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Old 08-01-2013, 07:26 AM
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Seed-sowing from scratch (my first try)

I've been inspired big-time by the experiment of exasperatus2002 step by step... to try my hand at growing orchids from seed. My first attempt is Cattlianthe Golden Wax x self (my avatar plant), pollinated 12-13-12. I am going with a "self" mainly because it was easy to do - I am mainly doing this for the experience of doing it, as much as possible, on my own.

Close-up of the plant from last year:

dsc03699-crop-640x480.jpg

And here are some photos of the pods as they were on July 25:

20130727_142945-640x480.jpg

20130727_142945-crop1-640x480.jpg

20130727_142945-crop2-640x480.jpg

So, my first question to those of you that have done this before, do the pods seem sufficiently ripe to you? Should I wait?

Rather than using a commercial seed-sowing medium, I am going to try using a recipe found elsewhere on the web, based on agar, banana, tomato, sugar, B vitamins. I will post more on that recipe and my materials later on.

Wish me luck!
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Old 08-01-2013, 07:37 AM
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Well, congratulations on the pods and I do hope your journey is successful, I know you can do it!!
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Old 08-01-2013, 07:46 AM
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Thanks for the vote of confidence, Joyce!

My first attempt will either be an epic success or epic fail, but either way, I hope I learn something. As Ed McMahon used to say, you can't win if you don't enter!
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:37 AM
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No your big green pods aren't ready to harvest yet. Wait for them to start turning a slightly yellow color. The color change usually starts in the depressed part between the ridges and also at the base of the pod next to the stem.

Check the #3 pod where the discoloration is on top of the pod, the mark could be an opening to the seeds.

If you want to wait for the pod to open on its own, you will then have to sterilize the seeds prior to planting. The green pod sowing does not require the strong disinfecting procedure of the open pod.

Good luck.

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Old 08-01-2013, 11:26 AM
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Thanks Brooke
I'll examine #3 closely for possible damage. #2 is the pod I plan to use, the other (#3) is mainly for "backup".
I'll look for more yellow over the next few weeks.
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Old 08-01-2013, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catt Mandu View Post
I've been inspired big-time by the experiment of exasperatus2002 step by step... to try my hand at growing orchids from seed. My first attempt is Cattlianthe Golden Wax x self (my avatar plant), pollinated 12-13-12. I am going with a "self" mainly because it was easy to do - I am mainly doing this for the experience of doing it, as much as possible, on my own.

Close-up of the plant from last year:

Attachment 63089

And here are some photos of the pods as they were on July 25:

Attachment 63090

Attachment 63091

Attachment 63092

So, my first question to those of you that have done this before, do the pods seem sufficiently ripe to you? Should I wait?

Rather than using a commercial seed-sowing medium, I am going to try using a recipe found elsewhere on the web, based on agar, banana, tomato, sugar, B vitamins. I will post more on that recipe and my materials later on.

Wish me luck!
Thank you for the compliment and Good luck! If you dont want to wait for it to dehisc but still want to have the most mature seed you can. Then wait for the signs that its soon ready to dehisc (the color changing where it's going to split) then harvest it before it pops. My flasking co. said that Cattleya seed matures late so green pods sent in have more unripened seed in it. Mine had 93% of the seed sampled by microscope as mature seed. Alot of people do green pod. And theres nothing wrong with that. Especially when trying to self flask due to contamination. I personally would try walk the line & get the best of both sides & to wait to catch it before it opens. But be vigilant if you do.
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Old 08-02-2013, 06:36 AM
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That is pretty much my plan; wait until the pods are ready but not yet dehiscing - "walk the line" as you say. If the pods start to split, then I just have some extra seed sterilization steps.
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Old 08-02-2013, 09:27 AM
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look up easy sterilizing of orchid seeds with hydrogen peroxide..i tried green pod method the first time,no contamination no germ,,, nothing..give your self a good chance and try dry seed method..you can store if needed..you do not have to use all at once.. if something might go wrong the first time..i.e contamination..I have tried again both dry and green pod..still waiting on outcome..only flasked them about a week ago..i also used diy agar media
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Old 08-04-2013, 03:12 AM
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Catt ripening times as with all orchids, are dependant on the mothers characteristics and the seasons.
They can go from really quick to really slow.
Catts have been a real challenge for me to reliably pollinate and from what I understand, this is common.

As for seed pod ripening times, Mcp. tibicinis split open for me 5 1/2 weeks after I pollinated it and some of those seeds have germinated. Meanwhile Rl. digbyana is still going strong at 10 months and not even looking close.

I prefer the dry seed because it reduces the chance of virus spread, although some orchids, such as paphs are advised not to use that method.

From what I understand, green seed flasking is easier to germinate, although I have no proof.

