The Coryopedilum Chronicles V - One month status review

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May 14, 2017
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Dallas, TX
The Coryopedilum Chronicles V – One month status review

This Chronicle documents the status of 2 flasks each of Paphiopedilum sanderianum, rothschildianum, platyphyllum, adductum v. anitum and randsii one month after they were deflasked and placed into compots. It presents not only the relative progress of each species but also a look at how the plants have fared in compots with and without agar intact as well as the “hospital compots” of very small seedlings that were placed in partially enclosed containers.

The status of each species is presented in a separate section, along with photographs, with the hospital compots covered separately following the species sections.

Growing conditions

The compots are all together on a single shelf in a windowless bathroom- so no natural light. Artificial light is provided by four Phillips T8 32W 48” Natural Light bulbs, 2850 lumens, 5000k bulbs that are approximately 18 inches above the leaves.

The compots are hand watered with RO water 4 times a week, and heavily misted every day. One modification that has evolved in this schedule is that the adductum v. anitum and randsii receive an extra round of watering during the hand watering cycle plus sufficiently intense daily misting to ensure water penetrates the upper half inch of the growing mix. More on why below in the status reviews for each species.

No fertilizers or other supplements have been applied, but the former will come into use in the next couple of weeks.

Temperature and humidity are monitored on an ongoing basis. Ambient temperature in the home is kept at 70 degrees, but in the immediate growing area the temperature is very consistently at a low of 72 overnight and a high of 75 during the day.

Humidity fluctuates between a low of 53-55 degrees during the day and a high of 63-65 degrees at night.

The hospital compots are kept on the same growing shelf and never fully watered- but rather heavily misted 4-5 days a week. Each is covered with a lid that has a large flap cut and pulled back for an opening of about 0.5 x 0.75 inches. The lids are left off completely the first 30 minutes after misting to allow excess water accumulation in the leaves to partially evaporate.

Daily monitoring of plant condition

As you all know, most orchid species- and Paphiopedilums in particular- are not exactly fast growers right out of flask. They can also take a few days to register their pleasure or displeasure with certain aspects of your growing conditions.

But over time I have found one effective way to get a good daily general indicator of how things are going. It is simply this- with one finger, gently stroke the underside of a leaf until you reach the leaf’s end. Paphiopedilums fresh out of flask will be quite tender for some weeks, and the translucence and firmness of the leaves will vary dramatically- and very quickly- if the plants are not receiving light and water within acceptable ranges. This simple touch test will, over time as you observe these fluctuations, be a very good way to catch problematic growing conditions early on and deal with them. The leaves should feel slightly springy and never limp- and you should not be able to see your finger through the leaves aside from possibly a slight shadow.

And one tip- please be sure your finger is completely dry when performing this test. Even a little moisture on your finger can cause the leaf to stick slightly, and then you risk disturbing or fully pulling the plant out of its place in the compot.

Here is how it looks,

Plant losses defined

One of the statistics reported below in each section is plant loss. Please know that I define a “plant” as having at least two leaves and at least one good root. In any flask, you will always lose some or all of the really tiny plants that have not rooted well. And so I am not including them in the reported plant losses.

Paphiopedilum sanderianum


The three compots that were potted with the agar removed are on the left, and the two with agar partially intact are on the right.

Even in the very first Chronicle series I did a decade ago, sanderianum was not as difficult as I had feared, but these plants are a dream come true. They showed no shock after deflasking and very quickly fattened up and started growing. They have grown noticeably in the past month and are doing great.

There has been no noticeable difference in the performance of plants with agar versus without.

There have been no plant losses.

Paphiopedilum rothschildianum

The two compots that were potted with the agar removed are on the left (they were fairly clumped in flask and so not individually separated- hence two compots vs three), and the two with agar partially intact are on the right.

These were very pale in color out of flask and did not undergo any visible shock after compotting, but they remain somewhat pale and are slowly darkening to a more ideal color. Rothschildianum has had a role in all my past Chronicles series and is usually the most vigorous out of flask. These are growing, but have not taken off in the same manner as sanderianum this time. However, I do expect that will come in the next few weeks as they fully adapt.

There has been no noticeable difference in the performance of plants with agar versus without.

There have been no plant losses.

Paphiopedilum platyphyllum

The three compots that were potted with the agar removed are on the left, and the two with agar partially intact are on the right.

