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How To Grow Orchids From Cuttings

Most single-stem orchids and some multi-stem orchids can be grown from orchid stem cuttings, but it is a slow process. Orchid propagation is successful when the cuttings include nodes, a proper potting medium is used, and the cuttings are kept in a humid environment.

Can You Start An Orchid From A Cutting?

Some types of orchids won’t grow from cuttings, but some will.

Phalaenopsis orchids, commonly known as the Moth Orchid, and other single-stem orchids can be propagated from cuttings. Some dendrobium orchids, or multi-stem orchids, can grow from cuttings, but most cannot.

The Dendrobium nobile is a multi-stem orchid commonly used as a houseplant that can grow from a cutting.

Using cuttings is one of several orchid propagation methods. Other methods include the division of rhizomes and back bulbs on multi-stem orchids. The best method depends on the type of orchid.

How To Root Orchid Cuttings

To root an orchid cutting, use sphagnum moss or orchid potting mix.

Regular potting soil will be too dense for a new orchid. Ideal orchid potting soil includes a mix of moss, tree bark, and other organic matter. 

Place the cut end directly into the soil. A popsicle stick or similar object may be needed to help the cutting stand upright. Water the cuttings without saturating the growing medium. Provide enough moisture to make the medium damp but not soaked.

Keep the cutting in a sunny location with indirect sunlight. Be patient because growing orchids is a slow process. Rooting can take several months, and the first sight of a flower spike and orchid flower can take several years.

Only certain types of orchids can be propagated through stem cuttings.

Do Orchid Cuttings Need To Be Dipped In Rooting Hormone?

Commercial rooting hormones encourage new growth, but they are optional. Orchids are slow-growers, so a rooting hormone can help speed up the propagation process.

If using rooting hormone powder, dip the orchid cuttings into water and then dip and roll the wet cuttings in the powder so it sticks to the cuttings. Don’t directly dip the cuttings into rooting hormone powder.

After growing a new orchid, rooting hormones can be applied regularly as a nutrient boost. Mix the rooting hormone with water or add it to water and orchid fertilizer to help the orchid have stronger roots.

You can also use rooting hormone paste to encourage the growth of new keikis on certain types of orchids, like the cattleya.

Keikis, the Hawaiian word for baby, are baby plantlets or offshoots that grow off the pseudobulb (stem) of the mother plant. Once established, keikis can be cut from the parent plant and rooted, and they’ll grow into a brand new orchid plant.

To encourage keiki growth, start by peeling back a thin layer of tissue at several of the nodes on a healthy orchid stem. Select several nodes to do this with since every node won’t produce an orchid. Then apply a small amount of keiki paste near the area where the node is.

Keikis are offshoots that can be cut off and grown into new plants.

How To Propagate Orchids From Cuttings

  1. Use a healthy and mature orchid plant to cut from.

  2. Select a healthy orchid stem with multiple nodes. Use sterile scissors, shears, or a knife to cut the stem near the base of the mother plant.

  3. If using rooting hormone, apply it to the stem cutting.

  4. Wrap the stem in sphagnum moss to retain moisture or fill a pot with orchid potting soil.

  5. Place the wrapped stems in a container. Pour some water in the container for the sphagnum moss or soil to soak up. Make sure extra water has not pooled at the bottom.

  6. Put plastic wrap or a plastic bag over the opening of the container. This helps keep the new orchid’s environment humid. Poke holes in the plastic to allow for airflow.

  7. Keep the cuttings in a humid and warm environment out of direct sunlight. Don’t let the moss or soil dry out completely.

  8. Occasionally check for new root growth.

  9. Keep the sprouts in the container until they develop orchid roots that are 2-3 inches long and have at least 2 leaves. Then loosen the moss that is wrapped around the stem. Adjust the moss so it skips portions of the stem. This allows room for more growth.

  10. Repot the baby plant if a new container or pot is preferred. Then give it regular orchid care. Water it twice a week in warm months and once a week in cold months. Most orchids enjoy a temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit in a humid environment. Fertilize the new plant once a week with an orchid-specific fertilizer.

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