If you have seeds left over, you can store them in the fridge - just make sure they are dry. They will last for a few years, but slowly lose their viability.
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Old 08-04-2013, 05:31 PM
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Nice choice for the parent plant. Those blooms are beautiful. Even if you don't succeed, I wouldn't consider it a failure. I think those pods are so pretty, it's worth pollinating just to see them develop. I hope you are successful and we can watch the progress all the way to blooms on the offspring. I know, I know ... a loooong wait, but it'll be worth it. ^_^
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Old 08-05-2013, 03:43 AM
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With the flasking, you should know within the first week if you have contamination.
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Old 08-05-2013, 08:41 AM
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if you plan to sow from green pods, it is advisable to wait for them to be at least 50% of their full maturity (you can google for average cattleya pods maturity time). the germination percentage increases as the pods mature and ideally green pods are harvested when they are 75% mature at least.
you can sometimes press on the depressed area between the ridges slightly, the pods will be slightly softer as they reaches maturity.
i prefer sowing dry seeds at times, i used 1:20 dilution of household bleach and then rinse for 2-3 times after soaking them for 10-15 mins.
i am too starting from scratch. i initially tried those DIY media but i did not invested in a pH meter and was told pH was very important. so subsequently i am currently trying my very first on commercial media.
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Old 08-05-2013, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catasetum-ian View Post
if you plan to sow from green pods, it is advisable to wait for them to be at least 50% of their full maturity (you can google for average cattleya pods maturity time). the germination percentage increases as the pods mature and ideally green pods are harvested when they are 75% mature at least.
you can sometimes press on the depressed area between the ridges slightly, the pods will be slightly softer as they reaches maturity.
i prefer sowing dry seeds at times, i used 1:20 dilution of household bleach and then rinse for 2-3 times after soaking them for 10-15 mins.
i am too starting from scratch. i initially tried those DIY media but i did not invested in a pH meter and was told pH was very important. so subsequently i am currently trying my very first on commercial media.
Thanks for the tips on pod ripening and pH!
Following your information, I've read elsewhere that pH should ideally be close to 5.5 for many orchids, adjusted with sodium hydroxide or hydrochloric acid if needed. I do have access to a pH meter, so I still hope to use home-made growing media.
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Old 08-05-2013, 09:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catt Mandu View Post
Thanks for the tips on pod ripening and pH!
Following your information, I've read elsewhere that pH should ideally be close to 5.5 for many orchids, adjusted with sodium hydroxide or hydrochloric acid if needed. I do have access to a pH meter, so I still hope to use home-made growing media.
5.5...same goes for my catasetum . was told to use lemon juice as acidifier.
and in sowing pot, i was also told not to add in banana yet but to put in charcoal (i notice some recipe in the internet has banana in the sowing medium). good luck and keep us posted
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Old 08-28-2013, 01:44 PM
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Well, on August 23, guess what? One of the pods (3rd photo, first post) began to dehisc, it never changed color. The other pod still looks the same as in the first post.

I've collected the first pod, removed the seed to store dry until I can sow it (maybe this weekend). I'll probably try a couple different sewing techniques. I've already prepared flasks with home-made medium (recipe to follow).

Some flasks, of course, will wait for that second pod. I will probably harvest it within the next week.

In the meantime, I am finishing putting a home-made glove box together, mostly from materials I already had on hand.
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Old 09-23-2013, 01:29 AM
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Seed-sewing: Making the medium

I have not posted to this thread since late August, but I have been making progress (just no time available to make detailed posts!).

First, I wanted to post about making the growing medium. I used a recipe posted in a blog from Dokmai Garden in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in a post called "How to grow orchids from seeds – kitchen style". Easy to find by searching for title in quotes. The medium is made from ingredients found at the grocery, including banana, fresh tomato, agar flakes (sold as an alternative to gelatin in whole food groceries and asian markets), sugar, vitamin B1, and distilled water:
20130823_010608-640x480.jpg


My original choice for flasks were small jars with clear lids, rubber seals and wire-bailed seals:
20130823_005506-small.jpg


Jars were partially filled with agar medium. A piece of foil across the seal assures that the jar can be easily opened later on so that seed can be sewn:
20130823_022921-640x480.jpg

There is more medium than needed for sewing seed. Some was "canned" in a similar jar, to be available for re-plating later on:
20130823_022941-small.jpg

Later, it was determined that the wire-bailed jars were getting contaminated easily. More jars (flasks) were prepared with conventional screw-top lids:
img_20130904_042320_274-small.jpg

All flasks were autoclaved in a pressure cooker:
20130823_022909-small.jpg

To be continued - next step, sewing seeds.
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:46 PM
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I originally planned to stay as conventional as possible in terms of the mechanics of actually sewing the seed I had. Basically, keep the seed sewing area as free of airborne spores as possible, disinfect seed using a dilute bleach solution, and so on. From an old aquarium, steel rings from the hobby store, a couple of clear, rigid plastic document covers, long rubber gloves, and duct tape, I constructed a glove box:

img_20130904_050742_648-400x359.jpg img_20130904_050959_341-408x547.jpg


My seed pods started to dehisc on August 23. I harvested the first one on 8-26-2013. The second seed pod dehisced the first weekend of September. I harvested the pods and opened them on a sheet of paper:

20130826_010702-640x480.jpg

I was all set to go with conventional seed-sewing. Then, on another forum (Orchid Board), I read a post by a member (roby) who developed a simple home seed-sewing method that does not require a sterile environment (glove box I made? Not needed), nor does it require a sterilizing solution. Ripe pods that have already opened are fine to use. He adapted it from a Brazilian protocol that he read online from http://www.scielo.br/pdf/hb/v24n2/19.pdf He reports only a 10% loss rate to contamination (which I believe after trying it). The method relies on fumes from sodium hypochlorite (houshold bleach) to eliminate fungal and bacterial spores from the seeds, agar surface, essentially all surfaces inside the jar.

