What Is a Keiki?

Keiki orchid plant with roots clipped to stick and white flowers near window

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Phalaenopsis is one of the easiest orchids to grow in the home. If your phalaenopsis finished blooming, you can cut back the flower spike in an attempt to induce the development of a fresh stalk. You may eventually notice new growth that appears to be leaves forming—these tiny plantlets are called keikis.


A keiki is the product of asexual propagation by a mature plant resulting in an exact clone of its parent. Keikis first look like miniature leaves that slowly grow into a miniature plant.

Orchid keikis occur naturally when growth hormones accumulate at a node on the flower spike. The production of keikis can also be induced through the use of keiki paste. This paste consists of concentrated growth hormones and is applied directly to the node.

If you want to force the appearance of a keiki, buy a special hormone paste from a reputable orchid dealer and use it according to label directions.

Fun Fact

The word keiki translates to "the little one" in Hawaiian, and is used to reference a child of any age. 


Keikis can be used to propagate phalaenopsis orchids. When your keiki has developed several leaves and roots approximately 2 to 3 inches in length, you can remove the plantlet from the parent orchid. Removing a keiki from its mother too early can cause the fragile baby to die off.

Once the roots have developed on the young plant, you will want to use a sharp, sterilized blade to carefully remove the keiki, roots and all, from the mother plant by slicing the tissue at the base of the plantlet. The young plant will be an exact genetic duplicate of its mother.

Any time there is an open wound on your orchid, it should be treated to prevent fungal infections. You can apply cinnamon, which is a natural fungicide, to the cuts on both the mother plant and keiki to ward off future problems.


Once removed, you have two options. You can pot the keiki in its own 4-inch container or repot the mother plant along with the keiki in the same pot (which is the best option). During its first year, a keiki can benefit from being potted with its mother as the mature plant will help regulate soil conditions for the sensitive baby.

Be careful not to expose your new plant to too much direct sunlight immediately after transplant. Once the keiki shows signs of growth, you can begin to gradually increase the amount of light it receives.

With the proper care, your Keiki should flower between two to three years of age.

Have Caution

The spontaneous appearance of keikis is not always a good sign. Some stressed plants will produce them in an effort of self-preservation. Sometimes an orchid will put off a keiki as a way of continuing its legacy if it fears that death is in the future. Keiki production should not instill panic but should act as a reminder to constantly monitor the health and happiness of your original plant.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Growth on Orchid Flower Stem. University of Florida Extension

  2. Propagating Orchids. University of Michigan Extension