Blue roses to go on sale in 2009

bgroseFebruary 5, 2008

What do you think about genetically modified roses? Here is the article from today's newspaper:

Blue roses to go on sale in 2009

Tuesday, February 5, 2008 at 05:41 EST

TOKYO ÂEThe Japanese company that created the world's first genetically modified blue roses said Monday it will start selling them next year. Suntory Ltd, also a major whisky distiller, hopes to sell several hundred thousand blue roses a year, company spokesman Kazumasa Nishizaki said.

"As its price may be a bit high, we are targeting demand for luxurious cut flowers, such as for gifts," he said. The exact price and commercial name for the blue rose have not been decided. The company is also growing the rose experimentally in Australia and the United States to get approval for sales, but no timing has been set for commercial launches in the two countries.

Suntory in 2004 unveiled the world's first genetically modified blue rose after 14 years of study which also involved Australian researchers.

It created the flowers by implanting the gene that leads to the synthesis of the blue pigment Delphinidin in pansies. The pigment does not exist naturally in roses.


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triple_b(BC 5b)

as long as they don't try and feed it to anyone.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 12:13AM
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Count me out - no true roses for me.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 12:46AM
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For me it is not the question of them being genetically modified, it is that I don't like how they look. I don't like the look of mauve roses, and the "blue" roses look wrong for me.
I would buy genetically modified rose w/o thinking twice, if I likethe look and can afford it. Hopefully one day we will have genetically modified roses with BS resistance,

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 6:03AM
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mike_rivers(z5 MI)

Modern roses are essentially old European roses which were gentically modified by implantation of genes for repeat-blooming which were obtained from Chinese roses. If that doesn't turn me off modern roses, then I see no reason to be alarmed by a more direct implantation procedure.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 7:29AM
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Terry Crawford

Depends on what the color looks like and the price. Could be interesting. Like anything else, will be expensive in the beginning but will decrease in price as time goes by.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 8:07AM
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Not so bad I think but a little bit strange:

what is the rose having the closest color but without the artificial gene?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 8:39AM
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The short and mistyped answer I gave could be misconstrued. My issue is with the Âblue rose. It does not appeal to me as red Delphinium didnÂt appeal to me. I did see in grocery stores carnations and roses sprayed or died to blue and I found them ugly beyond hope. I very slowly was able to adapt to mauves while I love very dark purples and so Âcalled black roses; but "blue rose" does not tempt me.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 9:09AM
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It does not look like a blue rose, looks like some of the mauves we now have.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 9:42AM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

Henry Kuska found access to the paper below via Oxford Free Journals. The paper has some excellent color illustrations of the flowers the authors created as well as some heavy science as to how it was done.
To download the whole thing, go to the abstract page below and then click on ""Full Text free" or onto "Free Full text PDF free".

Here is a link that might be useful: Abstract for the scientific paper

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 10:51AM
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We've seen the Suntory photos before, and this latest attempt suffers from the same issues as previous attempts: the roses are not blue! The colors are dirty/muddy and just another mauve. You can't tell me that is blue, no way! We've all seen colors like that in roses before. I smell an agenda by Suntory to reclaim some of the millions of R&D money spent on what is essentially a flopped project. Pfftt.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 11:31AM
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Yep, thats not the color blue. My eyes are blue. If my eyes were the color of that rose I would look like an alien.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 12:07PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Paul's right.
That ain't blue.

I do love a touch of blue in the garden, but I'll stick with irises and other things that really ARE blue.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 12:18PM
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Terry Crawford

Not blue.....amethyst. I have a sweater that color.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 12:46PM
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I think they are just peddling another lavender rose on us
all. Why should we pay a fortune for another lavender rose?
It is so funny, how lavender is considered "blue" in the rose
world. Anyway, what I want is a lavender DA rose, not just
another typical HT.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 12:54PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

If you read through the link that anntn6b provides (thank you!) it talks about "bluer" or "blueish" roses, not "blue" roses. They're lavender still--just a cooler lavender instead of a warmer one. It's a fascinating article.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 1:08PM
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cherrykist(Z-7 NC)

I don't care for it personally, looks fake.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 1:18PM
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Terry Crawford

If they develop a Crayola Blue rose, then I'll consider it. Until then.....

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 1:34PM
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jbcarr(7 VA)

Its just a matter of time.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 6:18PM
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the_dark_lady(z7 Amelia VA)

Nobody saw a blue rose (yet) - what are we fretting about?
Give these guys some time, let them sell a few, let us grow them in our gardens, then we could compare our observations....
So far, I see no grounds in this discussion - you could dip your roses in blue die, you could spray them with the most awkward blue color - this will never give us a clue how the 'true' blue bred rose is going to look like.
It is just all anticipation and speculation ::)))

Marina, still living happily without a blue rose :)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 6:37PM
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It is personal taste but I have never loved a lavendar rose.
They look like faded plastic roses in a cemetery to me.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 6:38PM
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Sounds gimmicky. The colour blue has no place in a rose.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 7:17PM
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it still isn't blue. I don't see what the hubbub is all about. It is still mauve and not worth the $$$ even if it was.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 7:22PM
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Yawn . . .

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 7:29PM
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I WANT A GLOW IN THE DARK ROSE, that I would buy, even though it'd be GM.

