There is no such thing as a true black rose

No, there is no such thing as a true black rose.

While the black rose has flourished among songwriters, comic book creators, anarchists, Goths, tattoo artists, and others, roses do not contain the genetic material to produce black blooms. That said, who knows if breeders might find a way to include crow DNA into their roses? The main driver for new rose colors is consumer demand. It’s unlikely that there will ever be enough consistent demand for black roses (or blue roses for that matter) to tempt breeders to put serious money into the R&D for a black hybrid.

Black rose myths

A very famous breeder told me that he was invited to Turkey to consult on their rose petal business (which is huge, by the way) a couple of years ago. As part of the visit, he was taken on a visit to Halfeti, near the Euphrates River, where claims of black roses have abounded for years. He did find roses there, which were sort of black, he said, but there was no way to confirm that they weren’t simply burned, painted or perhaps just dried to a blackish hue. What he did find were fields of dark, crimson roses, which do turn significantly darker as they age.  But they never become completely black, without human intervention. For more information on the provenance of the Halfeti black rose myth, see this article at Snopes.

Roses are red

The fact is that red is one of the most prevalent and prominent native colors of roses.  Many roses have been hybridized over the centuries to produce various shades of purple and red, all of which can potentially darken as they age.

Florist-generated black roses

Now and then, especially around Halloween, you may find black roses at your local florist shop. Just like the pastel-colored daisies you’ll find there at Easter, these black flowers were likely painted with florist’s ink, or were stained black by putting them into buckets filled with inky water, which the flowers draw up through their stems.

DIY flower dyeing

If you want to try this yourself, get yourself a white or red rose (or any light-colored flower), clip the bottom of the stem with a sharp knife or clippers, and then stick it into a vase filled with water dosed with food coloring.  You could use some sort of fluorescent chartreuse for a really bright bouquet! If you want to try your hand at dyeing flowers, whether black or some other color (even multiple colors!), check out these links: