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Early Growth Habit of Coryanthes Seedlings
Text by Troy C. Meyers, Photos by Charles E. Lamb

Like a few other species, most Coryanthes and some Gongora seedlings have a growth habit that is quite different from the older plants. This makes them somewhat perplexing and a bit challenging to grow if you don't know what to expect.

Rather than a vertically-oriented growth habit with pseudobulbs forming side-by-side on a short rhizome, the seedlings begin with a very long, spindly, vine-like horizontal growth. They make rhizome for quite a while, putting out roots along it, then eventually get serious about producing leaves. The pseudobulbs develop after that, and finally the seedlings no longer looks at all vine-like.

Vinelike Seedling
Initial vine-like growth, rooting along horizontal stem

A theory about this is that perhaps they are adapted to having ants carry the seeds deep into their nests, and the plant need to be "long" for a while until it can reach the exterior surface of the nest, while rooting into the compost of the nest along the way.

Seedling beginning Vertical Growth
Plant beginning vertical growth
  I recommend potting these for a very few weeks in completely wetted --with "1/4 strength" fertilizer-- but totally "wrung out" sphagnum, covering the roots AND rhizome, in smallish plastic pots, and keeping them humid. Keep the sphagnum moist but never wet by adding a few drops of water daily, or as needed. Don't "water" in the normal sense. They can stay like that for a several weeks, and will harden up and start growing vigorously, and begin vertical growth and even show signs of pseudobulbs.  
Normal Growth
Normal vertical growth with remaining original horizontal stem
  When the vertical growth is vigorous, either move them individually to small peat pots with sphagnum (for more rapid drying) or move them to a well-drained medium for normal Coryanthes and Gongora culture, removing the sphagnum almost completely so that there isn't a swamp around the roots when the heavy watering starts.  
Pseudobulb Growth
Pseudobulb development
  If you've never have seen our page on compotting methods, take a look: Caring for Seedlings Removed from Flasks

It all applies to Coryanthes and Gongora too, though because of the long rhizome you will be burying, you can't get so many plants per layer. Also, you may expect the plants to clamber over the side of the pot into the one next to it, so it's best if they are together and "aimed" toward one another so that your species don't get mixed up.

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