Guide to propagating Orchid Aerials (keikis)
Certain Australian native Dendrobiums produce aerial growths when under stress. Dendrobium kingianum in particular adept at this! The growths are produced from flower nodes and as such, limits the plants ability to produce mass displays of blooms. For this reason, Dendrobiums that form these aerials are usually avoided by hobbyists.
One positive aspect to this habit is that it makes propagation very simple. The kiekis are genetically identical to the parent plant. When the growths have matured, the leaves have stiffened and turned a matte flat green, the aerial will produce a tipped root system. When the roots are a few centimetres long, the kieki can be removed (with a simple twist) and firmly attached using orchid spike clip to a small bamboo garden stake. The new roots are crucial to the plants survival, hence the clips and stakes.
- These new propagated plants should not be over potted, usually a 50mm tube is adequate.
- Keep them moist at all times
- Fertilise with a diluted solution
- Give them medium to high light conditions for optimum growth.
Keep in mind that Australian Dendrobium orchids that produce aerials are genetically inferior, and that in the long turn are suitable for the general enthusiast, and not showbench hybrids. At the Australian Orchid Nursery, we deliberately avoid breeding with aerial producing kingianums for this reason.
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