De-flasking seedlings the Orchid Project Way

Orchid seedlings in pots in the school greenhouse

The next few months are the ideal time to de-flask orchid seedlings. The extra spring light and warmth will encourage plants to put out fresh roots and establish before the real heat of the summer. Here is the way that we de-flask seedlings and get them growing in the greenhouse.

The starting place is of course our in-vitro growth room where we have thousands of orchids growing from seed. the plant will have spent at least two years in the growth room before they are ready to de-flask into pots.

We look for seedlings that are a good size (for their species) and have a well established root system so that they will survive the move to pots from their perfect world in a jar.

For example, here are some Cymbidium tracyanum seedlings – ready to be de-flasked with the aid of a bowl of water (+ a couple of drops of washing up liquid but not too much) at 27 degrees Celcius.

We start by swishing some water around in the jar to loosen the agar, and ease the seedlings out without damaging them.

We wash most of the nutrient agar off the seedlings.

…and split the seedlings into clumps while avoiding root damage and disturbing the roots as little as possible.

the seedlings are now ready to pot

We pot seedlings in little clumps into 5.5cm pots in large bark (the same as we use for all our orchids)

The seedlings are labeled and watered as soon as we can to avoid desiccation.

Our seedlings live together until established and plants in a clump can be separated when they are next repotted.

Some seedlings are finer rooted than Cymbidium tracyanum but the process is very similar (Cymbidium wenshanense below)

We find growing orchids from seedlings in-vitro a really rewarding experience, and it is surprising how quickly we find seedlings reaching flowering size. Cymbidium tracyanum takes us around four to six years out of flask, but time flies and todays seedlings are on our third generation of tracyanums at school.

We will be adding a range of species in flask to our shop over the next few months – we always sell flasks of seedling at a stage ready for de-flasking




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