Staring in awe of a vibrant Bouq of fabulous flowers it’s no surprise you’d wonder “where do flowers get their color from?” It’s one of those questions like “how do birds know how to build amazing nests?” or “why do cats find it so much fun to push things off ledges?” There are many strange things in life that obviously must have a much deeper answer.
For the flowers, at least, it certainly does, as there are a range of factors related to their genetics, biology, and evolutionary history play a part in deciding the colors of flowers.
So, what makes flowers so colorful? If you’re in a rush, here are all the different things that can give a flower its color:
- Pigments (anthocyanins, flavonoids, carotenoids, plastids, chlorophyll)
- Human interaction (through genetic modification)
- pH Levels
Flowers and Colors: The Beginning
A long time ago, before people ordered food just to take pictures of it, before the world’s news was limited to 280 characters, in fact, even before there were people, there were plants. At first these plants didn’t need any partners in life, they went at it alone. They were asexual and presumably quite proud of that fact.
Back then, the only color that plants had was green, from the chlorophyll in their leaves that was used in the photosynthesis process. So, for millions of years, bouquets would have been relatively monochrome, not that they wouldn’t have been interesting but there’s really only so much green one can take.
Flowers Start to Have Colors
To find out how flowers started to have the colors we know and love today, we have to get sexy, well, plant sexy, which might not have quite the same connotations. That’s because plant procreation is conducted over long distances and uses other beings to do the actions for them. How it goes down is that flowers will offer something tasty, such as nectar, to insects, animals, and birds and while those creatures are getting their sugar fix they’ll gather pollen on themselves. Then when they go to the next flower, which could be miles away, they’ll drop off the pollen and the plant’s fertilization process can happen.
As the years passed, plants wanted to stand out more to increase their chances of procreating. Some did this by developing strong scents, others by creating fantastic coloring, others still by attempting to appeal to very specific creatures. This has led to the huge variety of colors and shades of colors that make your bouquets so beautiful today.
Where Do Flowers Get Their Colors From?
So that covers the “why” of the matter, but the next logical step is “how.” It turns out that as well as being the exceptional make-up artists of the plant world, flowers are also quite a dab hand at chemistry too. They have developed their own special brand of pigments, known as anthocyanins, out of the complex flavonoid family of chemicals. These pigments are responsible for colors such as purple, red, and pink. Brighter colors, such as orange and yellow are made from carotenoids which are where root vegetables like carrots get their vibrant colors.
Over the years, different flowers have been able to manipulate chemical processes to make sure their petals have the right colors to attract pollinators. This also leads to great competition between different flower species to adapt or diversify their offerings.For this reason, places with millions of plants, such as rainforests also have much wider variation per square mile compared to places like green meadows, where the only competition is basically grass.
How Humans Can Affect Flower Colors
If you’re even more curious than simply wondering “where do flowers get their colors from” and want to know if you personally can change a flower’s color, the answer is yes. In fact, humans have been doing this for hundreds of years, through cross-breeding and developing new varieties of popular flowers like roses and tulips.
If you want to affect a change more immediately however, the process isn’t as complicated as it might seem. If you have some white roses or carnations and wish to switch them over to a different color, simply add food coloring to their vase water and leave them in the sun for 4 to 6 hours. The flowers will drink up the water and transport the food coloring to their petals and so change color. Through some experimentation you can even create quite unique mosaics with the colors you have at hand.
For a fully natural spread of the glory of nature’s finest beauticians however, there is little that beats getting a handcrafted bouq delivered to your door. Our artisan florists have dedicated their careers to matching all the spectacular colors that flowers have worked so hard to create so you can have them brighten up your home whenever you need them.Shop All