I remember seeing a picture of a tobacco plant that they inserted with a gene from a lightening bug, the thing glowed in the dark. That would be a cool rose, I think!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 7:40PM
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rosatimo(Zone 8)

Mersiepoo, search in the Tsjernobyl area. :)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 3:15AM
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I think it is really very interesting to see how people struggle to get bluer and bluer roses. You know, since the times of Marie-Antoinette people are fascinated with achieving a blue rose...antique china tea cups and plates have blue roses ornaments, textile products have blue china ornaments, as a painting on the plate or the teapot blue roses look rather stylish, why not have them in the garden...

On Suntory home page I found this photo:

The roses they hold seem really blue not violet, or is itphotoshop?

a Japanese woman admires a blue rose:

Suntory works with Australian company Florigene and they say:

"A bluer rose
While the prototype blue rose made by Florigene and Suntory is in fact a pale violet colour it is the first rose of this colour that comes from blue pigment. The colour of other ÂeblueÂfroses currently on the market is only a modification of red pigment. Even bluer flowers should be achievable if rose petals can be made less acidic, as acidity inhibits blue pigment.
Florigene and Suntory researchers are searching for genes that affect petal acidity or that affect petal colour in other ways, to breed a bluer rose."

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 7:00AM
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carla17(Z7 NC)

It is an insult to roses, IMHO. I agree it looks fake, fake is out in my garden.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 8:30AM
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Mendocino_Rose(z8 N CA.)

It doesn't look blue to me. I have to admit that I would be tempted to buy a delphinium blue rose.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 10:56AM
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i'm not surprised at suntory being in on this. i just read another article about suntory's genetic work with plants.

it all started out as a way to breed better hops for brewing beer. they collected huge amounts of plant/genes for their work and created the supertunia.

in the process of collection they saved many plants forms from extintiction which has been a benefit. but you are right that the blue rose is just weird shade of purple. i keep hoping that it would be something like a blue Himalyian poppy. but no, its just a shade of lavender/violet


    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 11:02AM
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I did the research on the Florigene (originally Australian owned but bought by Suntory) transgenic rose for an article that never got written (sorry Paul). The gene transfer technology just about killed me.

For the record THE ROSE IS NOT BLUE!

It is LAVENDER with a distinct bluish ting. Yes, it gets its color from delphinidin, the blue plant pigment. Florigene was able to transfer the gene for delphinidin production from the pansy (not the petunia) to a pink Hybrid Tea rose. The rub is that the pigment (delphinidin) expresses itself differently based on cell pH. The natural cellular pH of the rose is acidic enough for the delphinidin to express itself in the purple end of the color spectrum, BUT NOT BLUE LIKE WE SEE IN DELPHINIUMS & HYDRANGEAS.

More work still needs to be done. On a positive note this advance will allow us to have electric purples that are a whole lot more colorfast than the mauve (or Murray as the late Graham Stuart Thomas would say) roses we currently have, which-by-the-way whose color is created from a completely different biological process involving Cyanin depletion and the natural purplish hue of cell vacuoles.

Still with me?

If so there are lots of interesting articles on the transfer technology involved. Go to PubMed (available free through the National Library of Medicine) and do a search for blue rose. I should warn you that you'll need a degree in biogenetics to understand the terminology. I spent months and months reading through the literature before giving up.

Best wishes,


The color of CARDINAL DE RICHELIEU is due to the natural hue of the cell vacuoles. As the cyanin pigment bleeds out the color changes from dark crimson to a muddy grape purple, finishing off a soft dove gray. Cardinal de Richelieu along with Veilchenblau and Rhapsody in Blue all represent the extreme end of this biological process. Image by Cnetter at Hortiplex.

Here is a link that might be useful: PubMed

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 1:18PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

I may have missed it, I tend to glaze over when reading some of the papers, but does anyone (Patrick, Hoov) recall if anything was mentioned about color differences in the lavender roses in greenhouse culture? Greenhouse culture and sale of roses by the stem is where the money is. Not us. Not at all.
If some of these roses could do stronger lavenders with the less strong sunlight that comes through glass/plastic/poly sheeting, ....then I can see the excitment.
(Slightly off topic...There have been mentions of our much loved Double Delight being a white rose when grown in a glass house.)
Digger, there's a great article on Mecanopsis and related poppies in Curtis' Botanical Gazette. The illustrations are wonderful and well worth getting by Interlibrary Loan.

Does anyone grow the low ground hugging bright blue lobelia successfully?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 2:24PM
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august(z6 RI)

I think the flower form is crummy, the stems thin and weak. The color is attractive to my eyes, but there is a whole lot of improvement needed before I'd pay what they'll probably be asking for it.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 3:37PM
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Terry Crawford

The pic of the blue rose in Japan looks just like an annual called Lisianthius. Same form; same color. It's a mauve also; definitely not blue.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 3:50PM
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While I agree their roses are not true blue yet and taste is entirely a personal matter, I think it is a bit too simplistic and unfair to turn this into a negative judgement of their efforts.

Instead, I think it is to be admired that a company is so steadfast in investing money for such a long time in a very risky research project that gives no guarantee of success. To finally obtain a true blue rose requires perseverance: improvement in such a scientifically heavy project comes in small steps and takes a long time. They are not there yet, and maybe they will never get there. But they have accomplished some amazing things already. I think they deserve credit for that.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 4:59PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Reading Patrick's explanation, I smiled and nodded.
In our alkaline conditions, those lovely blue hydrangeas you see are a strong pink.
I bet this rose would be pink here, as well.

Pink roses I got -- and they look lovely with blue iris and skyflower and some of the blue-to-purple salvias. I suspect I'll just have to remain content with those for the forseeable future.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 7:46PM
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