Hardy Ground Orchid Protocorms

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Mar 29, 2023
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So I read online about using cardboard to germinate hardy ground orchids symbiotically (In this case Bletilla striata). I had an open pollinated seed pod from the 2023 growing season which I sowed in a takeout container in October 2023, on some sphagnum with chunks of cardboard randomly placed. I put it in a cool dark area for winter and just recently moved it to light. Did not expect anything to happen since it got real moldy... Since moving to the light, that mold has now gone away and I'm left with what I believe are protocorms with leaves developing? I would like to grow them up just for the fun of it, but what exactly should I do once they get very crowded? Can't exactly replate them onto sterile media.

They are non-sterile so putting it in flasking medium would just generate crazy amounts of contamination from the start wouldn't it?
Wow - I can't imagine getting them back into sterile culture at this point. Any effort to surface sterlize those would most likely kill the tissue. You might try to split some on fresh "cardboard" medium to get them a bit more spread out; maybe with a dusting of ground moss? That's pretty amazing looking, but orchids do grow naturally in non-sterile environment (and can benefit from natural fungi). They certainly look like the are doing great at the moment! Please keep us posted on this unique experiment.
Just let them grow as is until they gain some size. Be careful not to overheat/overwater them. Don't use fertilizers. Once they are quite crowded, take out a sample and separate them by stirring in water. Make a community pot on new clean compost (your choosing, they are not fussy). I'd cover them with plastic wrap and put them in bright light until they begin to show obvious signs of growth (no sun!). Then you can uncover them, but keep the humidity high.

You will lose some, but unless you desire a Bletilla forest, that shouldn't be a problem. I've grown them this way before without any issues.
Look up cardboard orchid sowing group on Facebook. Lots of people use this method. Mostly on terrestrials. I did this a few years ago with some Blettila Ochreaca and had protocorms on coco coir seed starters as well. I removed the lid to early and even though I was growing them in a grow tent with70-85% humidity I had a lot of die off. I got them through the second year with true roots and a second psuedobulb. About 2-3” tall. They finally all died after I went about 8 weeks of no watering and then a fungal outbreak after the birth of my 3rd kid.. it was a fun experiment. I’ll try it again.


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So my "Bletilla forest" is growing in nicely :p. I had separated some onto some garden topsoil which I put in a deli container. Those have definitely speeded up and are starting their second leaves. I've been growing them like I grow my Pleurothallids, with extremely weak weekly fertilizer and they seem to be fine with it. Will separate more soon because the main box is getting super crowded!