First step, assuming the jars ("flasks") are ready in advance, a small amount of seed on the tip of a knife is dusted onto the surface of the agar germination medium:



img_20130904_043325_996-640x480.jpg


Step two, a sheet of plastic wrap with a 1-2 cm hole cut in it is stretched over the mouth of the jar. I outlined the hole with a marker so that you can see it in the photos more easily:

img_20130904_043823_138-544x408.jpg

Next, a cotton gauze pad is soaked in straight household bleach. My bleach was about 8.5% sodium hypochlorite. I blotted the bleach-soaked pad on paper towel to assure no drips into the jar. After blotting, the gauze pad is placed on top of the hole in the plastic wrap. A solid sheet of plastic wrap goes over the bleach-soaked gauze pad.

img_20130904_043950_644-478x358.jpg

Roby left his jars with the gauze pad in place for at least 3 hours, but not more than 5 hours. I elected to go with only 3 hours. After 3 hours, forceps are used to pull the gauze pad from between the sheets of plastic wrap (do this carefully but quickly; avoid lifting the sheets of plastic if possible). The plastic remains in place. As soon as the gauze is removed, screw the lid onto the jar.


I labeled the bottom of each jar with an ID number and the date seed was sewn.


img_20130904_042010_115-small.jpg


The jars were placed in a location with only dim light available until germination. Next post: results.
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:52 PM
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Very interesting method, can't wait for updates on how well this works. I semi tried flasking before, all mother flasks got contaminated so I gave up and never ever tried again.
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Old 09-24-2013, 10:09 PM
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Thanks Jenny.

The "flasks" that I have germinated appear to contain what looks like yellow-green cornmeal on the medium. I have taken photos, but without a better camera, results don't look like much. But, under a magnifying glass, the "grains" look like tiny yellow-green glass beads, some of which have tiny "spikes" protruding from them. I am transitioning them to a bit better light, probably under fluorescent grow lights.
I am going to keep a close watch on them over the next few weeks & will hopefully have something more impressive to post as pictures.
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Old 09-25-2013, 03:07 AM
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With light, you can use plain old fluoro lights. You may also use the grow lights but it is not as vital and you probably wont notice any significant difference. Although I use the grow lights just because it feels right.

Catt seeds might take a while to germinate. They can be stubbon things.

Other genera like paphs need periods of darkness to germinate and may take 12 months to get to that stage of germination. So be patient.

I find phals and dens are quick to germinate - within a few weeks if they work.

Good work so far.
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:59 AM
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It will be interesting to see if the bleach method works - good luck!

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Old 09-25-2013, 08:59 AM
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With light, you can use plain old fluoro lights. You may also use the grow lights but it is not as vital and you probably wont notice any significant difference. Although I use the grow lights just because it feels right.

Catt seeds might take a while to germinate. They can be stubbon things.

Other genera like paphs need periods of darkness to germinate and may take 12 months to get to that stage of germination. So be patient.

I find phals and dens are quick to germinate - within a few weeks if they work.

Good work so far.
Hi Plucker

Fortunately I already have some lights - built shelving with Fluorescent grow lights last year at about this time.

The seeds are Cattleya alliance ("self" of Cattlianthe Golden Wax; see my avatar). Based on what I've read, I was not expecting germination this quickly. I will admit that it is possible that what I am seeing in the flasks is something other than protocorms developing. But, this plant has always been an incredibly vigorous grower; maybe that is showing up in seed growth?
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooke View Post
It will be interesting to see if the bleach method works - good luck!

Brooke
Thanks Brooke!

I do still have some seed that are not yet sewn, and I have all the equipment and supplies to go ahead and disinfect and sew the seed using conventional means. The only thing I have lacked is time to get it done. I am hoping that I will have a bit of quiet time later this week to give it a shot, as I want to try the conventional way, too.

I am rooting for this bleach fume method, though, because it is so easy and requires so little equipment.
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Old 09-26-2013, 10:47 PM
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i like brooke an interested if this bleach technique works... i hope it does as this would make flasking easier keep us posted...
i ordered syringes with the holes drilled in caps and put paper towel as filter in the cleaning and rinse process for seed. i will have to find they guys addy who makes them his vids are on you tube and hes a member on here but doesnt post very often these days. his job has him traveling quite a bit.
but its an interesting watch its a 3 part video makes it look very easy
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Old 10-06-2013, 02:33 PM
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Update

OK, so out of the 6 "flasks" (jars) sewn using the bleach fume method, I now have 3 flasks with many little protocorms (see post from September 24), 2 with a few protocorms, and one that developed contamination. So far, so good with that method.

This morning I tried the conventional sterilize-the-seed-first approach. I used the approach outlined by Dokmai garden (see my Sept. 23 post).

It's done - no photos possible (my hands were in the glove box the whole time). My impression is - what a mess! I am sure that's because I'm a newbie doing this. But, if the bleach fume method gives me healthy seedlings, I doubt I will go back to this approach unless there is a good reason.

