Hybridizing an Orchid

Hybridization of orchids at home is not a new phenomenon; it has actually been done since the early 20th century when the orchid flower first began to be popular with the masses. While hybridizing orchids is possible at home, it will take a lot of patience, many years to accomplish and only the best, most sterile equipment to pull it off.  


Common Ways to Hybridize

One of the easiest ways to hybridize orchids is by taking mature flowers that have roots growing above the nodes and clipping them when they seem to be at a point where they would survive on their own. This is easier than dividing mature plants and usually more successful. However, when dealing with orchid flowers that have spikes that look unhealthy, dividing and replanting the healthy portions might be the easiest option to cure these plants.


Hybridizing from Seeds

This is by far the most complicated way of producing orchids and is not for the ordinary gardener. One of the most frustrating aspects to this process is that the results do not occur immediately and actually take between four and six years to show any flower results.  

Germinating orchid seeds should be completed in sterile environments and not done outdoors. This is usually done in greenhouses and the seeds are placed in cups with a mixture of water and fertilizer and usually with agar included. Agar is a gelatin found in nature and not from protein, which is where most animal gelatin is derived from.  

It may actually take up to a year to notice any changes in the seeds soaked in fertilizer and agar, however they will sprout in time with the proper temperatures as well as watchful care. Once they begin to sprout, you will need to transplant them into larger, sterile cups with the same amount of fertilizer mixture. This process will actually have to happen several times in the next few years while the seed begin to mature. Also, remember that not all of the seeds that are in your care will actually grow to maturity and to the point where they yield flowers.  

By hybridizing orchid flowers from your own home, you are trying to recreate an environment that usually occurs only in nature. Be mindful of climate and temperature changes while you nurture each seedling. Usually, but the 4th or 5th year of your nurturing, you should begin to see some flower growths in your orchids. It is a tedious process to grow in this way, however, once you see your first blooms, it will be completely worth the wait.  

Once you are confident that the seedlings that you have grown are mature enough to survive outside of the greenhouse and are ready to bloom, carefully prepare your pots for a the final transplant. Continue to add fertilizer to the fir bark placed in your new orchid pot and let soak with water until completely drained. Place your newly sprouted seedling into the pot and cover with additional soil and bark. Water with care for the next few weeks to make sure that it has become well adjusted to its new home.