How to Propagate Orchids Complete Guide

Orchids are among of the most popular houseplants due to the striking colors and sophisticated forms that they typically exhibit. They can be produced from seeds, or by dividing the plant and utilizing a method that is known as propagation. Both of these methods can be used.

At first glance, the process of propagating orchids may appear to be difficult; nevertheless, it is actually pretty simple.

What is Propagation?

How to Propagate Orchids Complete Guide

The method of propagation involves taking a cutting from a plant or splitting the plant itself in two and then planting the new cutting. Propagation can also involve growing new plants from seed. The pruning will eventually result in the growth of an entirely new plant. This plant will be a direct clone of the parent plant because propagation is an asexual mode of reproduction. It will have all of the same traits and qualities as the parent plant.

Plant propagation is a widespread technique used by gardeners for a variety of reasons.

To begin, it is an excellent method for novice orchid aficionados to use for cultivating their plant collections. Second, it assists in controlling the expansion of the plant when it has already reached an excessively big size. The fact that it results in the creation of clones is the third and last reason why individuals use propagation. If a plant is very healthy or has produced a magnificent color or bloom, it may be a good idea to utilize propagation to manufacture more of the same plant. This is because propagation allows you to create more exact copies of the original plant.

There are several different techniques of productive propagation from which to select. Gardeners can easily split the two halves of a single huge plant and plant them in different locations. Rhizome propagation is another name for this process. You might also take cuttings from the plant’s stem or from its aerial roots. Some species of orchids can occasionally produce offspring known as keiki, which can also be utilized for propagation purposes. Keiki are young offshoot plants.

Propagation Vs. Seeds

It’s possible that some people will be confused by the distinction between propagation and growing a plant from its seed.

The use of seeds is a type of sexual reproduction, which means that in order to generate a new plant, at least two separate plants must have been pollinated by each other. This results in a new plant that possesses some traits of both of the parent plants. Due to the vulnerability of seedlings, growing plants from seeds may be a tough endeavor.

On the other hand, propagation may frequently be accomplished considerably more quickly than waiting for seeds to germinate and then tending to the resulting seedlings. The propagated plant will have the same characteristics as the parent plant, so the gardener already has a good idea of what it will look like as it matures.

Because it is typically far less complicated and time-consuming than other methods of plant growth, propagation might be an excellent choice for novice gardeners who are just starting out. Once more, it might assist beginners in expanding their plant collections without the need to buy new plants or seeds.

Propagation Methods

Propagation Methods Orchid

The kind of orchid that is being multiplied should have a significant impact on the kind of approach used.

Orchids that are classified as monopodial each have one tall, erect stem; aerial roots frequently emerge from this stem. Examples of monopodial orchids are Phalaenopsis and Vanda variations. Additionally, they feature nodes at the base of each stem that have the potential to sprout into new offshoot plants known as Keiki.

On the other hand, sympodial orchids develop along what is known as a rhizome, which is a lengthy and horizontal stem. The lower part of the rhizome is where the roots develop, whereas the upper part of the rhizome is where the water-storing pseudobulbs develop. Orchid species such as Oncidium, Cymbidium, Paphiopedilums, Dendrobium, and Cattleya are typical examples of sympodial orchids.

The techniques of propagation known as division, back bulb propagation, and stem cutting propagation are all successful when used to sympodial orchids. However, if you employ keiki propagation or aerial root propagation on monopodial orchids, you should have good results.

Plant Division

Large orchid plants may be cut into portions, each of which can produce its own new plant. These sections can then be replanted. Before you cut the plant, it is important to thoroughly inspect the root structure in order to decide where the cuts should be made. Sympodial orchids should be cut into portions that are around three to four inches long. At least three fully developed pseudobulbs should be included in each segment.

You may divide the plant by using a clean knife with a sharp edge, a pair of shears, or even just by pulling it apart carefully with your hands. In many instances, the plant will have a natural region in which it divides readily, and it is recommended that the division be followed as closely as possible.

