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 Orchid De Flasking Workshop

Orchid de flasking photo workshop. Here we are de-flasking some Cattleya jenmanii, a species from Venezuela which will eventually bear blooms in lavender pink with a deeper pink/purple lip veined with yellow/orange. We hope!  Although naturally from Venezuela - ours came the Equatorial Plant Company who were displaying at the Leeds 2000 show!

The first thing we need to do is soak the flask in some warm water - NOT HOT - which will soften the nutrient jelly the plants are growing in. See below

 2000 Orchid-Guide.com After soaking for 5 - 10 minutes the jelly will have softened sufficiently for it to be slid out of the jar.

If you have any resistance put a towel on the work surface and give the jar a firm but controlled wrap on the toweled surface, this will cause the jelly to fragment and it can then easily be slid out in sections. 

You should be left with a disk of jelly (or broken pieces of jelly) with your plants still in tact! see below

Now you have removed them from their miniature greenhouse you will need to remove the jelly from around the roots so you can inspect them for damage or disease.

Carefully place the young plants and the jelly disk in to a shallow dish of TEPID water and gently tease the plants from the jelly. see left

You you should place the plants on a clean surface to carefully inspect them and remove any damaged or diseased roots, it is better to remove any that are damaged as this can prevent infection from the rotting root and spreading to the rest of the plant.

 2000 Orchid-Guide.com

 2000 Orchid-Guide.com You should prepare a tray or pots of compost ready to receive your baby plants by making depressions in the surface see right, make as many depressions as you have plants. Give the tray a good watering to get some moisture in to it, do not use any fertilizer at this point as it may burn the delicate roots.

Put the tray to one side whilst you apply a gentle fungicide (such as Captan) to the plants which will prevent disease from affecting the young plants which will be weakened temporarily by the de-flasking. Do not use a strong systemic fungicide as this will be too strong for the plants and will probably kill them.

Carefully lower your plants in to the shallow depressions you made earlier making sure you don't have to bend or force the roots in to the compost, if you have to use force you may break the fragile roots and this can lead to infection and the loss of the plant. See right

Make sure that the base of the plant or the base of the tiny bulb is sitting on the surface of the compost and is not buried in it as this will cause it to rot at the base and will spread up and kill the plant.

Carefully firm the compost around the plants roots applying just enough pressure to hold them steady.

Continue the process until all your plants are in the compost

 2000 Orchid-Guide.com

 2000 Orchid-Guide.com

Place your trays or pots of plants in a shady and humid part of the greenhouse. Since the plants are only small you can use a basic propagator which costs just a few pounds to help maintain a higher than normal humidity around the plants for their first few weeks. see left

Gradually over a period of 4 weeks you can open the vents in the propagator or if it has none you can prop up one end to allow air to circulate. This air movement will hardened the bulbs and prevent any fungal diseases from spreading through the pot. see below

Your plants can now be moved in to lighter conditions, but not where they will be subject to direct sunlight otherwise scorching may occur.

After a further 20 weeks or so you can pot the seedlings up in to their own pots or in our case the plant is naturally Epiphytic and so we will be mounting them on either wood or cork bark.

 2000 Orchid-Guide.com
Cattleya jenmanii seedling 25 12 01 You can expect (we can expect) our Cattleya jenmanii to be flowering size in about three years.

left: This seedling (25 12 01) is from the same batch and is going strong, as you can see new leaves have formed and there are two in the pot.



The above method is the 'standard' way of dealing with plants that have been de-flasked, however, we like to try things a little and as there are twelve in the flask we are going to mount two on to cork rather than potting them on first. This is purely an experimental procedure and you should follow the guidelines above.

Here we have followed the instructions above and have washed and removed the broken or rotten roots and given a coating in Captan (fungicide) to prevent any infection.

 2000 Orchid-Guide.com
 2000 Orchid-Guide.com

After placing the moss in the crevice we are gently putting the roots in to depression we have created to take them.

You will note that we haven't attempted to wire it in place as it's far too small, the roots should penetrate the moss and will grab hold of the bark to secure it in place (we hope!)

We have mounted the plants on to quite a large piece of bark - see above - as we want to keep them in place without being disturbed for quite a few years. We are attempting to grow these two plants as naturally as possible and so this means no root disturbance.

We have found a crevice it the bark to which we are using a dibber to push in some damp sphagnum moss to hold moisture. see right

 2000 Orchid-Guide.com

 2000 Orchid-Guide.com The tiny Cattleya in it's new home!

We will keep you up to date on a bi monthly basis so that you can follow the progress of our Cattleyas and see what type of growth suits the plants the best.

Natural crok bark is available from Faunology

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