First stages after deflask

I’ve deflasked a number of times since my last post, just to get more experience and really find out what happens after deflasking. I’m sure if you’re new to this process or even contemplating of embarking on this journey, hold on tight, its going to be a wild ride.

Right at the beginning, the process is exhausting and laborious. It is also a very trying process. For this reason, I will go into details what will happen the moment you open the flask, up till the first root or leaf growth. What I can say from experience is: Don’t be easily discouraged or even give up at the first sign of failure. So here we go!

Potting medium

Different blooming size orchids have different requirements. Just like their adult versions, seedlings have their own individual needs as well. The only difference here is that seedlings require more attention and care, compared to their adult versions. This is because they are smaller, younger and have just been exposed to a ‘whole new world’.

Up till today, I have three types of orchid seedlings varieties, which I will break down:

Phals: I would recommend sphagnam moss with peanuts at the bottom of the pots. A lot of the phal seedlings have positive response to the water retentive media.

Sedirea japonica
Seedling with root and leaf growth
Phal hybrid seedlings
Phal hybrid seedlings growing well in sphagnam moss; deflasked on 20.03.20

Bulbophyllum: Mixture of leca, peat moss, bark and top layer with sphagnam moss. The seedling lay on top of a layer of sphagnam moss or I surround them with the moss. Bulbophyllum loves moisture but do not like being wet.

Bulbophyllum seedlings
Bulbophyllum seedlings thriving in potting mix; deflasked on 08.09.20

Cattleya: Mixture of leca, bark, sphagnam and peat moss. Cattleya seedlings love both moisture and dryness. It’d be best to have a watering routine, the drying out period between watering is crucial here.

96402795_228230628623053_3196810661686411264_n.jpg
Cattleya seedling with root growth; deflasked on 08.02.20

Watering

Seedlings are very fragile and small. This means that they do not have the capacity or space for excess water or nutrients. Especially because they are so small, care has to be taken to avoid crown rot. Hence, do not water with just a watering can.  

Solution: What I found worked best for me is to spray them with water. This way they can take in water from their leaves or just soak in a relatively moist medium. Please keep in mind here to provide enough ventilation and air flow. You can choose to use a spray bottle here or just a simple plastic bottle and poke a few holes in the bottle cap.

Spraying may not keep the potting medium wet or moist enough, therefore, you will need to observe daily if the media is sufficiently moist for the seedlings. Alternatively, as mentioned before, you may come up with a watering plan and soak the pots in water.

95662769_282189066144303_3659652383501189120_n.jpg
Crown rot because they got too much water from a sprinkler system

Root loss

Having not only a change in environment, but also a change in potting medium will result in seedlings losing their roots. Those of you who have repotted a blooming size phals, you know what I’m talking about. It is part of the deflasking process that seedlings lose their old roots, so with the help of the right potting medium, seedlings can regenerate roots to take in water and nutrients. This is the other part of deflasking that requires attention and care.

Why are the seedlings turning black and dying? 

You may have followed everything in the book but still notice that some of your seedlings are fading away with time.

Don’t panic.

Seedlings are just like any living organisms, there are weaker and stronger ones. As unfortunate and sad as it is to lose just one seedlings, be prepared to lose quite a few. This is why orchid seedpods have millions of seeds. Over the course of my learning journey, I’ve lost countless of seedlings and am just left with maybe one from a variety or none. At my highest successrate, I still have all of the seedlings from the same flask, and that’s four of them. I never understood why seedlings just fade and die, but came to realize that it is just part of nature.

In addition, being in a flask provides seedlings with 100% humidity levels. This is unrealistic and almost impossible to achieve at a home environment, unless you have a greenhouse or winter garden, where conditions can be adjusted the way seedlings need. Stronger seedlings will survive this transition, but weaker ones will not. So keep your head held high and move on! It’s better to focus your energy on those that are surviving and need more of your attention.

96519800_691477181628433_3552015190188883968_n.jpg
Same pot, same flask but one is thriving better than the other
96277520_2894704073918265_2110766453622833152_n.jpg
Cattleya seedling did not survive

 

Most ideal growing environment for seedlings? 

I do not have it but I should think a greenhouse or winter garden would be most ideal. If you’re like me and live in a humble apartment, what I offer to my seedlings is an orchidarium or a terrarium meant for orchids. It is somewhat like a terrarium for reptiles and I control air flow and humidity. These are the two important controlled variables that you have to keep in mind. Your seedlings will thank you in return.

96253987_662501970994443_3353614987040915456_n.jpg
My orchidarium, which includes a few other blooming size orchids

 

New Orchid Adventure: FLASKS!

