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.