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Photograph taken April 14, 2006 by Sarah Hepting with an Olympus E500

Translation for 140 languages by ALS

This is my favorite picture and I have it on my desktop. The emerging Calypso flowers on the left look as if they are being watched over by the adult flower. The emerging buds look like just hatched birds to me, awkward and only slightly looking like the glorious and exquisite flower they will become.

Sowing Calypso bulbosa Orchid Seed

Look to the links on the left for in vitro information from a beginner. This section is for information about sowing Calypso seed in nature after you have done your research and picked the right place. First read this section through and assemble a few tools and set up a brightly lit, clean area free from any air movement. A copy of these instructions are sent with every order. Assemble all the tools first and have everything ready. Make sure that you will have plenty of time and will not be disturbed.

First, put down a sheet of aluminum foil for a work surface. The foil will help you recover any wayward seed. Illuminate the area with bright light. Make sure there is no wind or draft in the work area. Control breathing on seeds or they will take to the air! Wear magnifying glasses if you have them and have a hand held magnifier handy for closer inspections and to really appreciate the tiny seeds. Have ready: 1 gallon rain or distilled water, a clean glass jar at least four inches deep, a clean eye dropper, Don't get plastic any where near this seed, it has amazing static cling properties!

Use a clean, new glass eye dropper to put the seed exactly where you want it. Gently tap the glass vial that the seed is shipped in on a hard surface to collect the seeds in the bottom. Remove any seal or tape from the vial lid and throw it away. CAREFULLY open the vial, inspect the lid for clinging seed, remove any stray seed from the lid with a damp toothpick or drops of water and put them into the glass jar. Gently drop distilled or rain water into the glass vial. Add enough rain or distilled water to the tiny bottle to swirl and agitate the seeds into the water, about 2/3 full.

Close the cap with the lid not your finger. Now is a good time to take a close look at the seeds! Gently swish and agitate to wet the seeds and wash them into the water. Remove the tiny lid and pour this seedy water into the larger glass jar. Repeat this step until all the seed is in the glass jar. Gently add more water to the jar, but not overfull.

The more water to seeds there are, the more controlled the application of seed will be. A small amount of water makes a concentrated dense seed application. Use the clean new eye dropper to draw up seeds and water from the glass jar that now contains the seeds and water. Add refills of water to rinse and apply the seeds that remain stuck in the jar. Remember, no skin contact.

The seeds will be cool and dark in the leaf litter and germinate at the time when the fungus is most present and active, slowly developing tiny underground pearls that may in a year and a half to two years, send up the tiny first leaf about half the size of your smallest fingernail. The leaf will be bigger each year until the bulb builds enough reserves to send up a bloom. From here on out I can only estimate since reliable data is not available on this species. I will however, using the best available information at this time, suggest 3-5 years from germination to flowering.

Another technique I tried and liked is to use a replate loop and scoop the seeds out of a tiny bowl of water using the loop. The tiny floating seed cling to the loop. The loop is then held over the spot to be seeded and washed down with a spray from a spray bottle. This is fast and accurate for placing the seeds. This method is best for sowing Calypso seed in pots or germination trays. I started 6 trays of 3 and a half inch deep cells, 72 cells to a tray, for a total of 432 cells. These are in big plastic bags to keep even moisture. The sealed bags are in my "plant laboratory" under the redwoods. In the trays I used a soil mix of: 2.25 parts screened leaf mold from under the redwoods, 1 part peat, 1 part vermiculite, .75 part granulated charcoal, and 1 TBS bonemeal for each gallon of mix. I then lightly pressed the mix down with a tool and spread perlite about 3/8 inch deep over the surface of all the cells and watered in with rain water in a spray bottle.I slid these into clean new plastic trash bags and sealed up. Now what? Wait on the results and keep your fingers crossed!


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