Blue roses have fascinated people for many years. True blue roses are not found in nature, and generations at least since the Victorian times have taken white roses and put them in blue water, thus making them blue. The fascination and attempts at creating a blue rose have finally paid off.
Blue roses did not originate in nature. The rose plant lacks a gene to create the color blue. In the year 2004 the Japanese company Suntory and its Australian subsidiary Florigene added blue genes from pansy flowers to roses and successfully created the world's first blue rose. Delphinidin is the plant pigment that produces a blue hue and is not naturally found in roses.
The world has been entranced with the concept of the blue rose for over a century. As far back as 1840, horticultural societies in Britain and Belgium together offered to award a prize of 500,000 francs to the person who could produce a true blue rose. To be able to create a blue rose has long been considered the "holy grail" of horticulturalists worldwide.
The symbol of the blue rose is mystery and longing to attain the impossible. Some cultures go so far as to say that the holder of a blue rose will have his wishes granted. In Chinese folklore, the blue rose symbolizes hope for unattainable love.
There are many varieties of natural roses and hybrids that have been given the term "blue" in their names. These flowers are not truly blue, however. Blueberry Hill roses are actually light lilac in color. Blueberry Hill rosebushes are considered medium height at about 4 feet, and are said to smell like apples. The Veilchenblau rose is actually purple with white streaks in the petals. This variety is an almost thornless climber. Blue Moon roses are hybrids that are not actually blue, but they are lilac with blue tints. Before Suntory and Florigene's breakthrough, Blue Moon roses were considered the best blue rose. The Blue Nile rose is another lavender hybrid that is celebrated for its strong rose fragrance.
Blue Roses in Literature
"The Glass Menagerie" is a heartbreaking and well-loved stage play written by Tennessee Williams in 1944. One character is Laura, a teenage girl who suffers with pleurosis, a respiratory condition that was more common before the wide use of antibiotics. The main symptom of pleurosis is painful breathing, and it is extremely debilitating. A man on whom Laura has had a crush for many years mis-heard her in high school when she told him she had pleurosis, he heard "blue roses." Blue Roses was his nickname for Laura for that reason.