Fake Orchids – How to Convert Ugly White Orchids Into Blue, Orange and Even Green Ones

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Robert Pavlis

Orchids are one of the most beautiful flowering houseplants you can buy and yet they are just not good enough – according to some people. Commercial growers have found a way to add even more color to them so that you can enjoy blue, orange and even green orchids.

How is it done, and how long does the color last?

Blue Orchids - Are they Real or Dyed?
Blue Orchids – Are they Real or Dyed?

Blue Orchids are Not Real

Vanda orchids are almost blue, but they are really a blueish-purple. A true blue color does not exist in orchids. The blue orchid pictured above has been dyed.

Dyed dendrobium orchid
Dyed dendrobium orchid

I think this dye job looks quite fake. The colors just don’t look real and the distribution of color is not even. Personally, they are uglier than the plain white phal.

Blue Dendrobium Orchids

Phalaenopsis are the most commonly dyed orchid but Dendrobium are also popular, especially as wedding bouquets. For these, growers use a flower that is partially white with purple on the petal tips and on the lip, which gives the orchid quite a nice two-tone look.

Plant Science for Gardeners by Robert Pavlis

Are Dyed Orchids Illegal?

You might have noticed fewer dyed orchids on the market. Apparently there are some law suits in Holland between a couple of large suppliers that might be affecting supply. The disagreement is about the patent on an orchid dyeing technique.

How Are Blue Orchids Made?

dyed phalaenopsis orchids
Dyed phalaenopsis orchids

As the flower stem is growing, a food dye is injected into the flower stem. As water rises in the stem, it takes the dye with it and into the flowers. Within 24 hours you can see the dye in the flowers.

This is usually done on white orchids that have very little pigment in the flower so that the blue shows well.

Any color of dye can be used. In the picture to the right you can see orange and green orchids which have also been dyed.

How Long Do Blue Orchids Last?

The blue flowers on the orchid will last until the flowers fall off. Any new flowers that develop after the dye job will revert back to the original color – probably white.

Caring for Blue Orchids

There is no real difference between these orchids and regular orchids, so give them the exact same care. Water them just like regular orchids.

Building Natural Ponds book, by Robert Pavlis

YouTube video

The Bottom Line

Does the world really need dyed orchids? Orchids come in thousands of color combinations already – I just don’t see the appeal for these.

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

11 thoughts on “Fake Orchids – How to Convert Ugly White Orchids Into Blue, Orange and Even Green Ones”

  1. I was in Europe 2013, and was absolutely blown away with the metallic black orchids and the most vivid pinks and oranges. How is this done?

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  2. I love the gilding the lily comment. It goes along with “glo-lite” tetra fish and aloes (and other succulents) painted blue or red. Variety might be the spice of life, but it makes for ugly plants.

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    • Gloria, you might be right on the so called painted succulents. However the Glowlight tetra is quite real comes naturally out of the Essiquibo River, in Guyana. They are now bred in captivity for resale like lots of once wild fish and flowers but they are quite real. The glowing line is natural to rastors. Look it up.

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    • The things we do in the “improving of nature”. Bubble headed goldfish and albino snakes spring to mind, lol. It would so wonderful if we would put this enthusiasm into conservation.

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  3. I love the comments posted by marianwhit. Yeah, we do whatever the hell we can, because we are human, whether for good or ill, alas too often the latter.

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  4. Given the kind of profit oriented world we live in the disputed about dyeing the orchids is about patent ownership and rights instead of what it ought to be about – ethics and aesthetics. Sigh.

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  5. The latest form of “guilding the lily”. Sigh. When did white stop being elegant, classic, and timeless (among other things). Humans need more, bigger, more novel, etc. etc. I have been trying the practice of acceptance…and now find the common goldenrod to be one of the most beautiful flowers there is. I get so much more pleasure out of life and can live it without acquisitiveness, which has meant (as an unexpected bonus) more money in my pocket, greater personal freedom, and more control of my time. It is all a matter of perspective.

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