[tomato] OT ochids

Byron.Bromley (Tomato@GlobalGarden.com)
Fri, 12 Mar 1999 07:08:34 -0500

This is for those who think tomatoes are hard to start.
I am not the expert, but if you really want to know I will
give you his address.

Good to hear you got the picture.  Excuse my drawing.  The mouse isn't a
very good pencil.  As for the gemination process it is a fairly simple
concept but time consuming process.  Orchids produce thousands of seeds. 
In the wild very few live because they must come in contact with a certain
type of fungus which is present in the soil and roots of other orchids. 
Since orchid seeds are about the size of dust they contain no reserved
nutrients.  They form a symbiotic relationship with the fungus which
provides nutrients  The conditions have to be perfect.  Scientists have
simulated this by making nutrient rich medium to grow them on.  This
replaces the fungus.  The medium often contains sugar, fertilizer, etc. 
Agar(a gelling agent) is used to solidify the medium so the seeds can be
sown on it.  The medium is mixed with the agar, poured in flasks, and
sterilized in a pressure cooker.  Everything is sterilized so that no
bacteria, mold, fungi, etc. will overrun the medium.  The seeds are even
sterilized with bleach.  The seeds are sown on the medium using sterile
instruments.  Tropical orchids require light to germinate, but most native
terrestrial orchids like the Lady's Slipper require darkness to germinate. 
It takes a year after sowing for most orchid seedlings to be big enough to
remove from the flask.  Usually once during the growth process the
seedlings have to be transplanted to fresh medium.  Once terrestrial native
orchid seedlings are big enough they are placed in the frige for a couple
months to simulate dormancy.  After this they can be planted in soil. 
Native terrestrial orchids are among the hardest to germinate because they
require a dormancy period and have many chemical requirements that tropical
orchids don't.  As a matter of fact mature seeds of Cypripedium acaule(Pink
Lady's Slipper) are one of the hardest to germinate.  They require a very
specialized medium.  If immature seeds are taken from a green seed pod that
has not opened yet many of the chemical components in the medium are not
needed.  That is why I asked you to pick them before they opened.  It has
taken me a while to find all of the equipment and supplies to flask orchid
seeds.  I have been successful with tropical orchid seeds but not yet with
native orchid seeds.  That is why I am so interested in your seeds.  Well I
think I covered the basics.  Feel free to ask any questions you may have. 
But I must warn you that once you start you can't stop.  E-mail me soon. 
Thanks, Kevin