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My phal is preggers! Help!

This is a discussion on My phal is preggers! Help! within the Breeding & Hybridization forums, part of the Orchid Propagation category; Hey folks! I am bravely (and perhaps foolishly, LOL) attempting to make the transition from ...

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  1. #1
    OrchidAddict's Avatar
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    Exclamation My phal is preggers! Help!

    Hey folks! I am bravely (and perhaps foolishly, LOL) attempting to make the transition from just collecting orchids to also crossing them and breeding them as well. I'm excited to say I have successfully impregnated one of my phals! It's a NOID hybrid...I just did it to see if it would work...that way if the seeds don't germinate or I just get a flask full of rotten goo, it won't be a big deal.

    But anyway, here's a pic of my gal's baby bump: Yay!!
    Name:  seed pod 1.jpg
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    I have a couple of questions. First, do I need to do anything about the swollen column? (I think that's what it's called...see pic below). Do I just leave it alone and brush away the decayed flower bits? Or do I need to remove the swollen column so that the seed pod can eventually open?

    Name:  seed pod 2.jpg
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    Should I fertilize this plant as normal while it is "preggers?" Or will I be needing to make some midnight runs for pickles and ice cream? Also, will this plant flower at all while it is in "preggers" mode? It would seem to me that it would be using its energy to develop the pod, so should I not try to induce it to flower?

    And finally (I know I'm asking tons of questions here), how will I know when the seed pod is mature?

    Thanks everybody for your help! I'm so excited for my pregnant phal!

  2. #2
    King Kjeldz is offline Senior Member
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    do not snap or break ANYTHING...wen the flower petals and sepals dry u can GENTLY pull them off or snip CAREFULLY with a scissors.....alos you can grow the plant as normal fert,watering etc...and i wont try to induce further flowering let the plant focus on the best and strongest seeds it can produce....and online has maturity (gestation periods) for most species seed pods(fruits)

  3. #3
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    wow impressive so what will you be doing with the seed pod once it ripens? Are you going to do a home flasking experiment?

  4. #4
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    Whoa, Jenn! Good for you! Remember, soothing music, root massages, no caffeine....

  5. #5
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    i have never actually looked into germinating orchids. people do it, so it must be doable. i usually just cut off any baby pods so they don't weaken the plant. somehow i think i would have better luck going all frankenorchid and stapling a live oncidium to the back of a phal and sticking it out in a thunderstorm. but good grief, keep us posted! i'd love to see a periodic update on how to go about this. who knows, one day you could spawn an orchid that wins an award. in your kitchen sink. come to think of it, i have never seen orchid supplies for germination being sold, flasks etc...? do you have to keep them at a certain temperature? you must... oh stop it! i don't have time or space or money... (((beats head on desk hoping to forget this thread before rest of living room becomes orchid incubation zone))) now, where is that stapler?

  6. #6
    OrchidAddict's Avatar
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by coeruleo View Post
    i have never actually looked into germinating orchids. people do it, so it must be doable. i usually just cut off any baby pods so they don't weaken the plant. somehow i think i would have better luck going all frankenorchid and stapling a live oncidium to the back of a phal and sticking it out in a thunderstorm. but good grief, keep us posted! i'd love to see a periodic update on how to go about this. who knows, one day you could spawn an orchid that wins an award. in your kitchen sink. come to think of it, i have never seen orchid supplies for germination being sold, flasks etc...? do you have to keep them at a certain temperature? you must... oh stop it! i don't have time or space or money... (((beats head on desk hoping to forget this thread before rest of living room becomes orchid incubation zone))) now, where is that stapler?
    OMG, you have me absolutely ROLLING with laughter over here! The image of you stapling one plant to another in the middle of a lightning storm is, well...it's just priceless.

    For right now, I'm just sort of experimenting to see if I can harvest the seeds and actually get them to germinate without turning the whole flask into a container of festering rot. I know there's going to be a lot of sterilization involved (I'm wondering what my husband thought when he opened the laptop last night and saw that I had the browser window open to a search for cheap autoclaves.)