After the plant has been divided, it will be much simpler to repot it. It is essential to get rid of any roots or leaves that have died. Additionally, you need to get rid of any old pseudobulbs. The newer, more manageable plants should be given the same level of attention to detail that the older orchid did.

Rhizome propagation is another name for this particular kind of plant reproduction. During the process of division propagation, the rhizome of the plant is what is really cut and separated into new plants.

Back Bulbs

Back bulb propagation is another option that may be pursued after splitting a sympodial orchid. Back bulbs are a type of pseudobulb that continue to assist the plant by storing water even when they are no longer active in the production of roots or blooms.

Either on its own or in conjunction with the division of the plant, the rear bulb can be detached from the plant and used independently. Plant the active eye of the rear bulb wherever you like inside the potting media if it has one. The rear bulb can be coaxed into roots once it has been transplanted in its new location. While some rear bulbs may begin to sprout in as little as a few weeks, others may remain dormant for as long as two years.

Back bulb propagation is one of the most effective ways to develop new plants from favorite orchids, but it is also one of the slowest propagation methods. Back bulb propagation is a good approach to create young seedlings. New plant life won’t be completely developed right away; rather, it will appear as immature sprouts that may take years to reach their full potential.



Offshoots called keiki can sometimes be seen growing from monopodial orchids. These new plants emerge from nodes on the orchid’s stem, typically located immediately above the root structure or branching off the parent plant’s stem.

Before removing the Keiki gently away from the parent plant, it is better to wait until it has developed leaves and grown roots that are at least 1 inch long. This will give it the best chance of survival. It is best to wait on the Keiki until the leaves and roots are between two and three inches in length if at all feasible.

The use of keiki paste to an orchid is another method for promoting the growth of keiki. This is a paste that includes cytokinin, which is a hormone that stimulates the growth of plants by causing cell division to take place.

You may also prepare it at home if that is more to your liking. In order to prepare it, combine one milligram of cytokinin, which may be purchased as BAP or Benzylaminopurine, with one gram of lanolin that has been heated. Because BAP may irritate both the eyes and the skin, you should be sure to operate in a well-ventilated location while also using protective gloves and eyewear.

After you have prepared the paste or acquired it from a store, locate an appropriate node on the orchid. Nodes tend to be brown in color and have a texture that is similar to that of a junction in the stem. Cut off just enough of the node with a clean pair of scissors or a knife so that it feels even with the rest of the stem. This should be done so that the node is flush with the remainder of the stem.

Take a tiny bit of the Keiki paste and scoop it out with a wooden chopstick or a cotton swab. Remember to protect your hands by donning gloves before doing this. To the area with the open nodes, apply the paste.

The results of using keiki paste might be seen in a few weeks. However, there is a possibility that a flower stem rather than a Keiki will develop in the spot where you placed the Keiki paste; therefore, it is not always a sure bet.

Aerial Roots

Long roots that develop away from the main stem of a monopodial orchid are referred to as aerial roots.

After the main stem has been properly severed from these roots, the roots can be transplanted into a new container. A new plant will ultimately emerge from the ground when the roots have established a firm foothold in the soil.

Stem Cuttings

The ultimate way of propagation is known as stem cutting propagation. Any type of orchid that possesses new growth zones or nodes is suitable for this technique of treatment. Because of this, you should only apply this technique on sympodial orchids if at all possible.

After the plant has completed producing flowers, choose a stem that is between between ten and twelve inches in length. Use a pair of sanitized scissors or a knife that is in good shape and cut it off at the root. After that, cut the stem into segments that are between two and three inches in length each. Be certain that there is a new growth area or a node located somewhere along the length of each segment.

Place each segment in a wet patch of sphagnum moss. Maintain a moist environment for the moss while the stem portions root. The use of plastic wrap to cover the potting tray has the potential to induce high humidity, which is beneficial to the growth of orchids.