Dividing Pterostylis, an easy native orchid to grow

By Mark Abell

The easiest terrestrial orchids to grow and propagate are those in the genus Pterostylis. These orchids produce abundant underground tubers (white and about the size of a pea) and after a couple of years in a pot they need division. In this case I had a 14cm (6”) pot of Pterostylis curta that was in need of division.

This is best done in November – December when the green leaves have died down at the end of the season.

Ideally the pots at this stage should be allowed to dry out. The addition of pearlite in the mix, whilst keeping it more open and better drained, does make it harder to recognise the tubers as they look similar.

The photos show the stages along the way. I’d left it a bit later than I’d like (late January) to separate out the orchids and many of the tubers had started to shoot.

This first picture shows the orchid pot after flowering had finished in late September. 

Step 1: I empty the pot and separate out the tubers. The old mix was reused as there are likely tubers that I may have missed. 

Step 2: There were quite a few tubers found in the pot – many were shooting.

Step 3: After potting up – 1 original pot -> many more pots

Step 4: Watch the orchids shooting after a couple of weeks

Story and photos, Mark Abell. Mark is the President of the Newcastle group of the Australian Plants Society, and newsletter editor of the Hunter Valley group.