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I have run into this weird situation where a second stem1 is coming out of the main one, like in the two following photos.

orchid twin 1

orchid twin 2

From what I've seen so far this is not a keiki, as a keiki is supposed to be higher up in the plant and separation is straightforward. I have searched on the internet and I couldn't find any similar case. I got into temptation to separate them but then cut them where? There is no clear distinction where the one ends and the other begins. I'm afraid that if I attempt separation, one of them will end up without roots...

The other option is to do nothing at all, let them be and see how things will turn out naturally. The fact that the smaller one is at right angles with the bigger one makes me worry about the plant's gravitropism. I'm afraid that at the end I might end up from two to zero.

So my questions are, has anyone seen a similar situation and what is the best course of action?


1 Not sure if this is a stem per se though as I think that the stem is where the flowers grow, not where the leaves are. If anyone knows a better name, please do suggest.

1 Answer 1

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You can absolutely go ahead and divide those twins as you would separate spider plants, hostas, or tulip bulbs.

  1. Get a grip with each hand close to where you think they conjoin — the right angle.

  2. Twist the two root systems apart with a rotation or two.

  3. Textbooks may call for a knife here, but with Mother Nature on your side, the two halves will release where they are most ready to say goodbye.

  4. Let the wounds heal for a day, and pot them separately.

One possible cause of the plant's generosity may be fertilizers high in nitrogen, the first percent in the NPK listing, stimulating leafy growth at the expense of flowers and fruit.

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  • +1 but perhaps touch on is pruning advisory during the procedure.
    – Vorac
    Jun 24, 2023 at 1:17
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    Prune the roots as little as possible, the plants need them. Bend if needed rather than cutting them. Both plants look dry, so after the resting period, water more often. Jun 25, 2023 at 1:53
  • I was referring to pruning leaves/branches as those drain water from the damaged root system.
    – Vorac
    Jun 25, 2023 at 5:43
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    I wouldn’t remove anything on these plants. Jun 25, 2023 at 14:03

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