Thursday, January 13, 2011

De-flasking a micropropagated Disa

Whilst at Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden in Cape Town on a boiling hot day, we found a some micropropagated Disas from the Cape Institute of Micropropagation and decided to see if we could manage to get them to grow; we also conveniently found a sphagnum-moss based potting mix there too, so we grabbed that whilst we were there.

Having pretty much outgrown its little flask, the Disa bivalvata was opened on Sunday, had distilled water added up to the top of the label as per the attached instruction leaflet, and after three days like that, it was time to pot up.

I sterilised a smallish (9cm) pot and some spoons in some hot water with Jik (household bleach) and then thoroughly rinsed it. The potting mix was rehydrated with distilled water.

You can see how ready it was to be potted!

I gently removed it from the flask with a teaspoon; the distilled water soaking loosens the agar up quite nicely.

Disa bivalvata unflasked, with some agar still adhering.
Given the rather nutritious agar and the susceptibility of Disas to fungal and bacterial root rots, it's a good idea to make sure all that gel is washed off the plants, roots and tubers. I used a pressurised spray bottle turned to a jet of water with distilled water to gently blast the agar off; this works quite well and is probably kinder to the delicate little plants than trying to remove it with tools or anything else.

Cleaned plantlets. 3 were in the flask.

I then mostly filled their pot with sphagnum-based potting mix, and gently packed a little ball of it around the roots and tubers before putting each plantlet into the pot and then putting more mix between the "root balls" to keep them in place.

Plantlets now in pot.

Old and new home (taken with dead flash batteries, hence the blur...)
Added to the collection!
The plants were then watered with 4g/l Fungi-Nil (captab) solution in Aquelle spring water; the instructions said to water with a "mild fungicide"; this morning I received an email from Hildegard Crous who runs the outfit that does the micropropagation:

The Captab works very well as it is somewhat systemic, otherwise the better known fungicide to use is Dithane, both can be used at the recommended dosage.
This is mentioned in the Grow Disa book, but I will improve it on the instructions label,
I put them into the cut off bottom of a water bottle and topped it up with distilled water as you can see in the picture above. So there we go. Hopefully, the plantlets take to their new home and our version of green-ish fingers! I've just ordered the Grow Disas book from SANBI as my regular online book dealers don't seem to stock it.

We bought Dr. Louis Vogelpoel's Disa book at Exotic Plant Company, but it seems a little dated. Pretty much all the information in it is available almost verbatim online in these culture notes. has a very comprehensive guide to deflasking.