This is my first encounter with this species and so far they have been worry-free. They came out of flask with a beautiful grass green color and pristine foliage- and remain in that state now. No visible post-flask shock. They are growing slowly, but already noticeably, and so far so good. The only thing to watch for with these is in the watering process. The leaves tend to curl down at the ends, and so it was not always easy to get these potted as deeply as I would like- and a few of them have needed gentle replacement when the crowns rise too high during watering. The compot in front is composed of very small plants which are doing quite well out in the open despite their meager appearance compared to the other compots.

There has been no noticeable difference in the performance of plants with agar versus without.

There have been no plant losses.

Paphiopedilum adductum v. anitum

The three compots that were potted with the agar removed are on the left, and the two with agar partially intact are on the right.

So far you have read glowing reports of a trouble-free experience. Well, now things get a little more complicated. Out of flask these plants were very pale with many leaves tending toward yellow, and I was quite nervous. On my computer monitor the photo is a bit light- these are generally more grass green in color- but the leaves that were heavily yellowed out of flask continue to be so and are very slowly dying.

The good news is that the healthier and newer leaves out of flask have grown nicely in length, and most of the plants have new leaves starting in the crowns. The plants are- like the rothschildianum- slowly, but surely, adapting a healthier color with the passage of time.

This is only the second time I have worked with adductum. The first time did not go well- the plants got very limp out of flask and took a very long time to recover. This time around I have watered them more vigorously as noted above in the intro, and that seems to be making all the difference. These plants like lots of water, and with great frequency. Even on non-watering days, when I mist them I apply enough misting to ensure the surface of the growing media gets thoroughly wet with some water dripping down into the upper portion of the compots.

As the photo shows- the plants with agar removed are doing better than the plants where I left the agar partially intact. The compots with agar partially intact are slowly developing better color and starting to grow- but at a slower rate than the compots with no agar intact. I suspect this has to do with water- the presence of the agar reduces water contact. I have left them for now so that I could report the results of both compotting methods in this update, but I plan to remove the agar from the compots on the right and repot them within the next week.

There have been three plant losses. All three plant losses came from the compots with agar partially intact. In all instances they were extremely small plants that rotted at the crown (a very unusual occurrence in my experience). At this time, no additional plants appear to be in immediate danger.
Paphiopedilum randsii

The two compots that were potted with the agar removed are on the left, and the two with agar partially intact are on the right. Flask yield was right at 25 plants here, plus a lot of plants went into hospital compot from the flask that was compotted without agar intact- hence there being two such compots instead of three.

As noted in Chronicles II, I was very concerned about these plants because of their extremely limited root growth and noted that were it not for this planned experiment to test compotting with and without agar that I would have left the agar intact on all the plants.

Well- the photos tell the tale perfectly. In this instance, compotting with agar intact was not only a time saver, but also had a profound impact on the initial growth performance of the plants in this first month. Given the sparseness of the root systems, these have also been watered more along the line of the adductum v. anitum than the other plants.

So far they are doing reasonably well- good medium to deep green color- and showing some growth, but very slow. I have not looked at the roots yet, but I expect there has not been much- if any- new growth just yet. This is where the touch test I mentioned in the intro comes into play. Outwardly these look pretty good- but the touch test administered a few times a day shows that these need frequent moisture until the root growth gets underway.

There have been five plant losses. Four came from the compots with agar removed. Two were plants that had leaf tip rot out of flask that could not be stopped with cutting off the leaf tips. Two others did not have sufficient roots to survive. The one plant that perished in a compot with agar partially removed was hidden in the middle of the compot and elevated above the soil surface- and had dried out and died by the time it was noticed. At present it is hard to say if any more plants are in immediate jeopardy, but I anticipate a few more losses in the next two months. It will all depend on root growth- and I am considering possible measures to induce root growth.

Hospital compots

To date, this has been the greatest success of these Chronicles. Over the years I have tried a great number of approaches to giving very small plants and sprouted protocorms a chance- and inevitably they have all died within a matter of weeks. Looking back, I think I overdid it in all the various scenarios I attempted- meaning I kept the plants too moist. The current process, as documented in Chronicles II, is working out rather well.

NOTE- hospital compots only contain plants from flasks where agar was removed. For flasks where agar was left partially intact, the entire plant mass was put into compot.

