A blog post two days in a row; this is most definitely a recent record for me!
I got a very nice surprise this week when my friend had a visitor from Costa Rica: he brought me two types of in vitro orchids! I have never tried growing orchid seedlings before, so this will be a really cool challenge for me.
What are in vitro orchids, anyway? They are orchids that have been artificially produced from seed in a lab under highly controlled conditions. The seedlings are transplanted into vials or flasks containing nutrient-rich gel and should be allowed to grow inside for a certain amount of time (these specific species’ instructions stated two to four months) before being removed and potted. It’s important to note that these orchids are not grown from seeds taken in the wild; that would be illegal. The package states that “they come from the reproduction of the very best mother plants of Costa Rica.” And apparently, these packaged in vitro orchids are even available at the airport in Costa Rica. Sounds like I need to take a little vacation down there. 🙂
So, let’s take a look at my new goodies, shall we? The first is an Epidendrum schomburgkii:
I very carefully removed the orchid from the gel using a pair of clean tweezers and rinsed its roots to clean the gel off. It is SO small and delicate that I was afraid I was going to rip it apart while removing it, but it came away from the gel quite easily. How cute is this?!
The package came with a “starter square” of sphagnum moss, which the directions said to soak in a quarter cup of water. So I did that, and then after it had absorbed the water I squeezed the excess moisture out and potted the orchid into a teeny pot with it. And I didn’t forget to label it!
The directions say to keep the plant in low light conditions with high humidity for at least the first month, and that you can place the pot inside a closed translucent container during that time as long as you allow for regular air circulation. I happened to have a clean translucent salad bowl that I was going to use for an African violet watering system, but I decided to use it to cover this orchid instead, like the crappiest-looking bell jar in the world.
The second orchid flask actually contained five orchids! Five Brassia verrucosa, to be exact.
My friend actually removed these from the vial and potted them into a container for me—he said they had started to grow a little fungus in the vial. So here they are in a clear plastic food container with moss:
They are so adorable! A couple of them look like they may not be doing too great, so I’m going to keep a close eye on them. I wondered if I should pot them individually, but after a bit of Googling I decided to keep them together for now—I read that seedlings actually like to be close together. This article and this article have some good information on growing seedlings, so I know I’ll refer back to them as these little guys grow.
The included directions for both of these types of orchids say that after two to three months, the plant can be placed in more intense light—but of course not in direct light (most orchids can’t handle direct sunlight). It also advises to use a mild foliar fertilizer every week or two. I’ve actually never tried foliar fertilizing, but this seems like a good time to give it a shot.
I feel like I have a bunch of newborns! This is very exciting but also scary. I hope I’m able to do right by them. Thanks so much to Roel for bringing me these presents from Costa Rica! 🙂