The Science of Rose Colors

September 3, 2014

The colors of a rose are based on which color wavelengths are absorbed and which colors are reflected back. The natural colors of roses range through a diverse palette and exist to attract pollinators. The colors originate from the petal cells where sugar-based pigments reflect light to the viewer. Conditions that concern propagation including genetics, lighting and temperature influence the color variation in roses.

Among the natural colors to choose from are pink, yellow, red or white colored roses. Some striped or splotched roses occur naturally in the wild however no true black or blue rose exist in nature. Breeders try to expand the color range of roses when they combine species of roses to see new color combination in the offspring flowers.


Some wild roses display pink petals with red splotches or stripes as seen in Rose Mundi. The Rugosa roses naturally occur in shades of white, yellow, pink and reddish purple. When a China Butterfly Rose’s petals are aging the color range would go from yellow to pink and then to crimson red.



There are rose species with extraordinary color changing qualities responding to light and temperature like the phototropic Double Delight Rose that changes from white to cherry red in response to variations of light. A Rugosa rose, Agnes is thermotropic changing its color in response to heat to yellow blossoms and changing to red apricot in cool weather.



No rose or flower is truly black as no flower absorbed all the light so nothing is reflected back. The flower would have to have pigments for red, blue and green to it to be black.


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