En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - June 27, 2011

From: Tulsa, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Changing bloom color from Tulsa OK
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How do you change the bloom color?

ANSWER:

How do I change the bloom color of what? In Alice in Wonderland, the gardener cards changed the white roses to red with a paint brush. It wasn't very successful and they were marked out to have their heads off, but Alice woke up so we'll never know how that came out.

We have been asked before how to change flower color. The only flower we have personal experience with changes of color is the Hydrangea. From the United States National Arboretum website on Hydrangea Questions and Answers, we found this excerpt about why the same species would be blue in one part of the country and pink in another. There are only two hydrangeas native to North America, Hydrangea arborescens (Wild hydrangea) and Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea). Only H. arborescens is native to Oklahoma.

"Flower color in H. macrophylla is dependent on cultivar and aluminum availability. Aluminum is necessary to produce the blue pigment for which bigleaf hydrangea is noted. Most garden soils have adequate aluminum, but the aluminum will not be available to the plant if the soil pH is high. For most bigleaf hydrangea cultivars, blue flowers will be produced in acidic soil (pH 5.5 and lower), whereas neutral to alkaline soils (pH 6.5 and higher) will usually produce pink flowers. Between pH 5.5 and pH 6.5, the flowers will be purple  or a mixture of blue and pink flowers will be found on the same plant."

Our experience with this was that hydrangeas came up naturally with blue flowers in the acidic soil of East Texas. In North Central Texas, with its alkaline soil, they came up pink.

From All About Gardening, here is an article on factors that influence a flower's color.

From WillTaft.com, Do Iris Flowers Change Color? From that, notice this paragraph on artificially changing bloom colors:

 "Also, you can’t change the color of an iris by changing the soil pH., or anything else in the soil. That sometimes works with hydrangeas, but not with any other plants that I know of.  The color of an iris, for example,  is a result of its genetics.  The rhizome of an iris that produces a purple flower will continue to produce that same color."

So, we still are not sure what you were asking, but we've told you about all we know about the subject. Trying to alter the soil to induce plants to bloom in an unnatural color doesn't work. Even with aluminum additives in alkaline soil, the change to blue of hydrangea blooms will not last long as the additives are absorbed and move in the soils.

We don't recommend paint.

 

From the Image Gallery


Wild hydrangea
Hydrangea arborescens

Wild hydrangea
Hydrangea arborescens

Oakleaf hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia

Oakleaf hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Problems with hibiscus in Florida
November 09, 2008 - Have a hibiscus in Florida. It has always done beautifully planted in the ground. This year, it has developed something where the branches are sort of white, and the buds (and ends of branches) look ...
view the full question and answer

Why are my Rock Roses dying?
September 22, 2014 - I planted several rock roses last fall. This spring they have grown wonderfully, but all of a sudden, one shriveled and died. I took it out and replaced it. Now, another is starting to shrivel. It ...
view the full question and answer

Recovery of water-stressed Agarita
August 11, 2014 - Hello! I planted a small agarita at the end of May and then left town for six weeks. During that time it was supposed to receive weekly deep irrigations to help it establish, but it seems that som...
view the full question and answer

Dry browning leaves on Monterrey Oak from San Antonio
August 08, 2013 - I have a Monterey Oak that was planted four years ago and was doing great until the last two weeks. It has turned brown and the ends of the branches are very dry and brittle. The root flare was cov...
view the full question and answer

What about the brown dots on my Silver sage?
June 27, 2008 - During the past year, the leaves on my silver sage bushes around the perimeter of the front of my house have turned yellow in places and there are tiny brown dots on virtually all of the leaves. If I ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center