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The keiki syndrome house

This is a discussion on The keiki syndrome house within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; ...

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  1. #1
    iab
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    Default The keiki syndrome house

    Hi All,

    I am fairly new to orchids – give or take, 2 years. And here is my keiki saga:

    In February 2012, I got as a gift a gorgeous Phal. Fortune Saltzman "Maple Bridge". It was all in bud and bloomed for about 3 months after which point the spike started to die off. I cut it up to just above the 4th node from the base, repotted the plant and what do you know – a month or so later, I had a keiki spring up. The mother plant had lost 1 leaf at the base; two new ones were growing and stopped doing so as soon as the keiki showed up. Fast forward 6 months, the keiki is still there, roots about 2” long and new roots showing up, 3 full leaves and a 4th one just came out. At this rate, the keiki will have more total “leaf surface” than its mom within a month…

    In March 2012, I got a Dendrobium kingianum alba which was in full bloom. After about a month, flowers died off. All summer long, this plant grew like bamboo – new stems (not flowers) every week to the extent that it ran out of space and had to be transplanted. Just in time for Hurricane Sandy, I noticed that small growths were coming out of almost all shoots (whether in the center of the leaf area or in between leaves from the small nodes on the stem). I thought the plant was getting ready to bloom again, until just yesterday I saw a tiny pair of roots coming from the bottom of one of the new growths. I still do not know what will happen with the other new growths (whether they are flower stems or keikis)…

    In June 2012, hubby got me 5 small white moon orchids (all in full bloom). They kept their blooms for about a month or so after which point I repeated the usual procedure: cut the dying spikes above a couple of nodes from the base and transplanted the plants as I noticed that the potting medium was no good. Only 2 of the phals kept their “cut” spikes. Unlike the other 3 though, they did not produce new leaves and one of them now shows some very floppy leaves. October 2012 came around and they produced keikis.

    I read quite a bit about keikis. Some say that they are usually the result of the mother plant being under stress to the point of dying so it is trying to produce offspring. Some others are simply stating that keiki’s are rare and celebrate the fact that a plant has produced babies! So which one is it? I have started feeling like a bad parent! On the other hand, all my plants are growing, producing roots, new leaves, etc. It is duly noted though that none of my phals with the exception of a Dtps. Purple Martin 'Champion' which “lived” next to the above mentioned phals have re-spiked. I have been able to get new branches from old spikes, but never new spikes.

    Thoughts / comments are most welcome! It feels like my house has the “keiki” syndrome!
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  2. #2
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    Welcome to Orchid Talk. While I'm not the expert that many others here are I can reliably say that the keiki in the first photo is mature enough to be cut off and planted in it's own pot. I would trim the spike back to near the base of the mother plant. Both plants should thrive and the parent plant will probably start to grow again since it doesn't have to put it's energy into nurturing it's offspring.

    As for the Dendrobium kingianum, well they are keiki factories! Your photo looks like a keiki. These dens are notorious for throwing keiki's, expect many more. My Dendrobium kingianum last bloomed in the Spring if that helps you any.

    martha

  3. #3
    iab
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    Hi Martha,

    Thank you for the insight. I am concerned that the "oldest" keiki just started growing the fourth leaf which is progressing rather rapidly. If I cut it now, wouldn't I stall the growth? Is sphagnum moss an acceptable potting medium for a phal keiki?

    As to the Den - good to know that they are the "keiki" factory. The branch on the picture has two growths - one of them is clearly a keiki, could the other be a potential flowing stem? Since you have had experience with the Den keikis - do you leave them on the mother or do you cut them?

    The overall question still remains though - are the plants under stress that I am seeing so many keikis?

    Cheers,
    irina

  4. #4
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    Irina - my den was a gift, division of a larger plant, given my history with dens it remains to be seen if it will ever bloom for me, but it does continue to grow keikis.

    Spagnum moss is generally a no-no, stays too wet for too long and results in root rot - it is a favorite of commercial growers for reasons that mystify me. Probably because it's cheap and easy. Cut that keiki off as close to the bottom as you can, you can wait a day to plant it to give the cut end time heal a bit and dry out. The new growth will stall a bit while the plant aclimates itself to its new home but shortly will revive and start growing again. If the mother plant is in Spagnum you might want to take this opportunity to transplant it to orchid medium while you're potting up the offspring.

    martha

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    iab
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    Hi Martha,

    What potting medium would you suggest?

    irina

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    Irinia - small bark, some charcoal, maybe a little vermiculite. You can buy orchid medium at any good garden center. Some are even pre-mixed or just bark alone. - martha

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    I'll just a a big WELCOME to OrchidTalk!

    cheers,
    BD


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    Default

    Welcome, Irina.

    A few comments:

    Stop cutting the spikes as you have been doing. The "tricks" the plant into thinking it has been damaged, so it forms branches in order to try to rebloom and reproduce, to carry on its gene pool. By tricking it into repeated bloomings, you don't give it time to recover the resources it needs to do so well, so you are, indeed, stressing it significantly.

    You're much better off to leave the spike alone and let the plant decide if it has the needed resources, or remove it altogether, letting it form a new spike when it is good and ready, and the conditions are right.

    The phals - especially that last photo - show signs of significant desiccation. That can be due to insufficient watering, or to a compromised root system, which prevents the plant from taking up enough water. I'd bet the latter, and agree with Teena's recommendation about repotting.

    Keiki formation is favored when the overall culture is less-than-what the plant needs. Yes, that's stressful, but it does not have to be extreme stress. It could be something as simple as insufficient light levels (especially in the case of the dendrobium - although Teena's right again, they are keiki factories), or the application of too much fertilizer.

  10. #10
    iab
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    Hi Raybark,

    Thank you so much for the insight! The "desiccating" phal that you are referring to is a mystery to me but nonetheless, it will be transplanted as per Teena's suggestion. I just got a phal mix comprised of bark + charcoal and some perlite. Not sure what to do with the dendrobium - it was by the east south east window. Perhaps I should just ease on the fertilizer (i.e. none for the winter months).

    What I have noticed is that none of the phals are spiking (except for those that I buy in spike ), but are producing roots above the potting medium. Do you think it is an issue with the potting medium? On the other hand - they are producing also a lot of leaves - this year alone, one of my phals produced 3 leaves each of them now more than 10" long + a new one coming up... In the fall / winter, all phals "live" by a window sill, east / south east exposure so I doubt that it is a question of insufficient light... I am fertilizing once every two weeks (the fertilizer (20-10-20) states every week, but I'd rather not overdo it). Watering is done whenever I feel the moss is getting dry on the top - on average, every 10 days. Temperature delta (min - max) can range from 8 to 15 degrees daily - it all depends on whether it is a sunny day or not.

    Penny for your thoughts?

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