Saturday, August 9, 2008

Timeline: Momma Plant to Flowering Daughter

At the prompting of Swamprad, I've decided to chat a bit more about my orchid breeding attempts. I thought a good place to start might be a time line of the waiting game that is making new plants. This is just an estimated framework based on Phalaenopsis plants. I plan to expand on some details later. Please note this is based on growing plants at home in Maryland.

** Agonize over what combinations to make. 1 week.
* Pollinate flower. Drop pollen. Bark swear words. Get down on floor and look for it. Pollinate flower. 15 min.

* Wait. Wait some more... If a cross succeeds in making seeds, it will take on average 6-12 months to mature. In many genera, you can harvest the pod before it is fully mature, though, which actually makes handling the seed easier. If its going to fail miserably, it can do so at any time.

* Harvest the pod, sterilize, and sow. 1-2hrs.
* Wait. Germination times vary considerably. Typically I find phals will germinate in less than 2 months if they're going to do it. Lets say time on this is 1 month to 1 year.

* I usually let the protocorms gain a little size before transplanting, sometimes even with a little primordial leaf forming. They're not more than little green dots when they appear. Add 2-6 months.

* Transplant to new media, once or twice, continuing in flask for another 8 months to 2 years.

* Move seedlings to compots. Grow on 12 - 18 months.
* Pot out to individual pots. Grow on 6 - 24 months.

** At this point the plants are usually near blooming size or in some cases even first bloom size already. They might take a year or so to actually make the first few flowers. Adding all this up, it takes around 4 to 7 years to get the first couple flowers on your plants from the time a cross is made. Getting to mature size takes longer. In addition to plain time, how fast they get to bloom also depends on the genetics and environment/culture.


swamprad said...

Well, all this is impressive to say the least. So you sow your seeds yourself? Amazing. And I see you grow the little guys in spaghnum. How do you treat the seedlings as compared to mature plants, i.e., wetter, warmer, never let them dry out, etc.? I've found a source for a compot of Paph. concolor that I want to get, but I'm not sure what special care it will require (I've never had a compot before, and I only have a very few small paph seedlings, but they seem happy enough).

ryc: Settlers of Catan really is a fun game, and I'm not a game lover, as a rule. Wholesome family stuff.

SapphireChild said...

I give the little dudes a harsh treatment of live or die. They mostly get treated the same as adults, but I do try to make sure they don't stay dry as long as older plants might. (when growing phals in sphagnum, I usually let it dry until its nice and crunchy before watering) Generally I find the media is starting to dry out and is pretty spent by the time the plants come out so this isn't as much shock as you might think and it has the added benefit of minimizing fungus.

However, once upon a time I would put a wee dome made from a sawed-off water bottle without cap over each compot for the first couple months. Plants treated this way do in fact grow faster initially, but you have to check and some times spray for infections. I don't do this anymore because it takes up extra space. Can't have that!

The paphs mostly live in the basement, where humidity is naturally higher, and are potted in a mixture of sphagnum and my regular paph mix.

Depending on your lighting situation you might choose something mild for them straight out of flask, especially if you don't know what conditions they came from, or if its a high light plant. (after all, high light + glass jar = cookout, so you'll have to harden off cattleyas and the like)

Compots should be all ready to go if they're established. Grow like anything else, adjusting for pot size only.

where may I ask is this source? :D Sounds interesting... do they have malipoense?