how orchids reproduce

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Every orchid grower wants to know the answer! Everyone wants to know, how orchids reproduce. Can I propagate orchids all by myself? Is it hard?

First of all, don’t you worry, because the propagation of orchids is not that complicated. In fact, most people don’t even realize how easy it is.

Orchids are exotic plants that have a reputation for being difficult to grow. However, with some basic knowledge of orchid care and the right conditions, you can easily propagate orchids in your home.

In this post, you will learn how orchids reproduce and how you can easily propagate orchids in your own home!

So let’s begin…

How Do Orchids Reproduce?

Like most plants orchids also reproduce in two ways –

  • Sexually or through seeds, and
  • Asexually or via vegetative propagation.

The lifecycle of an orchid (and most other flowering plants) is complex and includes various processes – pollination, fertilization, development of seeds, germination and growth of seedlings, etc.

The result of the entire process is the formation of a new plant.

During the sexual reproduction process, male cells (pollen) are delivered to female cells, where they fuse together and form a zygote. This zygote then develops into an embryo that grows into a seedling.

On the other hand, vegetative propagation is done by creating clones from parts of existing orchids. They are exact copies of the mother plant, which means they have the same genes and characteristics as the original plant.

Easiest Orchids To Propagate:

Orchids are popular flowers for decoration, but they have a reputation for being tricky to grow. However, that’s not true of all orchids.

There are actually quite a few species and cultivars that are very easy to grow and care for, and some of them can even be grown outdoors in the right climates.

Some of the easiest orchids to grow and keep in your home are:

  • Moth Orchids
  • Cattleya
  • Lady’s Slipper’s Orchids
  • Dendrobium
  • Cymbidium
  • Jewel Orchids.

How To Propagate An Orchid:

There are two methods of growing orchids from seed: 1. Seed propagation and 2. Vegetative propagation.

Although orchids reproduce both sexually and asexually, the best way to propagate them is through vegetative propagation.

Orchids can be propagated from seeds, but this is not ideal for everyday gardeners as it would take years for the plant to mature and flower.

In this post, we will cover different vegetative methods of propagating orchids.

Vegetative Propagation Of An Orchid:

Vegetative propagation is the process of asexual reproduction of a plant without the use of seeds.

You can grow a whole new plant from an existing one by cutting a piece from the roots, rhizomes stems, or leaves.

The most popular methods of propagating orchids are through:

  • Cuttings,
  • Keikis,
  • Divisions, and
  • Back bulbs.

How To Grow An Orchid From A Cuttings:

Propagating orchids from cuttings is easier than you may think. In fact, it’s one of the most popular ways of growing new orchids.

If you have a plant that’s happy with its current pot and growing conditions, propagating is a great way to make more plants without disturbing the original plant.

To propagate an orchid, first, you must determine the type of orchid you have. From there, you can make a cutting from an existing stem and grow it in a container filled with potting mix.

In general, most orchids fall into three categories: monopodial, sympodial, and vining.

Monopodial orchids have a single stem and grow in an upright fashion. These include many popular Phalaenopsis varieties.

Sympodial orchids have multiple stems that grow horizontally, and they bloom at the end of the stem with new growth coming out at the base.

These include most cattleyas, dendrobiums, oncidiums, miltonias and cymbidiums.

Vining orchids are scrambling growers that produce roots wherever they find a solid surface to cling to. This family includes Vanilla planifolia.

Orchids are usually propagated by taking stem cuttings. The stem cutting is allowed to root and then the rooted cutting is potted up into a new pot.

After the cutting is stable on its own, you can transplant it to a larger pot.

Here are instructions for propagating these different types of orchids:

Monopodial Orchid Stem Cuttings:

Cuttings taken from monopodial orchid stems will produce a plant with a single unbranched stem that grows upward year after year.

Sympodial Orchid Stem Cuttings:

Cuttings taken from sympodial stems will grow into plants that branch out as they mature.

Vining Orchid Stem Cuttings:

Vining orchids will grow more like vines than shrubs.

How To Propagate An Orchid Through Division:

The easiest way to propagate an orchid is through division. This method is great for small or large collections because it requires no special equipment and can be done at any time of year.

The best part is you can use it to separate your favorite varieties into several new ones without paying for them!

You can divide an orchid by pulling apart its roots and leaves into smaller plants.

When your orchid has grown into a clump of plants, you can divide it into two or more individual plants by separating the roots and repotting each one in containers.

It’s a good idea to have some glue on hand for this step since the roots might not want to stay put after being severed cleanly from each other.

After dividing the plant, put one half back in its pot while planting the other in another container filled with fresh soil (or sand).

How To Propagate An Orchid From Keikis:

Keiki is the Hawaiian word for baby, and when it comes to your orchids, it means a new plant that grows out of the leaf axils on an adult orchid.

If you have a healthy orchid with at least four leaves on its pseudobulb and a keiki growing from its axil, you can easily propagate it.

Sterilize a sharp knife or razor blade with rubbing alcohol. Then, cut below the keiki where the roots meet the parent plant. The root system should be at least 2-3 cm long.

Wrap sphagnum moss around the roots of the keiki and tie it together with string or twine. Place this in a plastic bag for some time. As they already have grown roots they will be ready to grow in their new environment.

Keikis are a sign that the mother plant is in good health, and they’re also a fun way to propagate your plants. The two most commonly keiki producing orchids are Phalaenopsis and Dendrobium.

How To Propagate An Orchid From Back Bulbs:

Back bulbs are the small bulbs located at the base of the plant on sympodial orchids such as cattleya and dendrobium.

Back bulbs are actually inactive pseudobulbs that don’t grow but only supply nutrients to the plant. These usually start to appear in spring, growing bigger until they turn into new plants themselves.

Propagating from back bulbs is easy:

Get a sharp pair of scissors and cut each bulb as close as possible to its base on the main plant – you should always remove all leaves so the bulb has no moisture loss through them. Be careful not to damage any other parts of the orchid, which could spread disease.

Pot up the back bulb in a sterile growing medium like fir bark, perlite, or sphagnum moss and water thoroughly (Figure 2).

Place in bright light but out of the direct sun until new growth appears, then move it into brighter light if you want it to bloom next year.

Although this method of orchid propagation is one of the easiest it can take a longer time for the plant to grow. Back bulbs are one of the slowest-growing parts of an orchid plant.

How To Grow An Orchid From Seeds:

The trick to growing orchids from seed is patience. Orchid seeds are extremely tiny and the propagation is complicated. It needs advanced equipment and takes several years for the plants to flower.

If you are interested in knowing how to grow orchids from seeds here is a full guide from the American Orchid Society


While it’s very easy to buy orchids from your local florists and nurseries, the satisfaction of propagating your own orchid is something else altogether.

Hopefully, this post had detailed enough information for you to try propagation at home.

These exotic flowers add a great deal of beauty to the home and there are three simple ways to grow them in your own comfort zone.

I hope you learned something new today. If you like the information don’t forget to share it with others.

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