The stunning hue of blue in the natural world, such as in the vast blue sky and the deep blue ocean, is simply enchanting. However, it’s quite interesting to discover that blue is actually a scarce pigment in nature, despite being widely present on Earth. The truest form of this cool color can only be found in a select few species from both the animal and plant kingdoms.
The search for the fabled blue rose has been ongoing for quite some time. It’s proved to be a tough challenge for those in the field of plant breeding, science, floristry, and avid enthusiasts to produce a one-of-a-kind blue rose. However, despite their relentless efforts, it has become apparent that such a flower does not occur naturally and cannot be developed through cross-breeding. The well-known poem “Roses are red, violets are blue” has often left people wondering why roses can’t also exist in shades of blue. This informative piece aims to provide an overview of the unachievable blue rose and ultimately put the question to rest. If you’re an admirer of blue blooms, then this article is sure to pique your interest.
The blue rose has a long and interesting history dating back to the 12th century, with tales of its existence mentioned by Arabian agriculturist Ibn al-Awam. However, there is no scientific proof that this flower truly exists, and some have speculated that al-Awam may have actually been referring to the blue Hibiscus syriacus ‘Rose of Sharon’. Despite this lack of evidence, the blue rose has become a popular subject of folklore throughout the world, including in China where the “Legend of the Blue Rose” originated. This tale tells the story of a princess who would only marry a man who could bring her a blue rose, leading suitors to attempt to deceive her with various tricks. In the end, it was the palace gardener, whom the princess secretly loved, who was able to present her with a white rose that miraculously turned blue when she touched it. This allowed the two of them to wed and live happily ever after.
Locating a genuine blue rose is no easy feat as most of the blue roses sold today are artificially colored. This is because roses lack the delphinidin pigment responsible for producing blue hues in plants. However, in 2004, scientists from Japan and Australia made a significant breakthrough by using genetic engineering to create a true blue rose. They found that co-pigments and vascular pH were essential factors in creating blue petals. By taking the delphinidin-carrying gene from blue violas and irises and introducing it to white roses, they produced stable and stunning blue blooms known as ‘Applause.’ These flowers were released to the market in 2006 and became an instant hit. In 2018, researchers discovered a simpler method of turning white roses blue by using enzymes-containing Agrobacterium tumefaciens on the rose petals. The blue hue is temporary, but scientists hope to make the rose plant generate these enzymes on its own. While scientists continue to strive towards developing the perfect genetically modified blue rose, rose varieties with hues resembling blue remain popular and readily available.
In 2006, a team of specialists successfully developed the first genuine blue rose by utilizing the Suntory-Florigene approach. This unique flower is renowned for its lovely fragrance and breathtaking color, which is a blend of red and mauve tones. The blue rose is commonly marketed as a cut flower due to its striking appearance that is difficult to overlook.
Frank Cowlishaw introduced a novel hybrid rose plant in 1999, which gained immense fame for its breathtaking petals that flaunted a bluish-mauve color. The plant boasted golden stamens, and its height and bushy appearance made it an ideal choice for landscape borders. It is identified as a shrub that flowers repeatedly, and its unique deep purple shade that almost appears blue places it in the gallica rose family. Louis-Joseph-Ghislain Parmeniter discovered this rose in 1847, and nowadays, many florists employ it as cut flowers.
One of the most beautiful rose varieties is commonly known as ‘Honky Tonk Blues’ or ‘Pacific Dream’. This rose boasts stunning purple petals with a blush center that are truly mesmerizing. It was created by Peter J. James in 2006 and can grow up to an impressive 1.5 meters tall, which makes it a popular choice for themed gardens. If you’re looking to add a touch of elegance to your garden, ‘Honky Tonk Blues’ is definitely worth considering.
Interestingly, this rose variety also goes by the names ‘Blue Violet’ or ‘Blue Rosalie’. It was first hybridized by Johann Christoph Schmidt in 1909, and its mauve flowers have a delightful scent that will fill your garden with an enchanting aroma. As the flowers mature, they gradually fade to a blue hue, which adds to their charm. The emerald green leaves and minimal thorns make it easy to handle, so you won’t have to worry about getting pricked while tending to your garden. Overall, ‘Honky Tonk Blues’ is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a beautiful and easy-to-grow rose variety.