    It would be absolutely amazing to breed an orchid that wins an award...but more important than an award to me would be creating something beautiful that I could name for my kids. And I'd like to create one as a tribute to my parents as well.

    This particular NOID that I pollinated is my dad's favorite out of my collection...it's a beautiful art-shade with oranges, yellows, pinks, and lavenders all sort of fading into each other. It's gorgeous. I crossed it with my dad's second-favorite, which is a white and purple stripey type that seems to have a lot of Doritis in it, based on the form. I'm hoping for a dark purple lip and purple stripes against an artshade background.

    Anyway, it would be a tremendous honor to present him, in a few years, with an orchid that was grown just for him. I don't think I'd be able to actually register the cross because the parents were two NOID hybrids, but that wouldn't matter...not this first time. But someday, I'd love to register an orchid for my son, and one for my daughter too.

    Would you think me crazy if I said I've already begun collecting species plants specifically for the purposes of breeding them? Hehee...

  7. #7
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    i think that's cool. everyone's gotta start somewhere. i've seen a few flasks for sale listed as 'contaminated' and wonder how much of a problem that really is. aslo wondering how many offered to be sent removed from their flask were also 'contaminated' and not listed as such? i need to read up on this now. i've gotten a few seedling size orchids lately, and i figure, they are fresh out of a flask, so if i see a flask of something really cool i might try it, since i could always sell the extras... i've actually been trying to get the right group of epi-cacti so i can create my own hybrid, now if i can just get them all flowering at the same time so i can make my orange or red queen of the night (that stays open the next day at least) i will be all set...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by coeruleo View Post
    i think that's cool. everyone's gotta start somewhere. i've seen a few flasks for sale listed as 'contaminated' and wonder how much of a problem that really is. aslo wondering how many offered to be sent removed from their flask were also 'contaminated' and not listed as such? i need to read up on this now. i've gotten a few seedling size orchids lately, and i figure, they are fresh out of a flask, so if i see a flask of something really cool i might try it, since i could always sell the extras....
    Ummm....I personally wouldn't go anywhere near a flask labeled "contaminated." Think of how frustrating it is to try and "fix" an adult orchid that's being attacked by fungus...now imagine it with teensy little green specks. Not going anywhere NEAR that. If they're being sent "already deflasked," then they should theoretically be in compots, and contamination would no longer be an issue, because they'd now be growing out in the open, and it would be obvious to the buyer if they were sick.

    You mentioned that you have purchased seedling sized orchids recently. Good for you! I love seedlings. They're fun to nurture and pamper, and I get a great amount of satisfaction from raising them. But actually, the seedlings you buy are not "fresh out of the flask." There are a few stages to deflasking. Once you get all the tiny plantlets out of the flask and clean all the goo off them, you have to put the viable-looking ones in compots (community pots). They're put in compots because the plants are so tiny and so accustomed to growing in close proximity to each other, compots give them the best chance of survival. If they were to be separated immediately into individual pots, most would die.

    So, the growers pack anywhere from 5 to 10 plantlets in sphagnum moss, in a 2" to 4" pot (give or take a few plantlets), and you can buy them that way as a "compot." This would be the closest thing to "fresh out of the flask." Once the plantlets have been growing together for a few months, they will begin to get big and strong enough to be transferred into their own pots. I think that's when they are officially labelled "seedlings."

    So anything you buy that's a "seedling," has already been deflasked, cleaned up, grown with its siblings in a community pot for several weeks, then transplanted into its own pot and observed to make sure it's strong enough to survive solo. Then it can be sold as a seedling. OH, and of course, any type of bacterial contamination anywhere in the process can turn an entire flask to goo or kill a compot of babies, so everything needs to be done in a very sterile environment. Easy-peasy, right?

