Saturday, July 2, 2011

Home flasking vs. lab flasking !

I have been wanting to do this blog for a while now. I had sent some Dendrobium crosses to David for flasking. I thought I would keep two pods and flask them my self in the kitchen. I thought it would be a good idea to check the progress of home flasking to flasks done in a laboratory environment.

It is not a difficult thing to flask orchids at home in the kitchen. All you need is a lot of Miltons sterilizing liquid a few glass jars, your growing medium and of coarse the seed. Once you have those things you are ready to start. Its even possible to make your own growing medium with agar and a few other ingredients. I  will get into that in a second.



This is a flask I sowed on 24/11/2010. This is growing on home made Agar- Agar mix which consists of the following.

1    Table spoon Seagrow
1    Activated ccharcoal capsule
1/2 Banana pulp
2    Cups water Ph 7.1
2    Table spoons Agar- Agar
4g   sugar

I was not trying to put the best growing medium together. I just used what I had in the kitchen. The seeds germinated a few weeks later on the 7/12/2010 and looked good. I had made 4 flasks and lost 2 two contamination in a very short time. Its been many months now and it is growing very slowly, but its growing. This is how they are looking right know.



David had sowed the seeds I sent him around the same time I had sowed mine. I got the flasks from him a few weeks later and was surprised at how much they had grown compared to the flasks I had done in the kitchen. Here they are.







These grew very quickly and started filling almost the whole bottom of the flask in a few weeks.


Once they had taken over the bottom of the flask they started growing the first "leaves".The real growing began and they started looking like little orchids.


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After the leaves had developed nicely the roots started pushing out from the base of the little plants.




Once the roots started growing, the now proper seedlings grew even faster on Davids enhanced orchid medium. This is how the roots have developed in a space of  about two months since they first started growing.


This is how they are looking at the moment.




I have already potted up two flasks that are doing well ! Root development and growth is a bit slower in the com pots, but plants are looking stronger .

Home flasking in the kitchen or in your own laminar hood can be rewarding in a way of accomplishment. The down side is contamination is a big issue and the growth can be much slower if you decide to make your own growing medium for flasking. The seedlings will take many more years to flower due to slow growth.

Sending your precious seed pods to a laboratory is much less of a risk and you can be sure that you are going to have strong seedlings for potting up when the time comes. Plants will also mature faster and flower sooner. We all want flowering plants after all.

This is a picture of both a home flask and a lab flask . Both these flasks are roughly seven months old.You can see there is a big difference.



Happy orchid growing!







18 comments:

  1. I'm amazed you managed to save 4 out of the 6 jars you sowed, attempting it low tech and in a kitchen no less!!

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  2. I suspect most of the differences in growth are due to the P1056 commercial growth medium; they're much more "complete" than the fairly basic recipe you used. Incidentally, there is an enormous compendium of formulations available in the Orchid Seed Germination Media book from http://www.orchidseed.com/books/books.html - I'm sure given your quest to find unusual species you're quite familiar with OSP!

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    Replies
    1. Hi James. I agree completely. Bradley's post here highlights the shortfall in home-made media. Most kitchen media will successfully support germination but due to a lack of detail in the media constituents the media are unlikely to support further significant growth. I have since moved away from Sigma's commercal orchid media due to significantly poor customer service and shocking public relations dealing with complaints. I closed my account with them in disgust. I now have all my media made up by Highveld Biological in Pretoria. The media are good quality and work well. As for the Dendrobium seedlings mentioned in Bradley's post, mine are doing well mounted on a log of milkwood. I am curious to see what the flowers will look like but the seedlings are a few years a way I think from first flowering.

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    2. I quite understand your disgust at Sigma - they wouldn't even let me open an account to order some pretty innocuous things (like dessicant silica gel!). It seems they're not really into customer service at all until you start making up a significant percentage of their budget sheet... :/ Hope the seedlings put on a show soon!

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  3. Hi, phalaenopsis Where can I buy seeds?

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  4. Hi Mehmet

    You can purchase seeds online on Ebay. They usually have a wide selection from various suppliers. I always use Kumpol Orchids and Plants.

    Regards, David

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  5. Thank you for your interest. The seeds are sold in the eBay website in your photo does not look like seeds.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mehmet

      I am not entirely sure what you mean here. The seeds sold on eBay are sold by various other individuals. I do not sell seeds. Orchid seeds are very tiny, almost dust-like. They don't look like much at all.

      Regards, David

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  6. hello, I use media from Sigma. I try to make orchids from seeds like you. It is difficult and needs patient. :)

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  7. Hello David Vaughan, I have tried to make new orchid plants by seeds and sometimes goes well but sometimes the jars are infected. While I used to sterilize seeds (which I had for second year) with hyperchlorite calcium 2% for about 12 minutes, now I doing the same with fresh orchid seeds and they are infected. I will try to let them into the hyperchlorite calcium 2% for about 15minutes. I am telling this because, where I put the seeds, there it begins the infection, so the problem is the sterilization on the seeds. What is your opinion?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anton

      Seeds are often a major source of contamination. If you are getting contamination repeatedly then you may want to check your hypochlorite solution. It may be too weak.

      Sigma media is good. However, I no longer use Sigma as I have had repeated poor service from them in the past.

      Good luck with your seed sowing and please let me know how you get on.

      Regards, David

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  8. Thank you for the immediate response. Do you mean that the calcium hypochlorite may have fizzled? If yes and I let the seeds more minutes into the hypochlorite solution, will be ok? Can you suggest me another sterilize solution?

    Thank you in advance.

    P.S. When you work at your laboratory do you wear (except gloves for your hands) mask with charcoal filter and eye goggles?

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  9. Thank you David Vaughan for the answer.
    I think that the hyperchlorite calcium 2% was not being mixed (it was not in use for many months) and when I was dropping the solution, I was dropping maybe just water. :) So, the orchid seeds weren't sterilized (from just "water"). I will mix the solution, so the hyperchlorite calcium 2% (goes everywhere) and I believe that the seeds will be sterilized.

    But what about the protection. Except from gloves, when you are at work at your laboratory do you wear eye goggles and mask with charcoal filter, for protection?

    Thank you in advance 

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  10. What amazing way to propagate orchid, I hope I can do in my house . . .
    Thanl you for share this :-)

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  11. what is Seagrow & Activated ccharcoal capsule? explain please...Thank You! Mr.David

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    Replies
    1. Hi Harsha

      Seagrow is an organic kelp-based, liquid fertiliser that is sold in South Africa. I believe it contains natural auxins. The charcoal capsules contain charcoal powder and are sold for human use in your local pharmacy.

      Regards, David

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