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I have an orchid that's been thriving for a few years. A while back I trimmed the main stem (where the first flowers blossomed) over the second knot, and later a whole new orchid started growing there with its own roots, leaves, stems, and flowers. It's kind of neat, but I'm wondering how to best care for this. The second plant is growing and getting heavier, and I'm wondering if at any time it will fall off or if I can somehow remove it from the stem and transplant it to its own pot. Does anyone know?

Here's a photo of the plant:

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2 Answers 2

Congratulations, you must have a situation that is just right for your orchid. It looks like a phalaenopsis. In nature the second plant would start rooting in the same medium that the parent is rooting in.

The no-risk solution is to get another pot with the same medium (looks like bark chips from the photo) and plant your latest addition into it. Wait until you can see that the leaves and roots of the new plant are growing and cut the link to the parent.

If you are willing to take a little more care of the baby orchid you can cut the link now and pot it up. The roots that you see are more for mechanical attachment than drawing nutrients. The preferred day temperature for Phalaenopsis orchids is 75-85 deg F(24 - 29 deg C) with a lower night temperature. Do not let the medium stay wet. Soggy rooting medium causes rot. If you can increase the humidity and air movement for your new plant this will help new growth.

EDIT: If you cut the roots now then you should make sure the new plant has the best conditions possible such as higher humidity, warmer temperatures, bright but diffuse light. If you pot the new plant up and leave it attached then you don't have to do anything more than wait until it is larger and better established.

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Thank you for your reply! The roots on the child plant are only "air roots", and it already has leaves and a stem with its own flowers. If I cut the child from the parent will those suffice in drawing nutrients? I worry about killing the plant by severing it with its parent stem. –  chris Feb 24 '12 at 15:38
    
@chris, you could air layer it. –  J. Musser Feb 28 '12 at 2:11

If you have bench space, you can also pot the plantlet while it is still attached to the parent plant...if you are worried a bit about maintaining humid conditions for the plant while the roots in the future division are developing. By the way, that baby is about the same size as large plant might be in a flask with seedlings ready to plant out into community pots, so it's plenty ready for planting, if you can maintain the conditions...using finer bark, usually than the parent plant is potted in, and in about the smallest pot that can fit those new roots. Make certain that this new pot has really good drainage, too. I don't know your conditions, so I'm not going to suggest what potting medium mix to use.

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