Do you want to use keiki paste on your orchids, Philodendron and Monstera plants to branch a new shoot and to grow a baby plant (keiki)? And are you interested in mixing keiki paste yourself at home?
Keiki paste is 1 part of a chemical called 6-BenzylAminoPurine (as cytokinin hormone) mixed in 1000 parts of lanolin (as carrier). The recipe is simple and can be made at home, but one should be aware of the risks involved and take necessary precautions when handling the chemical.
This article will walk you through the procedure step by step and explain all the details including where to buy the chemical, the necessary risks and precautions you need to be aware of. We will also look into the possibility of coconut water as a natural substitute and some options for buying keiki paste online.
1. What is Keiki Paste?
The key ingredient in keiki paste is a chemical called 6-benzylaminopurine, also known as benzyl adenine, 6-Benzyladenine, BAP or BA. For easy reference, I will call it BAP throughout this article. According to the American Chemical Society, BAP mimics the plant hormone cytokinin in eliciting plant growth by cell division, shoot multiplication and axillary bud proliferation. It also helps delay aging and keeps cut plants or vegetables fresh.
When applied to a growth node of an orchid spike, keiki paste can “wake up” the dormant node andstimulate it to branch into a secondary flower branch or a baby orchid (“keiki”). That’s why it is commonly known as “keiki paste”.
2. Keiki Paste Recipe
- Active ingredient: BAP (available in powder form), 0.1g
- Carrier: Lanolin, 100g. Lanolin is an oil derived from sheep wool. Lanolin is used because its pH level does not harm the plant and provides a homogenous environment for the hormone.
- The ratio should be 1 part of BAP powder to 1000 parts of lanolin.
- You can experiment with the concentration up to 4 parts of BAP to 1000 parts of lanolin but not more than that because of some adverse effects which I will explain below.
- A sensitive digital scale, with increments of 0.01g up to 200g maximum
- A long metal laboratory spoon for transferring the BAP powder
- 1 clear container (at least 150 ml) for mixing
- Small clear jars with lid, at least 20, for storing the final product
- Dropper x 2 for transferring the alcohol and the final product
- Personal protection gear (thick rubber gloves, a high-grade respirator, chemical goggles, overalls) is needed when handling the chemical.
- In a small glass container, melt lanolin from solid to liquid in a hot water bath.
- In a small glass container, measure the right amount of BAP
- Use a dropper to transfer a few drops of 99% isopropyl alcohol to the BAP powder. The alcohol is added to dissolve the powder and for easy transfer. You may sprinkle BAP directly into lanolin but it may be hard to see if the powder is completely dissolved and if there are no lumps in the mixture.
- Mix the BAP mixture and the melted lanolin together, mix well with a long toothpick for at least a few minutes. By then, the alcohol should have evaporated. If not, put the container in a hot water bath to help evaporate any remaining alcohol.
- Use a dropper to transfer the mixture to small individual containers and cover with lid.
Here is a video to show the process – Turn on English subtitles. (But, remember one should use personal protection gear during this process)
3. Can I Make Keiki Paste At Home? (PRECAUTIONS)
You can make keiki paste at home. However, there are several aspects and risks you must be aware of and take necessary precautions when you proceed. They are:
– High concentration of BAP can have adverse effects on the plant
The science of plant signaling and growth hormones is complex. An over-dosage of cytokinin can stall growth, cause deformed growth such as dwarfism, and inhibit root growth. Effects may linger for days or even decades for the plant to recover.
According to a study on the effects of BAP on banana shoots (Pereira et al., 2018), different concentrations of the hormone will produce a different number of shoots. The number of shoots increases from 1 to 3 shoots per plant when the concentration goes from 1mg/L to 2.5mg/L.
But, with a high concentration at 4mg/L, growth is stunted, the number of shoots reduces and there were even abnormal shoots with reduced leaf length and cluster formation.
Therefore, getting the right concentration of the chemical is crucial.
