Calopogon Seed Germination

"If you want to raise Calopogon from seed, collect the capsules before they split (around Sept 1). Surface sterilize the capsule, then remove the seed aseptically and sow on G&B mother flask medium IV or V prepared according to instructions. Some seeds will germinate immmediately but all will germinate if the flasks are chilled to 4-8C for about eight weeks. I keep the flasks in the dark but I believe that these seeds will germinate both in the dark and in the light. Don't sow too thickly otherwise the seedlings will be inseparable. Replating is not really necessary.

"Alternatively, you can collect mature seed and sow in a sphagnum bog. These orchids prefer the drier parts of the bog where tamarack and spruce can grow. If the seeds germinate and grow, you should have blooming plants in a couple of years." (The above was provided by Marilyn Light of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)

Calopogon tuberosus and Cpg. pallidus are very easy to germinate from dry seed so I have not done any of them green pod. (The hybrid between the two is named Cpg. Adventure.) They are one of the few hardy terrestrials which can be grown in flask much like their tropical cousins, but with a few exceptions. Just about any good culture media will do.

Once the seed is flasked, the flask can be placed as close as six inches away from florescent tubes to germinate. They like full sun and germinate without any trouble in lots of light. When they are about the size of a head of a pin, reflask them to about a half inch apart in a taller flask. They will grow their first leaf, which will be about an inch or so long, and sit there for the next 5 or 6 months, making up a little corm. Then, they will begin dyeing back, which is the indication that they now need a rest. Place them in a cool area for a week or so, then into a cold area of about 35 degrees Fahrenheit for about three months. This is their vernalization. After this period, bring out of the cooler and place again under bright light. They will immediately begin growing and should develop a three inch leaf or so. Again, they will sit there for 5-6 months making up their next years corm. When they begin to die back again, they can be removed and chilled or chilled in the bottle and removed after the vernalization.

The Calopogons are easy to grow in a mixture of sphagnum peat (Sunshine Peat) and sand (I use sandblasting sand, silica or flint), half and half. Plant in tall pots of at least 6 inches diameter, and plant a full diameter and a half deep. Keep plants moist to wet at all times, preferably with rain or distilled water. Keep in full sun for best growth and blooming.

The seedling corms can be spread out evenly, then covered to one and a half their diameter. The smaller ones are mixed with the soil mix then spread evenly and covered with another thin layer of soil.

For outside growing, in pots, they are allowed to get frosted off in the fall, then dug and cleaned of all debris. The old corms are removed and thrown away, since they will not grow again. The new corms are allowed to surface dry and any scaring to heal, dipped in a benomyl (or other fungicide) solution, again allowed to air dry, then placed in bags of wet sand and stored in the refrigerator over winter. Here (Iowa), in April they are again planted out.

For more information on their culture, growth, division and propagation, I refer you to the following:

Riley, C.T. "Hardy Orchids -- Horticultural Seed Germination and Commercial Potential" In: North American Terrestrial Orchids, Symposium II, Proceedings and Lectures. Plaxton, E.H. (ed.) Michigan Orchid Society, Southfield, MI, 1981, pp. 9-13.

Whitlow, C.E. "Asexual Propagation Techniques for Several Genera of Native Hardy Terrestrial Orchids" In: North American Native Terrestrial Orchid Propagation and Production, Conference Proceedings, 1989. Brandywine Conservancy, Chadds Ford, PA, 1990, pp. 68-74.

Whitlow, C.E. "Fun Flowers" American Orchid Society Bulletin, Vol. 61, No. 9, September, 1992, pp. 860-865.

Carson E. Whitlow
22957 - 280th Street
Adel, IA 50003-4491

Phone: (515) 993-4841
Fax: (515) 309-2302

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