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
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
||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.
||You should prepare a tray or pots of compost
ready to receive your baby plants by making depressions in the surface see
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
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
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
||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
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
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.
||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.
After placing the moss in the crevice we
are gently putting the roots in to depression we have created to take
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
||The tiny Cattleya in it's new
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