Keikis: What to Do With Those “Baby Plants”?

Question of the Week:

“I have a couple of orchids that
have a long stem and then the
roots appear. Keiki The roots are about 5 inches above the stem. What are they? I have never had one bloom. I can’t look it up because I don’t know what they are.” (By the way, the worm tea, suggested in your book, is wonderful. My orchids really began to look healthy when I started using it. I also use fertilizer, of course, but the worm tea makes them look better.)

-Frances Borowski, Pensacola, FL



Ryan’s Recommendation:

Hi Frances,

I loved reading about your father’s love of orchids. Thank you for sharing that with us! I know you will enjoy growing an orchid collection of your own. And by the looks of the photo you’ve sent, your orchid collection is already multiplying!

The roots and branching leaves that are growing on your dendrobium orchid are orchid plantlets, or baby plants, called keikis (the Hawaiian word for “the little one”). Keikis can grow along the inflorescence, cane, or near the crown of the plant. A keiki growth is just one of the many ways orchids propagate. They can be found on many different types of orchids, your photo shows a perfect example of not one, but two keikis growing on a dendrobium. Sometimes a keiki can be a sign that the mother orchid is in poor health, as it is usually a plant’s attempt to replicate itself in case it dies. Do not fret if you see a keiki growing near the crown, I’ve found that this is not always the case! In fact, you can force a keiki to grow on purpose by adding keiki growth hormone onto the node of an orchid. (There is a step-by-step guide on how to do this without harming your orchid in Lesson 14 of the Green Thumb Club.)

The two keikis on your dendrobium appear to be growing from two different canes. Each keiki has a beautiful group of roots and at least two healthy leaves each. So now that we’ve identified what they are, I’m sure you’re now thinking: “What do I do with them?”

What You Can Do With A Keiki


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