What are “Art Shade” Orchids? Exploring atypical flower colors

In Orchids
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Traditionally, a “Art Shades” are color values which have been muted by adding black. “Tints” are colors that have been lightened by adding white; and colours modified by the addition of grey are called tones.

When we apply the term, “art shade” to orchids, people are often technically referring to lightened tints of color (that look like pastels); however the definition of art shade orchids seems to be rather convoluted. Some sources refer to “art shades” as warm colors, “from gold, peach, bronze, and reddish orange and many combinations including striping”, while asking someone else results in the answer, “non-standard color forms”.

For now, with my technical understanding of art and design and my in depth knowledge of orchids, an “art shade” is simply a grouped explanation for less vibrant colors. Think, “subtle” coloured orchids.

“Art Shade Orchids” in short are orchids that have flowers that are muted or less saturated in color

Why breed for or buy art shades? Personal preference obviously. Some people prefer vibrant eye-catching color in their flowers, but others (like myself) enjoy non-standard flower colors. Light pinks, pastel purples, greens, tans, browns, ash and earth tones–really anything that’s atypical for color and I’m a fan.

There isn’t an “Art Shade” hybrid — it’s true, you can’t find “just one” hybrid that is exclusively considered an art shade variety. Art shade color occurrence will be more common in some hybrids (such as Phalaenopsis Penang Girl), but it’s sort of a roll of the dice for what you’ll get from any hybrid.

Examples of Art Shade Orchids

Popular Art Shade Phalaenopsis

Phal Penang Girl – the blend of venosa and violacea often ends up with muddied colours
Phal venosa – (and its hybrids)
Phal braceana
– (and its hybrids) often impart tones of green and brown

*Tip: if you’re looking for art shade orchids, make sure you see the orchid flower before you buy it. Often the genetic shakeout of a hybrid can result in both colour-rich and colour-muted flowers. Your best bet is always to buy by sight, OR seek proven clones of art shade orchids.