Orchids and orchid blossoms are beautiful additions for indoor gardeners, and they’re popular for events, such as weddings. In recent years, there have been more and more blue orchids and blue orchid blooms on the scene. That has many DIY growers wanting to raise them at home as part of a popular orchid hobby. But that raises the question – Are blue orchids real?
The reality is that most true blue orchids do not exist in nature, but there are a few exceptions. In most cases, common orchids with white blossoms are dyed through a patented process, giving them that deep blue shade that everyone’s after.
So in this post, we’re looking at this process, how to make them, and where to buy them – and we’ll briefly review the few true blue orchids available on the market. Most of these are rare options, but we want you to understand the scope nonetheless.
Table of Contents
- 1 Orchid Intro
- 2 Where Can You Buy Blue Orchids?
- 3 Authentic Blue Orchids
- 4 Dyed Blue Orchids
- 5 What’s The Hype Around Blue Orchids?
- 6 How Are Blue Orchids Made?
- 7 Can You Make Your Own Blue Orchids?
- 8 How To Care For Orchids
- 9 Where Do You Find Blue Orchids?
- 10 Conclusion
Of the orchids grown, the warm-growing orchids are the most common and popular to buy. These include Vanda orchids and the phalaenopsis orchids, which are easy to care for, have tall flower stems, and beautiful blossoms.
Phalaenopsis is an orchid genus of about 60 orchid species. The production of several artificial hybrids has made Phalaenopsis one of the most popular orchids in the trade. The Phalenopsis is from southeastern Asia, including southern China, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Phalaenopsis is commonly referred to as a Moth orchid.
Phalaenopsis orchids aren’t blue in nature. The blue phalaenopsis orchids you see at the supermarket or garden center had dye injected into the flower stem. Due to the dye and marketing, blue orchids, which will rebloom with white blooms, are often more expensive.
The genus Vanda is appreciated for its spectacular, fragrant, long-lasting, and vibrantly colored blooms. Vanda species are found throughout East Asia, Southeast Asia, and New Guinea, with a few species even found in Queensland and the western Pacific islands.
Which Option Has Blue Orchids?
Both Vanda and Phalenopsis have varieties labeled as blue orchids. Phalenopsis regularly offers options with blue orchid blooms, but these are usually dyed. When the orchid produces new blooms, they will once again be white.
Vanda is a different story. There are several orchids in this genus called “blue orchids,” such as vanda coerulea, but these are more often purple. That said, a few true blue orchids have been popping up, including vanda coerulea supra, which is a genuinely blue (and very striking) cultivar.
Here’s a video from Orchid Web to see for yourself:
Where Can You Buy Blue Orchids?
Orchids are becoming more common in recent years, and there are many cheap places to buy orchids online. Similarly, grocery stores often sell a blue orchid plant, but these have been dyed.
This is an indoor growing blog, so it pains me to say it, but there are actually some really nice artificial flowers out there – even blue and white orchids. They may not be living, but some of the higher-end options are incredibly convincing.
And let’s be honest. It’s hard to kill something that isn’t alive.
Authentic Blue Orchids
On this topic, there’s a pretty broad definition of what a blue orchid is. This can be referred to as a white orchid phalaenopsis that’s been injected with dye, a true blue phalaenopsis (very rare), a blue vanda that’s actually purple, or a blue orchid that’s actually blue. Like most of the gardening world, there’s a surprising lack of regulation or consistency. But if you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you’re looking for a true blue orchid. If that’s the case, here are some varieties you should consider:
Grown naturally in New Zealand, this orchid is also known as the Lily Orchid, Queen Orchid, or Blue Lady Orchid. This is often considered the most naturally blue orchid in nature (some genetically selected orchids are brighter now).
This is where we start pushing the limit on what “blue” actually means. The blue vanda, which can be tricky to grow, is more of an indigo color than blue. Still, if you’re looking in the natural world, this may be one of the bluest options you’ll find. The Vanda can require more care than a traditional phalaenopsis, so be sure to do your research before growing these indoors.
