Thursday, December 01, 2011

Cosmetic Surgery for Houseplants

Did you hear the buzz earlier this year about the "blue orchid"? Blue is the most sought after color in orchids and the breeder, Silver Vase, introduced the Phalaenopsis orchid, Blue Mystique, in January 2011. The insiders were stunned, initially. But slowly, the truth began to develop. 
You can purchase Blue Mystique at Home Depot, but you better enjoy the blue hued blooms while they last. You see, the elusive blue orchid is a phony baloney. It is not a blue blooming plant. 
Silver Vase CEO Andrew Bartha had this to say about his creation:  “Blue Mystique is the result of a carefully protected process that infuses white orchids with a special medium.” 
In layman's terms, it is dyed. Sure, the application and the dye medium itself was a pretty tough thing to perfect, but the medium is short lived and the following bloom cycle will result in white flowers. 
I watched 2 women pour over this guy in the tropicals section. It did look pretty fabulous with its blue self, just sitting there, gloating. They each grabbed one and plopped down $30 for EACH of them!
For $30, that orchid better do windows, in my house. You can buy a TREE for $30. Now, I know it's all relative, what is worth $30 to you may not be worth it to me. It is a free world and you can spend your money any way you want to. 
But did they know that the blue-ness was fake? After listening to the conversation, I don't think so. They were blue duped. It made me sad. Should I have told them? Would they have believed me? Would Home Depot have appreciated me blowing their sales?
In the long run, I truly believe it is not the retailer but the breeder and the consumer who need to be honest and educated. I mean, how often have we heard, "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is"?
In the same light, breeders are infusing Anthuriums with dye so they bloom blue and now yellow. The Anthurium is the type of bloom that only a mother could love, if you ask me. Also called Flamingo Flower, it looks like a waxy vulgar joke.
Seriously, now. 
The marketing department at RijnPlant Breeding said we needed a blue one of those. And now, a yellow one.  The newest one is called Violet Heart. 
Looks like a chicken liver, to me. 
The Anthurium doesn't normally bloom in yellow or violet heart. (meh) Dye is added to produce these blooms. I don't have a problem with producing a short termed albeit fake color in these plants, as long as the consumer understands this is what they are getting. 
Even the Cheerios box that features sliced strawberries in the picture must say "suggested serving"  so that you understand there will be no such strawberries in the box. I think just such a disclaimer must come with these dye infused plants. 
I'm just sayin'.
Ultimately, it is my opinon that they were good enough to begin with. Leave them alone. 
I would love to hear your comments about dye infused plants.


  1. Frankly, I've seen those orchids at our local Meijer, and I don't care for them one bit. They just look fake. And now I guess I know why!!
    Oh, the cockiness of man to think he can improve on nature.....
    (I DO think it's a pretty shade of blue--just NOT on a flower)

  2. Interesting post, Sissy. I have never paid attention to these. Now I know their dirty little secret and will be very skeptical of any weird colored plants I see for sale.

  3. My first thought was the photo was enhanced as so many do with plants.
    Cher Sunray Gardens
    Goldenray Yorkies

  4. First of all....I almost didn't know where I was.. when I came to read your post. Your Christmas blog is beautiful.
    I think they should let things be natural and I do think it is the responsibility of the store to tell the truth. Balisha

  5. Sissy - Well that was certainly interesting Miss Master Gardener already. I probably would have been one of those two women blue duped by the color and not knowing the difference. Please tell ME if I'm buying a fake.....okey dokey? I agree, there should be some kind of disclaimer. It is probably in the fine print that I wouldn't have been able to read without my glasses. Thanks for the info.

  6. I don't grow orchids, but I've seen these blue orchids for sale every winter. Blue is my favorite color, but these always looked too gaudy to me. I'm not surprised they're dyed. Yes, I think plants should come with disclaimers sometimes. As a novice gardener, one of the first plants I bought was an 'Endless Summer' hydrangea. I was looking forward to those blue blooms each year, but was surprised when my alkaline soil produced nothing but pink ones! I know better now:)

  7. 100% agreement with you about the blue orchids. And I did make just the tiniest mention of the dye fact to a potential customer. She didn't believe me! Oh, well...


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