Scottish Rock Garden Club Forum

Seedy Subjects! => Grow From Seed => Topic started by: Cephalotus on August 18, 2014, 03:30:55 PM

Title: Spiranthes spiralis and cardboard method
Post by: Cephalotus on August 18, 2014, 03:30:55 PM
Hello everyone.
I think that I should spread a word about how easy to propagate is Spiranthes spiralis. :)

The moment, when I heard about sowing orchids seeds with use of some cardboard method, I was amazed about the results people showed. I decided to make my own tests with various species ans genus. The thing is I don't remember sowing Spiranthes spiralis at that moment. In the end I had positive results with Dactylorhiza fuschii and Platanthera bifolia - at least I thought so. The only survived seedling of P. bifolia I planted on my outdoor construction. It was tiny and I had no hopes for it to survive, yet it would be wrong, not to give it a chance. That way, I forgot about it... In some time in the same spot I "discovered" a seedling. In time it was more and more looking like Spiranthes spiralis. When I dug it out to check its tuber, I confirmed it is S. spiralis. I was not sure whether one of the seeds I sowed outside germinated or it is that seedling which survived and was germinated with the cardboard method. To be sure I had to make another test, what I did.

This January I prepared everything as it should be and sowed the seeds of Spiranthes spiralis. I was astonished when I saw first protocorms after few months. In time a lot more new ones appeared. Now I have about 12 very nicely looking seedlings growing very well. I also noticed that the seeds which have fallen deeper, more near the mineral soi, have grown normally. The ones which germinated on the surface of Sphagnum moss, have generally died or are dying, although there were about 200-250 germinated protocorms seen on the surface. I think, that because of lack of mineral soi, they just died from hunger. Only one protocorm of all those surface ones have produced a leaf, and it is very poorly looking one. Almost like the first time., when I also sowed all the seeds on the surface of the Sphagnum layer.

I know how to grow this orchid outside very well. I also know now how to germinate it with a success That way I have a whole cycle in cultivation, outdoor, when the mother natures does most of the work. Also those 7-month old seedlings are the same size as the ones I got from in vitro, which grew two years on medium and one year on soil!

The only modifications the carboard method I would do are, options:
1. sow the seeds on the mineral soil and than cover them with about 5 mm layer of Sphagnum moss,
2. cover mineral soil with very shallow layer of Sohagnum moss, sow the seeds, and than cover with around 5mm of Sphagnum moss.

The protocorms need to reach the mineral soil easily, otherwise they will just stop growing at some point and die. I can't cover the Sphagnum layer with mineral soil, when there are plants with leafs. I am thinking about doing so, after taking those bigger plants out.

Such germinating rate and ease in propagating this species, allowed me to reach to some scientists with an idea of conservation projects. Especially that this method is very simple and have good, if not fantastic results. This species would really appreciate such help in my county.

Here are some photos of plants grown on my outdoor construction and recently made photo of sowing result.
Title: Re: Spiranthes spiralis and cardboard method
Post by: deplantspecialist on August 18, 2014, 04:08:43 PM
dear Cephalotus,

very good results!  I am happy with your story and that you tell all about it.
I live myself in Holland and I am also try  sowing orchid seeds in other ways. On spagnum, ore with Sugar water and all the rest.


best regards Peter
Title: Re: Spiranthes spiralis and cardboard method
Post by: Cephalotus on August 18, 2014, 08:37:24 PM
Hi Peter,
I think it is just natural to share such knowledge. Such easy method is a promise of at least spreading it in the cultivation. I would still have to describe its outdoor cultivation and than translate into English. The biggest problem for everyone would be finding a proper basic soil for soil mix. I am lucky to finally find one in my surrounding. Someone who does not have such, would have problems in making a proper mix for it. That is the most essential part of all, the consistence of the basic soil for further modifications.

A pot cultivation with totally artificial mixes is not know to me and is not in my interest as well. I try to mimic nature as much as I can and I am very happy of final results. Plants as well. :)
Title: Re: Spiranthes spiralis and cardboard method
Post by: Stephen Vella on August 19, 2014, 08:04:15 AM
Hello Chris .. Very interesting to hear of your results..what's your soil mix? I expect the pH is essential for good growth.. The orchids you grow prefer Limey soil?
Title: Re: Spiranthes spiralis and cardboard method
Post by: Cephalotus on August 19, 2014, 10:22:58 AM
Hi Stephen,
I will surprise you, but not the pH is essential, but the soil consistence. The soil I finally found in my area, has the same consistence as the mineral soils that most of the xerothermic, European orchids grow in. They differ in amount of organic matter and lime in them.

I would need to make some photos to explain it better. Maybe later I will do so. Such soil, has to be of a consistence of a loam, very small particles. When soggy, it should be like paint, mud. When humid, it should be easily formed, but also easily crushed. If it will behave more like plasticine, will be much plastic, than it will keep too much moisture for too long.

Because I don't know if it contains any calcareous ions, for species which require them, I always add some kind of natural lime. Once it is marl rock, once it is crushed into powder with small rocks, dolomite. The more species is lime loving, the more I add. The consistence of the final mix changes a bit depending on that addition, but not much really.

The soil itself is also not enough. In time, any soil will lump and form a hard rock, which wile drying out, will crack with deep crevices. That is very much not wanted. So to prevent that and stabilise the soil environment I always plant some dry loving accompanying plants. Nothing very selected. Just plants from very dry and sunny places. They don't care if there is lime in the mix or not.

I am sorry for writing so much, but I prefer to explain some thing properly. Everything above only comply to outdoor, ground, not pot cultivation. Of course it would be best to send to someone a soil sample. The problem is, not everyone is finding similar behaving soils in their area.  I tried a lot of tmainly artificial mixes for outdoor, for many xerothermic species and failed badly.

Generally all species I grow on my orchidarium have limy soil. There is a small are with slightly less limy soil, for species that does not like to have much of them. No exact properties are necessary.