For flasks using both methods, it is time to sit back and wait, see what happens. My impression from reading various information sources is that it can be months before you see anything that looks like a leaf. We shall see.
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Old 10-06-2013, 02:54 PM
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So only one developed contamination with the fume method, that is amazing I am very interested in how both methods turn out for you. I would love to try flasking again but since my first attempt was a big fat FAIL, makes me nervous.
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Old 10-07-2013, 06:49 AM
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I did the same experiment over the two last weekends as well, and I have to say that the fume method with the cotton pad over the flask is so much easier than the glove box. Maybe it's just my poor design, but the glove box is tricky and difficult to see into with the condense and fog and the only gloves I could find are rough industrial types that are too big and they make me clumsy and inaccurate.

Can't say anything about contamination and results so far, but even if contamination is higher with the fumes method it might just still be worth it because of the ease and convenience of it.
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:15 AM
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Silje, that is part of my experience as well.
The other thing I noticed is that there is more of a watery liquid on top of the agar using the conventional means. I have thought of loosening the screw caps on one of the jars to see if I can drain some of this off. It's not like there is a centimeter of this liquid floating on the agar (more like < 1 mm), but it is enough that I am worried the orchid seeds will "drown".

If I get at least 1 "flask" that survives, and a few healthy plants from that, I'll consider this first try a success (for an amateur). If I get significantly more than that, I'll do my victory dance. No plants at all? Well, then it's time to cry in my beer, figure out what went wrong & try again.
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Old 10-25-2013, 10:27 AM
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How are your flasks coming along?
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Old 10-27-2013, 08:33 AM
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Hi Jenny!

Funny you should ask, I was just getting ready to post an update, so here we go!

Back on September 24th, 20 days after seed-sewing, I had noticed that something was happening with the seeds. Of course, the orchid seeds all start out looking a bit like tiny bits of hair, slightly thicker in the middle. But 20 days after sewing my seeds, I had something that looked different, sort of like yellow-green corn meal on the surface of the agar. I tried to photograph, the photos are admittedly horrible, but I am posting just a few for comparison purposes so you can see the difference after a month:

dscf0417-close-sprouted-2.jpg dscf0417-close-sprouted.jpg

Over the past month, the protocorms have gotten bigger and a bit greener:

img_0132-519x587.jpgimg_0135-474x524.jpgimg_0131-635x585.jpg

If you look closely at that last one, you can see vertical "spikes" emerging from the protocorms. Again, not a great photo, but maybe you can see what I mean:

img_0131-963x344.jpg

I also have another jar, different jar style (gray plastic lid), and seeds from the other seed pod, with lower and slower germination. The seeds are from the pod that dehisced first. Maybe 20 - 30 protocorms going in that jar? Not photogenic, but later on, this may actually be the easier pod to grow on & separate the plantlets. I had 2 other jars of this type that later developed contamination. So, I have 4 of 6 jars continuing to develop.

Finally, an update on the seeds sewn using conventional sterilization solution. These were sewn 10-06-13. I think I sewed 3 jars this way, one survives:

img_0137-547x623.jpg

The most obvious thing I would do differently the next time, for all flasks except my "gray lid" jar, SEW LESS SEEDS. Way too many protocorms per jar. Oh well, live and learn. I will just have to see how things turn out. Some jars I will probably try to re-flask as they get older. Others, maybe let them grow on the way that they are for longer (I know I will have a tangled mess of interlocking roots as they get older, that may be OK).

I feel very fortunate with how things have progressed so far. I was very surprised at how quickly the germination happened . . . wasn't expecting that! Maybe it is the plant I chose to use? It is a very vigorous grower and easy blooming Cattleya type.
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Old 10-27-2013, 08:37 AM
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Oh, one thing to add.

I have noticed a lot more success with short, squat jars like the ones you see. I tried small jars that were taller, using the same methods, all were contaminated. So, little jars that hold things like jam, artichoke hearts, pimientos, capers, etc., seem to work best.
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Old 10-27-2013, 01:57 PM
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SO interesting! thank you for sharing!
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Old 10-28-2013, 10:38 AM
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I doubt if the size of the jar has any bearing on the contamination problem. Sterile is sterile regardless of size. The bigger jars were contaminated somehow prior to sewing or the seal on the jar was compromised somehow.

We use pint sized canning jars. The glass jar can be used over and over and you can always buy new rims to fit the jar.

Congrats of your success so far.

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Old 10-28-2013, 10:39 AM
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So exciting! Can't wait for the next update.
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:40 AM
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Hi Brooke - thanks for the encouragement!

Regarding the taller jars, I am thinking specifically that the bleach fume method I used to sew & sterilize seed works better with less air volume in the short jars. Sorry if I was not clear about what I meant. Admittedly, this is based off of relatively few attempts, but I have had better success with the short jars. Maybe this should be taken as just an unconfirmed observation at this point. The taller jars were sterile and showed no contamination before seeds were sewn. I think the type of jar is less critical with the traditional seed-sewing method.

Hi Nicolene and nightsong! I'm glad you are enjoying the thread, & thanks for the support!

I have actually had an opportunity to also try this technique using some seed collected by others. One of our Northeast Georgia Orchid Society members had some Phragmipedium lindenii and Jumellea sagittata seeds, so we sewed one flask of each of those at our October meeting. Not germinating yet (it is very early), but no apparent contamination, so we shall see. I am meeting up with another NGOS member, and a member of Orchidgeeks, later this week to try some other species.

