How To Propagate Vanda: Experts Latest Advice

Learn how to propagate Vanda orchids successfully with expert advice. Understand the basics, choose the right method, and follow step-by-step instructions. [propagate vanda]

Understanding the Basics of Vanda Orchids

Vandas are epiphytic orchids that require specific care to propagate vanda successfully. Vanda orchids originate from tropical and subtropical Asia and prefer bright light and frequent moisture, making them challenging but rewarding to grow. They grow best mounted on pieces of tree fern, cork bark or in wire baskets. Vanda orchids produce pseudobulbs which store water and nutrients to help the plant survive in dry periods.
More comprehensive information and care guidelines can be read here.

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Photo by Marc Kleen / Unsplash

Choosing the Right Propagation Method for Vanda Orchids

There are two main propagation methods for Vanda orchids: plantlet propagation and division. Choosing the right method depends on the plant’s growth stage and the propagator’s goals.

Plantlet propagation involves using newly formed plantlets on the mature pseudobulbs. This method is ideal for rapidly increasing the number of plants because each plantlet can develop into an adult orchid. Plantlets form when the plant has good growing conditions with proper light, humidity and nutrients. Some growers encourage plantlet production by placing orchids in high humidity environments with frequent misting. Plantlets should be at least 1-2 inches long with small roots before detaching.

Division splits off a portion of an established orchid plant. This method works well for orchids that are long established and produces well-developed pseudobulbs. Division is preferable when the grower wants an exact genetic replica of the parent plant. The division should contain at least two to three mature pseudobulbs with healthy roots.

Summarizing the differences:

Plantlet Propagation Division
Goal Rapidly increase plant quantity Produce genetically identical replica
Timeframe Quick results Slower results
Material required Plantlets on mature pseudobulbs Established mother plant with mature pseudobulbs
Ideal for Increasing plant stock Preserving favored cultivars

Therefore, choosing the right propagation method depends on the orchid’s specific growth stage and the propagator’s goals for rapid multiplication, precise genetic copies or a combination.

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Preparing the Propagation Materials for Vanda Orchids

Before propagating Vanda orchids through division or using plantlets, growers must prepare the necessary materials to ensure success. The key items include:

  • A sterile blade to divide the plant or detach plantlets. Clean the blade with alcohol before use to avoid introducing any microbes or diseases.

  • New pots or mounting material, such as wooden baskets, tree fern slabs epiphyte mounts, or cork bark. The pots or mounts should be slightly larger than the divided plant or plantlet.

  • Appropriate mounting media to attach the orchid. Options include sphagnum moss, tree fern strips, perlite and charcoal. The media should retain moisture while providing aeration to the roots.

  • A growth hormone to encourage root growth on the cuts or detached plantlets. This reduces moisture loss and stress after propagation.

  • Ensure the parent plant has clean roots free of pests, diseases or rotting tissue. Prune away any unhealthy roots before division.

Select the healthiest pseudobulbs and aerial plantlets for propagation to maximize the chance of success.

The following pseudobulbs and plantlets are most suitable:

  • Firm and plump pseudobulbs that are green without any signs of yellowing or necrosis.

  • Healthy aerial plantlets that are at least 1-2 inches long with tiny roots already emerging.

  • Pseudobulbs that still contain some stored water and nutrients to help establish new growth. Avoid dry, shriveled pseudobulbs.

By preparing the right tools and materials ahead of time and selecting only healthy propagation stock, growers can give their new divisions and plantlets the best chances of survival.

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Photo by Blanca Paloma Sánchez / Unsplash

Step-by-Step Guide to Propagating Vanda Orchids

Once you have prepared the necessary materials, here are the step-by-step instructions for successfully propagating Vanda orchids through division and plantlets:


  1. Select 2-3 mature pseudobulbs from the mother plant.

  2. Use a sterile knife or blade to carefully cut the pseudobulbs from the mother plant. Try to keep as many roots and leaves as possible.

  3. Place the divided piece in the new pot or mount and secure it in place with the mounting media.

  4. Dust the cut end with rooting hormone.

  5. Provide high humidity around 80-90% by placing the plant on a tray of moist pebbles or using a propagation dome.

  6. Water the division 1-2 times per week and begin fertilizing once new growth emerges.

Plantlet propagation

  1. Identify healthy aerial plantlets on the mature pseudobulbs that are at least 1-2 inches long.

  2. Detach the plantlets from the mother plant using clean scissors or a sterile blade.

  3. Remove the bottom leaf from the plantlet and dust the cut end with rooting hormone.

  4. Place the plantlet in a small pot with moist mounting media.

  5. Keep the plantlet under high humidity conditions with low light.

  6. Monitor moisture levels and only water when the media starts to dry.

  7. Monitor the plantlet closely for signs of dehydration and rot. Mist the leaves to increase humidity around the plantlet.

  8. Once new roots emerge from the plantlet, begin fertilizing weekly and gradually increase light levels.

By following these step-by-step propagation instructions, growers can increase their chances of success when multiplying their Vanda orchids through division or plantlets. Regular monitoring, high humidity and excellent hygiene are keys to healthy Vanda propagation.

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Photo by neil macc / Unsplash

Tips and Tricks for Successful Vanda Orchid Propagation

Follow these tips to help ensure your Vanda orchid propagations succeed:

  • Keep new divisions and plantlets in high humidity with misting systems or trays of moist pebbles. This reduces water loss and stress. Provide shade cloth or indirect light for the first 2-4 weeks.

  • Use a rooting hormone or seaweed extract on the cut ends of divisions and detached plantlets. This promotes faster root growth and establishment.

  • Regularly inspect new propagations for signs of dehydration or rotting. Mist the leaves of plantlets to increase humidity around the roots.

  • Water new divisions only when the media starts to dry out, around once per week initially. Increase to 2-3 times per week as roots develop.

  • Fertilize divisions and plantlets once new growth emerges. Use a diluted, balanced fertilizer specifically for orchids at half the strength recommended on the label.

  • Monitor new propagations closely for pests like spider mites, thrips and mealybugs which can attack weakened plants. Treat any infestations immediately.

  • Replace mounting media as needed, usually every 1-2 years. Orchid roots are very prone to rot in organic media that becomes overly saturated or dense over time.

  • Gradually acclimate new divisions to higher light levels after 4-6 weeks. Expose them to morning or dappled light initially, then increase the number of hours in brighter light.

In summary, Vanda propagations require extra care and close monitoring during their first few months as the roots develop. Providing high humidity, sufficient rest periods, regular fertilizing and timely treatments for pests will help ensure your divisions survive, stabilize and eventually thrive. With patience and following these tips, growers can enjoy multiplying their Vanda orchid collections.

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