In this blog, we will explore the world of blue flowers and how they can be incorporated into your garden. Blue is a rare color in flowers and its even rarer in animals with less than 10% of the over 300,000 flowering plants being true blue. This has long been a topic of interest for scientists and flower enthusiasts alike. While there are some blue flowers out there, they are far less common than red, yellow, and pink. So, why is blue so rare in flowers?
Plants produce pigments to attract pollinators, and many of these pigments are based on chemical compounds called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are responsible for producing red, purple, and pink colors in flowers, but they do not typically produce blue. In order to produce blue pigments, plants need to use other compounds like flavonols, which are less common in plants.
Second, the color blue is difficult to produce in flowers because it requires a specific combination of pigment chemistry and structural features. Blue light has a shorter wavelength than red light, which means that it is more easily absorbed by pigments in flowers. To produce a blue color, flowers need to have pigments that absorb red and reflect blue light. In addition to pigments, the structure of the flower’s petals also plays a role in producing a blue color. The petals need to have a specific shape and arrangement of cells to reflect blue light and produce a true blue color.
“the object is absorbing some of the white light that falls onto it; because it’s absorbing some of the light, the rest of the light that’s reflected has a color,” science writer Kai Kupferschmidt, author of “Blue: In Search of Nature’s Rarest Color(opens in new tab)” (The Experiment, 2021) (https://www.livescience.com/why-blue-rare-in-nature.html)
Blue is particularly attractive to specialised pollinators like bees and it makes the flower visible above other flowers around it.
There are some beautiful blue flowers out there, and they are certainly worth admiring and appreciating for their rarity and unique beauty. In fact its become the focus of breeders to bring to market new blue flower with the introduction of the blue rose and blue carnation. Some would argue that the rose isn’t a true blue flower though and that is the focus of some plant collectors. Introducing blue into your garden or starting out on your collecting journey choosing blue can be a fun way to give a colour pallet to your garden. Blue flowers can add a calming and serene ambiance to any garden. With their soothing hues and versatile shapes, blue flowers can create a relaxing atmosphere and provide a beautiful backdrop for other plants in the garden.
The bluebell is the obvious choice for bulbs, it blooms in the late spring and early summer. This bell-shaped flower can grow up to 20 inches tall and is a great addition to any woodland garden. But for more inspiration the RHS have a handy article on blue flowers in bulbs which is a great list if your starting out on your blue flower journey https://www.rhs.org.uk/garden-inspiration/plants-we-love/10-award-winning-bulbs-with-blue-flowers
One of the most well known blue flowers is the forget-me-not. This delicate flower blooms in the spring and adds a stunning pop of blue to any garden. It grows well in shady areas and can be used as a ground cover or as a border plant. Although it spreads easily and can take over if not kept in check.
Another great blue flower is the hydrangea. This large, showy flower comes in shades of blue, pink, and purple, depending on the pH level of the soil. Hydrangeas are perfect for adding height to your garden and can be used as a focal point or as a background plant. They require a lot of water and do best in partial shade.
For a smaller blue flower, consider Sisyrinchium ‘California skies’ the blue-eyed grass. This grass-like alpine plant produces star-shaped blue flowers in the spring and summer. It is easy to care for and can be used in containers or as a border plant. Another well known small blue flower is the lobelia. Seen across garden centres ready for hanging basket season. This plant produces an abundance of blue flowers in the summer and can be used in containers or as a border plant.
If you’re looking for a unique blue flower, consider the delphinium. This tall, spiky plant produces large blue flowers in the summer and can add a dramatic element to your garden. It requires full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
For a wild feel try Vipers-Bugloss (ECHIUM VULGARE). With spikes of amazing blue that will be covered in bees and butterfly’s throughout the summer.
No discussion of blue flowers would be complete without mentioning the classic blue Tibetan poppy. These stunning flowers have a vibrant blue color and can add a touch of elegance to any garden. Although they can be challenging to grow from seed the plants are available and they require partial shade and moist, well-drained soil.
And finally one of my personal favourites the Eryngium. In fact I like this one so much I will do a separate blog on it.
In conclusion, blue flowers can add a soothing and calming element to your garden. With their versatile shapes and shades, they can be used as a focal point or as a background plant. Whether you prefer large showy flowers or delicate ground covers, there is a blue flower that will fit your garden’s needs. So why not incorporate some blue flowers into your garden today?