I think my next update will happen when I have some clearly visible leaves forming. Right now my photos still look like green goo; I will wait for something more photogenic! It could be past Christmas before that happens, but we shall see.
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Old 10-29-2013, 09:08 PM
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Congrats on your success so far. When I finally decide I wanna try flasking again I may hit you up for some tips lol.
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Old 10-30-2013, 12:35 PM
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Jenny, I would definitely try the bleach fume method. Very easy to set up, very easy to do.

I would be happy to pass along some tips when you try growing from seed again. Most of the information is given above, or in the original sources elsewhere that i mentioned. Although I am having some success and fun with this, it is too early to tell if this is "beginner's luck" or not. I will consider myself to have succeeded when I have some seedlings out in the world & growing well in community pots. Even more so if I have more than one type of seed that grows well for me using this method.

The best tip that I can offer up front, based on reading that I have done - choose your seeds carefully, and make sure they are mature before you harvest. As has been mentioned to me before, it can take 5 to 10 years to go from pollination to getting the first bloom. You want to be sure what you are growing will be worth it, either a self of a hybrid or species you like, or crossing two 'parents' that you think will result in good offspring.

If you give it a try, good luck!
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Old 11-07-2013, 01:18 PM
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Quick update on the seeds sewn on 10-06-13 by the conventional process (see my first post from that date, above, also my long post from 10-27-13, last photo).

The last jar that I had from the conventional seed-sewing process eventually developed a white fluffy mold. The protocorms seem too young to do anything with (might try some things experimentally, though).

The 4 bleach fume method flasks continue to do well. I will wait until I see some definite leaf growth before posting more pictures.
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Old 11-07-2013, 03:26 PM
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Definitely bookmarking this for all the good info, thanks for sharing
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Old 11-07-2013, 04:41 PM
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That's great!!! Can't wait to try the fume method, my phal seed pods are getting bigger. Still like a few months though.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:14 PM
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Update 11-26-2013

Well, this update is good & bad (mostly good).

Bad first. One more jar succumbed to the dreaded blue-gray fuzzy mold. It is the one jar that had relatively few protocorms developing. So, what you may have read about waiting (just) one or two weeks to see if mold develops? Yeah, not so much. This is 2.5 months after sewing.

The good news is that the remaining 3 jars are growing well. The fuzz in these jars is bright green - like the Jolly Green Giant's beard stubble, no magnifying glass needed to see the seedlings. I will still probably wait until after Christmas to take pictures.

I think the vigor of these seedlings has spoiled me - I'm very surprised by how fast they are coming along.

Oh, & the parent plants are blooming again. I divided it in the summer (hence "plants" instead of plant), even leads coming from the oldest back-bulbs are blooming (actually, those opened first).
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Old 01-09-2014, 02:40 PM
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Update 1-9-2014

Well, since my post on November 26, 2013, two more flasks developed mold. Only one flask remains without mold, seedlings growing well (maybe I will post a photo tonight).

I had one flask that developed some mold spots in mid-December, the other showed small mold spots right after new years day.

However, unlike the first moldy flask, I decided to experiment a bit with the tiny seedlings in these more recent moldy flasks, hoping I can save some of them.

First, I used a teaspoon to scrape any seedlings not damaged by mold into one of those flat-bottomed, plastic re-useable coffee filters. These have a very fine mesh bottom. The little seedlings do not have roots yet - just a protocorm with one or 2 tiny leaves.

I then rinsed the seedlings in the plastic filter with tepid tap water to remove any agar, picked out any mold damaged seedlings. The whole filter is set down into a clean, clear plastic container with a clear lid (really just a re-purposed container for cut fruit, from the grocery). I have 3 filter set-ups like this.

The seedlings seem to survive quite well in this set-up; they are green, not rotting, and look healthy under a hand magnifier. I am making no attempt to keep anything sterile. The closed plastic container keeps everything humid. I periodically mist the seedlings with rain water (about every 2 days), blot the filter from underneath to get rid of excess water. Also, every week or two I set the filter basket into a weak solution of balanced fertilizer with KLN added, drain and blot after a few minutes of soaking. If I can find a local source for glucose (aka dextrose, or corn sugar), I might add that to the soak later (but I would probably need to do more rinsing after the soaking to discourage fungi).

Long-term, I know the filter set-up might not be enough to raise the tiny, rootless seedlings into plants that can live on their own. With some of the seedlings, I have a couple other experiments going.

I finely chopped some sphagnum, wetted it, pressed out most of the water until barely damp, then placed the moss in two wide-mouth canning jars with glass bail-type lids. The jars were heat sterilized in a pressure cooker for 1/2 hour at 10 PSI. I cooled the jars, then carefully placed several seedlings on top of the sphagnum in each jar and closed the jars again. Many of the seedlings have survived so far and are staying green; no further signs of growth yet.

I did try to re-plate some seedlings on new agar and bleach-fume sterilize again. Sparing you the gory details, this did not work. I think the seedlings are too young (though I have read that this can work for much older seedlings).

I am also trying to grow some seedlings on by placing them on beds of live moss, growing in little mini-terrariums. Each little terrarium is made from the top and bottom of a 1-liter seltzer bottle. Inside each terrarium I have a small net pot filled about 3/4 full with coarse fir bark. On top of the fir bark are clumps of a small moss that grows virtually everywhere on cracks and crevices in paved sidewalks, brickwork, roads, etc. I gathered a bunch of those clumps and placed them on top of the bark in the net pots. The seedlings are placed on top of the live moss. The seedlings were then sprayed with rain water, weak fertilizer and KLN and then closed. I just started this, no results yet.

