Orchid Keikis

When your plant has finished blooming, you may find that it produces small, identical plants known as keikis.

If your plant is generally in good health; producing leaves, growths and sprouts, this is fine, and will probably just mean that your plant is genetically predisposed to do this, however, if your plant is not doing these things, then it is likely to be a sign of distress and requires your attention.

Keikis (Hawaiian for ‘baby ‘or, literally ‘little one’) are produced asexually from the mother plant of – usually – Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis or Vandaceous Orchids, and are genetically identical to the parent plant.

On Phalaenopsis Orchids they will sprout from a node along the flower stem; on Dendrobiums, it will sprout either along the length of or from one end of the cane to the other.

It is also possible that, on Phalaenopsis Orchids, a different kind of Keiki will develop at its base, usually under its bottom leaves, and along the main stem where dormant nodes can lead to growth. These however should be left on the plant as they will cause no harm to it and will grow quickly due to the large root system of the mother.

Keikis often grow as a sign of distress from the mother plant when it is deficient in nutrients and thinks it will die and so needs to proliferate to ensure its continuity of life. This is usually caused when the plant is either watered too much or too little; has too much or too little sun; or has unsatisfactory humidity requirements. This generally occurs when the humidity tray in which the plant sits isn’t re-filled once all the water has evaporated.

You have two options once a Keiki has sprouted, you can either completely cut down the flower spike, ensuring you pay special care and attention to it throughout the winter and before blooming recommences next season ( this is the most widely recommended method from growers and can be done at any stage during the Keiki’s development). Or alternatively, you can re-pot the offshoot to produce a new plant.

If you decide to do this, you will need to wait until it has grown roots at least 8cm in length and carefully re-pot both the mother and baby plant in fine-grade fir bark, cutting the Keiki about 8cm down the spike, covering and encouraging its roots to go down into the soil and establish itself.

It is sometimes recommended that when doing this, you should re-pot both mother and baby plant in the same pot for the first year as the mother will help regulate moisture conditions, as well as providing structural support and stability and therefore encouraging the baby to grow, develop, and later blossom.

However, it is widely suggested that instead, when re-potting, you should carefully place the Keiki at the top of new pot, ensuring its roots are covered, and initially place in a shadier place than its mother, misting it daily and then, upon growth, putting it back in a spot with the same sunlight conditions as the parent plant.

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