The Meaning of Blue Orchids
The blue orchid is a rare thing. So rare that most experts agree it doesn’t exist. There may be purple orchids that tinge blue, but true blue orchids are not present in nature. However, some orchid species are dyed blue to meet the public’s fascination with the pursuit of a true blue orchid flower.
Even though nature doesn’t produce one, they’ve gained special meaning over time.
About ‘Blue’ Orchid Plants
Are blue orchids real? When people talk about blue orchids, they may be referring to blue Phalaenopsis orchids, which are dyed blue orchids. Whether blue or not, Phalaenopsis orchids (Phals) are widely available at garden centers or big box stores with multiple hybrids that are easy to grow.
Also called moth orchids, florists frequently treat white phalaenopsis with blue dye so that it appears to have blue flowers. Another species of orchid, the Dendrobium orchid (Dendrobium spp.) may also be used in this manner.
Almost Blue Orchids
Some orchids have a natural color that is close to blue, although they never quite achieve a true blue color.
The Blue Vanda Orchid
There is a species of orchid called the blue vanda orchid (Vanda coerulea) that has close-to-blue flowers and is native to India, Thailand and Burma. Also called Lord Rothschild’s variety, this orchid was discovered in 1837 by English botanist Dr. William Griffith in India. These orchids grow high on trees where they can get a lot of sun.
The Blue Lady Orchid
A plant called the blue lady orchid (Thelymitra crinita) is native to Australia. Also called queen orchid, lily orchid or long-haired thelymitra, this orchid appears almost blue, but not quite.
The Jewel of the Jungle
Another so-called blue orchid was discovered by Richard Evans Schultes in Colombia and was initially dubbed Acacallis cyanea Lindl. It was subsequently recategorized as Aganisia caerulea, also spelled Aganisia cyanea. Schultes referred to this orchid as the jewel of the jungle. It doesn’t have a true blue color but sports shades of purple.
The Symbolism of the Blue Orchid
Orchids have a special symbolism in many cultures, mostly representing beauty itself, but also love, perfection and refinement.
The Victorians ascribed the quality of wealth and luxury to orchids. The Ancient Greeks considered it a symbol of fertility, likening its bulbous tubers to male genitalia. In China, orchids symbolize nobility, integrity and friendship.
Blue flowers, in general, have represented serenity and calm, as well as inspiration, safety and trust. This is likely due to an association with the sky and water. It’s believed that humans developed the first blue pigment in about 4,000 B.C. The blue color in nature was so rare that anything blue, such as a lapis lazuli stone, was reserved only for royalty or the rich.
Blue orchids, in particular, have a special meaning, representing power, peace and spirituality. The blue orchid is frequently the subject of artwork or literature in which its rarity is featured.
- Planet Natural Research Center: Blue Orchids Real and Fake - All Your Questions Aswered
- University of Maryland Extension: Care of Phalaenopsis Orchids (Moth Orchids)
- Harvard University: Specimen Spotlight – Schultes’ Jewel of the Jungle
- Orchid Web: Aganisia Cyanea
- Plantly: Orchid Flower Meaning and Symbolism
- Orchid Resource Center: The Orchid Flower: A History of Meaning Across 6 Cultures
- Petal Republic: Ultimate Guide to Blue Flower Meaning and Symbolism
I garden in the Pacific North west, previously Hawaii where I had an avocado orchard. I have a Master Gardeners certificate here in Eugene, Oregon.