The Holy Grail of Orchid Exhibits ?

a few words about color flow


If you hang around enough orchid shows and listen to the discussion among exhibitors...those people in the trenches putting in the beautiful orchid displays for you and your out-of-town-guests to're bound to hear the phrase, "color flow". You'd think you might hear these folks talking about the state of the union or the latest flavored coffee whitener but no, they'll most likely discuss color flow, at least at some point. You won't specifically find color flow mentioned in any official publications and yet it always comes up at orchid shows.

"Just what is color flow ?"

It's the graphic in the title above...that spectrum thing. That's color flow plain and simple. Color flow in an orchid exhibit means that you shouldn't put an orange in a group of lavenders. The colors should  F ~ L ~ O ~ W  from one to another gracefully like the rainbow. By sticking to this rule you can avoid any bone-jarring clashes that might disturb judges and the public at large. By utilizing color flow you can throw away those "please wear protective eyeware" signs you planned for your display. Color flow will guarantee that a sense of serene well being will envelop all who view your exhibit. But most of all, color flow makes sense and provides a useful guideline for placing orchids in an orchid exhibit.

"But where do you put the white ones ?"

White is a combination of all the colors in the spectrum so theoretically you could put white orchids anywhere without a clash. Yet they are the lightest color and because of that draw attention. Typically white orchids, especially groups of white orchids, are placed to the rear of an exhibit, this provides depth and makes them appear somewhat less bright. If you have just a few small white flowers they can be placed coming off of yellows, pinks or greens with good effect.

"Some color flowers just don't seem to fit, should we not use them ?"

Use those odd color orchids orchids as transitional elements that can bridge between two seemingly disparate color groups. For instance, many Paphs have color patterns that allow them to fit well between greens and lavenders providing a bridge between lavender/purple and green/yellow. Some of the artshade Cattleya hybrids can fill the gap between reds and lavenders. Oncidium complex hybrids such as Aliceara & Miltonidium have elaborate color patterns that make them ideal as filler between color groups. Orchids such as B. nodosa, B. digbyana, Epc. Vienna Woods can make an excellent transition from greens to whites and all bicolor orchids can serve as transitions between two color groups. And finally, don't overlook species orchids to provide not only variety and interest but fill those awkward spaces that no conventional hybrid can.


By using conservative and logical color groupings of orchids you will achieve harmonious color flow.

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