On National Orchid Day – Meet the FIRST Black Vanda Orchid

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By Jill Brooke

In honor of National Orchid Day, we are about to show you something exceptionally rare that has taken over 30 years to create.

Back in the early nineties, orchid master Martin Motes selected from a large number of tessellata species seedlings to create what he hoped would be a black flower. People who create hybrids truly are scientists and wizards. Several of these seedlings matured into an especially fine form that produced unusually dark flowers. They were almost but not quite black.

That has always been a goal for growers – to find black blooms. Since they are not plentiful in nature. Even calla lilies are more eggplant than black. But it was Martin Motes’ passion to be the first to find a way for a black beautiful Vanda orchid flower.

These first-generation hybrids received both national and international recognition as well as awards. Since then, the masters at Motes Orchids in Redland, Florida have been experimenting and sure enough, these wizards now have created the perfect black from hybrids from Vanda tessellata “Mary Motes” FCC/AOS.

Then of course there was more mixing and matching, discarding and planting, working and working.

For those who like all the details – and we do have passionate orchid lovers in our audience – here is what Martin Motes says then happened.

“In the second generation, virtually black flowers have started to appear in at least two grexes so far. Both crosses utilized V. Mary Motes as one of the parents. In June, 2015, at the Great Lakes AOS Judging Center, V. Karina Motes (V. Violeta x V. Mary Motes) ‘Mary Motes’ received a JC/AOS for its long spike of open formed but glossy, incredibly colored flowers of such deep purple that they appeared black. In August, 2015, at the Florida Caribbean Judging center the backcross, V. Motes Midnight (V. Mary Motes x V. tessellata) ‘Blind Judgment’ received a well-deserved AM/AOS for its full-formed dark burgundy flowers which most observers described as black. What both of these hybrids have in common is that they are second-generation hybrids from Vanda tessellata “Mary Motes” FCC/AOS.”

Okay, for those who can decipher that detail, enjoy it all. But what you are reading is just a peek into how complicated and intricate this process can be. What we care about are the results. And now there is a true victory.

Although a black orchid was created before by Fred Clarke, this is a different type and the first of its kind in the realm of orchids known as Vandas. In fact, these are the type of orchids you see displayed at botanical gardens.

The Motes family are calling it Vanda X-7 to discourage copycats. Sounds like a car, doesn’t it?  Unlike an orchid named after Awkwafina. It truly is something to celebrate and flower lovers can look forward to having these flowers potentially in their future.

“As Vanda Karina Motes and V. Motes Midnight demonstrate, orchids as nearly black as conceivable, can now be produced consistently,” says Bartholomew Motes. “A deliciously cool new darkness is descending on the world of orchids”

Here’s to multi-colorism and orchids in a rainbow of colors.