Orchid Deflasking Guide
Firstly its important the understand that orchid seeds can really only be grown by professional nurseries or very well set up hobbiests. It requires large amounts of equipment and a sterile working area .
Orchids are bought and sold all over the world between professionals in glass or plastic jars. These are called in vitro orchids or "in Glass" orchids.
Orchids are valuable not only because they are rare but more often for the time it takes nurseries to produce and grow them. The slower an orchid grows the higher the price a nursery must charge to justify the time spent.
Buying orchids in a flask shortens the time a nursery holds an orchid by up to two years of growing and as such much them a cheaper product to buy. There are of course some problems you will find. Orchids in flasks are true bottle babies and need tender care and attention "when born" out of the jars. Basically orchid seed is microscopic and unable to germinate naturally without a lot of help. In a large nursery such as ours we have a true laboratory with totally sterile conditions to germinate the orchid seed on sterile agar jelly media inside sealed sterile bottles.
The bottles contain a special media designed to supply all the sugars ,salts and other nutrients the seed needs to grow. Unfortunately, fungus and bacteria also like this media and will outgrow and smother the orchids very quickly. This is why sterile conditions are critical. Inside the bottle, the orchids germinate with 23.c stable conditions and 100% humidity as well as 15 hours days under lights. With all this supplied you can understand why deflasking is a little traumatic for the baby orchids.
Try the recreate the conditions that they had inside the lab for a few days after deflasking until they can acclimatise a little. Warm, humid and not too bright will do them well.
It is important to keep them well watered and humid for the first three or four days, as their little stomata (breathing pores) are stuck open and valuable water is lost to the air. Stomata are invisable tiny poles in the leaf surface designed to allow water to escape (Transporation) to cool the orchid.Fungus and bacteria can invade through these stomata so hygiene is important at deflask. These stomata, slowly over a few days learn to open and close .
To deflask your purchases first create and clean working area such as on fresh newspaper. using fast flowing lukewarm water ,wash off as much of the black agar jelly as is possible. Then slowly pull the mass of young orchids apart.A special sliding agent called pectin should have been added so they will separate easily. each orchid should then be potted into its own little 2" tube. Fine moisture retentive media should be used such as rice grain sized pine bark with some perlite added.
Many deflaskers use compots .This is when all the orchids from one flask are potted in one small pot. I discourage this as if the root fungus pythium attacks you will lose all the seedlings instead of just one.
The use of a fungicide such as Previcure is recommended. We will provide this along with any flask purchase for $5 extra (please request and we will add it to the postage) Gradually increase the amount of light and start to hold back water and humidity to toughen up the little orchids. You can buy orchid deflasking kits here