I will try to post pictures of all of this later on.

Another experiment that I have planned is to place some seedlings on chunks of partially-decomposed wood that is colonized by live, growing moss. These will also be maintained in mini-terrariums.

These little experiments may or may not work. I hope to learn a bit by trying something new; nothing ventured, nothing gained. I figure that the agar, etc. has mostly done its job by getting the tiny seeds to grow into seedlings that are now green and up to 1 cm long. In the wild, they would be mostly relying on their own photosynthesis to continue growing at this age, right? I hope my seedlings "in captivity" will do the same.
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Old 01-09-2014, 06:34 PM
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I would be thinking that for mould to develop that long after the replate, that the flasks are not sealed adequately.
You could try placing them in a clear plastic bag to help.
I use clear cellophane paper and fine wire over the top of the flask lid.
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Old 01-09-2014, 10:24 PM
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Have you tried a weak solution of physan 20 to combat the mould ? Best of luck. Keep us posted.
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Old 01-10-2014, 07:45 AM
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Thanks for the update!

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Old 01-10-2014, 10:51 AM
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Plucker, thanks for the suggestion. I was also thinking there might be a seal problem. I will try that with the remaining flask.

Exasperatus, as young as these seedlings are, I've been a bit concerned if they could tolerate disinfecting chemicals. I don't have Physan right now, but I can get an equivalent (?) product, Consan, at a local garden center. I might give it a try if something happens to the last flask. Thanks for the suggestion!

Brooke, I appreciate the moral support!

I did take photos last night - I will try to get them posted later today.
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Old 01-11-2014, 12:56 AM
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I did take some photos of some of the things I posted about the other day.

First up, here is my flask that still has seedlings with no mold:

img_0231-crop-534x591.jpg img_0232-crop-640x480.jpg

The seedlings are pale, not dark green, I think because they are shaded by the lid on the jar.

Next up, seedlings growing in a plastic coffee filter:
img_0234-640x480.jpg img_0235-640x480.jpg img_0238-640x480.jpg

The seedlings in the coffee filter have been out of a flask for a few weeks. Light is getting to the tiny plants more directly, I think this is the reason for the improved color.

Finally, here is one of the seltzer bottle terrariums, with moss, seedlings placed on the moss surface:

img_0240-480x640.jpg

A close-up with the lid removed:

img_0243-518x549.jpg

The little seedlings are very recently out of the flask, still pale. The moss clumps, I think, will keep a humid atmosphere around the seedlings until they can form roots. I am hoping to mimic the environment that wild orchid seedlings might root and grow in when in the wild. These mini-terrariums will be opened to the air and sprayed with rain water every few days, occasionally with some weak fertilizer and KLN added.

No photos of the seedlings in jars with sphagnum moss. Not too photogenic- they just look like jars with sphagnum, you can't really see the seedlings. Maybe I will photograph later, if the plants start developing into something more visible.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:41 AM
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Good luck with these teetiny little protocorms. You have more patience than I would have.

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Old 01-11-2014, 09:19 AM
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Thanks Brooke. I'll just need to see what happens. I am mainly wanting to learn something about processes with this experiment. What works, what doesn't, how to correct or recover from problems when they happen. Patience is one of the lessons!
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Old 01-11-2014, 11:16 AM
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The next time you flask something, lay the jar on its side so the light reaches it and isn't blocked by the lid. It will also enhance the growth of the protocorms.

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Old 01-11-2014, 12:17 PM
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Brooke, that's a great idea. Thanks!

Either that, or I need to come up with an option that has a clear lid. My first few flasks were in glass-lidded canning jars, but they developed mold before I could sow the seeds (not sure why).
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catt Mandu View Post
My first few flasks were in glass-lidded canning jars, but they developed mold before I could sow the seeds (not sure why).
Normally if you get contamination in the first week, then they haven't been sterilized sufficiently. Or the lid might not have a good seal but that is less likely the cause.
Remember it only takes 1 micron to contaminate.
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Old 03-30-2014, 09:39 AM
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It has been a long time since I have updated this thread, so I thought another post was in order.

Bad news first - contamination eventually got into the last of the original flasks. It spread really fast, I think it was a bacteria, not a mold (liquid, rather than "fuzzy"). Whatever it was, it spread really fast, couldn't save any of those seedlings.

The good news is that so far, at least some of my flasks with moss continue to do well.

The photos of the flasks in my January 10 post (above) show a moss that, in the long run, was not good for the seedlings. It grew fast in the indoor light and warmth, eventually covering up the seedlings.

I had better luck with a shorter-growing moss that I often found on decaying wood (mostly on old pine). I gathered chunks of the moss-covered wood and grew seedlings on those chunks of wood. I probably have 50 to 100 seedlings still growing on these wood chunks. Here are a few example photos:

img_0290-640x480.jpg img_0293-800x600.jpg


img_0295-800x600.jpg img_0296-800x600.jpg

I also have just a few seedlings that are growing on chopped sphagnum, moistened, wrung out until barely moist, sterilized then seedlings pllaced on the moss & jars closed. The seedlings are too hard to photograph through thesides of the jars, but seem to be doing well over the last few months.
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Old 03-30-2014, 12:30 PM
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What an interesting thread. I don't think I have the patience or time for it myself so thanks for sharing. Will be checking on your next update on the ones still surviving.
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Old 03-30-2014, 02:25 PM
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Congratulations!
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Old 03-30-2014, 03:56 PM
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Looks great!



