Paphis floating in a sea of glass

Floating in a sea of glass!

We spend our lives sweating blood and tears trying to grow orchids - so think about giving yourself a break and taking an easier option in life by switching to plastic. .....No more bad backs, struggling with popping bungs, toxic chemicals, wretched Kimax, razor cutting Pyrex or rusting metal lids.....not to mention those orchids eaten alive by bacteria and multicoloured fungi that have proved your lids were not as good as you thought........










Quick Contents - Images of Paph flasks and info on flasks.-198kb download

The orchid world is awash with orchids flasked in glass jars and containers. This is a legacy of the 'home flasker' or enthusiastic amateur. In 2003 using glass is not a commercial option for the production of plants in volume. In these days of international shipping the flask weight is of serious concern and no-one can be serious about producing plants in glass and expect commercial nurseries to purchase them in quantity. It simply does not happen! Glass is also hazardous to transport - we have had reports of glass jars not being accepted as cabin luggage on aircraft. We believe that hazards from broken glass in the laboratory or nursery should be of major concern to all who work with in-vitro cultures. The risks of exploding and cracking glass during or after the autoclave cycle should not be underestimated either. The current cost of laboratory grade flasks makes them prohibitive for most establishments.

The use of plastics has met a mixed reception with some in the industry. Indeed it has been quoted elsewhere on the www that all plastic containers are unsuitable for orchids! Clearly this erroneous conclusion has been reached because unsuitable techniques or products have been adopted. The micropropagation world lead the way with plastic containers and we first started using plastic back in 1980 for Gerberas! Today the vast majority of non-orchid plants are produced using the non-glass route.

Venting has also given some in the industry - especially in the orchid world problems. A history of cotton wool venting has evolved into many approaches most of which leave a lot to be desired. The efficiency of such an approach is questionable in the light of contamination and plant loss, while the aesthetics of some venting is unsightly and amateurish. If plants, time, effort and aseptic integrity are important to the raising or orchids it will be realized that appearance is important too and it is vital that you use a high quality and performing aseptic venting system. We know from many years of practical experience and many tens of thousands of flasks what works and what does not. The AMD vents you see here benefit from the use of a patented technology in their manufacture and the results show for themselves. Importanly plants grow faster and better with the proper number of air exchanges. We have proved this and it is well documented in research work by workers in the field such as Kozi, Kubota and Chun from Chiba University, Japan and others who work in venting technology.

The range of media used to grow Paphs is long and varied. To some extent it is lead by what is available in the marketplace. There is no dedicated Paph media available on the www other than what is offered by TQPL. General orchid media will grow this genera but comparative growth rates and quality of seedlings often fall way behind what should be acceptable. Germination can be a problem and so can growth beyond the protocorm stages. It is well known that some 'hot media' just burn out the seedlings resulting in plant loss in flask, and of critical importance only allowing poor establishment out of flask. There is no point in growing your seedlings if they all die on removal due to in-flask problems! It is not unusual for Ratcliffe Orchids to achieve 100 % survival of seedlings out of flask due in part we believe to the nutrition and growth of the plants in the laboratory. We also realise that some crosses will not germinate and some are impossible to raise from seed but we are working on it....

A flask of Paphiopedilum seedlings should be judged on its uniformity, growth rate, size, and appearance of leaves and shoots. These all give a visual indication of plant health. Clear agar gives a better insight of the root growth while contamination by bacteria of fungus is also easy to see. The plants are simply easier to view and assess without the addition of charcoal to the media. Finally due consideration should be given to the genetics of the cross in question - the reason why people select one flask over the other!

It is always of interest to view the assortment of Paphiopedilum seedlings offered in flask by nurseries and shows. If simply roots and shoots are examined it will be seen how much variation there is in the marketplace.

Paphiopedilum flasks at TQPL

All images can be clicked for information and the whole sequence can be seen in rollover effect by clicking through on the enlarged image.

Find out a little bit more about raising Paphiopedilum seedlings by looking at the collection of images. Find out why for example there is a range of leaf types and colours on display? What roots look like in detail and how to produce seedlings like those shown in the images.

Information on complex hybrids, multifloral, parvisepalum, brachypetalum and novelty breeding

How to contact TQPL

TQPL / Brookside / Southern Lane / New Milton / Hampshire / BH257JE / United Kingdom

Tel/Fax/Ans: 01425 616 608 / Int. +44 1425 616 608 / e-mail to:

Please be aware that this site is not Internet secure for disclosure of payment details and we would strongly suggest that you make use of telephone, fax or letter which is independently secure for such purposes. However we will be more than pleased to answer your e-mail or help with any questions