There are a few types of naturally blue orchids, but they are often pale blue or indigo.
Vanda coerulea supra
In the late 1800s, Lord Rothschild’s orchid variety was recorded in The Orchid Album. Orchid breeders have been working on adapting this variety for decades, giving it a darker and even more brilliant blue color. Some orchid enthusiasts will say that this is the closest orchid to true-blue coloring.
All this said, many images of this variety still show more as indigo than blue. When their buds first open, they start almost white but become more indigo/blue color within a week or two. According to orchidweb.com, there are reportedly new crosses coming from the lab soon.
Authentic Blue Phalenopsis Orchid (Blue Moth Orchid)
In 2012-2013, the Tsukuba Orchid Exhibition shared the world’s first “Blue Phalenopsis Orchid.” Using a genetic makeup recombination method, researchers from Chiba University created this beauty.
Once again, though, even with the help of science, this plant has more of an indigo appearance. It’s near the color blue on the spectrum, but it’s far from the dark blue dyed versions you see in the store. Perhaps in the future, they will have a new hybrid with deeper blue coloring.
Dappled Blue Vanda
First discovered by Dr. William Griffith in 1837, this variety of orchids is often considered one of the few options to contain a natural true blue pigment. That said, it still looks more like a purple orchid. This variety is often sought after by orchid lovers.
Dyed Blue Orchids
We should point out that there’s nothing wrong with buying a dyed blue orchid. These blue orchid flowers are still striking, and when the new flowers come in white, it feels like you’re getting a brand new plant! Here are a few of the common names associated with blue dye orchids:
Blue Mystique Orchids
This is likely the blue orchid you see at garden centers. Its description is often a little deception, saying something like, “this orchid isn’t painted or a hybrid – it gets its blue color through a patented process that makes a blue bloom.” In laymen’s terms, blue dye was injected into the plant.
Similar to Blue Mystique orchids, this is a white phalaenopsis that’s been dyed blue. Any orchid enthusiast should beware if they expect this plant to stay the same color after the first blooming. That said, if you’re just buying them as cut flowers for a wedding or other event, then this would be a perfect option for you.
Are Black Orchids Real?
While specific cymbidium orchids have nearly black flowering, you won’t find a true black orchid in nature, as they don’t have the genes needed to produce such a pigment. Orchid breeders have been trying to crack the code on this for a long time, and there have been some hybrid orchid successes, such as Monnierara Millennium Magic Witchcraft and the Fredclarkeara Black Pearl.
That said, most black orchid options available have been given a little extra help from dye or some genetic adjustments.
What’s The Hype Around Blue Orchids?
It seems that the excitement around the blue orchid comes from its scarcity. There just aren’t a lot of blue options for plants in the wild, so when one becomes available, growers and orchid-lovers jump at the opportunity.
In David Lee’s book Nature’s Palette: The Science of Plant Color, he says that “Less than 10% of the 280,000 species of flowering plants produce blue flowers.
Few true blue flowers exist in nature, but we still see blue roses and other blue flowers available at the market. Since they are less common, we tend to think they’re more important, making them an easy choice for a special occasion.
And in truth, a real blue orchid is a treasure – and is not something easy to come by. But, like many other plants, once science can turn the purple orchids a blue color (without blue dye), and these flowers become more common, the excitement around them will likely fade away too.
Until then, though, searching for blue is one of the most significant challenges for an orchid hunter.
Real Blue Flowers
You may be asking yourself then – which flowers are actually blue? We’ve put together a quick list for you to check out:
Flower Name Flower Image Rhapsody Blue Birdbill dayflower Harvestbells Poor Man's Weatherglass Summer Blues Mountain Larkspur Cornflower Forget Me Not Brunnera Desert Bluebells Glory Of The Snow Morning Glory Himalayan Blue Poppy
How Are Blue Orchids Made?