So I’ve decided that it is time to step up the game and order me some orchid flasks. They’re very difficult to find in Germany… especially the glass kind with 30 or more seedlings. SO I got me small flasks instead and the only orchid species that were available (at the time of my search) was cattleya. That itself was a challenge for me because I don’t own any cattleyas and the one I had unfortunately died.

After I purchase the baby flasks and it finally arrived a couple of day later, I inspected the flasks. It is said that if the agar is shook or if the seedlings are covered with agar, they will need to be repotted immediately. Hence the check. One was okay and the other was not. However, to ensure that seedlings grow strong and healthy, I decided to keep them in for a couple of days and just observe if everything was alright. Otherwise, I will need perform an emergency repotting!

DEFLASKING BABY ORCHIDS

Finally a couple of days gone by… By the looks of things and the little seedlings covered with agar, I had to take them out and repot them. At first glance, every one looks pretty healthy and the bigger ones look very robust. I was very pleased to see them looking well. I did not use any desinfection or alcohol. I did not think it is necessary because they all look very strong and healthy to me. Then its off to preparing a growing area for these tiny babies.

Before removing the seedlings I had already soaked some sphagnam moss and washed some barks with seramis. The mixture I used is these three combined. If I had to estimate maybe 60% bark and seramis and 30% sphagnam moss. I read a lot of articles and many recommended this mixture.

CONTAINER/GROW BOX

Since I’m a fan of recycling and we had some plastic containers lying around for occasions like this, I washed one of them and proceeded to make holes into the sides. The container has to be closed to maintain humidity so making holes help with air flow and preventing mould build up.

POTTING MEDIA

First a good layer of bark and seramis at the bottom followed by sphagnam moss and repeat. Its sort of like making a lasagne.. come to think of it.. And you end up with the last layer with a little more sphagnam moss. Just to over the roots a little, encourage humidity and also to make sure the upper layer remains moist at all times.

The final product looks something like this:

WATERING

We have a habit of collecting rain water, so I usually use that to water all my orchids. Its PH neutral and has minerals that tap water does not have. I use rainwater to spray the seedlings. I do not water them often, since it is an enclosed space and very water retentive. When I see that the first layer is starting to dry out, then I will spray the seedlings a bit. At the moment, since they are still so young, they are not being fertilized.

LIGHTING

I have a lamp specifically for plants. But I don’t use it right now. The seedlings are positioned right next to a southern facing window. So they do get good light when its sunny outside. However, when it is cloudy or rainy, I will use the lights on them. I got it at amazon at a fairly reasonable price. There’s two options with the lights – blue and red. Blue light stimulates flowering and red growth to put it short and simple. Thats why I use red for the seedlings. I usually keep them on for 3 – 6 hours. There’s really no difference to be seen because I’m not consistant with its usage. I hope the seedlings can grow healthy and strong with sunlight whenever possible.

AFTER ONE WEEK

In this photo, the seedlings were in this mixture and container for a week now. I needed to have a closer look to see if they are adapting well and if everything was going well with them. From the looks of it, they are still going strong and the roots look good and thick.

I am very happy with the progress they’ve made. I’ve read that they should stay in this container for at least one year. Its a slow process but I believe a very rewarding one at the same time.

Watering Phalaenopsis Orchids

If you’re new to orchids or planning to start collecting orchids as a hobby, one inevitable problem that comes with orchids is stem or crown rot.

Crown rot is caused by a collection of water in the crown area, leading to a rot in the crown area (as suggested by its name). Stem rot is basically the same, just that the collection of water is found around the stem area.

Crown refers to the head of the stem. If water is accumulated in the crown or there is contact of water around the stem area, its best to immediately take a kitchen towel to soak up every last bit of water because the crown and stem are sensitive towards water. This will avoid the possibility of crown or stem rot.

What does water collection in the crown area means? It simply means that you might have thought watering orchids is just like watering any other plants, paying no attention to where the water ends up on the orchid. Especially for phalaenopsis orchids, extra attention has to be paid when it comes to watering. The safest way to water phalaenopsis orchids is to place the orchid in a bucket of water. Make sure that the level of water reaches just about the bottom of the orchid, without touching the stem.

I have ever made the mistake of not being precise with the level of water but I immediately remove any traces of water on the stem to prevent any stem rot.

Of course with every situation there are always exceptions. I have seen and read about orchid growers showering their orchids, meaning taking a water hose and sprinkling water on orchids.

I was appalled to find out that orchids are more than happy to receive showerings and having water on their leaves. I haven’t quiet master the technique of showering because some of my orchids did die because crown or stem rot. Thats why I would not recommend any beginners to shower their orchids. Factors could be environment as well as type of water used that I am not able to provide in my home. Most importantly, the orchids have the chance to dry off the water on them so there is no chance of crown or stem rot.

