Jacobo Lacs, director of Zoologico del Istmo in Panama, stands out as an accomplished bird and plant breeder. Jacobo Lacs enjoys raising and cross-breeding orchids in his Panama greenhouse.
Orchid growers typically propagate their plants in one of four ways. They may choose to breed, which by definition involves hand-pollination of a flower using the pollinia of another plant. This simple yet delicate process requires the breeder to use a toothpick or other tool to gather material from the stamen of a “father” plant and then deposit this material into the stigma of the “mother” plant’s flower. This particular method, the plant’s form of sexual reproduction, can allow a breeder to experiment with new varieties and characteristics.
Orchids may also reproduce asexually via division or the harvesting of offshoots. Many beginner breeders find this method of propagation simpler, as it requires only the separation of one part of a plant from another. A breeder may begin division by breaking a growing plant into two or more pieces, each of which contains several pseudobulbs that then instigate new growth. Some plants display new growth along the stem; these offshoots, or “keiki,” can become additional plants if the grower repots them after they has grown a few leaves and roots.