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This Isn't the Color It Was Supposed To Be

By LarryR
May 1, 2012

You buy a young potted plant at your local garden center that is not yet in bloom. The tag in the pot pictures a beautiful blue-colored flower. Much to your later dismay, the flowers aren't blue at all, but a purplish lavender. What gives?

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Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
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Dutchlady1
Apr 30, 2012 6:16 PM CST
I deal with this all the time in Plumeria growing circles. 'Why is my flower not as orange as the picture?' - well because you live in Oregon and the picture was taken in Thailand.... the climates are 'just slightly' different.... and at different times of the year we can have vast differences too. I'll save this article and point people to it the next time they wonder what happened!
Thanks for posting.
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA (Zone 5a)
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LarryR
Apr 30, 2012 6:55 PM CST
Hi Hetty, great to hear from you! Glad you enjoyed the article. It was a good exercise for me to think about what the reasons might be for my frustration with plants that flowered a different color than I expected. And thanks for adding yet another factor (same plant growing in different parts of the world) that contributes to color discrepancies.
Gardener was the label imprinted on me when the souls were handed out and so be it. --Margaret Roach (Thank you, Sharon!) Notes from the Garden: Articles of interest on all aspects of gardening
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Apr 30, 2012 7:03 PM CST
A fun and informative article, Larry, makes us think before we plant. Thank you.

You forgot about those of us who look at things through rose colored glasses, however.
That always makes a difference you know. Smiling
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Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
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Onewish1
Apr 30, 2012 7:34 PM CST
great read Larry.. thanks!!
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA (Zone 5a)
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LarryR
Apr 30, 2012 8:56 PM CST
Thanks for the compliments, Sharon and Allison.

Sharon, I see that you're finally willing to divulge the source of your rosy outlook. Whistling Hilarious!
Gardener was the label imprinted on me when the souls were handed out and so be it. --Margaret Roach (Thank you, Sharon!) Notes from the Garden: Articles of interest on all aspects of gardening
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
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Joannabanana
Apr 30, 2012 9:50 PM CST
Great article. I always laugh when a customer asks for purple petunias since 9 times out of 10 they want "Blue Petunias", which to our eyes is dark purple and the "Purple Petunia" is actually a Magenta colour.

Last year I bought the Black Velvet petunia. Very different and really looked like black velvet. One hot day we had a short down-pour which cooled things off very quickly. All the open flowers of the Black Velvet turned a wine colour. I had to wait for new blooms to see the black velvet colour again.

I put Epsom Salts around all my roses once a month throughout the growing season. It is amazing how strong the colours become in comparison to what my gardening pals say about their same roses. The cool night temps do play a factor and the colours are always stronger with cool temps. This is Folklore Rose
Thumb of 2012-05-01/Joannabanana/a9a892
Name: Marilyn
Northern KY (Zone 6a)
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Marilyn
Apr 30, 2012 10:07 PM CST
Onewish1 said:great read Larry.. thanks!!


I agree nodding Thumbs up

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Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA (Zone 5a)
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LarryR
May 1, 2012 12:03 AM CST
Thanks for the compliment, Joanne, and for your perspective. And for the additional conditions that can affect flower color. I'm going to try Epsom salts on our roses this year!
Gardener was the label imprinted on me when the souls were handed out and so be it. --Margaret Roach (Thank you, Sharon!) Notes from the Garden: Articles of interest on all aspects of gardening
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cottage Gardener Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Composter
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LarryR
May 1, 2012 12:06 AM CST
Thanks for your enthusiastic concurrence, Marilyn! Smiling
Gardener was the label imprinted on me when the souls were handed out and so be it. --Margaret Roach (Thank you, Sharon!) Notes from the Garden: Articles of interest on all aspects of gardening
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cottage Gardener Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Composter
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LarryR
May 1, 2012 12:08 AM CST
What a gorgeous rose photo, Joanne!
Gardener was the label imprinted on me when the souls were handed out and so be it. --Margaret Roach (Thank you, Sharon!) Notes from the Garden: Articles of interest on all aspects of gardening
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
[Last edited by LarryR - May 1, 2012 12:09 AM (+)]
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Name: Brenda
Dolores, Colorado
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bsavage
May 1, 2012 9:10 AM CST
Interesting article, Larry! Thanks for further educating us!
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA (Zone 5a)
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LarryR
May 1, 2012 10:04 AM CST
Thanks, Brenda! I tip my hat to you.
Gardener was the label imprinted on me when the souls were handed out and so be it. --Margaret Roach (Thank you, Sharon!) Notes from the Garden: Articles of interest on all aspects of gardening
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
May 1, 2012 11:20 AM CST
Last year, I had the ugliest planters!
It was because I went by the catalogue descriptions of the plant colours.
A lime bicolour petunia turned out to be magenta with odd blotches of yellow green.
Another petunia described as white with salmon, turned out to be salmon red with flecks of white.
Blue flowers often turn out to be mauve or purple, and the word salmon means different things to different people.

Thanks for a great article!
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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vic
May 1, 2012 1:11 PM CST
Fun article Larry! Thank you!
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA (Zone 5a)
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LarryR
May 1, 2012 2:39 PM CST
Thanks for sharing your experience with blossom colors, Caroline.

And thanks, Caroline and Vicki for the compliment. I'm glad you both enjoyed the article.
Gardener was the label imprinted on me when the souls were handed out and so be it. --Margaret Roach (Thank you, Sharon!) Notes from the Garden: Articles of interest on all aspects of gardening
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
May 7, 2012 6:09 PM CST
Great article Larry! It's very interesting how the effect of different climates and growing conditions etc. etc. can have on flower color! I relate to your disappointment with the Rosa Knockout 'Sunny' ... first opening a beautiful deep yellow ... but very quickly fading to a pale, bland cream color. The photo's below are not photoshopped (I don't know how to do that) and I love the color when it first opens but it fades to something not so pretty (my opinion):
Thumb of 2012-05-08/plantladylin/441fcc



By the way ... I laughed out loud when I got to the very bottom of your article and saw that color chart ... it certainly is true in my husbands case! Everything in the peach, salmon, tangerine color range is all ORANGE to him ... same for everything in the maroon, brick, etc. range ... all RED in his eyes. Smiling
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cottage Gardener Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Composter
Foliage Fan Garden Photography Houseplants Hybridizer Organic Gardener Cat Lover
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LarryR
May 7, 2012 11:16 PM CST
Thanks for your comments, Lin. I'm happy to know that I'm not the only one who is disappointed in Sunny Knockout. I'm also glad that your husband validated my claim about male color perception! Big Grin
Gardener was the label imprinted on me when the souls were handed out and so be it. --Margaret Roach (Thank you, Sharon!) Notes from the Garden: Articles of interest on all aspects of gardening
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
May 8, 2012 6:46 AM CST
Green Grin!
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dormantsrule
Jun 2, 2012 6:21 PM CST
I agree re: Sunny knockout. I gave away 2 and can't find a taker for the 3rd. Larry - Thanks for all your work on this informative article.
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[Last edited by dormantsrule - Jun 2, 2012 6:24 PM (+)]
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Name: Deb
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Bonehead
Feb 10, 2015 10:58 AM CST
Great article. My sister and I regularly share plants and often note differences in color and/or size. We are on opposite sides of a mountain range with a significant difference in both weather and soil composition. Sometimes they will seem like totally different plants, other times just kissin cousins. Always a fun observation.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.

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