it must be wisely chosen. This flower loves bright, but certainly diffused light.

The orchid should be able to shade from direct rays

Direct sunlight will not destroy the orchid immediately, but it will brighten and stretch the leaves without any prospect of blooming. If you shade the window a little with tulle or thin lutrasil, the orchid will regularly delight with color.

From autumn to spring, a period of dormancy begins and it no longer makes sense to shade the window, since solar activity will also come to naught. In this important period of time for a flower, shoots ripen and the plant lays buds for the next season. It is better to lower the ambient temperature for the rest period a little and keep it within 13 ° C-18 ° C, while in the summer season the upper limit can rise to 27 ° C, and the lower one is better left the same. This is due to the fact that under natural conditions the orchid tolerates good temperature drops and this contributes to its active flowering.

After a long and correct dormancy period, the orchid will delight you with abundant color

Orchids should be watered abundantly, especially in the most active phase of growth, but in winter the amount of moisture consumed is halved. It is worth noting that drought is not as dangerous for an orchid as a bay, so you need to water the flower carefully and it is better to do it under the shower, or leave the flower pot in a container with warm water for 15 minutes, and then let the excess moisture drain.

Video: how I water an orchid

Orchid propagation by seeds

Growing an orchid yourself is a great temptation and additional stars on a florist's shoulder straps, but when faced with unexpected difficulties in the breeding process, many already at the initial stages abandon this business, not believing in their own strengths or simply ruining the material.

And all because orchid seeds are unable to germinate in the usual conditions for other plants - in the ground, and beginner growers with great enthusiasm sow orchids into ordinary earthy soil, dooming the seeds to inevitable death.

The structure of the seed, by the example of which one can understand what the orchid seed is deprived of

The thing is that the seed material of the orchid does not contain endosperm, in other words, it does not have any nutritional reserves and the embryo receives nutrition exclusively from the substrate, which must have a supernatural environment. That is why in the wild, orchids grow in symbiosis with fungi, including lower ones.

Where to get seeds

An orchid seed is about 15 thousand times smaller in comparison with a wheat grain, that is, it is completely indistinguishable to the human eye without the appropriate optics. That is, collecting orchid seeds is, in principle, difficult even to imagine, and even more so to germinate them. It is possible to harvest an orchid seed crop only in an equipped laboratory, and therefore, when asked whether orchid seeds are on sale, flower shop sellers only silently smile. But mother nature did not leave her orchid children without the opportunity to reproduce and compensated for the small size of the seed by its quantity.

Opened Orchid Seed Boll

One orchid flower forms a seed box, which contains from 3 to 5 million seeds, and due to their low weight, any breeze carries this dust around all the surroundings. The seeds settle on trees and undergo rigorous natural selection.

Video: seed capsule development (5 months)

Seeds are a set of identical cells that are unable to develop independently. Even in the right environment, few are lucky to break through to the light, and by a miracle the germinated seed can be considered a nodule-like formation, which is also called proto-feed. The seed can stay in this state for a couple of years, if it is not specially stimulated in any way.

Video: Seed capsule development (8-9 months)

The seeds ripen for about eight months, the ripening period can be up to 90 days, but this depends on the size of the flower, the age of the plant, the intensity of light, the season and many other factors important for the development of the plant. Ludisia discolor seed, for example, matures within a month, but this is a rare species of orchid.

At that moment, when the seed pod has already fully grown, a napkin in the form of a pocket is tied to it from below so that the seed dust does not crumble when cracking.

Orchid seed dust on white sheet of paper

When ripe, the capsule usually darkens and becomes brown in color, but sometimes it can remain green. When, by all indications, it is time to harvest the seed, carefully cut off the box and pour the seeds onto a clean sheet of paper.

Video: the seed box is ripe

How to germinate

The safest way to germinate seeds is not to use flower pots or seedling containers, but glassware and, best of all, a special, chemical-type flask with screw caps. These containers must be re-released. To do this, use a pressure cooker or autoclave, if possible. Glass containers are boiled or poured over with steam for about an hour (in an autoclave this happens within 30 minutes, but the temperatures there also exceed the usual 100 degrees).