    So, do you still think I'm not nuts? LOL

    HOWEVER, there WAS one factor that made me decide that I absolutely wanted to try doing this. I was reading a particular blog I follow about a guy who is just way too crazy about his plants (PM me if you'd like to know about the blog), and he mentioned that there is a company that offers flasking services for people who can't do it themselves. Basically, you collect the seeds from the pods, you send them away, the company sends you a letter of receipt with some information about the viability of your seeds, and then they go ahead and flask them and incubate them for you. When your flask is ready, you will receive your flask of plantlets in the mail, and it is then your job to deflask and compot them. This is nice because deflasking seems to be the part with the least amount of room for error in my opinion...I'm pretty confident I could manage that if I had to.

    So, armed with this information, I know that even if I can't manage flasking at home, at least I have another option. I'll send you a PM with the name of the guy's blog. He's got some GREAT stuff on there about the "sex lives" of orchids...I've learned quite a lot! Fascinating stuff!

  9. #9
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    Jenn, a phalaenopsis cross is a good idea as you might see the first flowers in as little as 2 or 3 years after sowing. Do not try this with cattleyas or certain dendrobiums as you might have to wait well over a decade!!!

    But seriously, unless you have a lot of time and money to spare, I would advise you to use the flasking service rather than investing in an autoclave, flasking media, etc... These aren't astronomically expensive, I know, but the problem with sowing orchid seeds is not so much preparing the sterile medium (you can even do this with a good old-fashioned pressure cooker), but actually keeping the medium sterile during and after sowing. To achieve this you will have to build a sterile sowing cabinet (getting one of these to work is not that easy and they still result in a lot of flasks getting contaminated) or buy a laminar flow cabinet (the most reliable way of keeping your medium sterile while sowing into it). One of these will cost you some serious dough and take up half of your house (average size is 3 feet deep, 5 feet wide, 6 feet tall ... and they're ugly, so not something you want to put in your livingroom, LOL). There are, however, some examples online of how to cheaply build a rudimentary sterile sowing cabinet for home use if you're really set on doing it yourself.

    The best way to sow your seeds is to harvest the seed pod before it has dried and opened. The seeds of most orchids are fully mature long before the seed pod starts to dry out and they actually germinate better in-vitro before they have gone completely dry. Once the pod starts to turn yellow you can cut it off and easily sterilise the whole thing by dipping it in a dilute bleach solution for a few minutes. As the pod is thick enough it will protect the microscopic seed from the bleach. The problem with using a split seed pod is that you'll need to sterilise the seeds themselves as they will get covered in fungal spores from the moment they come into contact with air. Each individual orchid seed (and there will be a few hundred to several thousand in an average seed pod) is tiny, microscopic in size and because they lack a husk they will get damaged by any sterilising solution if you leave them in it for too long. If you don't leave them in the solution long enough they will still carry contaminants that will spoil your sowing medium when you add the seeds to it. By using an unopened seed pod you avoid these problems as the seeds inside the pod are naturally sterile. Once you've cleaned the pod you can split it under sterile conditions (hence the need for a sterile sowing or laminar flow cabinet) and spread the seeds onto the sterile medium without contaminating it. The sowing medium will only remain sterile for as long as you keep the flasks you autoclaved it in closed. Once you open a sterile flask to introduce the seeds, you'll introduce contaminants (even if you sterilised the seeds) unless you open the flask in a sterile sowing or laminar flow cabinet.

    Some people have become really good at sowing orchid seeds at home, but the reality is that it is a steep learning curve and you have to be prepared to suffer some losses before you get the hang of it. On that note, I would also advise you to start setting many more seed pods to increase your chances of successfully sowing and germinating a flask when you start out on your sowing adventure.

