Yes, the Vanda orchid is an orchid with a naturally-occuring blue color. The color blue in nature is very rare, which is why blue flowers are sought out by collectors – the rarer the better.
However, there are also white orchids, such as the Phalaenopsis orchid, that are dyed blue and sold. This is done by injecting blue food dye into the stem of the orchid. This turns the petals of the orchid blue, but when you take the plant home and the petals fall off, the orchid’s next blooms will revert to their original white color.
In this article, we will discuss more about blue orchids, why they are so sought-after, and how you can grow your own.
Why are blue orchids so hard to find?
Blue orchids, and blue plants or flowers in general, for that matter, are very difficult to find naturally because only ten percent of flowering plants contain this pigment. Most often, the shades of blue are pale, and even more purplish than actual blue. Because the color is so rare, it makes the search for a truly blue orchid that much harder.
Are blue orchids real?
Yes, blue orchids in nature do exist, but they are rarely, if ever, sold commercially. They are not mass-produced, so they cannot be distributed in large numbers, making them quite rare.
The blue orchids that you see in stores are most probably dyed Phalaenopsis orchids. A blue food dye is injected to the plant’s stem and turns the white petals blue. Unfortunately, when the current petals fall off, the new blooms that replace them will revert to their original white color.
What are examples of blue orchids?
Blue Vanda orchid
The Vanda genus of orchids come in burgundy, purple, pink, orange, white and blue. They are single-footed orchids that grow straight upward with leaves on either side of a spike that holds their large flowers.
The blue Vanda is the Vanda coerulea. This orchid’s blue flowers are large and flat. The flowers can grow to five inches across, and have a labellum that is an inch long.
In nature, the Vanda coerulea grows high up, on the bark of oak trees. The plant’s spikes can split and produce as many as 30 flowers a single plant.
This orchid can be found in Myanmar, India, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal and China. It has been used as a parent plant for various cultivars that people have tried to produce over the years.
Apart from the blue color of its flowers, the Vanda coerulea also passes on its tessellations, veins and inflorescences to its hybrids.
Blue Vanda orchid care
Because this orchid is native to the forests of Asia, the ideal is to try to simulate this natural habitat in your own home.
It is important to keep the plant moist, so mist it every morning during the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing. Try not to let water stagnate around the crown of the plant because this can lead to rot. If you mist in the morning, when the plant has plenty of time to dry out in the light, you will not have this problem.
The blue Vanda orchid appreciates direct sunlight for a few hours a day, preferably in the early morning or late afternoon. Place it in a spot where it is shaded at noon and during the early afternoon hours. This is especially important during the summer when the heat is harsh and can really damage the plant’s foliage.
In the hot summer, the plant likes humid conditions, preferably between 80 to 85 percent humidity. During the winter, it is fine with 50 to 55 percent humidity.
During the plant’s growing period in the spring and summer, give the plant fertilizer every two weeks.
5. Potting the plant
The Vanda coerulea likes to be in a well-draining medium, inside a basket or a hanging pot. An airy substrate like coarse bark is ideal. Because they like fast-draining media, you will need to water the plant frequently. They have thick roots that look beautiful hanging from their pots.
Are blue orchids safe for humans to eat?
There are fine dining establishments that have used the orchid in all kinds of dishes, both savory and sweet.
All orchids can be eaten, but only those that are naturally grown. Refrain from ingesting hybrid orchids or those that are injected with a dye to change their appearance. It is best only to eat orchids that have been served to you by professionals; do not prepare any dishes yourself unless you have done all your research.
Are blue orchids safe for pets to ingest?
One of the concerns for any plant owner who is also a pet owner is the possibility of their pet accidentally ingesting their house plants.
The blue orchid is not poisonous to pets, but you may observe symptoms such as inflammation of the mucus membranes and skin irritation if your pet ingests it.
If your pets ingest the blue orchid with the artificial dye, however, it is best to take the pet to the vet for proper treatment in case the dye has any adverse effects.
If you can, place the plant far from the reach of all your pets, so that you will not have to worry about them eating it.
Even if the orchid is not poisonous to your pets, inclusion of the flower in their diet is not recommended anyway. The bark in the plant’s potting medium is a bigger threat to your pet’s health, so just keep the entire plant and its pot out of reach.
What are other blue flowers that are easier to find and care for?
If you cannot procure a true blue Vanda orchid but still wish to own a blue flowering plant, these are some other plants you can consider:
Forget-me-nots are small, delicate blue flowers that have red borders.
Hydrangeas also come in blue, and can be a great choice as a shrub in front of your house. They can be a bit sensitive about the soil pH, so keep that in mind.
Delphiniums are more purple than blue, but the deep richness of their color is still quite striking.
Cornflowers are a vibrant blue color and are really easy to find. They grow in large numbers in most meadows, so you will not have to search very far for your own cornflower.
Himalayan poppies boast one of the truest blue colors in the plant kingdom. They may be easier to procure than the blue orchid, but they can be a bit tricky to grow, so make sure you do your research to grow your Himalayan poppy correctly.
Do blue Phalaenopsis orchids exist?
No, naturally blue Phalaenopsis orchids do not exist, and if you do see these orchids in shops, they have been dyed blue. One blue Phalaenopsis variety, called Blue Mystique, is the result of a dying technique developed in 2011. They were so convincingly blue that when plant owners took them home, they were very upset when the new blooms were white.
These flowers were injected with food dye to make their petals blue. They may be pretty to look at, but their color will only last until those flowers fall off.
Yes, blue orchids are real; they are known as blue Vanda orchids. Their natural habitat is the forests of Asia, and they are quite difficult to procure, especially for people in the West.
There are commercially available blue orchids, but those are most likely Phalaenopsis orchids that have been artificially dyed blue. You can buy them if you want to use their color for a once-off event, but they will not sustain their blue color. The next bloom from an artificially dyed orchid will retain the original color of the petals, and will no longer be blue.
Image: istockphoto.com / rawintanpin