The germination substrate must also be sterile. As a substrate for the germination of orchid seeds, crushed sphagnum moss or a mixture of agar-agar polysaccharides, which are obtained from seaweed, is used, and it is known to everyone as a raw material for edible gelatin.

Agar Agar Raw Material Powder

It is enough to hold the moss in warm water with the addition of phytoverm, or you can quickly boil it, but then it will lose its bactericidal properties, and it will not be easy to maintain the acidity level in sphagnum, it must stay within 4.8–5.2 ph.

Fresh sphagnum moss

Agar-agar is brought to a boil and, after cooling, turns into a jelly-like form, but is poured into sterile flasks while still hot and liquid. A hot agar base with appropriate additives is poured into a container by 30% by volume, closed with a stopper and boiled again for 30 minutes in a pressure cooker or in an ordinary saucepan on the stove.

Video: preparing for seed germination

There are also special artificial substrates in the form of hydrogels, which play the role of a base in the preparation of a nutrient mixture for germination.

The nutrient medium for germination must be rich in sugars and other elements.

This is how Knudson's nutrient medium looks like: jelly-like turbid mass

Under laboratory conditions, up to half of its volume of fructose and glucose is added to agar-agar per liter of water. And when preparing a mixture at home, Knudson's medium is often used, which can be bought in specialized flower shops, and its high productivity is noticed.

But in practice, they use its modified and simplified form according to the Cherevchenko method. To prepare it, you need to take a liter of water and dilute it in it:

  • one gram of calcium nitrate;
  • a quarter gram of potassium phosphate;
  • the same amount of magnesium sulfate;
  • half a gram of ammonium sulfate;
  • 0.05 grams of iron chelate;
  • the same amount of sodium humate;
  • one gram of activated carbon;
  • a tablespoon of sugar;
  • 10 grams agar agar.

For the convenience of measurement, one gram of a loose substance can be taken as a standard as a third of an ordinary thimble, and 0.05 grams - at the tip of a knife. In the resulting mixture, orchid seeds sprout en masse, the main thing is to keep the mixture in a sterile and closed container at the correct temperature.

Often, amateur flower growers prepare a nutrient mixture from improvised means, for example, for half a liter of unsalted tomato juice and the same amount of distilled water, dilute Vito's fertilizer in liquid form and add a glass of starch with a tablespoon of sugar.

Before placing seeds in the mixture, it is important to go through the sterility control, namely, to leave closed sterile containers with the substrate sterilized inside for five days. If mold appears inside by the end of the period, then the sterilization process will have to be repeated.

If the mixture is ready for planting, then it remains to disinfect the seeds. For this, a calcium hypochlorite solution is usually used, in which you need to keep the seeds for 10 minutes, and then immediately transfer them to the substrate using a pipette. The solution is prepared simply: two teaspoons of bleach are diluted in half a glass of water and the mixture is shaken for half an hour.

Planting germinated material

So, having disinfected the dishes and the substrate separately, and then again together, there is still a risk of bringing disease-causing spores into the clean environment along with the seeds, so the seeds treated with bleach are transferred to a sterile substrate only through steam treatment. To do this, a grate is placed over a pot of boiling water, on which containers with a nutrient mixture are placed for germination inside. Seeds are removed from the chloride solution with a sterile pipette and placed in flasks or jars directly above the steam. The whole procedure must be done very quickly.

Video: trying to plant

The seeded containers are carefully sealed with cotton swabs (sterile, of course) and left in a warm place (18–23 ° C) with a duration of illumination for at least 12–14 hours.

At home, even the most pedantic housewife has a bunch of sources for bacterial contamination of flasks. Therefore, before the procedure, it is necessary to disinfect all objects and tools that will be used in the process of preparing the mixture and placing seeds in their greenhouses. It is recommended to use sterile surgical gloves and a gauze bandage on the face.

Video: planting seeds

We transplant seedlings

It is possible to grow sprouted orchid seeds on ordinary, that is, non-sterile, soil only after a year. Seedlings are pulled out of flasks or jars by washing. To do this, a certain amount of water is poured into the container and shaken in a circular motion. Thus, the germination mixture is washed out with water and the seedlings can be easily separated from the substrate.