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Old 03-30-2014, 04:32 PM
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Thanks for the encouragement everyone! I hope at some point these little guys start making some roots (so far, it's just tiny leaves). My other plants are outdoors but these will continue growing indoors this summer.
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Old 04-02-2014, 05:00 AM
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I currently have about 10 flasks with different NOID seeds (catts and phals) that were sowed in growth medium P6668 about two weeks ago. The growth medium was definitely nicely sterilized and the empty flasks had been standing for a month, I think. I just never got around to sow the seeds.

My home-made glove box isn't working, and the bleach method has been unsuccessful up to now. So I decided to do something different. In the bottom of a deep plastic container (high walls) I put a couple of layers of kitchen roll and wet them with bleach (undiluted). I washed over the flasks with bleach, also undiluted and put them into the container. I sterilized the seeds in a hydro peroxide solution 10% (only for a few minutes), and sowed them using a syringe. Then I put the flasks in strong light, but no direct sunlight.

As I said initially, it's been two weeks now and up to now there is no contamination in ant of the flasks.

In regard to germination...I have no idea if the trial was successful or not. We will see in a couple of months, I suppose.
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Old 04-02-2014, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silje View Post
I currently have about 10 flasks with different NOID seeds (catts and phals) that were sowed in growth medium P6668 about two weeks ago. The growth medium was definitely nicely sterilized and the empty flasks had been standing for a month, I think. I just never got around to sow the seeds.

My home-made glove box isn't working, and the bleach method has been unsuccessful up to now. So I decided to do something different. In the bottom of a deep plastic container (high walls) I put a couple of layers of kitchen roll and wet them with bleach (undiluted). I washed over the flasks with bleach, also undiluted and put them into the container. I sterilized the seeds in a hydro peroxide solution 10% (only for a few minutes), and sowed them using a syringe. Then I put the flasks in strong light, but no direct sunlight.

As I said initially, it's been two weeks now and up to now there is no contamination in ant of the flasks.

In regard to germination...I have no idea if the trial was successful or not. We will see in a couple of months, I suppose.
Good luck, and please keep us posted!
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Old 06-18-2014, 03:26 PM
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Roots forming on a few survivors!

The number of seedlings I have remaining on the green, living moss has decreased, but I noticed a few survivors are getting roots! Also, the seedlings in the jars with sphagnum are still alive, growing.

I will try to take pictures & post later on.

One thing I noted is that the orchids grow much more slowly than the live moss. The moss often overtakes and covers the orchid seedlings. The seedlings that have formed roots are on places where the moss is thin. I think that the partially decomposed wood underneath the moss might be a candidate growing medium when I decide it is time to move seedlings off of the moss entirely.

So, Cattlianthe seeds sown in September 2013 have produced tiny seedlings with roots in 9 months. Not too many survivors remaining, but there are still survivors. If I can get some seedlings big enough to transplant to a community flask or mini-terrarium, I will be pretty happy. I will keep an eye on what I have & not get in too big a rush to move the seedlings yet.
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:57 AM
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Pictures as promised

OK, so I here are a few pictures of the seedlings.

First, some seedling growing on moss. One of the various moss "nurseries" seems to be performing better than the others:
dsc00002-640x480.jpg

A closeup of a seedling (with a root) on that moss:
dsc00002-crop-640x480.jpg

Another view of the same moss nursery:
dsc00003-640x480.jpg

A closeup of another seedling with a root in that nursery (this is the best seedling that I have at the moment):
dsc00003-crop-640x480.jpg

Here is one of the jars with sphagnum, with some seedlings visible:
dsc00006-640x480.jpg

A close-up of that jar, clump of seedlings in the lower right. In the upper left, you can see some out-of-focus green (more seedlings further back in the jar):
dsc00006-crop-640x480.jpg
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Old 06-20-2014, 01:37 PM
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This has been fascinating. I'm so grateful to you for taking the time to make such informative posts. I'm hoping you'll get several seedlings to mature. They'll be very special plants. ^_^
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Old 06-20-2014, 04:53 PM
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I'm VERY impressed, Catt, and also intimidated! Well done.
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Old 06-20-2014, 08:36 PM
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@ Mary Thank you (but please don't be intimidated! ) Maybe give this a try yourself one day! It is not particularly hard to get to this point, but does require mountains of patience.

@slc, Thanks for your good wishes! If I get several seedlings to mature, that will exceed my expectations! If I have one that lives until blooming, I will be thrilled. And yes, each one that lives will be treasured.

I have already pollinated my next try - making a hybrid this time (back on March 29).

Pollen parent Cattleya Llory Ann 'Paradise':


Pod parent Cattleya Orglade's Blaze:


Here is a picture of the pod, not quite 3 months old, about 2 inches long, more than 1 inch across:
img_20140620_201349_388-478x550.jpg

Both of these Catts are compact (a plus). I am hoping I get some fragrance, some "splash" and more color from the pollen parent, and a more upright habit.
From the pod parent, I hope I get larger flower size and longevity (it's a really old plant).

