It may seem confusing when new growth appears on orchids. This is because the aerial roots can look like new stems. It’s best to wait for a while and be patient until you can clearly see whether it’s a root of new flower spike which can be staked to keep it upright.
Growing spikes are greener in colour. With any new roots usually rounded, thicker, and slightly white in colour. As water is absorbed to the roots, they turn green and then return to the grey-white colour afterwards.
If the new growth isn’t an aerial root or a straight-forward flower spike, you may be lucky enough to have a ‘keiki’ growing. Keikis are baby plants that grow on the stem of the parent plant, as you can see here.
You may be wondering why this is happening to your houseplants. In the wild, orchids reproduce by pollination or division much of the time. This is because the plant grows so big that parts of it snap off or are taken by birds, to then land on a tree or rock to carry on the cycle.
Mature orchids grown as houseplants, especially phalaenopsis or dendrobiums, are prone to producing babies in this way. However in some instances, if an orchid is stressed, they can appear. Particularly, if the plant feels at risk.
Therefore, producing a baby is its natural way of passing on its genes. Then, due to this method of reproduction, the baby will be identical to the parent plant.
If you think that the orchid is stressed, check that the plant is getting a stable and suitable temperature of at least 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit) and that it’s getting sufficient light by positioning in a spot with bright but filtered light.