With the announcement of Classic Blue as the 2020 PANTONE Color of the Year, the search is now on to find a list of blue flowers that will enhance our gardens, landscapes and interior spaces.
But did you know that a blue pigment in blue flowers has yet to be found as naturally occurring. But you’ve seen blue flowers with your own eyes: hydrangeas, delphiniums, forget-me-nots to name a few. And catalogs and websites have ‘blue’ flowers so they must exist, right?
David Lee, author of Nature’s Palette: The Science of Plant Color, states in an interview on the science of blue flowers that a true blue pigment in plants does not actually exist. This means that flowers have no direct way of making a true blue color without a little help.
So how are you seeing blue flowers?
Most flowers that appear to be blue are actually relying on genetics of modified red pigments plus reflected light to create the appearance of blue to your eyes.
A few other flowers, such as blue orchids, are relying on even more eye deception through artificial dyes.
Blue is also a color that can be perceived differently especially in flowers. Often times flowers referred to as blue are actually hues of violet or purple. Very few flowers have a truly blue appearance.
Before you start investing in blue flowers keep in mind that photos, descriptions, and even real plants can be enhanced. Do a bit more research and investigation to find out if what you will be seeing with your own eyes will actually represent the blue you are seeking.
The best way to determine if a flower color is truly the one you want is to see it in person at a garden, conservatory, or garden center. You can also do a Google image search to see if other photos match the flower color.
Here is a list of some of our favorite blue flower picks from Plants Map:
Bluestar (Amsonia) – Common Bluestar by Prairie Nursery, Amsonia hubrichtii ‘Blue Star’ by Bill Blevins
Borage (Borago officinalis) – Borage by Marble Gardens
Gentian (Gentian) – Gentiana ‘True Blue’ by Tracy Blevins
Larkspur (Delphinium) – Delphinium grandiflorum ‘Blue Butterfly’ by Tracy Blevin, Tall Blue Larkspur by Prairie Nursery
Lobelia (Lobelia) – Lobelia siphilitica by Betty Truax
Lavender (Lavendula) – Lavandula angustifolia ‘Super Blue’ by Tracy Blevins
Love-in-a-mist (Nigella) Nigella damascena ‘Moody Blues’ by Tracy Blevins
Forget-me-nots (Myosotis) – Myosotis sylvatica by Tracy Blevins
Sea Holly (Eryngium) – Eryngium alpinum ‘Blue Star’ by Bill Blevins
Pansies, Violets, Violas (Viola) – Viola x ‘Freefall’ by Tracy Blevins,
More Articles on Blue Flowers
- Seven Plants with True Blue Flowers | The English Garden
- 19 Classic Blue Varieties That Reflect the 2020 Color of the Year | Greenhouse Grower
- What Flowers Are Naturally Blue? | Hunker
- How to Get Blue Hydrangeas | Better Homes and Gardens
What About Blue Orchids?
Those bright blue orchids you may have seen at your local box or grocery store are actually only temporarily blue due to a dye process. They will eventually return to re-blooming as their natural color, white. While there are many colors and variations of color in orchids, there are no known naturally occurring blue orchids at this time.
Mums, roses, carnations, poinsettias, and lilies are among other major floricultural plants they do not have ‘blue’ flower cultivars. Any blues ones that you have sees have in fact been dyed or sprayed in some way to achieve that color.