For the new orchid bed, shredded tree bark, preferably pine, and sphagnum moss are used.

chemical vessel, very convenient for handling small parts and liquids

At the bottom of the container, a drainage layer of scrap material, pebbles or expanded clay is necessarily laid out. The diluted mixture with seedlings is poured into a shallow transparent dish with sides, adding a couple of drops of a foundationol solution, and the seedlings are transferred to a new substrate using a brush. It is most convenient to use a Petri dish as a dish.

The air humidity in the area of ​​a new orchid bed must be maintained at the same level as for adult orchids, about 60%. Temperature and lighting remain the same as during germination.

Video: orchid sprouts

How long to wait for an orchid?

As already noted, the seed pod can mature within three months, and this is the shortest period. Most often, it begins to crack only at 8-9 months.

Orchid seedlings ready to be washed out of a sterile environment

The seeds sown in the nutrient mixture will also germinate from three months to a year, and the unpicked seedlings will wait for a separate pot for another couple of years. An orchid transplanted to a permanent place will bloom in the third year of its independent development.

If you take into account the entire process of reproduction, from the setting of the seed pod to the flowering of a new orchid, then it can drag on for seven long years. This is if you round up. But, subject to all conditions for the favorable development of each stage, the terms can be significantly reduced.

Possible problems

As it probably already became clear from the article, the first thing that can be done in order for everything to go wrong is to poorly process the sowing container, substrate, seed, or ignore the sowing point above the steam. Simply put, to let in the unfavorable bacterial microflora, which will devour the nutrient mixture and the seeds will die of hunger or become food for the fungus.

The second most common mistake is impatience. Remember, if you checked the substrate for sterility and did everything according to the instructions, the only thing that remains is the most difficult thing - to wait. There were times when the flower growers did not have enough patience, and they filmed the process, as they believed that the idea had failed. Meanwhile, it was enough to leave everything as it is, because some processes are simply not visible to the human eye, but this does not mean at all that they do not proceed and do not move us closer and closer to the final goal.

Sometimes it happens that a person is faced with circumstances that are completely beyond his control and, having traveled all the way without hesitation, he is faced with curious facts. For example, it turns out that the orchid from which the seeds were removed has strong immunity and it simply is not able to become infected with the fungus, that is, the seeds will not be able to receive nutrition and will not germinate. Or a completely opposite situation may arise, when the immunity is weak and the fungus will simply absorb the seed.

It is important to create the necessary mutually beneficial balance of the two environments for a sustainable symbiosis aimed at results.

Orchid sprout in an ordinary test tube with a nutrient mixture

This is not easy to do, because even in nature, the chance of reproduction in orchids is very small, and in laboratory conditions, seed reproduction of an orchid also takes several years. Let the process not be started the first time, but sooner or later it will go on the right track and fragile, but charming orchid seedlings will appear.

Step-by-step process

  1. The first thing to do is to determine the maturity of the boll.It usually turns brown and starts to crack.

    Ripe orchid seed pod, not yet cracked

  2. As soon as it became clear that the seed box is ripe, it is necessary to tie it with a napkin so that it does not lose the material during cracking.
  3. After cracking the seed pod, pour the seeds onto a sheet of paper in a bag or other convenient container.

    Orchid seeds on white leaf

  4. Using the most acceptable recipe, prepare a nutrient mixture for germination or purchase a ready-made one at a flower shop.

    nutritious germination jelly mixture

  5. Glass containers for germinating seeds, together with lids, are disinfected by boiling or steaming.

    Sterilizing cans by boiling

  6. Place the substrate in the treated containers and heat treatment again

    Any glass containers with a tightly screwed lid are suitable for germinating orchid seeds.

  7. We leave the sealed containers with the mixture for observation for 5 days in order to check for sterility. If the substrate in the container has passed the test, proceed to the next step.
  8. In a chloride solution, we disinfect the seeds for a few minutes and immediately plant them on a sterile substrate through hot steam using a pipette.

    planting seeds through steam on a sterile substrate

  9. Seeds in closed and sterile containers should be kept in the light at a temperature not lower than 20 ° C. seeds will begin to germinate no earlier than after 3 months.

    germinated orchid seeds in sterile solution

  10. Seedlings are transplanted from sterile containers into a spacious container with a bark substrate and installed over a hood to create the effect of a greenhouse.

