Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Orchid seeds (Cymbidium bicolor)

So far this year my large Cymbidium bicolor plant has flowered 2-3 times or more and nearly all of the flowers turned into seed pods. A batch of pods from some months ago have started to burst so I’m hoping I’ll see at least one baby plant somewhere in the orchid house next year.


Some weeks ago, I found one small cymbidium seedling which had germinated naturally on a dendrobium mount, along with two other Phaius seedlings. Phaius seeds germinate easily so I wasn’t surprised to find them. However, I was more than thrilled to find the baby cym!


Out of the millions of seeds released, I found only one that made it to a decent seedling size. There may be others elsewhere as seeds may be carried by the wind to far away places but I found only one in my orchid house. Hard to tell how old it is but can’t be more than 2 as I’ve only had my bicolor for two years; flowers and seed pods came a few months after I got it.


Back in 2008, we also tried self-flasking some common cym seeds and got three flaskfuls of healthy babies. From the hundreds of tiny plantlets, only one has managed to survive to this day. It is still a small size but growing steadily.


Here are some photos taken today:



A burst seed pod. Seeds will continue to be carried off by the wind in the days to come. Those small dots on the outside of the pod are tiny seeds!



A spider oblivious to the thousands of orchid seeds invading its space.



Cymbidium bicolor seed pods. These mature pods are a few months old and are just starting to burst.



Seeds from the burst cymbidium pods caught in a spider web. The seeds are so tiny and light that they may be carried off by the wind to far away places.



Cym. bicolor seeds caught in a spider web.



Here’s the lone Cymbidium seedling I found on a Dendrobium anosmum mount. The two other orchid seedlings behind it are Phaius tankervilleae seedlings.


From the millions of orchid seeds released from multiple seed pods, only a small fraction will germinate successfully and even fewer will grow into healthy adult plants.


See also my blog entry about Coelogyne seedlings here:

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