If you've successfully pollinated your plant, the pod will grow over the next 9 to 12 months. Be really really patient. The ovary will swell and may become as big as a fat banana. The petals and sepals will drop off or remain as dried remnants at the end (see the picture). Don't repot the plant or subject it to shock. Keep feeding it. Keep it comfortable.
The pod will develop into a green fruit with yellowish ribs. How long depends on your climate - longer if colder. Here are some pods about a month from being ready to sow. Commercial orchid seed growers usually want whole unopened pods to minimize infection by bacteria or fungi. Once the pods open, they get everything in the atmosphere on them, and when they are sown into a nutrient rich medium, guess what grows first? Not the orchid seeds, but the rubbish. The picture shows a pod nearly a year old - the plant has a new spike and buds - but I live in a cool climate. They may ripen quicker for you. The pod should be light green and the ribs beginning to lift (maybe your little fingernail can get under them).
© Copyright 2006+ Arthur Sale
Last Modified: 23 December 2010
Now you've got a pod, what can you do about it? The safest bet is to find an orchid seed-raising service. They will want your unopened pod. They will sterilize it, and open it under sterile conditions. The seeds will be sown into an agar-jelly based medium with sugar, water and trace elements. When the tiny plants begin to show, they are likely to be transplanted ('replated') into other sterile closed flasks in batches of say 30 mini-plants, where they will have more room to grow to say 50-100mm high. Then they'll be sent to you. Your job is then to 'deflask' them, and slowly acclimatize them to the outside world. Three to five years of growing them up to flowering size awaits and the thrill of seeing what sort of plant children you have produced. I said you needed to be patient. In Australia, try Flora Laboratories or in the USA Troy Meyers for seed-raising services.
If you think you can do this yourself, feel free to try. You can't grow Cymbidiums by sowing seed in the open. You will need a supplier of orchid raising medium, flasks, sterilization facilities. etc. It isn't impossible, just tedious, careful and above all slo...ow. A slip can mean introduced bacteria or fungi and failure. In Australia Western Orchid Laboratories can supply medium with comprehensive instructions. Flasks, tweezers and the rest you can acquire from supermarkets (such as Woolworths or Coles), which leaves you with only the really serious sterility problem to solve. You will need access to a pressure cooker or an autoclave. If you are determined, see my section on Plant Tissue Culture (under construction).