Plant of the Week: The Blue Rose

To celebrate National Storytelling Week this week I was thinking about stories I liked as a child and I remembered one called Shrubbery Skulduggery that I must have borrowed from the library about three times.

The story is all about a girl who goes to stay with her cousins. They have a gardener called Mrs Gargoyle who is very scary and as they later find out is a witch who is after the extremely rare Blue Rose.

I never knew such a rose existed and it turns out I was right. Well, a naturally blue rose doesn’t exist anyway, but through genetic modification blue roses are slowly becoming a reality.

In 2004 Japanese company, Suntory developed a blue rose called Applause by separating blue pigment from petunias and pansies and introducing them to different roses. The roses, however look more purple/violet than a vibrant blue.

Last year the Tianjin University and the Chinese Academy announced they have finally created the first blue rose by injecting two specific bacterial enzymes into a white rose and then blue pigment spread out from this injection site.

Looking at both of those examples I think we can safely say we’re a long way off finding bright blue roses growing in stately homes and garden centres and perhaps that’s a good thing? I’ll be posting later this week about genetically modified flowers.

Rose breeders are getting closer to naturally cultivating blue roses but these are still more purple/grey than a bright blue. I’ve just had a look on eBay and have come across seeds you can buy that apparently grow blue roses but I’m incredibly skeptical about that considering there is no mention of these roses on any reputable website.

In my old house I used to have a purple rose with the most gorgeous fragrance, like Parma violets. Perhaps that’s the closest I’ll ever come to a blue rose. So, sorry Mrs Gargoyle, you can turn as many people into topiary bushes as you like, but unless you get some pretty strong dye, you won’t get your hands on that blue rose!

Perhaps the closest I’ll come to a blue rose

If blue roses really existed, would you want to grow them?