Skip to content

Cut off orchid offshoots in the fall: how to properly separate and plant offspring!

Orchids can sometimes form an offshoot (also called a child or keiki) and you should know how to react in this situation. What is a keiki? This term comes from Hawaiian and means “child” or “baby”. In orchids, an offshoot can form on the plant that is identical to the mother plant. Here are helpful tips on how to cut off an orchid offshoot – the fall season is perfect for this activity. After that, you can pot the small offspring.

Why do orchid keiki develop?

Why are orchid cuttings produced?

Mature orchids can form keikis for a variety of reasons. For example, some genera such as Phalaenopsis and Dendrobium orchids tend to form offshoots. However, offspring often form when an orchid is stressed . When an orchid is dying, asexual production of a filial may be its best chance to pass on its genes. Because keikis are produced without pollination, each filial is genetically identical to its mother plant. Once mature, they will have the same flowers as the mother plant.

How can you recognize orchid offshoots?

Cut off orchid offshoots in the fall - Tips

Offshoots look like small plants growing on the stem of the mother plant. In Phalaenopsis orchids, they are usually located at the nodes along the stem. In the dendrobium, they are usually located at the end of the stem, where the hormones necessary for the formation of a keiki accumulate.

Cut orchid offshoots in the fall – tips.

Check the condition of the mother plant

How to recognize orchid offshoots?

If you notice a keiki growing on one of your orchids, the first thing you should do is check the health of the mother plant. As mentioned earlier, offshoots are often triggered by stress, and a new offspring can be a sign that your orchid is not doing well. You should check all the conditions of the plant, but there are two things you should pay particular attention to:

  • Is the temperature too high (especially for Phalaenopsis orchids)?
  • Is the orchid getting too little light?

After checking the health of the mother plant, decide if you want to keep the offspring. Offshoots can grow into an independent orchid, but they drain resources from the mother plant. Some growers allow the offspring to mature, while others remove them so the mother plant can thrive.

Cut off orchid offshoots: Here’s how!

Cut off orchid offshoots - how to do it!


To remove a keiki, simply separate it with a sharp, sterile blade. To prevent more offspring from forming, you should cut back the spikes of the mother plant after it has finished flowering.

If you want to keep the keiki and grow it into a full-grown orchid, follow these steps:

  • Don’t be in a hurry to separate the plantlet from the main plant. Be patient and wait until the roots are 7 to 13 inches long. Also, the plantlet should have some leaves at the time of transplanting.
  • Once the above conditions are met, cut the plantlet from the mother plant, about 5 cm below the stem.
  • Use cinnamon on the cut parts to prevent the occurrence of fungal infections.
  • Plant the orchid offshoots in a 10-cm pot and use sphagnum moss, bark, sphagnum moss, cork or a commercial orchid potting mix as potting soil, then water the plants well. If you choose peat moss, make sure it is moist before you start potting. Fill the bottom of the pot with some moss, then form a ball of moss slightly larger than the pot and wrap it around the child. The moss should be pressed firmly into the pot so that the offshoot has a good hold (use the flower stalk to anchor the baby orchid). When the plant is fully grown, you can switch to bark as potting soil.
  • Label the baby orchid with a separate label so you can remember its pedigree. Some growers also label it with a number (with the number 2) to keep track of its growth.
  • Once you’re ready, find a strategic location with plenty of shade but access to natural light.
  • In the meantime, look for other growing conditions such as moist and nutrient-rich soil, high temperature and adequate humidity.

Raising a child is a lot of fun. It may take one to three years for your offshoot to bloom, but in the end you will have an orchid that you grew yourself when it was “little.”

Cut off orchid keiki: the growth of the new plant.

Cut off orchid stem - the growth of the new plant.

Your seedling should not be exposed to too much direct sunlight immediately after transplanting. Once you see signs of growth, you can increase the amount of light every few days. Once your offshoot is well established and growing healthy, it can receive the same amount of light as the mother plant. Also, do not fertilize until the leaves show signs of growth.