I was looking at our patch of Bletilla ‘Brigantes’…a hardy orchid hybrid between Bletilla striata and Bletilla ochracea and wondering what its offspring would look like. I recalled that the late plantsman Don Jacobs grew bletillas from seed in his window sill, so I figured we’d give it a try. If you’ve never handled orchid seed, it’s a bit like handling tiny dust particles. We harvested the seed before the pods cracked open and sowed them like we do our fern spores, and sealed them in a ziploc bag. Sure enough, they germinated, and two years later actually flowered. These are a sampling of the amazing variation from the 200 seedlings we potted. We’ll select a good representative sample of the variation including any unique individuals and plant them out in trial beds and watch how they develop. How exciting!
That is exciting. And well worth the try.
How do you buy the seeds for this and other hardy orchids. I am on Long Island New York and read this article above posted by my friend Will Balk.
I’ve never seen bletilla seed for sale, so we gather our own seed from our garden plants. We offer a wide range of these plants on-line.
IInteresting. Most propagators of orchids from seeds grow them in a flask on a steriile agar medium.
This is the only orchid we’ve had success with outside of sterile conditions.
What is the mixture you put in the ziplock bags?
Do you microwave it to sterilize it first?
We pour boiling water over the potting mix prior to sowing.
What is the mixture you use in the bag to sow the Bletilla?
We’ll have our nursery staff reply about brands when they return next week.
Sorry for the delay! When sowing either Bletilla or x Pleionilla, we use Fafard Superfine Germinating Mix or Fafard 2 mix. We simply fill one of our 3.5″ Anderson pots with the mix, water it in real well and then sterilize it with boiling water. When doing multiple pots at one time we will microwave the watered pots until the temps are sustained at 180 degrees F for at least 12-15 minutes. This is usually about 12 minutes for four pots. If using a microwave we will place 2 hydrated pots in a Gallon Zip-Loc style plastic bag. Let them cool to room temperature in a sealed bag. Then we simply surface sow with no top dressing and re-seal the bag. The pots are placed in a greenhouse that stays about 55-85 degrees F. The fresher the seed the higher the germination rate. The germination time seems to vary. Hope this helps!-Aaron