While different growers use different methods, the primary way to make blue orchids is to inject specific dye formula (patented) into a mature flower spike. They typically use the purest white flowers – typically from a white phalaenopsis flower – and the color of the dye is blue. The best blue shade comes from white flowers, but technically any color of orchid bloom works fine.
Growers inject the orchid with a tiny gauge needle and a syringe packed with blue dye. The blue dye will follow the water and nutrients along the orchid stem to the end of the flower spike, coloring the orchid blooms blue.
During the dying process, the distribution of color goes from the stem up into the flower petals and changes the hue.
The overall orchid space is fascinating. Check out this small clip from America’s Heartland.
Can You Make Your Own Blue Orchids?
Orchid growers typically use pure white phalaenopsis orchids with a mature flower spike (but before the blooms develop) to create blue orchids. If you’re planning to color your own orchid blue, you have a few options.
You can either inject dye into the stem or add blue dye when watering the roots. MissOrchidGirl does a great job of showing how to do this.
For the blue dye used, you can purchase one of the following options.
When making your puncture wound on the blue orchid, take an Exacto knife, and make a triangular shape inside the stem, removing a small piece of the stem. The goal is not to permanently damage the plant but make a small hole deep enough to insert the dye.
To get the dye inside the plant, MissOrchidGirld used cotton that she wrapped around the stem. Then she carefully dripped the dye into the bottom so that it absorbed it into the plant.
Do this several days in a row to keep the wound absorbing the pigment and to add more of the dye to the blossom.
In all likelihood, you will not be able to make the blossom a true blue color, but it will still have a beautiful blue and white shading.
Simply watering the orchid with water colored with dye is also an option. But be warned – doing this will turn your leaves, stems, and roots a shade of blue. For some growers, this isn’t a problem. But for others, it’s a giveaway that dye was used. A more secretive option is to add the dye through a puncture wound.
Colored the plants with dyed water is a common practice for various plants and is especially common with white carnations.
How To Care For Orchids
Orchids are members of the plant family Orchidaceae. Here are some quick care tips for this beautiful flower.
Most orchids need to be watered once a week, but this can vary from plant to plant. Overwatering can cause root rot, so be careful. The key is that the medium they grow in shouldn’t be soggy or moist all the time.
Follow those closely. Here are some quick tips on watering your orchid:
The amount of sunlight an orchid variety needs depends on the type of orchid. Those native to higher elevations like Terete types grow in direct sunlight. Most phalaenopsis varieties don’t need as much light and thrive in bright indirect light.
Orchids require regular feeding – once a month is typical. Growers recommend applying a “balanced” fertilizer. Regardless of the fertilizer you choose, it should have very little or no urea in it.
Peat moss, fir bark, dried fern roots, sphagnum moss, rock wool, perlite, cork nuggets, stones, coconut fiber, lava rock, or a mixture of these materials can all be used to produce orchids, depending on the species.
Your orchid should be grown in a pot with adequate drainage. The main way to guarantee this is by having a drainage hole. If your orchid arrived in a pot without a hole, you’d need to repot it into one that does. You could also drill a hole into the bottom of the pot if it’s made of plastic.
Orchids thrive at temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 24 degrees Celsius).
Blooming and Re-blooming
Most orchids, under proper care conditions, should rebloom once or twice a year. If they’re not, there are a few possible reasons for this, including not enough light, not enough water, too much water, etc.
Where Do You Find Blue Orchids?
For most growers, finding a blue orchid is a challenge, assuming they want a blue that’s found in nature. If they can make do with a dyed blue orchid, plenty are available online and at garden centers. Some are available if you want an option from nature, but they often have more of an indigo or bright, rich purple color.
While it may not be possible to get true blue orchids or true green orchids, using dye can be the next best thing to owning such a rate plant. But if you have your heart set on acquiring a rare blue orchid, more power to you.
Do you own a blue (or blueish) orchid? We want to see it! Please send pictures to [email protected], and we may include them in our article!