Orchid multiplication by seeds

Orchids aroused special interest in Europe during the last century, to such an extent that some specimens were sold for gold by collectors. Professionals and scientists of the time could not multiply them fast enough to meet the high demand.

Even today there are many doubts about how is the multiplication of the orchid by seeds among hobbyists, because if everyone discovered the mystery, in all probability we could enjoy these beautiful and elegant plants even more.

Table of Contents

  • 1 How do orchid seeds germinate in nature?
  • 2 Can orchids germinate without the fungus?
    • 2.1 How to sow orchid seeds?
      • 2.1.1 Tips to achieve a higher germination rate
  • 3 How important is the in vitro culture of orchids to the world?

How do orchid seeds germinate in nature?

The Cattleya is a tropical orchid

There are many plants that have established symbiotic relationships with other plants or other living beings. In fact, it has been discovered that in the same way that conifers grow much stronger if they find certain very special fungi in the soil where they grow to form mycorrhizae (symbiosis between fungi and roots), exactly the same happens with orchids with respect to its seeds.

This was discovered in the XNUMXth century, by the French botanist Noël Bernard. Microcurriza allows the seed to germinate in nature. Its operation is as follows: the fungus nourishes the seed, providing it with nutrients and water, and in return it feeds on carbohydrates and vitamins that he cannot produce in sufficient quantities.

Today this is not used as it is a very demanding method, as it also requires caring for the fungus.

Can orchids germinate without the fungus?

Over time it was found that the germination of the orchid is also possible without its inseparable fungus, simply choosing a soil rich in mineral salts, sucrose and other elements.

How to sow orchid seeds?

In vitro culture of orchid seeds

Image – Wikimedia / Forest and Kim Starr

The in vitro planting of this plant became fashionable in the 60s. Orchid seeds should be placed in well-nourished soil in a totally sterile environment. (a jug or a glass bottle). The seeds germinate, reach an intermediate stage and finally their leaves begin to grow. When the first 3-4 leaves grow, it is transplanted to another land more suitable for small orchids.

Its in vitro culture is usually successful, since the first flowering appears at 2-3 years, compared to the 7 years it takes to occur when it is in nature.

Tips to achieve a higher germination rate

In order for a greater number of seeds to germinate, we recommend the following:

  • SubstratumChoose for example crushed tree bark, or coconut fiber. It is very important that it be a new substrate, or at least sterilized.
  • Water: always use rain or without lime. It must be as pure as possible. It would also be worth the water for human consumption.
  • Locate Us from the seedbed: place it near a heat source, in an area protected from direct sun. This is very important as orchids are plants that grow under the shade of plants that are larger than they are.
  • Transplant: leave your seedlings in the container where they have germinated until they reach a size of about 5-7 centimeters. In this way, it will be easier for you to separate them and get them to pass the transplant.

How important is the in vitro culture of orchids to the world?

View of Laelia gouldiana orchid

Image – Flickr / Teresa Grau Ros

Orchids are plants that produce very small seeds, often less than 1 millimeter. In addition, they need this microrhizal fungus to germinate, so to ensure the new generation they produce thousands of seeds, sometimes up to more than 100. The problem is that of all those, only about 1% germinates.

And this, how could it be otherwise, has meant that there is a great variety of species that have been and are still in danger of extinction, because to this problem are added others such as loss of habitat, illegal logging, and the extraction of specimens from nature.

Thanks to in vitro cultivation, species such as laelia gouldiana, which is no longer growing naturally, is still alive in laboratories, specifically in germplasm banks. But not only it is cultivated in this way, but also practically all commercial orchids: Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium, Cambria, and a long etcetera, begin their life in a container that is usually made of glass.

It must be taken into account that these plants sometimes produce keikis, which are replicas that sprout from the mother plant, but not all species have every year, and it is not possible to know how many they will have. Instead, the multiplication by orchid seeds, even in vitro, is something that sooner or later will be a possibility for all species; not in vain, all of them will begin to flourish at some point in their lives.

And with this we are done. We hope that you have learned a lot about planting orchid seeds, and that you are encouraged to try 🙂. Getting ahead of yourself is not easy, but of course it is not impossible to get them to germinate.

Orchid multiplication by seeds

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