Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

The short answer is No, but the long one is way more interesting.

I recently went to a flower shop as I needed to buy a black rose for someone. It was not one single shop, it was indeed a whole street with many florist shops back to back. A few weeks earlier I was walking by with somebody and she pointed at a bunch of black roses in awe with the colour. So, I went there again and started staring at the displays one by one hoping to find the black roses. No luck, went through all of them again. Desperate, I walked into the shop where I thought I saw those roses last time and asked the lady if they had some now. She told me: “No, but I can make you one. We colour them, there are no black roses naturally.” I was puzzled for a while, said ‘yes’ and 5 minutes later was walking out the shop with my black rose in hand. On my way home, people on the streets were like “Oh, see, he’s holding a black rose, wow”.

I later decided to investigate the matter myself and see if the lady from that shop was right. Are there no real black roses? I wanted to find the black roses or the truth.

The Halfeti Rose

One of the first things you come across when searching for ‘black roses’ online is a viral video that is said to have captured the only kind of rose that grows in real black colour - the Black Rose of Halfeti, Turkey. It is believed that the blooms turn to black only for a short period during the summer and can’t be seen or cultivated anywhere else in the world due to the specific environment in the Turkish village - weather, soil and water ingredients, etc. In the comments under that (and similar) videos, there are plenty of people who claim to be locals and swear they have seen and touched the roses and they are genuinely black.

However, there is not enough evidence of true black-colour roses growing in that area and some suspect it’s a myth intended to attract more tourists. Skilled photographers state that the images are heavily manipulated/photoshopped. If you continue to look for black roses on the Internet, you will even find seeds sold on popular websites, such as Amazon and AliExpress. Unfortunately, most of the reviews are full of negative expressions typed in all caps: SCAM, FRAUD, DON’T BUY.

Time For Some Science

In search for the truth, I went to a local company for property landscaping in my hometown Melbourne and talked to one of their landscapers. As it turned out, black roses are not black. While there are many species dubbed ‘black’: Black Jade, Black Magic, Black Beauty, Black Baccara, Midnight Blue Rose and so on, none of them has a pure black colour. This is due to the fact that there are no appropriate genes in the genome of any rose species which would be capable of producing a true black colour. In reality, these have an extremely dark shade of crimson, maroon, purple or even red. Nevertheless, they look almost black when observed in a garden’s landscape. By the way, same applies for blue roses - those are not real either, although in the recent years there is some success in blue pigmentation of petals achieved by genetic modifications.

But I Want A Black Rose!

Wilt not! For there is a way for everything in life. If you long for a black rose, there is, by all means, a way to get it… actually, there are three ways. But before that, why would you need a black rose? Well, you might be a secret anarchist or just a fan of Gothic fiction, Halloween, vampires and all things dark. Anyway, black roses are not always associated with negative events and emotions, such as death, revenge, evil, mystery and the like. They could also mean a major positive change (death of something old) or be the symbol of deep hope and optimism, true romance, everlasting love or simply your signature flower.

So, without further ado, here are the 3 most common techniques to turn a ‘regular’ rose black - in case you really want that. The easiest one is by spraying a special paint that takes just a few minutes to dry after applying. Actually, that’s the method the lady at the flower shop used to colour my rose. Another good way is to put black ink in a vase with water and wait until the rose petals change to their darkest shade. Probably the most sophisticated technique to blacken roses is the one used by gardeners: they add florist dye when watering a growing rose bush. Unlike food colouring, this paint is actually absorbed by the root system of the plant, thus darkening the rose blooms. Lastly, some people even report burning as a decent method to achieve a black effect on roses.

Natural or not, a black rose is a black rose and it’s impossible to replace it with a rose of another colour or any other flower whatsoever.

* Dedicated to M.P. *

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