You might have seen bright and colourful “rainbow roses” on social media and wondered what’s behind these impressive multi-coloured marvels. These roses, which traditionally boast the seven colours of the rainbow are becoming increasingly popular and add a wow factor to any gift or function.

But beware - scammers claiming to be able to sell you a rainbow rosebush or seeds are not at all what they appear.

What is a ‘rainbow rose’ and where do they come from?

If you have any illusions about rainbow roses occurring naturally I’m sadly going to shatter those illusions. The roses are artificially coloured. But this colouring is a far cleverer process than simply dipping them a fully grown rose in pigment and yields a “natural” looking result that is both bright and vivid.

Rainbow roses are made by splitting the stem into several parts and dipping each part in different coloured water. Preferably this process begins when the rose is in a bud due to the trick relying on the combined capillary action, transpiration, and diffusion in the flower as part of the growing process.

The colour of this water is then drawn up into the petals of the flower resulting in the beautiful multi-coloured roses that are so impressive to behold.

History

The first person to ever pioneer this process and create a rainbow rose was the Dutch flower company owner Peter van de Werken, who created them to display at the world's largest flower fair - the Hortifair in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The technique van de Werken developed involved injecting pigments into the stems of the roses while they were still growing and onlookers were shocked by the striking effect - the flowers were a revelation because while staining roses with dyes had been a common practice for quite some time, with the most common type being blue roses, nobody had seen petals of the same flower display multiple colours yet and apparently without dying.

What are the best roses to use?

True to these roots it is believed by purists that the best rose variant to use for rainbow staining is the "Vendela" - a cream coloured hybrid cultivated in the Netherlands, Colombia, and South America, due to its ability to absorb different dyes. But in truth many different varieties of roses are used.

It is worth noting that by exposing the rose to this treatment you are limiting the life of the rose as the dye will stop the plant from photosynthesising properly.

In addition to roses you can also turn other fresh flowers into rainbow variants using the same process. Popular choices are chrysanthemums, carnations, hydrangeas and orchids.

So you can’t grow rainbow roses?

Sadly not. Despite multiple sites online and social media scams claiming to sell “rainbow rose” seeds these are scams seeking to take advantage of the boom in interest.

Anyone claiming to be able to sell you rainbow rose seeds or plants is either an unprecedented, and unknown, genius mad scientist or a scammer trying to steal your money.

If you want to get your hands on a rainbow rose the only way to do so is to buy them or make them yourself.

Are they easy to make?

Not really. The process of creating a rainbow rose is long, complicated, and meticulous. This is a task best left to the experts, particularly if you want the striking effect to be perfect.

But if you are determined to make your own rainbow blooms there are multiple videos and other guides online to help you. These are basic steps in making rainbow roses:

  • - Take a white rose, preferably a rosebud.
  • - Trim the stem of the rose to make it shorter as this is less distance for the colour to travel up.
  • - Split the base of the stem into several sections and bend them away from each other and into three containers holding a mixture of water and dye/pigment.
  • - Check to make sure each stem section is immersed in the liquid, since the flower needs water to live.
  • - Leave the rose to soak up the dye at least overnight, but more than likely for a few days.
  • - Once the flower is coloured trim off the split section of stem and keep it in a new container of fresh water or flower food solution.

Where can you buy them?

Rainbow roses are more expensive than other varieties and more rare as they are labour intensive and do not last as long.

If you live in a metropolitan city you are in luck. Due to a rise in popularity of rainbow roses you should be able to find many stores and online sites which stock them. A quick search yields dozens of places where you can get your hands on these colourful marvels with multiple options for delivery.

If you’re after rainbow roses wholesale or bulk flower orders there are less options available. You will need to allow advance notice for most retailers, particularly if they are not especially large as the rainbow rose does take time to create.

An online flower auction site such as Christensen’s Flower Auction can connect you to a range of growers and while not the easiest option for a normal customer it suits someone who is after a large amount for a function or party.

If you’re more remote things are sadly more difficult but there are services which offer options for Australia-wide delivery.

Even if you are ordering from a metropolitan delivery it is worth organising them ahead of time to ensure you don’t miss out.

Blog Post by –

Nicki Christensen, Christensen’s Flower Auction