Keikis for Propagating Orchids

Many orchids sometimes produce keikis, or small plantlets, either on their flower stems or along the canes of their pseudobulbs. Once they are mature enough, you can cut these off and pot them up to propagate your orchid. As with division, propagating orchids this way produces a clone of the parent plant; flowers will look identical.
Keikis on an Epidendrum
This Epidendrum orchid has numerous plantlets sprouting from its pseudobulbs.

Some types of orchids do this more readily than others. Phalaenopsis frequently propagate themselves by developing plantlets on their inflorescences after blooming (they develop where a flower fell off.) Dendrobiums, Epidendrums, and other types have them along their pseudobulbs, either developing at the tip of the pseudobulb or at the node above a leaf.

Once the new plant is sufficiently mature that roots are a couple inches long (about half a dozen cm) and it has at least a few leaves, you can carefully cut it off of the parent plant (use a sterile cutting tool such as a disposable razor blade, or a knife that you've soaked in bleach; you don't want to spread orchid diseases such as viruses!) Put the new plant into its own pot, basket, or on its own slab, as described on the repotting orchids page. It will likely be a few years before it reaches blooming size.

There is no need to separate a keiki from its parent plant, though not doing so can create messy-looking plants The new plant may also have its roots all in the air reqiring more misting and humidity to keep it healthy. But if you want to bend a Phalaenopsis flower spike to put the keiki in the same pot as its parent plant, go ahead! Keeping the new plant attached to its parent longer may help it develop to blooming size more quickly as well.

If you want to induce an orchid to make a keiki, use "keiki paste". The cytokinin it contains is a hormone that induces axillary bud growth, among other effects. Follow the manufacturer's directions if you want to use this, and be aware that it works better on types of orchids that sometimes form keikis naturally.

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