I will grow some of the seeds myself, but will likely also send some out to be flasked, as I really want this to grow out to maturity, if possible.
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Old 06-21-2014, 03:41 AM
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How exciting! Do you have any idea how long the pod will take to ripen? It sounds like some of them take their sweet time. /taps foot /looks at watch

I hope you'll have time to keep us posted on your progress with both projects.
Wishing you success!
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Old 06-21-2014, 10:06 AM
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The pod used to produce seeds for the experiment I have been documenting took about 8 months from pollination to getting a mature pod that dehisced naturally (the only way I plan to do any seed production).

Maybe I will start another thread on growing the seeds for my hybrid!
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Old 07-28-2014, 09:45 AM
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Quick update. Several tiny seedlings have developed a few tiny roots, so I have moved them from the live moss blocks and sphagnum and in to some compots inside of seltzer-bottle terrariums (see my post from 1-14-2014 for a picture). For the moment, I am using the following media (organic ones finely chopped; all sterilized by boiling & then cooled): standard orchid bark; partially decomposed wood (from local forest); perlite.

No new pics today. I want to let them settle in & see how they are doing in a couple months.

Added later: BTW, these little seedlings are what has developed since seeds were initially flasked in September 2013, germination about 9-25-2013. So, about 10 months now since germination. All of these little guys are "survivors" that were taken out of flask in January 2014, due to contamination issues; tried re-plating back then, but lack of good sterile conditions kept me from getting uncontaminated re-plate flasks. I have not counted, but I estimate I have 20 - 30 tiny plants that have tiny roots (you can recognize velamen and growing tips on the tiny roots). Sin ce they are not newly out of the flask, I am hoping what I have left are the stronger, more vigorous seedlings.
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Old 08-10-2014, 01:51 AM
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yes, please do

I know we all would love to hear the new tale as well as the continuation of the current saga !
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Old 08-10-2014, 07:03 AM
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Hi Ginger

I will start a new thread on the hybrid at some point. Right now, there is not much going on with it, just a large fat seed pod maturing on the plant. When something fun starts, I'll start a thread. Thanks!
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Old 11-07-2014, 06:24 AM
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Hi all

I thought I'd share with you who's been following this thread with another trial I've been doing.

I've growth medium like normal P-6668 (or whatever it's called, can't remember from the top of my head). Put the flasks into a pressure cooker and steamed them for 10 minutes or so.

Then I let them stand for a week to see if anything grows in them. If they look clean, I use them for sowing.

I put the flask into a plastic container, not a glove box, just an ice cream tub or similar. Put kitchen towels soaked in bleach in the bottom of the box.

Open the flask and let the lid lie with the bottom down against the bleached kitchen towel.

Sow seeds dry on top of the growth medium like normal, and then spray two-three pushes (on a small spray bottle that mists rather than give a hard spray) of 10% hydrogen peroxide.

Put the lid back on and put the flasks into strong light, but not direct sunshine.

This has actually worked for me. I've done three rounds and I've got clean flasks from all of those rounds. I do get infected flasks as well and the success rate is fairly low, but it's also a very, very easy approach that requires no equipment at all.

For the two youngest rounds it's still too early to say if I'll manage to keep the flasks clean. In my experiences flasks can look good for months and then suddenly BANG! Game over, but so far, so good.
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Old 11-07-2014, 06:46 AM
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Silje, I may try that next!

The seed from the cross that I posted about on 6-20-2014 has already dehisced, and having not time to deal with it myself, I sent some of the seed to Rockbridge Lab. I still have some of the seed (about a month out of the pod) and if I ever get a chance, I might try your method & see what happens.

I still have seedlings from the original experiment. They are growing slowly, but they are growing & now have some roots. We will see what survives.

Good luck with yours! I hope you start a thread about growing your seeds with your method, or please feel free to post about it on this thread.
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Old 11-07-2014, 08:26 AM
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Well, this is a very challenging thread and I'd love to see a picture of the original seedlings, Catt, when they feel strong enough to let you photograph them. I am still intimidated but it is perhaps as well - we haven't space for me to try it here. It gives me a new respect for the growers of each orchid we see or buy though. What a long but rewarding process! Good luck with the next lot.
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Old 11-09-2014, 01:27 PM
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Will do MaryPaton. Right now the seedlings are still so tiny they don't look like much (especially with my photography skills or lack thereof).
Regarding the new ones I just emailed the lab to see if they have seen signs of life yet. Maybe I will get a reply this week.
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Old 01-10-2015, 05:26 PM
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2nd cross Cattleya Llory Ann 'Paradise' x pod parent=Cattleya Orglade's Blaze

Following my previous post, I heard from Rockbridge Lab that many of the seeds I sent to them did not have viable embryos. They did flask the seed to see what develops, & we agreed to touch base in 2 months, so I just sent them an e-mail to see what's up (or, worst case, what's NOT up). Stay tuned.

I hope to post photos of tiny seedlings from my first experiment soon. REALLY tiny still.
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Old 01-10-2015, 05:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catt Mandu View Post
Following my previous post, I heard from Rockbridge Lab that many of the seeds I sent to them did not have viable embryos. They did flask the seed to see what develops, & we agreed to touch base in 2 months, so I just sent them an e-mail to see what's up (or, worst case, what's NOT up). Stay tuned.



I hope to post photos of tiny seedlings from my first experiment soon. REALLY tiny still.

Sorry to hear that. It'll be interesting to see what does pop up.


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