The Enigma of the Impossible Blue Rose

As far a flowers go, the rose is the most symbolic of them all. Red roses symbolise love and passion. These are reserved for gifts to lovers and make excellent Valentine Day flowers. Pink roses symbolise romance and femininity. Yellow roses have come to symbolise friendship and playfulness and white roses have a special place as bereavement or condolence flowers.

The blue rose, however, is an enigma and in popular imagination symbolises a multitude of ideas and ideals. The blue rose also has a special place in culture and literature. This mystical flower means so much more than any other flower.

Art and literature

In the world of art and literature, blue roses are a symbol of love, prosperity and, of course, “the impossible”. They also denote mystery and longing. In Tennessee Williams’ play, The Glass Menagerie, the blue rose motif symbolises romance and impossible love. Poet Rudyard Kipling also used blue roses in his works. Blue roses have also been used as symbolic images in film and television.


Blue roses are a strong motif in the world of fantasy, where the impossible lives. Japanese anime, which is fraught with symbolism and the heroic quests for the unattainable, frequently features blue roses. The flowers in the fantasy world often represent mystery and hope. These fantastical blooms can also represent characters who are willing to continue their quest or battle against all odds, a new beginning or a turning point in a narrative.

Can they exist?

Blue roses are an impossible occurrence in nature due to the lack of the plant pigment delphinidin, which gives flowers a blue colouring. Unlike hydrangeas and hyacinths, roses can not naturally produce the colour pigment required to display the colour blue. The closest you can get to obtaining blue roses is to have a white rose that have been dyed blue.

Genetic engineers and flower breeders have spent years attempting to engineer blue-coloured roses. In 2004, geneticists had a breakthrough and produced the first blue roses. These engineered flowers are still only presenting a light blue to lilac colour, but genetic engineers continue to develop the genetically modified flowers, perfecting the colour to a true blue.

In the real world

While getting your hands on genetically modified blue roses would make a spectacular gift for a loved one, for many of us this quest may be a little out of our reach. For all of those looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day flowers, you don’t have to search high and low for the perfect flower. There are a range of other flowers that come in beautiful blue hues.

Many of the other species of flowers come in blue tones. There are the common varieties such as forget-me-nots, hyacinths, hydrangeas, lavender and Nigella flowers. More unique types of flowers that present a lovely blue colour include flowers of the genus Anemone, Scilla, Vanda, Muscari, Agapanthus (also called African Lilies), Delphinium and Campanula.

Either way, choose some exotic or classic flowers that will suit your Valentine’s tastes and you’ll do just fine!