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Are Blue Orchids Real? The Ultimate Truth

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Phalaenopsis (or moth orchids) come in a variety of gorgeous colors. But have you ever seen blue orchids at grocery stores, florists or at orchid shows? Are blue orchids even real? Keep reading to find out the plain truth and everything you need to know!

are-blue-orchids-real

While certainly striking, blue Phalaenopsis orchids have a bit of, let’s say, human intervention to create this color. Blue moth orchids do not exist in nature!

ARE BLUE ORCHIDS REAL?

The short answer is no (at least for Phalaenopsis orchids)! The plants are real of course, but the blue color is not naturally occuring. Blue Phalaenopsis orchids are actually skillfully dyed by growers which utilize a patented process.

I’ve seen these plants both at big box stores as well as in orchid shows.

The fact is that true blue flowers are actually pretty rare in nature.

The issue becomes even more confusing because in many cases people claim that there are true blue orchids (namely Vandas), but they’re more purple than anything. There are even many posts I’ve seen online where photos are posted of “blue orchids” and they are clearly purple.

David Lee, who wrote the book Nature’s Palette: The Science of Plant Color, states that “Less than 10 percent of the 280,000 species of flowering plants produce blue flowers.”

blue-orchid
Photo credit: Johannes Maximilian, GFDL 1.2

HOW ARE ORCHIDS DYED BLUE?

Different growers use slightly different methods to create blue Phalaenopsis orchids.

The “Just Add Ice” grower uses a patented process to create blue orchids in their Watercolor Orchids line. (They even use dye to create green, orange and hot pink flowers.)

To create blue orchids, a blue dye is actually injected into a small hole which is made in the orchid stem. The hole that is created is then covered with wax.

After about 24 hours, the dye works its magic and begins to change the color of the flowers.

blue-orchid
Photo credit: Olga Kulikova, CC BY-SA 4.0

WHEN MY ORCHID REBLOOMS, WILL IT BE BLUE?

Unfortunately no. The plant will “revert” to whatever color the flowers were before being dyed. In many cases, white orchids are used.

So when your orchid reblooms for you, the new blooms will not be blue and will likely be white. This is important to understand so you’re not disappointed!

Have you purchased a blue orchid not knowing that it was artificially produced? Comment below. I’d love to hear!

Gayle Wedgwood

Saturday 14th of August 2021

I found out about the rarity of blue flowers when I was planting a hanging basket in honor of a female soldier I had adopted. I was hoping for red white and blue, but ended up with a red, white, and purplish display. I do have some blue flowers on my groundcover 'Vinca minor'. I also found a mostly blue -- but slightly lavender wildflower at the high altitude where I live (6800') 'fireweed', though I understand at lower altitudes it is more pink.