– Improper handling of BAP can cause health risks
The chemical BAP, according to a biotechnological company, is a skin, lung and eye irritant. It can even cause damage for some and may accentuate any pre-existing dermatitis condition. Entry into the bloom-stream via open cuts, abrasions or lesions may produce systemic injury with harmful effects. When inhaled, it can cause lung damage.
– Improper disposal can disrupt marine life
When you have finished making some keiki paste, you should not clean any used containers by flushing them under the tap to prevent any BAP from being washed into the drains. This is because the chemical is harmful to aquatic organisms and may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. To properly clean the containers, add a few drops of 99% alcohol and wipe them off with tissue paper.
4. Where can I buy 6-BenzylAminoPurine (BAP)?
BAP is not easily accessible in all countries. If you cannot find the chemical locally, chances are the chemical is not allowed in your country. This can happen as some of the synthetic hormone chemicals can be used to make other substances detrimental to the environment.
You can buy BAP at Amazon.
You can also buy BAP from a German company called Merck/Sigma-Aldrich.
The recipe and recommendations given in this article are meant for hobbyists who are interested in making a small batch for their own use. If you can get it from overseas and if you want to manufacture and sell some of your homemade keiki paste products, please check with your local laws if it is allowed.
5. Coconut Water as Substitute for Keiki Paste?
Instead of making a keiki paste, some people consider using coconut water as a replacement. They dip some sphagnum moss in some coconut water and then wrap it around a growth node on a spike.
Indeed, there is cytokinin in coconut water (not coconut milk) which is the liquid endosperm. But can we really use coconut water as a replacement for keiki paste for its cytokinin?
A person who has worked for a bio-chemical technology company said that his company has actually done some extensive testing of whether they can use coconut water instead of the chemical hormones. They did find the hormones they were looking for but not at a reliably steady concentration.
Also, many variables can determine the availability of the natural hormone. For example, it can depend on the age of the coconut, using fresh coconut water vs. canned coconut water, method of extracting the coconut water. Some coconut water is made from extracts only, while others are made from straight coconut juice. If heat is applied in the extraction process, the natural hormones would be destroyed by the heat. Also, the existence of other substances in the coconut can break down the hormones, affecting their availability.
So, the problem with natural sources is that sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It is really a shot in the dark. Even though some people may claim success for growing keikis after applying coconut water, it may not work a second time. There are just too many variables, compared with a synthetic hormone produced under controlled laboratory conditions.
6. Kelp & Seaweed Extract as Substitute for Keiki Paste?
Kep and seaweed extract has both the auxins and cytokinin hormones, among others. But its primary content is auxins which trigger root growth and suppress branching/shoot growth. So, kelp extract can definitely not replace keiki paste. In fact, it is doing the opposite to suppress growth of any new shoots or keiki. Here is an article to learn more about the use of kelp and seaweed extract as a rooting hormone.
Here is another article to learn more about the differences beween keiki paste and rooting hormone.
7. Where Can You Buy Keiki Paste?
Apart from making the keiki paste yourself, you can also purchase it on the internet. They are quite expensive for a small amount but you don’t need to apply a lot each time.
- I recommend the Keiki Paste by Southside Plants
Keiki paste is a synthetic hormone that can promote shoot growth. It consists of a chemical called BAP dissolved in a wax-like carrier like lanolin. If you have access to the chemical, you may try out the recipe at home.
The recipe only has two ingredients but it should only be done with care, skills and special protection. Mistakes during the process can cause irritation to the skin and respiratory system, adverse results to plant growth such as stalling growth or a dwarf plant, and would even cause long-lasting impact on the marine life when washed down the drain. Unfortunately, there are no natural substitutes that you can use instead of keiki paste. You would have to either make it yourself or purchase it online.
Pereira, G. A., Santaella, M. B., Alves, L. M. S. M., Silva, E. C., Flenga, A. I. S., & Santos, D. M. A. (2018). Concentrations of 6-Benzylaminopurine (BAP) in micropropagation of banana ‘Farta Velhaco’ (AAB). Comunicata Scientiae, 9(1), 58-63. https://doi.org/10.14295/cs.v9i1.2034
6-Benzylaminopurine Health Hazard Data Sheet, Santa Cruz Biotechnology