    Good luck ... BTW, have you thought of what name you'll give your babies? :o)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by serama View Post
    But seriously, unless you have a lot of time and money to spare, I would advise you to use the flasking service rather than investing in an autoclave, flasking media, etc... These aren't astronomically expensive, I know, but the problem with sowing orchid seeds is not so much preparing the sterile medium (you can even do this with a good old-fashioned pressure cooker), but actually keeping the medium sterile during and after sowing. To achieve this you will have to build a sterile sowing cabinet (getting one of these to work is not that easy and they still result in a lot of flasks getting contaminated) or buy a laminar flow cabinet (the most reliable way of keeping your medium sterile while sowing into it). One of these will cost you some serious dough and take up half of your house (average size is 3 feet deep, 5 feet wide, 6 feet tall ... and they're ugly, so not something you want to put in your livingroom, LOL). There are, however, some examples online of how to cheaply build a rudimentary sterile sowing cabinet for home use if you're really set on doing it yourself.

    Some people have become really good at sowing orchid seeds at home, but the reality is that it is a steep learning curve and you have to be prepared to suffer some losses before you get the hang of it. On that note, I would also advise you to start setting many more seed pods to increase your chances of successfully sowing and germinating a flask when you start out on your sowing adventure.

    Good luck ... BTW, have you thought of what name you'll give your babies? :o)
    WOW... thanks!! Sobering info there, Tony! I just about hit the floor when I read about the giant sowing chamber that would take up my entire living room! I've been doing some research...(thank God for the web), and I found someone who has developed a reliable system using a fish tank! He uses plexiglass for the front of it, into which he has cut holes for gloves. When he's ready to use it, he sterilizes the whole thing and then seals it all up with duct tape. He says he built the whole thing for less than $50! (Heck, I've spent more than that one one plant.) Apparently he's been breeding quite successfully using the fish tank for both sowing and replating. He uses the pressure-cooker method for sterilization of the flasks.

    I'd be an idiot if I didn't realize there would be a HUGE learning curve for something like this...but fortunately I don't get intimidated by ridiculously large learning curves...I get inspired by them. The more challenging and ridiculously difficult the task, the more determined I am to learn to do it myself. It took my husband a few years to really learn this about me. He seriously doubted me when I told him I was going to grow my own annuals from seed rather than pay for the ones in the store...but now I have three grow-light systems and the basement becomes a laboratory every February.

    So, when I told him I was going to breed orchids at home, his reaction was a mixture of frustration and acceptance. "Only you would pick the most ridiculously impossible plant to breed and try to do it yourself," were his words, I believe. To which I replied..."No, no! Not JUST me! There's lots of people doing this! And doing it well! In their houses!" I quickly followed that statement with, "By the way, can I PLEEEEASE build a greenhouse in the backyard?"

    The answer to that was a firm "NO," but I'm hoping he'll change his mind once I have a whole bunch of baby plants that need a place to grow. (Oh, and I picked up a mini-greenhouse that will fit on our patio at a home improvement store for $40 the other week. I haven't told him about it yet. I figured I didn't break the rules, since technically it wouldn't be "in the yard." LOL)

    Anyway, I think I can coax him into actually building the flasking chamber for me. He's an engineer, and when it comes down to it, he just can't resist doing that kind of stuff. He probably would rather do it himself than have me messing with his power tools anyway (although he has told me in the past that I'm tremendously sexy with a pair of safety glasses on and a power drill in my hand).

    So there you go. Thanks for the tip about harvesting the seeds when the pod is still green. The guy who does the fish-tank method recommended that as well. He just opens the pod inside the chamber once it's all be sealed up. I already have some containers I bought at a discount store that will work great as growing flasks...I just need some smaller ones for sowing flasks...he recommended baby food jars. I may go with the typical "canning jars" you can get at any store.

    I guess I should get started arranging some orchid trysts so I can get lots of seed pods going...

    Oh, and I do have names picked out, but I'm sort or superstitious about revealing them at this point...I kind of feel like it would be bad luck. So I'm going to keep them a secret until I have something actually blooming for me to name! Check back with me in a few years.... hehee!

    Thanks for all the advice!

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