    Grown orchid seedlings on a bark substrate

Video: how to grow an orchid from seeds at home

Seed reproduction requires maximum concentration of attention, one wrong step and you can start the whole process over again. It is necessary to be extremely careful and diligent in order to admire the flowers of those plants, which, before your eyes, have turned from seed dust into a gorgeous flower of the orchid family, only after five or even six years. But, leaving the irony, I would like to note that, despite all the seeming improbability of the process, the work invested will be rewarded without a doubt!

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Growing orchids from seeds at home: difficult, but possible

It is difficult to find an amateur florist who is indifferent to orchids. This is a masterpiece created by nature itself. They are deservedly called "aristocrats of the plant world." Flowers simply fascinate with their tenderness and elegance, as well as a variety of shapes, colors and aromas. They can resemble tropical butterflies, birds, ballerinas, even slippers and lizards. Despite the fact that orchids are demanding to care for and are rather reluctant to breed at home, very few growers are ready to give up their pets. Until recently, it was believed that growing them from seeds was impossible in principle, but now there are chances, although the technology is complicated, and the procedure requires its exact adherence. But even in this case, success is not guaranteed.

What are they and how they grow

Orchids (Orchidaceae) are a family of herbaceous perennials. They grow everywhere, from tropical latitudes to forest tundra. However, the most beautiful varieties of the plant, characterized by exotic coloring and the shape of large flowers, grow in the tropics. It is impossible to name the exact number of orchid varieties. Today there are about 3500 of them (including hybrid ones).

Most orchids have an epiphytic or semi-epiphytic way of life. They live in trees, parasitize them and use them as a support. The moisture of the plant is drawn from the atmosphere by air roots covered with velamen.

According to the characteristics of growth, orchids are divided into 2 groups:

  1. Sympodial. After the first shoot reaches a certain strength and size, its growth point disappears. However, then its rhizome creates a new point, from which bursts of shoot subsequently grow. Sympodial flowers grow in one direction.
  2. Monopodial. Their growing point is the apical shoot bud. It is present throughout the life of the plant and disappears only at the end of its life cycle. These orchids tend upward. Peduncles and lateral shoots originate from buds located in the leaf axils. Usually, adult monopodial orchids look like vines or their leaves eventually collect into a rosette.

What an orchid looks like depends on its variety. In some of them, one cannot suspect the presence of family ties, even distant ones. The sizes of flowers sometimes reach a meter in diameter. Coloring can be any.

Moreover, the structure of all of all orchids is of the same type. The top consists of 3 sepals, which often grow together to form a petal. The lower part is 2 real small petals, between which there is a third - a sponge. The latter has a nectary and sharply contrasts in color with the petals. Orchid flowers often form inflorescences.

Orchid seeds are located in a capsule fruit. Their length is 0.35-3.5 mm, and their width is 0.07-0.3 mm. Orchid seeds look like yellowish dust. The capsule can contain up to 4 million seeds. In the open air, the wind blows them. This is how these plants are adapted to reproduce in the wild. The embryo is even more difficult to see, since it is even smaller. Its length is 0.04-0.25 mm, and its width is 0.05-0.2 mm.

How do they look?

Orchid seeds are very small and can easily be mistaken for dust.
Their size is 15 thousand times smaller than the size of a grain of wheat. In addition, they, unlike other seeds of most crops, which have a supply of nutrients or endosperm, have an insignificant amount of it in the embryo.

How do such vulnerable seeds exist in nature and enable orchids to reproduce? The point is their number. One orchid flower is capable of producing from 3 to 5 million seeds and due to their low weight and size, they are easily carried by the wind, settling on the bark of trees. However, not all of them will be destined to turn into adult flowers; only a few of those fixed on the tree will do this. This is harsh natural selection.

Watch the video: How to Grow Phalaenopsis Orchids From Seeds