I think this is one of the areas of orchid care which as much as you try to avoid such mistake, it happens. So if it does, don’t blame yourself too much. Its a learning process and you will get better at it.

In order to decrease the chance of stem or crown rot, I have changed the potting medium of all of my orchids with a new set up! Stay tuned and sit tight for the next post!

Orchid flowers die after arriving home.. What now?

YIKES totally unexpected. Bringing home a new pot of orchids and what happens? The flowers start dying off just days after. This was definitely unexpected since knowing that the plant is a live one, why do the orchid flowers die so easily? Does this mean the orchid is slowly dying and the wilted flowers is a symptom of its upcoming death?

Take a breather and have an ice cream. Your orchid is still alive and kicking, even though its flowers are starting to wilt. The atmosphere and environment the orchid is used to has been shifted from a nursey (assuming it is bought from a legit flower nursey) to your home environment. Imagine dropping your kid off at day care on his first day. Same logic. The bigger the difference in the environment in the nursey and your home, the faster the blooms will shrivel and eventually die.

Sucks? Yeah it does, but there are ways where you can prolong the blooms on your orchid. One of those ways is by replicating the environment of its orgins. For example, introducing higher level of humidity. Another method which I found particularly useful is not to repot the orchid.

Obviously if the orchid is badly damaged and requires immediate repotting, losing its flowers should be the last concern. I always prioritize saving the mother plant because I can always get a new set of blooms later on, as long as the orchid is alive and doing well.

Hope this makes sense and I wish you the best of luck with your orchids! Till next time!

Trift store find – Cheap and environmentally friendly.

I don’t know about you guys but I am not one with expensive taste, nor do I think that expensive stuff looks automatically nice. Its all about the taste of the items picked and of course, if it all comes in together nicely.

SO! Let me show you some finds from a thrift store that I found interesting and well… suit my balcony garden too. Best of all, they don’t cost a ton and are enviornmentally friendly! 😃

Introducing…… **Drum roll please** Cheap solar lightings for the balcony! TADA! That’s the topic for today in this post. Just take a look at them….

I mean come on, who can resist some good solar powered lights in the balcony? I know its kinda hard to see but I have more!

Goodness gracious! No batteries needed and they still manage to light up so brightly. I love these solar lights.

Hope you guys are inspired to give thrift shops a chance and support their businesses as well! 😄

 

My very first orchid haul!.. For a while..

SOOOO! Exciting news! I’ve ordered three new orchids from an orchid breeder not long ago and it came this week!

This time round I chose three phalaenopsis hybrid just because I love orchids, especially phalaenopsis! They come in different sizes so I’m not limited to having huge plants around my already really cramped apartment! 😂 Guilty as charged.

Without further ado, lets get into business and there they are!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I know it is uninteresting that they’re not in bloom now and those are basically just photos of roots and leaves. I can assure you once they’re in bloom I will post the pictures so follow me for updates!

Some side notes: Phal stuartiana does not only have really pretty flowers, but when it is not in bloom, the leaves are also a really pretty sight! 😍

Phal Lius Cute Angel is quite a small phal, but I’m not sure if the plant remains tiny forever or its just for now. Definitely will update again! 😁 Flowers are tiny and therefore, space saving. 👍

Last but not least, Phal equestris have slimmer petals, which looks absolutely stunning and of course a refreshing change for a phal.

Alright, thats it for now and till next time for a new topic! 😀

Repotting an orchid is a mastery of its own.

In case you were wondering, this is the second part, following the previous post on rootless phals. So I’ve seen numerous youtube videos to educate myself on orchid care, since bringing one home. Some of them recommended repotting, mainly to check on the root systems and for snails, others well did not mention anything about repotting.

mde

And so the experiment begins. Heeding the advice of repotting, I decided to repot all my orchids regardless, just to be on the safe side. Now, repotting the orchids is not a bad idea and it really is not as easy as shown on youtube videos. I ended up smothering the roots, resulting (you guessed it) in rootless orchids because the roots died of suffocation.

mde

Now as much as I would like to contribute the death of the orchid roots on my poor gardening skills, it was also due to environmental change and change in potting medium. So imagine throwing yourself in a totally new climate maybe like north pole or something, your body and mind needs time to adjust to the surround climate and environment.

Same goes for the orchid and I natively thought that repotting the orchids was going to magically bring them back to optimal health since supermarkets are not exactly garden nurseries. With the overload on stress factors (ie change in environment, potting medium, poor repotting skills), I did eventually killed some (!emphasis on some as in maybe less than five!) orchids but am in the midst of saving one or two. Fingers crossed I hope they do survive growing new root system and adapting to my home environment!

mde

Rootless Phalaenopsis ≠ Dead Orchid Part 1

Unlike many other plants, if a Phalaenopsis orchid loses all its roots, it does not necessarily mean that it is 100% dead. Of course there are other signs that should be looked out for, in order to be sure if the orchid is dead or not.

