Earlier this year, it was announced that the Pantone ‘Color of the Year’ was “Radiant Orchid”. Hobbyists everywhere rejoiced. With 30,000 naturally occurring species and hundreds of thousands of man-made hybrids, orchids bloom in every imaginable shade on the color wheel with each flower being “radiant” to some extent. So what exactly is “Radiant Orchid”?
Pantone describes the color as ‘a captivating, magical, enigmatic purple…an enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple, and pink undertones…one that inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love, and health.” Gosh I never knew an orchid could create such powerful feelings!
Naturally I was curious as to which orchid was the actual ‘Radiant orchid”. I obtained a Pantone color swatch and walked through the greenhouses comparing hues. Much to my surprise, there were plants in many genera that matched almost exactly: Standard and miniature Cattleyas, Dendrobiums of all types, a few Oncidium hybrids, a wide variety of Phalaenopsis and even a Vanda or two. This discovery did, in fact, bring me feelings of great joy!
During the 1940’s, the term ‘orchid color’ first broke onto the scene to describe the rich lavender petals and sepals of the Cattleya flower. Corsages were in high fashion and, for the most part, only the purple blossoms were available. It would be another ten years of breeding before white hybrids were perfected and plentiful. Thus, the public associated the color lavender with orchids.
Pantone Inc creates color matching systems for a wide variety of industries including florists. For 2014, “Radiant Orchid” is being marketed and consumers are encouraged to purchase clothing, make-up, and even house paint in this alluring shade of purple. Despite the hoopla, it might be more practical just to keep a modest orchid collection.