Propagating orchids from seed

Robert Lauf via pbs
Thu, 28 Jan 2021 19:40:25 PST
Traditionally, the conventional wisdom was that cypripediums seem to need the mycorhizae even as adults, whereas most orchids only need it to germinate.  This explains why many of them are so difficult to transplant, even if you take a bushel of native soil.  Once in your yard, the fungus eventually dies out.  Yellow lady's slipper is easier than some, and I had one for about 20 years and it did fine and bloomed every year.

There is a lot of cypripedium hybridizing going on in recent years and it seems that lab-grown plants from sterile culture that have never seen the fungus in the first place don't need it when transplanted into soil.  So they tend to be easier than native plants dug from the wild.  Is this perhaps just natural selection going on in the flask?  With hundreds of thousands of seeds, maybe the ones that germinate well and grow fast are the ones that are less dependent on some other tidbits that the fungus might provide that we don't know about.

I used to flask my own orchid seeds and had a small laminar flow hood in my house.  The first few times, it's fun, but if I were doing any orchid seeds now, I'd let a lab do it for me!

Bob   Zone 7, growing orchids since grad school in 1976....

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