Orchid Offspring: All About Keikis
Author: Melanie Dearringer68 Comments
Your Phalaenopsis finished blooming and you cut back the flower spike in an attempt to induce the development of a fresh spike. You begin to notice new growth and you are undoubtedly happy. As you monitor your new growth, you are surprised to see what appears to be leaves forming. You’re left wondering what is happening to your beloved orchid.
Allow me to be the first to congratulate you. Your orchid is having a baby. We refer to these babies as keikis (pronounced kay-kees) which is the Hawaiian word for child. A keiki is the product of asexual propagation by a mature plant resulting in an exact clone of its parent.
Orchid keikis occur naturally when growth hormones accumulate at a node on the flower spike. The production of keikis can also be induced through the use of keiki paste. This paste consists of concentrated growth hormones and is applied directly to the node.
When your keiki has developed several leaves and roots approximately 2-3 inches in length, you can remove the plantlet from the parent orchid. Removing a keiki from its mother too early can cause the fragile baby to die off. Once your keiki is capable of surviving on its own you will want to use a sharp, sterilized blade to carefully remove the keiki from the mother plant by slicing the tissue at the base of the plantlet. Any time there is an open wound on your orchid, it should be treated to prevent fungal infections. You can apply cinnamon, a natural fungicide, to the cuts on both the mother plant and keiki to ward off future problems.
Once removed, you have two options. You can pot the keiki in its own 4″ container or repot the mother plant along with the keiki in the same pot. During its first year, a keiki can benefit from being potted with its mother as the mature plant will help regulate soil conditions for the sensitive baby.
Be careful not to expose your new plant to too much direct sunlight immediately after transplant. Once the keiki shows signs of growth, you can begin to gradually increase the amount of light it receives.
With the proper care, your keiki should flower between 2 to 3 years of age. You may, however, get lucky and experience flowering after just a year.
While orchid keikis are exciting, they can also be a sign that your plant is under a lot of stress. Sometimes an orchid will put off a keiki as a way of continuing its legacy if it fears that death is in the future. Keiki production should not instill panic but should act as a reminder to constantly monitor the health and happiness of your original plant.
American Orchid Society https://www.aos.org/Default.aspx?id=85
Just Add Ice Orchids http://www.justaddiceorchids.com/Just-Add-Ice-Orchid-Blog/bid/87553/From-Little-Keikis-Beautiful-Orchids-Grow
Featured image photo credit: douneika via https://www.flickr.com/photos/81918877@N00/5211779268/