4 Methods to Propagate an Orchid: Which One Is the Most Effective?

by Kremy

An aesthetic indoor plant par excellence, the orchid is appreciated by both women and men and with good reason. Adding a refined touch to any home, they’re easy to care for and grow (contrary to popular belief!). However, the price of these plants is often high. What to do then to have one at home for free? How to propagate an orchid? Can we take cuttings? Is division appropriate? It is in fact a specific task. We shall tell you everything you need to know to succeed.

how to propagate an orchid different methods keiki cuttings division

How to Propagate an Orchid?

As mentioned above, caring for orchids is not a super difficult task. All you need to do is master its location and watering. But, the propagation of the exotic plant is already another thing and can turn out to be particularly specific. So what is the most effective method? Let’s see!

Taking Orchid Cuttings – Propagating with Keiki

how to propagate an orchid keiki cuttings method


It is not by chance that we start with this method. Indeed, it turns out to be the most effective and the easiest, but you can’t use it at any time. It is your orchid that decides when to grow a keiki (Hawaiian for “child”) and this happens with the Phalaenopsis species. A keiki is formed when the flowering stem starts producing leaves (a seedling) instead of flowers. This is called a keiki or baby. It can be easily separated, provided it has developed a root system (see image above).

To separate the keiki from the parent plant, take gardening scissors (or pruning shears) and cut just below the formation of the first roots. There you are, you have a new plant to pot. Do so in a small, transparent pot with several drainage holes, as orchids are very sensitive to stagnant water. Then put the keiki in the center of the pot and fill with substrate, packing well. Finally, water generously. Feel free to take a look at the video below for even more precise instructions:

How to Make an Orchid Cutting from a Flower Stem?

how to propagate an orchid with stem cutting

Is it possible to propagate an orchid using the flower stem cutting method? According to experts, this technique is not as reliable as keiki, but you can still try it. In some cases, it might work. Here the following two rules apply:

  • Wait until the orchid has finished flowering before cutting the flower stem.
  • Choose a flowering stem that has new shoots or nodes.

Select a stem 7-10 inches/20 to 30 cm long and cut at its base with sharp, disinfected pruning shears. Next, cut the stem into a few equal-sized sections, being careful that each piece has a node. Place the stems on damp sphagnum moss. Make sure the moss is regularly moistened to encourage root development. You can also cover the moss with a plastic bag to retain and increase humidity. Once the roots have formed, plant the cutting in a special orchid potting soil.

Also read: When to repot an orchid? A precise instruction to know how often to do it + video

Can You Take Leaf Cuttings from Orchids?

can you propagate an orchid with leaf cuttings

Many sources on the web claim that taking an orchid leaf cutting is an effective approach. A misconception. While growing a new plant from a leaf works for succulents, this is not the case with orchids at all. It is only the flower stalk that contains the right cells to regrow the plant. To succeed, therefore, the leaf must have a stem attached.

Also read: How to save an orchid after returning from vacation? Here’s how to revive your faded plant!

How to Divide an Orchid?

how to divide an orchid succesful method dendrobium cattleya

Dividing an orchid involves separating the rhizome and this is the other effective method of propagating your exotic plants. And as you’ve probably already guessed, this technique isn’t suitable for all species. It only works with sympodial orchids, that is to say those whose growth is horizontal and whose new shoots form successively from a rhizome. Dendrobium or Cattleya are good examples. The Phalaenopsis orchid, on the other hand, has a single stem and there’s nothing to separate.

To succeed with the division method, you need a healthy adult orchid with lots of pseudobulbs. Carefully remove it from its pot and all the substrate, taking care not to damage the roots. Cut off any dry, soft or damaged roots. This will help you select the best spot to divide the orchid in two. Pot the new plants in a special orchid substrate and water. Find out more in the video below:

Also read: Proper Orchid Care: How to Water Your Plants So That They Surprise You with Lush Blooms

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