Propagation of Orchids by Division
Here if you need to know how to re pot an Odontoglossum, Coelogyne or
|Division is a very simple way of
propagating your favorite species or variety of orchid. It involves
finding the natural break between the two or more parts of the plant and
dividing down this natural split. Here we are dividing a Beallara City of
Glasgow 'Langley Pride' AM/RHS but you can use this method on almost any
plant which grows pseudobulbs such as Odontoglossum and types, Cymbidium, Coelogyne
and Miltonia plus the clump forming varieties such as Dracula, Masdevallias
|This plant has reached the
limit for this size pot and is in need of division or repotting. The plant
is in need of either dividing or repotting when the new growths have
reached the very edge of the pot and any future growth has to take place
outside the edge of the pot - above left
|After removing the pot you
should see plenty of white roots which have filled and used used the
compost, (see opposite) if your roots are not white then it could be due
to over watering.
An orchid plant with bulbs can survive for
quite some time without watering but will not tolerate being over watered
and will in fact wilt giving the impression that it needs watering more.
The reason for this is that the roots have died and the plant can not take
up the water so it does indeed die due to lack of water!. If in doubt
leave it a week.
Don't use this method with plants that are
bulbless though as they have no water store built in and will wilt due to
'genuine' water loss.
Some orchids don't have white roots though
and it is important to be able to differentiate between the two,
Paphiopedilums have dark brown or even black roots naturally but the roots
are firm to the touch and not soft as is the case with a rotten root.
|Gently pull the plant in
opposite directions making sure that each part has at least 3 bulbs and
one new growth, the aim of doing this is to establish where the plant has
a natural split.
This loosening will show you where to
divide the plant, in the photograph opposite you can clearly see where the
left part of the plant has grown away from the right side of the plant.
|Once you have established
where the natural split is you can apply stronger pressure to split the
plant fully in to two or more parts.
If the plant has a strong rhizome
connecting the two parts then you can use a sharp, preferably sterilized
knife, to cut through it so that uncontrolled ripping doesn't occur.
You will now be left with 2 or more divisions
of the same plant each with at least 3
bulbs and one new growth - see opposite
|You will now need to remove the
old compost from around the roots and trim away any brown, soggy, dead
roots. Cut the dead roots off right up to the base of the plant and this
will ensure that they don't rot upwards and affect the rhizome or bulbs.
This is also the time to remove any ferns
or other plants growing in the pot - weeds - for that is what they are
should be removed otherwise they will quickly clog up the open compost mix
with their 'normal' root system and use up and nutrients you give the
plant. Many of the ferns you may find growing in orchid pots are very
suitable as house plants in their own right and can, if you want, be
potted and given to friends as gifts.
Carefully trim back any white growing roots
to about 4 inches and use them to help anchor the plant in the new
|That's the scary bit over
You should now assemble the repotting kits
which comprises of:
- Your division
- A pot with sufficient space for two
- A suitable grade of orchid compost -
- The label for the plant
|Starting with a clean pot, add
some larger pieces of bark or some polystyrene chunks in to the bottom to
allow swift drainage.
Here we are using the former.
|Ease the roots in to the pot
and spread them evenly to ensure that the plant will be securely anchored.
Don't put the plant in the centre of the
pot but position it in such a way that the new growth is in the centre,
this will ensure that there is sufficient space in front of the plant to
allow for 2 growing seasons.
Use an appropriate grade of compost
dependant on the type of orchid, here we are using a medium grade orchid
compost as this plant has relatively thin roots and so they will be able
to get hold of it easily, thicker rooted orchids such as Cymbidiums
will require a large grade compost.
The easiest way of adding compost is to
hold the plant in one hand whilst filling the pot with compost using the
Make sure that the bulbs rest on the
surface of the compost and are not buried in it. They may need pulling up
a little to get the level just right.
|Using your thumbs press
heavily on the compost to compact is sufficiently to hold the plant
steady. The open nature of the compost will prevent you from over compacting
it so don't be afraid to apply pressure.
An orchid which wobbles in it's pot will
not root well and will not re establish itself.
|Finally label your new plant
and give it a good soaking from the top, do this twice with 2 hours
between to ensure the compost is damp and then leave it for two to three
weeks before watering again. During the first 6 to 8 weeks keep the plant
in a shady position and leave well alone (other than watering) to give the new brittle roots
time to get a hold in the new compost
After about 6 weeks you will see new roots
emerging and the plant will be fully established after approximately 10
Congratulations you have just divided your
plant and you can use this technique on several varieties of orchid
- Odontoglossums and types
- Masdevalias and any other 'grassy' type