Orchids forum: How do I separate the baby plants from the mother plant?

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Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
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beckygardener
Sep 28, 2014 7:59 AM CST
Like many gardeners, I do admire orchids. I picked up this plant a few years ago. It's done well for me and I love it when it blooms! This year for the first time ever, it has produced two prolifs/babies. How do I separate these babies from the mother plant. The roots have really gotten long on them, so I may have waited too long to decide to separate them. It will be a challenge potting them up with those long roots.

Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

I am thrilled that I will now have more orchids! How long does it take before the "babies" will bloom?

Baby Orchid #1:

Thumb of 2014-09-28/beckygardener/2988a5

Baby Orchid #2:

Thumb of 2014-09-28/beckygardener/7a0146

Mother Orchid with 2 baby plants still attached to her:

Thumb of 2014-09-28/beckygardener/40b1f7

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 28, 2014 9:17 AM CST
Wow, those are nice size babies, Becky! In the orchid world we call those 'keikis' which is a Hawaiian word for baby.

I'd suggest instead of potting them up, you could just mount them on a piece of wood. They seem to be doing so well just waving around in the air there, really there is no need to bury the roots. Orchids are epiphytes, well designed to collect water and nutrients from the air, so whatever great care you've given those plants, just keep on with it. You'll notice that when you water or it rains, those roots turn from white to green, as they absorb the water.

Here are pictures of a couple of my mounted orchids. The important thing with a Phal like yours is to make sure the crown of the plant is on a slant or pointed downwards so that water never sits in the cup of the leaves. People tend to want to mount or pot them standing straight up and this can lead to crown rot in a spell of wet weather.

You don't need to cover up the roots. They will find their way to the mount and attach themselves. Just find a sturdy piece of bark or rough wood, put on a little cushion of coco fiber (like the stuff used for hanging basket liners, only pulled apart so it's airy) and tie the keikis onto the wood firmly so they won't wobble around. I used strips of bird netting to tie these on. Other people use rope, wire, panty hose, even zip ties. After about a year, the plant will be well attached, and you can remove the tie material if it's unsightly. I use slabs of cork as a mounting.
Thumb of 2014-09-28/dyzzypyxxy/595e1e Thumb of 2014-09-28/dyzzypyxxy/659a1e

Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
[Last edited by dyzzypyxxy - Sep 28, 2014 10:48 AM (+)]
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Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Charter ATP Member Spiders! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Pennsylvania Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Ponds Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Jersey
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Ursula
Sep 28, 2014 9:22 AM CST

Moderator

How wonderful! Healthy keikies. Thumbs up
I would gently water the roots to make them pliable, so they don't break when you manipulate them. I would just cut the whole plantlet off the stem and pot them into small Orchid bark. Or - if you like, you could pot one up and mount the other.

We overlapped and I like your response much better than mine, Elaine!! đź‘Ť
[Last edited by Ursula - Sep 28, 2014 9:23 AM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 28, 2014 9:33 AM CST
The idea of potting one and mounting the other is good, too. I was just going to come back and say if they were mine, I'd mount both those little ones on the same mount. They might make a nice specimen plant in a few years.

I am migrating towards mounting my Phals here, frankly. The ones I have in pots seem to all be climbing out and putting roots up into the air, so I think with our high humidity and heat, they like their roots more exposed. Plus of course I do spray them nearly every day if it doesn't rain, so they don't dry out too much.

Becky, I should have said if your orchid lives outdoors I'd go with mounting rather than a pot, but if it's an indoor plant, a pot might be better. You'd not have to water/mist so often. Mine are all outdoors.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Sep 28, 2014 9:50 PM CST
Elaine and Ursula - Thank you for your reply. I did a little online research and found a few helpful sites and a video. It was pretty much as you said to just cut the keiki from the mother plant. BTW - I like that term, too! It even sounds like a word from Hawaii. Smiling

All of my orchids are under a roof on my screen porch. They are on a shelving rack or lined up in a wicker plant shelf. I have no place to hang them if they were mounted. Squirrels would probably destroy them as well if they were outside. So all of mine are potted up and inside the screen porch. I cut the two keikis off the mother plant and potted them up in bark and orchid moss, watered and fertilized them, and set them on the shelving unit (right back where they were). And I separated some other orchids and potted them all up. I now have double the number of orchids after splitting them all up and repotting each one. It's a good thing I did, as all of them were root-bound in their pots and had a lot of dead roots that needed to be trimmed away.

Before separation:

Thumb of 2014-09-29/beckygardener/c916cf

After separating the keikis from the mother plant:

Thumb of 2014-09-29/beckygardener/c88e8a

These are some of the other orchids that I divided and repotted. They all look much happier being repotted:

Thumb of 2014-09-29/beckygardener/7f7e09
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Sep 29, 2014 5:48 AM CST
All are looking good, Becky. Thumbs up It is time to do some trading now that you have duplicate plants. Rolling my eyes.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Charter ATP Member Spiders! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Pennsylvania Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Ponds Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Jersey
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Ursula
Sep 29, 2014 6:26 AM CST

Moderator

Good job, Becky!! Looks great! Thumbs up
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Sep 29, 2014 7:45 PM CST
Ursula - Thank you!

Ken - I am not one to do trading because of where I live. Florida harbors so many bugs, diseases, and other issues concerning plants ... that I don't want to take the chance of passing something in my plants on to someone else's healthy garden and plants. It is a constant battle here in FL to keep my plants healthy. But it is a nice thought to share or trade. I will just enjoy a bigger display of the same plants/flowers instead. Smiling Thumbs up
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
[Last edited by beckygardener - Sep 29, 2014 7:48 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #709008 (8)
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Sep 29, 2014 7:59 PM CST
Thumbs up
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

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