Needless to say, if the leaves are yellowish or the steam is starting to rot as seen on the left, those are obvious signs that either the orchid needs immediate ICU care or the orchid cannot be saved anymore. So use those watchful eyes and look for signs of the orchids’ needs.

Back to the topic of Phals being practically unkillable and are very resilient plants…. Phals have the amazing ability to grow new roots even if all of the old roots are dead. In contrast to normal plants, Phals grow roots from their crown (! we mentioned in our last post that this is the mother ship of the orchid plant and the importance of keeping it healthy and water free!), which explains why Phals are able to survive being rootless.

According to an experiment I did on saving rootless Phals, mine grew new roots after about a couple of weeks in sphagnam moss. This method unfortunately does not apply for all Phals or maybe it does, but another Phal has not developed any roots despite the high level of moisture in its surrounding. Basically the control variables of the experiment was the environment, potting medium and pots. So if everything else is the same, the only cause attributing to the discrepancy of the end results must lie with the orchids itself. Therefore, the overall general health of the orchid as a fundamental prerequisition for the success of this technique is very crucial.

With this, the learning point to take home with you, is not to throw away Phals because they have no roots. Keep them and provide high level of moisture and they might actually be revived. Oh one more thing: Have Patience! Hope it is clear that my experiences are based on true actual events and results may vary, should there be any changes in the control variables mentioned above. Part 2 continues…..

To start off….. Understanding Phalaenopsis Orchid roots!

Introduction to my passion for Orchids.

I did not grow up in a household full of plants or was taught the art of gardening or anything like that. I was a normal kid who went to school and did what she had to do, went on to work full time and lead a normal life just like everyone else. Until one day, I came across a mini phalaenopsis and thought why not? It was not on sale but SO DIRT CHEAP. So I thought why not? And I guess (like everyone else who has not have ANY experiences with orchids) its just a plant. So how hard can it get? Oh boy…. very hard it turned out.

dav
Different sizes and faces phalaenopsis can have. 

Every common mistakes in killing an orchid I did it.

Yes guilty as charged. I did not do my homework before and even after having my first orchid and ended up killing it. Hands tainted, not guilty, I went about my days, thinking a dead orchid to add to my list of plants I’ve killed. None. The next sale of mini orchids appeared when I was shopping for groceries and I thought okay, give it a second go. Why? Because it was again DIRT CHEAP. Somehow this time round it was like my mom struck my head and told me to use my head to make sure this one survived. And I did. I did my research, took great care of it. And it still died on me. Verdict: My thumbs are just not green.

Mistake 1: Overwatering

So the first orchid I got was in Summer and I thought like any plants it needed a lot of water due to the heat. WRONG. Exactly the opposite.

Lesson learnt: Look at the roots. If its silvery, water. If its green, its fine. Just these two golden rules will ensure the longevity of orchids.

dav
Overwatered roots that the roots were starting to rot. 

Mistake 2: Crown rot

There are actually special watering cans solely for orchids and I used a normal watering can to water the orchid, resulting in crown rot. No idea what that was at first but I remembered seeing black steam and after the next couple of days, it was dead and gone, with still relatively green roots.

Lesson learnt: Here’s the thing: Unlike typical plants, orchids do not grown from roots, but the roots grow from its crown. So the crown is like the mother of the plant, the Queen Bee – if it dies, the whole orchid dies, regardless of its roots. No saving that one.

Mistake 3: Failed attempt at repotting

After getting myself educated from watching youtube experienced orchid growers, some did recommend repotting after purchase. My first experiment with orchids began with repotting. With absolutely no idea what I was doing, other than mimicking a youtuber’s every step, I did it again and had another orchid’s blood on my hands.

Lesson learnt: Study the orchid really carefully and access if it needs repotting. Obvious signs that scream REPOT ME are rotting roots or decomposed medium or snails in the roots. If the orchid falls sickly over the next few day being in the new environment, check thoroughly for the cause, it might be in the roots. Use a magnifying glass if needed.

dav
This orchid was a result of me changing its medium with absolutely no clue and it ended up being rootless.

All in all.

Growing and taking care of orchids is just like caring for any pets or plants. A watchful eye and alertness is required, if not, just let them be and they will live. I have learnt that hovering over them like a helicopter mom does not help at all and if they are left to do their thing, they will do better. This article is a guide for only phalaenopsis orchids and only the most common mistakes with orchid care has been highlighted. Just like humans, orchids may have underlying diseases or sickness, so always check the orchid carefully before purchasing them.

Hope this article is resourceful and helps any orchid growers starting or struggling with this hobby. Till next time!

IMG_20180501_105850_854[1]