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Most people are familiar with orchids. We know that they are some of the most beautiful plants around.
You have most likely seen them – like me – in colours such as white, magenta, purple and lilac, as well as multi colours.
What we don’t very often see are orchids with blue flowers, and there is a reason for this – they are rare and expensive.
Orchids bloom once or twice a year and the flowers last around 8 weeks depending on the variety.
There are over 28,000 species of the orchid family (Orchidaceae) and the family of orchids holds between 7-11% of all plants with seeds.
Even if you have never seen an orchid, they are easily recognisable by the almost peculiar stems and magnificent blooms. Also, the roots seem to be visible instead of concealed under soil.
Is Orchid Collecting Legal?
Because orchids are used in several things they are often in great demand. They are used in medicine, food production and decoration.
Illegal collecting of orchids places the entire plant family at risk of extinction.
Orchids often grow together in just one area so if just a few are overharvested, the species is placed at risk.
Harvesting as little as 5% of them can place the species in danger.
For this reason, it is important to only buy your orchids from a reputable dealer or garden centre and not head off to pick them yourself.
You may not realise the damage you are doing by removing a small amount from the area.
Are Blue Orchid Flowers Real?
Absolutely! Blue orchid flowers are real flowers. They have been propagated just the same as any other colour orchid.
The difference lies in how they became that wonderful blue colour, instead of white or pink.
So, how do they turn out blue? Well, during the growth process they stems are injected with a blue dye solution.
The next batch of flowers will bloom in a blue shade. However, blooms that occur after that will revert to white.
The blue blooms will last around 8-10 weeks depending on the type of orchid and you will need to take care of them in the same way as other colours. We’ll look at caring for your orchids in a little bit.
Orchids do not naturally bloom in two colours, namely true black and true blue. The orchid does not have the genetics to produce these two pigments.
What are the Blue Orchids?
Some of these are difficult to find and you may spend some time locating a garden centre that can supply them, but if you can, they are well worth waiting for.
Less than 10% of flowering plants can produce a blue bloom. Amazing when you think that there are more than 280,000 species of flowering plants in the world!
It is best to water this orchid regularly throughout the growing season. It also does well if you water it in the early morning and make sure that the potting mix you choose gives very good drainage.
You may also have heard of this one as the ‘Moth Orchid.’ This orchid is easy to produce and therefore freely available.
They are easy to grow at home and the blooms last a long time, far longer than other orchids.
They come in pure white as well as spotted colours, making them an attractive feature in the home.
Royal Blue Phal
This amazing orchid received the Flora Holland Award in 2011 in the Concepts Category. The panel of judges considered it to be ‘simply delightful.’
Pale Blue Orchid
This orchid is also known as the Silky Blue Orchid and originates from the south-west parts of Western Australia where it is quite common because of the high rainfall there.
It grows on a single silky leaf and produces up to four beautiful blue/purple blooms at a time.
These are frequently seen at weddings, particularly when the blooms are dyed to a deep blue.
The blooms emerge in February and will last about six weeks. In cooler climates the orchid can bloom as often as three times a year.
This plant is normally found in very wet areas. It originates from the rain forests in northern South America.
An interesting fact with this plant is that it can be submerged under water for weeks at a time due to the monsoons in the area, and not come to any harm when the rain subsides.
The blooms are a blue/silver colour and become bluer when totally out of sunlight.
Most people will know this type of orchid from weddings as they are most often used as corsages.
They are predominantly blueish/purple and often have a yellow tint to them.
How are Blue Orchid Flowers Made?
The most common orchids (if we dare to call them common!) are the Phalaenopsis orchids. They are the easiest to propagate and therefore freely available.
The blue orchid is made in one of two ways, namely submersion or injection, and both will return to the original white bloom colour after the blue flowers have died away.
This will give you around 8 weeks of blue blooms.
The injection method is used because it is fast.
The plant is injected with a dye and the blooms will start to change colour within 24 hours. If there are buds at the time of the injection, they will be blue when they open.
Can you dye your own White Orchid Flowers Blue?
Submersion is often used for cut orchids which are used in corsages and flower arrangements. It is a meticulous method, but it gives a better result than injection.
If you plan to do this then make sure that you start with white orchids complete with stems.
Use soluble food colouring mixed with water and be gentle when you submerge the bloom and stem. The intensity of the colour depends on how much food colouring you add to the water.
Infusion, or injecting, is when the stem is injected with a dye. The dye is then carried up to the blooms and over 24 hours they will change colour.
It is important that after you have injected the stem you seal the needle hole with wax to prevent infection.
You may also like: How can you prevent curled or wrinkled orchid leaves
What Orchid Flowers are Really Blue?
There are some orchids that are genuinely blue, although they are not that common. The colour is more of a soft purple/blue than a ‘true blue.’
If you have asked about blue orchids then most likely this is what you will have heard. These are also the most sought-after orchids because of the colours.
Vandas bloom in colours like white, pink, purple, orange, deep purple and blue. Vanda Coerulea is known for its blue colour although it will also produce the purest white of all the orchids.
You will often see these are Garden Shows. The flowers can be as wide as 13cm across.
When growing in the wild they will often produce a stem with 20-30 blooms, far more than any other type.
You may also hear this called the Lily Orchid, the Queen Orchid, or the Blue Lady Orchid. The blooms are a brilliant blue although they also grow on pale and dark blue.
Bollea Coelestis and B. Violacea
This is a rare plant to buy although a good garden centre may be able to get hold of it for you.
Additionally, because more of this type are seed-raised you will find a variation in the colour of the flowers.
‘David Manzur’ is one of the darkest bloom colours. The plant needs to be kept moist all through the year and like a mix which drains well.
They may stand the early morning sun but after that you should move them to a low-light area. They will be happier there.
You will also know this as the Caladenia Gemmata and the Blue China Orchid.
The leaves are small and oval while the blooms are intense mauve/blue in colour. It flowers between August and November.
This orchid originally comes from South Africa, grows to about 60cm high and has purple/violet blooms.
This orchid does well in full sunlight and will flower between January and March.
While this class is called ‘black orchids’ they are a very dark natural purple colour. They are so dark that they look black.
If you’ve ever seen one of them then you may recognise the name as the Cymbidium canaliculatun var Sparkesii which is native to Australia.
Here are a few More Dark Orchids to Look out for
It seems quite a fitting name for dark orchids, I think. There are 118 species of them, and they are native to Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, and parts of Central America.
Just like the vampire, these plants prefer shade. They also need cool temperatures to do well.
These are widely grown and every so often a new one appears, like the Golden Slipper Orchid which first was made public in 1982.
These plants can be grown inside if the conditions are right and akin to their natural habitat.
This means they need moderate to high humidity and temperatures between 13 – 35 degrees Celsius. They also need low light conditions.
Cymbidium Kiwi Baron
This orchid bears flowers often and is easily adaptable to a living room. You can even use it in a hanging arrangement because it is so versatile.
It does, however, like to be in a cool place so away from central heating and radiators. Other than that, the plant needs little attention and is one of the few that can stand a little neglect.
How do you Care for Orchids?
Fortunately for those of us who do not have ‘green fingers’ these beautiful plants are easy to take care of.
Orchids may bloom two or three times a year and the blooms will last for 8-10 weeks depending on the type.
The perfect temperature for orchids – and blue ones in particular – is between 75 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and between 60-65 degrees at night.
Most homes fall into this range which makes them naturally good places for orchids to grow.
Orchids are shade loving plants, particularly in the summer. They do not do well in direct sunlight although they need light positioning instead of dark corners.
Too much light will mean less flowers, while too little light will manifest itself in floppy leaves.
Blue orchids need a potting mix which offers good drainage and does not become soggy and waterlogged. There are several good-quality mixes on the market.
Repotting your orchid should take place in the spring and autumn.
Blue orchids need humidity if between 50-70%. They will be able to cope in lower humidity if they are watered more often.
Plants that are kept on the windowsill where they get dry quickly will benefit from placing on a humidity tray, although you must make sure that the plant does not stand in water.
Your orchid prefers to be watered early in the mornings, instead of later in the day. In winter you should water less, but during the growing season they need regular watering.
Drainage is essential if your orchids are to be healthy. Roots which are exposed will also dry out faster so keep an eye on them.
When watering the plant be sure to avoid wetting the leaves as too much water may cause crown rot in some types.
Your orchid will appreciate fertiliser during the flowering season and the winter, and you can give this once a month.
Excess fertilizer will cause a salt build up, which will lead to slow growth and root damage.
Final Thoughts: Are Blue Orchid Flowers Real?
Once you have learned how to handle orchids you will find that they are easy to grow.
Provided the basic needs of light, humidity and temperature are taken care of, you will have a beautiful plant for many years.
If you have purchased or been given a blue orchid then enjoy it while the blooms last. They will turn white on the next cycle unless you dye them again yourself.
Possibly the most important thing with orchids is that you should never head out to pick them yourself.
It is best to buy from a reputable grower or garden centre. This way, they will be around for us to enjoy for many years, instead of being overharvested and unavailable.
Before you go, here are some more related articles I encourage you to read below to help solve more of your gardening issues: