Since their introduction in early 2011, electric-blue phalaenopsis orchids have stopped in their tracks even those who would normally walk right past their super market’s or gardening center’s orchid display. Pros and cons have been enflaming retail customers, orchid experts and the flower industry ever since. Phalaenopsis, or simply ‘phal’, are the most widely available potted orchids, and hybridization has made their care easy and straightforward, even for beginners.
The purple-colored phalaenopsis violacea is native to Malaysia and Indonesia. Its hybrids are different shades of purple, rather than blue, as well.
Florida-based Silver Vase Nursery presented its Blue Mystique at the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in January. In May 2011, Dutch Geest Orchideen received the Flora Holland Award 2011 in the Concepts Category, for their Royal Blue phalaenopsis and its shade of blue which the jury considered to be delightful.
During the growth process, the stalk of a white phalaenopsis orchid is injected with a blue dye solution. The intervention is performed in an environment that keeps the infection risk for the plant at a minimum. The blue color is absorbed by the orchid and creates a blue flower.
Subsequent flowerings will result in white blooms. The dye is not available to the public, nor are the exact steps of the procedure. Do-it-yourself dyeing is not encouraged, and at every home gardener’s own risk.
What has been upsetting Blue Mystique and Royal Blue Phal customers is that they believed to be buying a real blue orchid. In response to controversy that has been picked up by the media, growers now use product labels to inform buyers that a white orchid has been treated in order to produce those magnificent blue flowers, and that future blooms will be white.
This simple gesture allows prospective customers to make informed blue orchid decisions. This is especially meaningful when evaluating the price of white versus blue phalaenopsis. While some may love the electric blue color just as much, others will plan to sell the orchid on Ebay once it returns to its true white nature. Others still might consider purchasing a real blue orchid from a specialty grower or decide on a bouquet of blue dendrobium instead.