Paph sanderianum hospital compot

Here is sanderianum. The handful of tiny seedlings with roots are all doing quite well. The sprouted protocorm masses remain healthy, but no root growth just yet. I will give it a couple of months- and if there are no roots by that point then these either need to be re-flasked or discarded. I am not sure re-flasking will do much good, but it would be interesting to see what could come of it.

Paph rothschildianum hospital compot

Here is rothschildianum. So far, so good. The flask yielded well over 25 large healthy plants which are currently in compot, and so these little ones are just icing on the cake. Doing well and just need two to three months before they are ready for a compot.

Paph platyphyllum hospital compot

Here is platyphyllum. So far, so good. The flask had just these few tiny plants and all are doing well plus have shown noticeable leaf growth. I anticipate these will all be in a compot within two months.

Paph adductum v. anitum hospital compot

Here is adductum v. anitum. These have done incredibly well- and their color and growth is coming along at a faster pace than the compots which suggests that in addition to lots of water, adductum v. anitum may have a strong preference for high humidity as well. I expect all of these will survive and will be in a compot within one to two months.

Paph randsii hospital compot

Here is randsii. As you can see, there are two hospital compots here. One was for larger plants that had leaf tip rot out of flask and required the removal of most of the leaves, plus one from compot that was looking a bit weak due to a small root system. The other was for plants that came out of flask very small.

As with the compots, these are doing reasonably well, but time will tell. I do expect some additional losses. One interesting note is the plant shown in close-up below. It came out of flask very shriveled and almost dead. In hospital compot, the two newest leaves remain heavily shriveled- but the older leaves have fattened up nicely. I have never seen this happen before, and so I follow this particular plant with great interest, if not great optimism.


This concludes Chronicles V. On the whole I have been very happy with the outcome. Post-flask shock was minimal and most of the plants are doing quite well. The agar-intact potting method is already, by default, a great time-saver and in the case of the randsii with their small root systems, it has been of significant benefit. The adductum v. anitum is the only instance where it has not worked so well, and there because I think the plants were already fatiguing in flask plus need a lot of water, with the presence of the agar limiting the potential for water intake. It is not possible to make firm conclusions based on just a couple of flasks, but that is my current gut take on why the agar-intact method was not successful with adductum v. anitum.

Chronicles VI to come in September with another comprehensive status report at the three month post-flask mark.
Interesting reading, thanks Tom

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Excellent update thanks for doing this, it will be helpful for a long time to come!

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Amazing information for someone like me who wants to get into breeding, thank you very much!!!

Also if you ever got a spare sanderianum seedling for sale I'd love to give it a go! I know they take years to flower but could be a fun process to watch it fill out!
Thanks everyone! Glad to know these are useful. Side note- I will cover it more in Chronicles VI in a couple of months, but today I removed the agar and repotted the adductum v. anitum compots that had been growing with agar intact. There were two more tiny plants hidden in there with crown rot, but the good news is many of the plants were just starting to put out a new root- and that was sooner than I had expected.

Tanner- I will definitely keep you in the loop. Depending on whether I move to NYC next spring or stay in Dallas, some portion of these plants will be sold. I do not have room right now to grow out large populations of seedlings, so really these exercises are to keep my skills current for that day when I do finally settle somewhere and can build a proper greenhouse. Meantime, I will sell most of these in about a year as I have done in the past (usually in bulk to a commercial grower), but I can save a nice sanderianum or two for you (and they will not be expensive- my main goal is to recoup costs to cover the next round of flasks.)
Tom - concerning the thought on reflasking the hospital germinated protocorms, I suspect you'd have a tough time with contamination.

The material is no longer sterile, and I would bet that such frail critters would be far more sensitive to disinfection techniques than seed.
Hi Ray, I am the one doing the reflasking. I actually have had great success reflasking using NaDCC to sterlize contaminated seedlings. It does not burn them as bad and timing it just right is critical. I have a few tricks to get them to reflask and grow again that have worked in the past I'll use.

I'll post all procedures and results on the board.

Great question thought :)
Looking forward to the results Tanner. These are now your "kids"- so post any way you like, but if you would like to make it part of the permanent Chronicles, let me know and that can be Chronicles VI for you to post updates as things progress.

They were doing ok in the hospital compots, but I found no root growth and a couple of tiny dead ones when I went digging- so I am not sure how much longer my method would have worked out. I suspect many would have rooted in time- but it could have been a long wait.

I agree with Ray on the contamination risk- I have seen it before- but I really like all the experimentation you have done and look forward to seeing what happens.

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